American Gods 2×08 Review: “Moon Shadow”

Moon Shadow American Gods
Image: Starz

After the past few weeks, especially after “Treasure of the Sun”, this episode just felt underwhelming. “Moon Shadow” is the second season finale of American Gods, and honestly it didn’t feel like a finale to me. However, it does seem apt that such a lackluster episode caps off a fairly mediocre season.

The first ten minutes or so of “Moon Shadow” were fantastic; by showing the way real people reacted to the War of the Worlds hoax, it helped set up the panic and chaos that would be unleashed by the New Gods later in the episode. It also represented how Mr. World is so powerful – the unique and underlying fear that governs most of our lives, fear of the unknown.

That said, considering the Old Gods have been holed up at the funeral home twiddling their thumbs and playing chess for the vast majority of season 2, this attack by the New Gods would have made more sense much earlier. It’s an excellent commentary on the 24-hour news cycle, how misinformation spreads quickly, and how easy it is to allow your biases to color your interpretation. It would have been much more effective if given time to build over an episode or two.

Moon Shadow American Gods
Image: Starz

It took two seasons, but Shadow finally got himself a brain and realized that Wednesday is not a guy he should be hitching his cart to. I’m fairly certain the only reason it took so long is because for the plot’s sake that’s what needed to happen, but it’s refreshing to see him starting to actually think. I think Shadow may have assumed that the war between the gods was about good versus evil, but it isn’t. It’s about modernity versus antiquity – it’s about survival. There are no real “good guys.” Plus, with the visions he got from the World Tree, Shadow now understands that Wednesday has been manipulating circumstances all of his life – and with enough flashes of his mother and all the snippets mentioning his father (not to mention Wednesday’s “my boy”), I think we can safely assume that this is the show confirming that Wednesday is Shadow’s father.

Also it seems that Shadow has unlocked his abilities, as he was able to change his identity at the end. Though I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be presented as him doing that himself, or Wednesday doing that for him. In the book it was Wednesday, but this is not the book.

Moon Shadow American Gods
Image: Starz

I was worried about Salim in “Moon Shadow”. I have been speculating about his purpose for several weeks, because he doesn’t really seem to have any narrative reason to be there. So I was extremely anxious that when the New Gods made him an accomplice he would end up sacrificing himself for the Jinn. Luckily this didn’t happen. I just have to trust that Neil Gaiman has their backs. Now I’m only worried about the fact that neither of them seem to be doing anything other than just existing. This is the first episode in a long time that even made it seem like the Jinn reciprocates Salim’s feelings.

Curious as to what Laura is going to do with Mad Sweeney’s body. It’s implied that she probably intends to resurrect him, which will be extremely fascinating if she does. This is just one of the many ways in which the show is departing (or expanding) from the book.

For the record, considering how often they showed Mad Sweeney’s coins on the floor, I was expecting someone to go through the hoard.

American Gods season 2 suffered from a pacing problem. The first few episodes dragged, with very little happening. It seemed to find its stride in the middle of the season, yet “Moon Shadow” felt too rushed while at the same time being a bit confusing and seeming like nothing was happening. Overall, it’s been more enjoyable than not, but its unevenness may end up working against it.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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