American Gods: The Goddess Ostara Explained

The season finale of Starz’s American Gods opens with the story of a queen. Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), who was introduced to audiences in the pilot through a particularly memorable sex scene, is given a full back story courtesy of the impeccable storyteller Mr Nancy (Orlando Jones) as he weaves suits for Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). The love goddess, known historically as the Queen of Sheba, was worshiped in droves by the people of her time, who happily sacrificed themselves for her power and satisfaction. While this orgy scene, which doesn’t skimp on the nudity, explains her origins, it also shows her downfall, as the Kings and men of power throughout history seek to starve her of her feminine strength and co-opt it for themselves.

Time passes to Tehran in the 70s, then to modern day California, where Bilquis has become homeless and destitute. Her salvation comes in the form of Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), offering a modern solution to her hunger for worship, and sealing a pact between the pair that she must pay back one day. For Mr. Nancy, this story is a clear sign for his old god counterpart: If they are to compete with the new kids, he must procure himself a queen.

The goddess Ostara, also known as Easter, has been one of the show’s most anticipated arrivals from the fanbase, partly due to the actress Kristen Chenoweth, a favorite of show-runner Bryan Fuller. Chenoweth previously starred in his ABC comedy Pushing Daisies and is to date the only actor to win an Emmy for appearing on one of his shows.

Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods Season 1 Episode 8

Mr. Wednesday and Shadow drive to Kentucky to recruit Ostara before the old gods get to her, but from the outside, it seems as though she’s doing well. Bunnies frolic freely through the lush greenery surrounding her large estate, feasts of candy and colored eggs fill tables for guests to feast on, and even Jesus showed up for the party. Well, all the Jesuses showed up. As mentioned in an earlier episode, there is a Jesus for every denomination and occasion, as Christians tend to imagine different things when they pray to him: Some see him as the white surfer dude, others see the baby suckling on the Virgin Mary, and some see different races (episode six showed the untimely fate of Mexican Jesus).

The usually stoic Shadow can’t help but be charmed by the whole scene, admitting to Mr. Wednesday that he loves Easter. For Mr. Wednesday, denizen of the old ways, Ostara’s celebration is nothing but shoddy theatricalities, a mere charade she has adopted to cling to relevance after her own festivals of fertility and Spring were co-opted by all the Jesuses eating her buffet.

Ostara has mixed feelings about seeing Mr. Wednesday, but is open to hearing his case after he rants to all the Jesuses about them taking her day away from her through the sheer coincidence of timing (to his credit, one Jesus, played by Jeremy Davis, is really upset about it). Ostara admits to him that her day isn't what it once was, and many Christians don't even celebrate Easter for much beyond the excuse to eat chocolate and roll eggs, but compromise is key for the old gods. Bilquis played the game, as did St. Nick, mentioned in the episode, and Ostara cut a deal to stay alive. It’s worth it, even if none of her bastardized worshippers know her real name.

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