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The Almighty Johnsons 2.11 "The House of Jerome" REVIEW

TV REVIEW More gods than you can shake a fist at. And a pole dance

The Almighty Johnsons 2.11 "The House of Jerome" TV REVIEW

Episode 2.11
Writers: Ross Hastings, Tim Balme & James griffin
Director: Murray Keane

THE ONE WHERE Axl and co are on the trail of Gaia’s kidnappers and find more than they bargained for, Anders has the chance of a big contract at work and there’s some pole dancing.

VERDICT This week sees yet another cracking five-star episode from the New Zealand Norse gods which hits the deck running; we really can’t fault this show at the moment.

Things are getting more and more complicated for Axl and the brothers as the “who kidnapped Gaia?” plotline takes a very bizarre and unexpected turn. Once again this show knows exactly how to wrong foot us with a cliff-hanger. Here we are, expecting an episode about the hunt for Gaia and maybe some info on who it was that’s been trying to get her killed and stop the Norse prophecy, and instead we find Gaia within minutes of the episode starting and then we get a whole load of Maori deities and a whole different prophecy to prepare for.

After three episodes which have thrown lots of new ideas, background information and plot twists at us the introduction of a new bunch of gods is an inspired move and begs the question just who else might be out there?

The Maori prophecy is basically the same as the Norse one we all know and love except Gaia would become Papatuanuku – a Maori Earth Mother type goddess equivalent to The Frigg – and this a novel way to muddy up the “is Gaia the Frigg?” question. We knew they’d never make it easy but this is a whole new level of complicated. And there we, were worried about the possibility of Gaia being The Frigg was an easy, obvious move when it was first presented.

Keisha Castle-Hughes plays her character’s dilemma very well and until the conversation with Axl about the two of them running away you really aren’t sure exactly what she’s thinking or how she might react to her increasingly odd and complicated life.

The “Hui” is a bit of an uncomfortable watch, especially the various singing turns that the two groups perform and Jerome (Māui) comes across a bit of a dick. Not wishing to insult any religion, and fully admitting that we don’t know very much about Maori tradition, this new bunch did come across as both a little too serious and a little bit silly. Mike and George, as the two senior men of their groups, work very well in their scenes together; you can imagine these two sorting it all out over a pint before too long. Bryn’s decision to face his punishment for killing Gaia’s parents with noble stoicism is brilliantly handled, the character has never exactly been well liked or popular but here he really proves his worth.

The Anders plot this week is a nice slice of comedy. His drunken meeting with stiff-as-a-rod Natalie was hilarious to watch. Dawn’s long-suffering employee act here was priceless too. We bet she’s so glad Anders is back.

We think there’s going to be more to Natalie than meets the eye especially considering the phrase – “Estou com deus” which means “I’m with God” – that ends her phone conversation with her mysterious superior. Anders’ ploy to present Helen as his wife to give an impression of respectability and win over Natalie may just be backfiring as Helen later refurnishes his apartment and buys them rings to complete the fake wedding plot. Anders looks noticeably uncomfortable with these developments; are cracks in the fated relationship starting to appear already?

After his brief appearances earlier in the season Kvasir is back and appears to be squatting in Mike’s bars basement. Why exactly he’s back on the scene, and why he’s in the bars basement, we don’t know yet, but his brief old man fight with Olaf was amusing and we’re sure he’ll be back next week.

Mike snapping and having a rant at Olaf is a little painful even if it is a somewhat true; the old oracle is wrong quite a bit of the time and is usually drunk or stoned, but he does tend to come through more often than he fails. Seeing Mike truly lose his temper was a turn up; he’s been a very relaxed character for most of the season even when the pressure has been on. We guess even his new calm has its limits.

The magic stick Yggdrasil pops up again as Michele reveals what she can do with it to the other goddesses. It turns out they too can use it; as well as Michele’s healing powers the stick gives Ingrid better oracle powers and turns Stacy into some sort of super bendy pole dancer. We wonder exactly where the Yggdrasil plot is going and whether we’ll see gods versus goddesses again in the future.

So, all in all, another top notch episode, lots of question and twists and turns and reveals and all the players on top form as usual. Things are really starting to ramp up as we get closer to the end of the season and we can’t wait to see where this ride is going to take us.

BEST GOD This week’s best god has to go to Stacy – Fulla the handmaiden – and her pole dancing routine. Yggdrasil gives all the goddesses new powers but we’re pretty sure actress Eve Gordon did all her own stunts here and impressive they were. Mike also hunts down Gaia’s kidnappers with ease.

NEW GODS ON THE BLOCK This week’s episode introduces new gods to the mix, Maori gods to be precise. We meet Leon who is Rongo, god of cultivated food; George who is Punga, the god of sharks, lizards and all ugly things; and Jerome who is Māui, god of ocean spirits. And Gaia might just be Maori goddess Papatuanuku.

FRIGGWATCH After a few weeks of being pretty sure Gaia was going to be The Frigg everything is up in the air again. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t.

OLAF GETS HIS KIT OFF Very little of the Johnsons’ family oracle is seen at all this week and he remains fully-clothed. Axl has a brief man-boob in bed scene and once again Mike and Michele’s happy time is interrupted by important god business.

BEST LINE
Mike: “Sorry, I’m not up on my Maori mythology, but what’s Punga god of again?”
George: “It’s complex to outsiders.”
Mike: “Try me.”
George: “Loosely speaking, I’m the god of ugly things. Sharks, stingrays, anything deformed, they are my children.”
Mike: “Winner.”
George: “Yet strangely, I am irresistible to the pretty ladies.”
Mike: “So, your powers work on an ironic level do they?”

Steven Ellis @Steven Ellis

The Almighty Johnsons airs Mondays at 10pm on SyFy

• Read our other The Almighty Johnsons season 2 reviews

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