American Gods season 3, episode 8 recap – “The Rapture of Burning” turning point

March 7, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

“The Rapture of Burning” feels like a classic turning-point episode, as American Gods takes a sharp turn in the direction of the season finale.

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3.5

Summary

“The Rapture of Burning” feels like a classic turning-point episode, as American Gods takes a sharp turn in the direction of the season finale.

This recap of American Gods season 3, episode 8, “The Rapture of Burning”, contains spoilers.


“The Rapture of Burning” feels very much like a turning point, the kind of episode in which everything does a sharp pivot and ends up facing in the general direction of the finale. It’s to be expected given last week’s eventful chapter. This one had it all, from character deaths and rebirths, figurative and otherwise, to mind prisons, pansexual orgies, and untrustworthy leprechauns — though admittedly I’m yet to meet a trustworthy one. Probably all that Guinness.

Anyway, a 1951-set prologue kicks things off, introducing us to the Grand Peacock Inn, a humble place where a man suspected of conspiring to commit sodomy — unthinkable! — is hidden from the bigoted local police by the trans proprietor, who absolutely styles on one of the cops, not-so-subtly threatening to expose his own sexual preferences. This isn’t just a kindly thing to do but also turns out to be great for business, since the would-be sodomizer is Tu’er Shen, the Chinese rabbit god, who repays the gesture by turning the motel into a temple and freewheeling sexually adventurous haven and hotspot. He even makes a cool sign out of butterflies.

We return here in the present day when Laura arrives with Salim. A far cry from the run-down state we saw it in previously, it’s now a bustling hive of colour, exuberance and openness, which is a problem for Salim, given his current state of mind, especially once he immediately takes a shine to the very handsome bellhop, Kai. While Laura goes off to find Liam Doyle, she leaves him to grapple with both his inner demons and a vibrating heart-shaped bed; he has to summon Kai to help him turn it off, at which point the bellhop invites him to a pansexual adventure love-in. Salim later reluctantly attends, is given something of a pep talk by the proprietor, is immediately entranced by the writhing naked bodies and complete acceptance of everyone there, and very politely has sex with Kai.

Laura, meanwhile, approaches Doyle, who explains that he lost his luck by refusing to kill her for Wednesday, leading to Mad Sweeney being hired for the task instead. We know the story from there. But Laura needs him to access Sweeney’s hoard, which is against the Hibernian Code at the best of times but especially in the retrieval of a weapon. Nevertheless, with the help of Sweeney’s lucky coin and an assurance that she doesn’t intend to use the weapon for violence, he agrees. Then he disappears, and it doesn’t look like he’s coming back.

This puts Laura in a bit of a predicament in American Gods season 3, episode 8. Given the terms of the contract she drew up with Danny Trejo, if she can’t kill Wednesday, which without his spear is highly unlikely, all of her friends, including Salim and Shadow, are in danger. But Salim is surprisingly okay with this after his hot night with Kai, and his personal reawakening leads her to one of her own — she eventually dumps Sweeney’s ashes, accepting he’s gone and allowing herself to begin the grieving process, just in time for Doyle to suddenly re-emerge and give her the spear anyway. She’s off to kill Wednesday after all.

With most of the focus of “The Rapture of Burning” on Laura and Salim, Shadow being kidnapped by Tyr feels a bit underserved. We go get to see Tyr rip a man’s throat out like he’s Patrick Swayze in Road House, and he lets us in on a bit of backstory involving his sacrifice of a hand to Fenrir, which Wednesday has apparently mocked him about ever since. But his rendezvous with Wednesday as the Wolf’s Den, a fitting location, is basically a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair. He and Odin fight in full wartime regalia, Shadow intervenes to help Wednesday, and when Tyr turns on him Wednesday uses the distraction to stab him in the back. Tyr should have seen that coming really. After, he lights a fire, tells Shadow that he’s free to live a normal life now since his obligation has been fulfilled, and then disappears. Shadow’s response is hilariously relatable.

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