For all he knew and understood about his father, Shadow still fell prey to his manipulations.
The end of American Gods Season 3 Episode 10 revealed that Shadow had missed some clues about his father's actions and that a sacrifice he made willingly was a setup.
Although there's not an official renewal at Starz for American Gods Season 4, they've still got a bit of the story left to tell.
In the wake of Wednesday's death, everyone gathered in the middle of America, considered the most soulless place on earth.
Shadow wondered why Wednesday didn't just hold his peace talks here, where violence couldn't occur. But as we knew, Wednesday never had peace on his mind.
Wednesday was pulling a long-con to return to his former glory.
Laura Moon, who suffered a terrible fate at his hands, never thought much of Shadow's long-lost father, but she didn't realize was that she, too, was just one more string on Wednesday's instrument, and he was playing it to perfection.
While the novel never explored this avenue, it was revealed that Bilquis has a mission to pull it all together and set it right.
Help is what Shadow needs to steer him in the right direction. He's a special one, alright. Trouble is, he knows it now. But that ain't your never mind. What you need to do is find the other, his soul mate. Convince him he ain't no solo act. Yes, indeed. That tall order falls to you.Eugenia
That promises to alter the novel's course a bit more, but I can't figure out how. Another character was responsible for Shadow after he was on the World Tree, but moving another into place shouldn't be too difficult.
I'm not sure how Laura's reveal of being Shadow's other half plays into the future, but it could signify that she'll deal with the new gods while Shadow deals with the old.
Cordelia: He cared about you, too, you know.
Shadow: He showed it by murdering my wife?
Cordelia: That puta with the spear? She seemed pretty goddamned alive to me.
Shadow: Yeah, she's the stubborn type.
Mr. World betrayed Laura, which she would have seen coming if she wasn't so hell-bent on vengeance.
He doesn't put much cache into Laura's quest, apparently, because he just put himself into her line of fire. But placing her trust in the wrong guy ultimately put her in Shadow's path to try to pound some sense into his head.
But by the time she got there, his head was so far up his own ass that he couldn't see the truth from lies.
Maybe saving Lakeside gave Shadow the confidence to think he could sit vigil at the World Tree, a nine-day and nine-night torture session that even a full god finds challenging, but would be certain death to a mortal.
Laura: Listen, I didn't do this for purely selfish reasons.
Laura: Fine. But, Shadow, you're free now. No more of his compacts or scheme or war or fuckin' murder. You can go after what you always wanted. White picket fence, wifey giving you a couple kids instead of blowing your friends.
Shadow: Don't you fuckin' dare tell me you killed him to make my life better. You have no idea who I am or what I want.
Laura: I know that you don't owe him shit. What did he ever do other than make your life fuckin' miserable?
Shadow: Gave me a purpose: To be a better leader than he ever could have been.
Laura: A Leader.
Laura: Of what?
Shadow: Change. Before humanity goes down the tubes.
Sitting somewhere in between, it's sheer hubris thinking that he can change the world that got him onto that tree. But he needed to pare down and reassess, and he got the opportunity to do it on that tree.
Shadow's life was over. We've seen on American Gods how death alters life but doesn't end it. What he experiences on the tree and after his death will shine a light on Wednesday's con. Shadow will see more clearly and will find purpose in death.
Laura: OK. So, are you saying you're a god now?
Shadow: I'm saying I have a destiny, and I need to follow it wherever it takes me.
Just like Laura before him, Shadow has been sacrificed for Odin. Nothing between the old and new gods has been settled, and now Wednesday has all the vigor afforded him of Shadow's sacrifice. His quest to be restored to full power will continue.
None of this destiny stuff between Shadow and Laura played out in the book, but although she had a much smaller part to play in writing, her eventual destination was significant.
With Shadow's unending optimism and Laura's unlimited supply of pessimism, they balance perfectly. It will be interesting to see what's in store for them now that they're revealed as soulmates. I'm sure the story will be similar, but that's a new attraction.
Bilquis isn't the only character without a large presence in the book, which has far greater significance now. Technical Boy is the key to bridging the new and old gods.
Tech Boy: What is this thing?
Mr. World: Your totem. You have no idea how vital you are to everything. You are, perhaps, the most powerful of us all. The embodiment of human innovation, which makes you the bridge from the old gods to the new.
He doesn't represent only modern technology, but all of human intervention, from fire to nanotech. He's a key so powerful that he's reset with each new phase of evolution and wiped of everything without his totem. That limits his power and allows others to control that evolution.
He's trapped again and possibly on the verge of losing everything he just regained, but after his encounters with Bilquis during American Gods Season 3, his capacity for change might be different now.
Even the same life begun anew, again and again, will take different steps to completion, eventually ending the repeating process. Perhaps he's grown beyond the need for his totem.
Mr. World: People say this is the age of technology. They're wrong. It's the age of manipulation. Trickery is what I do best.
Tech Boy: Who the fuck are you? Who the fuck are you? Who the fuck are you?!
The question of who the f#ck Mr. World is looming large. And if there was ever a more fitting analysis of modern times than the age of manipulation, I don't know what it could be.
Every day, the latest technology manipulates global conversation, swaying opinions, charting a future destined by the manipulators. Human innovation is being crushed through that manipulation, and if you're not scared, you should be.
I don't know how this decades-old story has managed to retain its prescience, but kudos to all involved who effortlessly proved that in the right hands, the material can grow and evolve without losing its essence.
But, essentially, what the finale comes down to is Shadow's discovery that he was kind of like a kid from a Lifetime movie.
You know the ones -- when parents have a kid to harvest their organs so that their previously born kid could survive. But Wednesday's the father and the beneficiary of Shadow's essence, and that's far more despicable.
Shadow: No, no, no, no. This isn't happening.
Wednesday: Something that was planned even before you were born. A blood sacrifice by a son? Wow. That's powerful enough to restore me to all my former glory. Odin, the all-father, all-powerful, once again.
Trying to save your child is one thing, but sacrificing your child to fortify yourself is an entirely different story.
Now that Shadow is armed with new knowledge about the events that occurred, we need him off of that tree and ready to get his hands dirty. He took one for one team, so now he has to lead another team to pull it together.
What did you think of "Tears of the Wrath-Bearing Tree"? Was the season a success, or were your hopes dashed?
Make sure you drop down below to share your thoughts after you watch American Gods online.
And keep your fingers crossed that we're not similarly left hanging on the ending and that renewal is on the way!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.