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Recap / American Gods S 1 E 7 "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"

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Season 1, Episode 7

A Prayer for Mad Sweeney

Laura, Mad Sweeney, and Salim continue their trip to meet Jesus. Meanwhile, Mr. Ibis recalls the story of Essie McGowan, an Irish thief who revered leprechauns.


  • Acting for Two: Emily Browning plays both Laura and Essie MacGowan. Fionnula Flanagan plays both Essie's grandma and Essie in her old age.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Mad Sweeney manages a tiny smile when Laura starts impatiently honking the ice-cream truck horn at him.
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  • Adaptational Name Change: From Essie Tregowan in the novel, to Essie Macgowan to reflect the shift from Cornwall to Ireland in her origins.
  • Affably Evil: While Laura and Mad Sweeney are talking to the ice cream truck driver about how they're going to steal his truck, they're very polite about it, even letting Mad Sweeney be the one to knock him out instead of Laura, to avoid killing him.
  • A Day in the Limelight: This episode focuses on Sweeney and how he came to America. Emily Browning is the only other main cast member to appear in the episode, and she spends half of her screentime playing Essie instead of Laura.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When Sweeney's confronted with the choice of either leaving Laura's corpse behind or reviving her with his coin again, he starts ranting in Old Irish. (Opinion is divided on what exactly he says, but the basic gist seems to be wondering why this keeps happening to him, he's suffered enough, and an emphatic declaration that he's NOT evil. "I'm not.")
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Essie's first lover allowed her to be convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation, rather than publicly admit that he gave her a necklace as a promise of marriage.
    • Sweeney seems to consider himself this due to him deserting on the eve of battle because he had a vision that he would die in that battle.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After a tumultuous early life, Essie manages to find a wealthy husband who loves her and whom she loves, settles down and starts a family, lives to a fairly content old age and dies in peace.
  • Identical Granddaughter: Essie in her old age is identical to her grandmother, except for her hairdo.
  • Indentured Servitude: Essie was sentenced to become one in the Colonies, twice. Mad Sweeney is one for Wednesday as punishment for his past refusal to fight in a war.
  • Marry the Nanny: Essie is hired as a wet nurse for the child of a wealthy man whose wife died in childbirth. Eventually she seduces him and they get married.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Laura tells Salim where he can find the Jinn, partially to annoy Sweeney, but also because she seems to be genuinely charmed by his kindness.
    • Sweeney chooses to revive Laura, rather than take back the Golden Sun coin.
  • Significant Double Casting: Laura and Essie are both played by Emily Browning. The latter worshiped Mad Sweeney, the former hates his guts.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Essie turned to theft after she was wrongly convicted and nearly executed for thievery.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The first thing Laura does after Sweeney revives her is to punch him in the face. Played with, as she is unaware that she had died and that he revived her, and he's still got his hand on her chest.
  • Wham Line: "Tell him. Tell him it's done." And with that line, it's revealed that Mad Sweeney deliberately caused the car crash that killed Laura and Robbie — on Wednesday's orders.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After the ice cream truck crashes and the lucky coin falls out of Laura's deteriorating body, Sweeney could have taken it and been on his merry way, with no one ever knowing what happened — but he chooses to revive Laura again, probably because he feels guilty for killing her in the first place. He even chooses not to bring it up when she proves not to remember dying and proceeds to insult him once more.

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