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L et me start by saying that although I liked this episode, I also thought it was really disconnected to the rest of the series that we’ve been watching. I love Mad Sweeney, but I was ready to get back to Wednesday and Shadow, rather than watching an entire episode dedicated to the history of how the legend of the leprechaun came to America.
The episode opened to Ibis and Jaquel’s funeral home with a dead guy (peen sighting!) on the table, getting spackled. Jaquel is a genius with contouring if he can make that guy look good for a funeral…just saying. We get a little banter between them, and Jaquel notices that Ibis is antsy to start writing a story and dismisses him to do so. Ibis looks at a map of colonial New England and we find out he is writing a story about coming to America in 1721. “Its fine fiction that the Pilgrims founded America,” we hear him say. The truth is that America was a dumping ground as much as escape – for indentured servants who had no choice but this option due to either financial circumstances…or transportation for crime.
Then we hear the story of Essie MacGowan. Essie was a little Irish girl who was prone to fancy, and whose gran told her the old stories of the fae. She tells Essie to make sure to leave the leprechauns an offering because “we want their blessings.” Cut to grown-up Essie (Hey! That’s Laura!) telling stories about the fae to the children of the manor where she works. She goes into a story about how she was lost on the moors, but had a loaf of bread, so she decided to leave it out and lay down to sleep beside it, and in the morning when she woke the bread was gone and the lighthouse she’d been looking for was right there. Thanks leprechauns!
Plot twist! Essie is a thief. She steals food from the manor house to leave for the leprechauns. We see Essie out on the moor going to leave a gift on the faerie mound, and hear Ibis tell us that she was possessed of a rare token of ambition. Then we see Essie returned to the manor house, cleaning up the kitchen, when the older son of the house- Bartholomew-puts the moves on her and they get busy on what looks like a really cold kitchen table and floor. She tells him he’ll forget all about her, and he gives her a necklace that his grandfather gave to his grandmother when they were courting. But alas, “fair folk were a fickle lot” and Essie is accused of stealing the necklace. Bartholomew denies giving it to her (like every privileged regency bad boy who will later repent of his ways and become the best hero ever would do). Bad form, Bart.
Essie is sentenced to hang, but the judge takes pity and she gets transported to America instead. Like every stereotype ever about poor women in that time period, she takes to seduction to get herself out of the situation. She gets it on with Captain Clark, and he takes her back to London and marries her. When he leaves for his next voyage, Essie decides to cut out with all his valuables and live the high life while still leaving an offering for the leprechauns every chance she gets.
Now we’re in the taxi with Salim, Laura (who looks like hell) and Mad Sweeney. The roadtrippers stop at a statue of a giant white buffalo named Tatonka Ska who was sacred to the Lakota. Turns out that a year to the day after this was built, the guy who built it (and the buffalo calf he had in captivity) were killed by a lightning strike. Mad Sweeney says “That’s what you get for putting a god in a petting zoo” and wants to know why they have stopped. Salim tells him he stops and prays five times daily. At this point, Laura is collecting flies, but Salim doesn’t mind because he’s really nice and says she can join him. She doesn’t want to, but she wants to know if he loves God or if he is in love with God. He says he’s never thought of it that way, but he loves his god. Laura looks confused. Probably because she doesn’t really know what love is.
Mad Sweeney is taking a bio break when a raven starts cawing at him. He tells it to fuck off. “I will eat you. I’m on my way to Wisconsin, per the arrangement, which I’ve kept my part of. If he doesn’t like it, tell that one-eyed…tell him fuck you. That’s what you tell him!” Ooooo…intrigue! Laura appears and tells him she wants to let Salim go. Mad Sweeney says no, and that the only reason they are on this detour is for her, because otherwise he’d be on his way to House on the Rock already. “You’d think a girl on the way to her resurrection might be keen on getting there as soon as possible!” Laura tells Salim that his jinn is at the House on the Rock and dismisses him. Salim’s parting words are to Mad Sweeney, “You are an unpleasant creature!” I’d be unpleasant if Laura was my traveling companion, too.
Laura gets a hankering for ice cream. Just kidding – she wants to steal the ice cream truck! The ice cream man says the boss won’t believe he was robbed looking like he does. Laura tells him he looks great, and Mad Sweeney understands that he wants him to punch him so it looks like he put up a struggle. Ice cream guy says “You could kill me. Could SHE do it?” Mad Sweeney tells him that would be a bad idea and knocks the guy out.
We go back to Essie, who just so happens to be a fancy lady now. She supports herself by stealing, and isn’t tied down to any man. Ibis takes this moment to tell us that “the more abundant the blessings, the more we forget to pray.”
