I remember distinctly watching the series finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation. The reason why I remember is that I was one of 125 people who won two tickets to watch the series finale as it was broadcast on the IMAX screen at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. The excitement in the theatre before the show began was palpable. We few, we happy few, we Trekkers who were going to see GIANT PICARD and company sail off into the sunset in “All Good Things…” on the big screen were excited to share in the end of the beloved show. Two hours later, the feeling in the room was very different. The episode was, frankly, meh. Yes, seeing the show on a giant screen was cool (Yay, big Enterprise!), but the size of the screen was not matched by the scope of the episode.
The latest episode of American Gods, “Treasure of the Sun,” tells the history of Mad Sweeney through a series of flashbacks, and it only seems fitting to depict story of such an unconventional leprechaun backwards. Starting with a prophecy of his death, his journey traces back to the beginning of his descent.
We are about to watch the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. (“We” being my wife Lacy and I.) I have been with this narrative a long time. I read the books starting back in the early 2000s when my friend and former student made a gift of the first one. (Thanks, Hugh Long, I think…) When the first season was in post-production, I was Mark Addy’s photo double for the ad campaign. (Hundreds of buses, bus stops, and billboards in the greater Los Angeles area featured Mark Addy’s face on my body with the tagline, “Killing Things Clears My Head,” written across the bottom.) Really cool. Been watching it ever since and have written about the last few seasons for Fanbase Press, analyzing theme, character, and plot, connecting the narrative to theology, history, culture, and science. But I am giddy for the last season. So, today, for the first episode of the last season, if you will indulge me, I simply kept a handwritten live blog (Yeah, I know…) of the episode and my in-the-moment reactions. If you will forgive a moment of auto-ethnography, here we go. [SPOILER ALERT – the overarching theme of the episode is “Oh, Game of Thrones, you’re so…you. Many reunions – not just of people but of things the show had kind of stopped doing for awhile. You’ll see.]
The Second Golden Age of Television has brought us great serialized entertainment, but there will always be a special place for fantastic standalone episodes. This week's episode of American Gods, “Donar the Great,” demonstrates their importance. Adapting American Gods into a TV show allows for the source material's mythology to expand and develop concepts that are only touched on in the book. Thor's story is briefly mentioned in the book, but what was originally a few passing lines now takes on a whole new meaning. I expect nothing less from an episode directed by Rachel Talalay.
As season 2 of American Gods continues, the show has diverged more and more from the book. The creators have introduced more characters and made a point to focus on some of the darker atrocities in American culture. I am not quite sure where they are going with the story this season. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do hope that we'll start to see how some of these tangential threads will be woven together.