In Review: American Gods – Prayer For Mad Sweeney

Mad Sweeney’s long, winding, and often tragic past is explored. 

Synopsis: Her brief reunion with Shadow over far too quickly, Laura turns to an unlikely travel companion to find her way back to life, and back to Shadow. Mad Sweeney’s long, winding, and often tragic past is explored.

Review: This penultimate episode of American Gods is mostly flashing back to the life story of Essie McGowan. The woman that pretty much brought Mad Sweeney to the new world.

Essie is played by Emily Browning who pulls double duty as both Essie and Laura Moon.

Between the flash back narrative we get a few glimpses of Lara and Mad Sweeney’s road trip. Having got rid of Salim by telling him where his Djinn will be. Lara and Sweeney are pretty much left to their own devices and continue their journey to find the friend of Sweeney that can resurrect Laura.

The flash back sequences are done really well and narrated beautifully.

I loved the gaelic sounding flute music that was a recurring theme throughout the life of Essie who lived as a thief, but a thief with strong believe in the fae folk and leprechauns. Even going so far as to leave offerings for them at night.

Emily Browning puts in a great performance here and her accent is pretty consistent throughout the story.

As we get to the close of the episode there is an interesting counter point to the story of Essie and Laura Moon’s predicament, which is played out via a flash back of Mad Sweeney.

The moment toward the end of the story where Sweeney visits the elderly Essie was a really touching moment. I particularly loved Sweeney saying that this new world has no place for Fae folk and magic. That it was only the belief of Essie and a few others like her that drew him to journey to the Americas.

In the present day. We see a few moments dotted throughout where Sweeney is talking to a crow. Which is passing communications between him and Mr Wednesday. Sweeney it’s fair to say is going against Wednesday’s orders by making his detour.

Overall. This was a good solid episode that has it not been for the present day scenes. Would have worked brilliantly as a stand alone story.

Quite where this all sits in the bigger picture of American Gods as yet remains to be seen.

If I have one criticism. The flash back story was supposed to be about Mad Sweeney and his tragic past. A past we did not really get to much of due it it being focused on Essie. But that aside. This was a solid episode.

American Gods - Prayer For Mad Sweeney
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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