You can see that Essie is rolling in the dough, but she’s still only leaving a tiny offering for the leprechauns. Bad luck for Essie, because she gets caught stealing yet again, and this time she gets charged with returning from transportation and theft. She’s going to the gallows. The guy in the cell next to her (its Mad Sweeney!) tells her not to eat the gruel, but to stick with the bread and wants to know what a pretty girl like her is doing there. He had the bad luck of hurting a guy in a bar fight. He tells her it doesn’t seem right that she only got the one chance to be good. Essie tells him “the world doesn’t run on right.” (She’s damn right. If it did, we’d all be happier today in America.) He tells her she should try a bribe. At this point, Essie says she would be content to be content.
She leaves a bread offering for the leprechauns and when she wakes up the guy in the cell next to her is gone. The warden comes in and gives her a lecherous look and we all know what that means. He says it’s going to be at least twelve weeks until her trial, she is a very pretty thing and that there is a way she might – luck smiling – escape the gallows yet. Essie gets pregnant by the creepy warden and is showing a lot for someone who is only three months along at her trial. The judge takes pity and orders transportation yet again – this time for life. Essie is headed to Norfolk on the ship. She has her baby on the way, and when she lands, a man named John Richardson purchases her indenture. He is a tobacco plantation owner, and needs a woman to be a maid and a wet nurse for his daughter because his wife died shortly after the baby’s birth.
Just when we were getting into the groove of Essie’s story, we go back to the ice cream truck. Laura is happy because it is ice cold, and tells Mad Sweeney to suck it up. My thought is that he shouldn’t complain, because at this point Laura is gross and a regular car A/C isn’t going to touch that stench.
Mad Sweeney eats an ice cream bar and tells Laura that pretty soon she’ll be able to eat what she wants to because of the resurrection she’s been promised. He really wants his coin back. Laura wants to know how much gold he really has. His answer is “a horde.” He tells her he was a king once, but they turned him into a bird. Mother Church came along and turned them into saints, trolls and faeries. “General Mills did the rest.” Laura wants to know what Wednesday is selling and why he wants a ticket to the show. Mad Sweeney tells her “War.” When he was young, and it was the night before battle, he saw his death would occur the next day if he stayed. He left the war before it started and feels that he owes a battle to the universe. Laura tells him he’s dumb for wanting to work for Wednesday in order to fight in his war. She says “Dying worked for me. Everyone should try it at least once. Seems to me you’ve walked the earth a couple hundred years in those boots already. You’re due.”
Wait…was that Laura being more human than she ever was alive? No time to ponder that, because a white rabbit decides to run across the road, and Laura tries to avoid it, flipping the ice cream truck. We see a crazy slow-motion wreck and then the coin falls out of her chest and rolls around on the road before landing.
Back to Essie and her telling of a scary story to the kids about Samhain. She tells them to remember to always put out an offering for the leprechauns, or they’ll lead you away. Mr. Richardson and Essie are giving each other the eye, and we see him put the moves on her in the kitchen that night. Essie is never one to pass up an opportunity and plays him like a fiddle. She makes him feel bad for being interested; she tells him he should know better than to encourage her feelings for him when he knows she can’t be married as she’s a poor transportee. He, of course, has no idea what the real Essie is like, and gets down on one knee and proposes to her.
They have a baby together, and Essie continues to keep the old stories alive. We find out that when they have been married ten years, she thinks she hears a banshee one night. John dies a week later. The farm flourishes under Essie, and we see apples falling from the trees, and her leaving tidbits for the fae. She is eventually a grandmother, and she tells the stories to her grandkids, but they are scared. “There seemed no room for the spirits of old in Virginia,” and Essie begins to keep them only in her heart. We see Mad Sweeney coming to her porch as she’s an old lady peeling apples one evening.
Mad Sweeney crawls out of the wreckage and sees Laura truly dead, and the coin sitting near her. He picks it up and starts to roll on down the road, but then he gets an attack of conscience and a vision of the other wreck Laura was in with her dying in the dark on the side of the road…the one with Robbie. It appears he was at that accident, too. We see a flashback of him telling a raven “Tell him. Tell him its done.” He feels guilty and turns around while cursing loudly in Gaelic and puts the coin back into Laura’s chest. She wakes up and punches him, flips the truck back over and the road trip is back on, bitches!
In the meantime, Essie wants to know if she knows the man on her porch. He tells her he’s a “man of the mounds.” Or he was. Here in the new world, no one puts out a bit of ale or milk for a fellow, or even a loaf of bread come harvest time. She realizes what he is, and says she has no quarrel with him; he tells her he has none with her either, even though she and some others brought him here. She tells him he’s brought her many a good turn. He lets her know that they’ve brought her good and bad – they are like the wind. “We blows both ways.” He tosses a coin and asks Essie to take his hand. She does, and her family finds her while she’s still warm, with only half the apples peeled.
My final thoughts on this episode were these:
What did you think of this episode?
**All images courtesy of Starz