Mad Sweeney has stolen almost every scene he’s been in since he first appeared in American Gods. He’s the breakout God of the series and one of, if not the, most compelling Gods in American Gods.
Now that Season 1 is over I thought it would be a fun to have a look at his journey, then predict what is going to happen to everyone’s favourite redhead in Season 2.
If you haven’t read the book, and you don’t want spoilers, I’d stop reading now.
He’s on a dark path
During the A Prayer for Mad Sweeney, an enraged Sweeney shouts in Old Irish to the skies. Unless you speak Old Irish it’s unlikely you understood what he was saying. Luckily, some genius on Reddit has figured it out. What he’s shouting is:
“Why does this bullshit keep happening to me? Haven’t I suffered enough? Isn’t that enough itself? I’m not evil! I’m not!”
This has an added poignancy when you consider the whole of Sweeney’s story. We see his beginnings as a mercurial figure as likely to help Essie as hurt her. He may have been malicious, he may have been a little spiteful, but he was never evil in his dealing with Essie.
In the present day, Sweeney is Wednesday’s errand boy who orchestrated Laura’s death. He’s effectively gone from mischievous spirit to a hired thug. This is quite the fall, and it’s clear he finds his change in status troubling. Perhaps his trip with Laura will lead to his redemption. Unfortunately, I believe that in this case redemption may equal death.
He was, or is, a mad king
Sweeney says to Laura “I was a king, then I was a bird”. Suggesting he is a take on the Irish legend of Buile Shuibhne, which roughly translates as The Madness of Suibhne or Suibhne’s Frenzy.
Suibhne was an Irish king driven mad by visions of his death before a battle, causing him to flee (as Mad Sweeney did). His madness then caused him to believe he was a bird. I’m not sure if this has any plot relevance, but I liked that it emphasised again how Mad Sweeney is a demi-god of diminished status.
Why Sweeney is marked for death
Sweeney owes a battle. A battle in which he was going to die. I have a feeling, however, that his death will come before the battle between the New Gods and the Old. Indeed, it’s probable he will die much sooner than that. I think that, at some point, Laura will be resurrected. After which, he will be given his gold coin back. Past the point it can save his life, but not so late that he can’t become a walking corpse. This has possibly been foreshadowed by his continued and descriptive discourse on what exactly is happening to Laura’s body. So if it happened to him it would have added poignancy.
It’s also not a million miles away from his fate in the books.
So How Will He Die?
My guess is that Laura will demand resurrection from Wednesday, using Shadow as leverage. Our super-powered goddess Easter doing the deed. Wednesday, however, will get some form of payment. My guess is that the payment will be, either directly or indirectly, the sacrifice of Mad Sweeney. While I can’t guess the specifics I have no doubt he will go down swinging, fully knowing it will result in his death.
After he dies, Laura will give him back his gold coin. It will be both a fitting punishment for killing her and a payment for helping her.
Now that he has got the coin he will be super-charged zombie Sweeney, which could be pretty damn cool. That said, I think the bigger difference will be in the tone of his character. We will see a Sweeney come to terms with his long life and his imminent living decomposition. Eventually, he will depart this world on his own terms.
I’d love to know if you agree with me on Sweeney’s path, or if you think I’m an idiot.
If you liked this article why not read more of our posts on American Gods.