Episode 2.08 Writers: Ross Hastings, James Griffin Director: Geoffrey Cawthorn
THE ONE WHERE Anders is back, he’s brought a magic tree branch and what starts out as a bout of ’flu soon turns into something much more serious for the family of Gods as they all begin to lose their powers.
VERDICT Once again we have an odd stand-alone/season arc-related hybrid of an episode for the Johnson boys. Like last week it doesn’t feel as though the season arc is being addressed as the episode unfolds but by the end several plot elements have moved forward and several mysteries are closer to being revealed.
The episode kicks off with Anders having a rant at the rest of the Johnsons about all the things that have been happening while he was away. It’s nice to see the character back full time but we’d forgotten what an irritating and smug person Anders can be. His little weekly video appearances have been amusing but now he’s back and in full-on obnoxious mode, we can understand why the opening scene ends with Mike punching him.
What starts as a funny little dig at man-flu soon turns into something more sinister as Axl goes from the stereotypical moaning-sick-bloke-on-the-sofa to being rushed into hospital. As his condition worsens there’s the real possibility of death, which would also mean death for the rest of the Johnson boys and be a disaster for a good chunk of New Zealand too.
Axl’s condition and how it relates to the rest of the Johnson boys is revealed in a slow, amusing way. What begins with Anders trying, and failing, to use his God powers to sweet talk an NZ customs official soon becomes much more. He blames the failure of his powers on the fact that official must be a lesbian; it’s a typical of Anders’ assumption, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
As well as Anders’ silver tongue failing, Ty finds that he isn’t cold and numb and Mike can’t find his keys. It’s not until Olaf starts to age that the dots are connected and it becomes clear that Axl’s ’flu is interfering with all the male God powers, and the consequences of this sink in.
Axl’s illness and the possible consequences lead to some quiet introspective moments for the boys. Aging Olaf bonds with Stacy while Mike and Ty seem to getting along better than ever. These little character moments are nice to see. Ty treats the loss of his power as a gift and begins to woo Dawn, inviting her for a picnic and later to an evening out. The two of them get on great and Dawn seems to be willing to give him another chance. When he asks if they can just be friends, it seems to go against everything these characters have been working towards for the entire season. We hope Ty’s reasoning was that he’d either regain his power or die – and didn’t want to drag Dawn along again – but if so, why ask her out in the first place? If Ty does eventually lose his powers for good, which is what the character’s plot seems to be heading towards, then he may have burnt his last bridge with Dawn here.
Elsewhere, it’s finally revealed what Anders’ quest was for. He’s been in Norway and has brought back a branch from Yggdrasil the Norse Gods’ mythological tree of life. What Agnetha wanted Yggdrasil for and what powers it might bring remains to be seen. The fact that Anders just happens to arrive with the magic branch right when it’s useful seems very convenient, surely it’s meant for more than this.
The money from Agnetha’s will is gone. We thought this would have a longer-running part to play but Mike – sans powers – has lost it all after some bad investment decisions. The little bit left is given to Stacy to buy her courier service. It seem somehow fitting that the lowliest member of the group gets the best of the money situation.
So, another very good episode overall, not quite up there with the best of the season but not far off; the problem is we’re left with too many questions. The cause of the illness and its cure isn’t explained. Why did Michele have the ’flu and recovery so quickly? Was Axl infected intentionally by some as-yet unrevealed party? What happened when Michele touched Axl and Yggdrasil at the same time? There seems to be quite a bit here that is yet to be made clear.
BEST GOD Very little happens on the Godly powers front, because the episode is all about the brothers losing them. Michele’s magic finger painting wins. Not just because it‘s the only choice, but because of what she writes on Axl’s head. No other show would do this. We suppose the Yggdrasil branch should get a mention too because it definitely had something to do with the finger painting, we just don’t know what yet.
OLAF GETS HIS KIT OFF Olaf remains completely clothed this week. The only Johnson flesh we get to see is Ty as he revels in his new-found ability to feel.
WHAT YOU TOLKIEN ABOUT? Zeb reckons Yggdrasil might work like Gandalf’s magical staff. He’s wrong and Mike ends up looking a bit silly. And, of course, Dean O’Gorman (who plays Anders) has been away filming The Hobbit.
FRIGGWATCH No Frigg at all this week. She’s barely even mentioned.
MISSING GOD For the second week in a row there’s no Loki to throw a spanner in the works. We hope he’s back soon.
WAIT, ISN’T THAT…? Old Olaf’s make-up looks remarkably like an aged Robert Duval.
BEST LINE Ingrid:“My, you do look handsome.” Ty:“Thank you Ingrid.” Ingrid:“Dressed like that you are a danger to womenfolk everywhere.” Ty:“Ta.” Ingrid:“Hmm, feeling a little tingle just looking at you.” Ty:“!”
OR Axl:“Man-flu is a real thing you know. It’s like normal flu, only worse.