Well, if you thought last week’s American Gods was a little slow, then this episode was packed from start to finish. So let’s plow through it (the pun will make sense soon).
This week, we skip the “Coming To America” segment and in its place is a “Somewhere in America” piece, focused on an older woman cooking a big dinner for her family. She wobbles on a step stool to reach something from a top shelf, but seems to make it just fine. As she talks to her cat there’s a knock at the door. She opens it to find a black man, whom she brushes off but when he doesn’t leave, she assumes he’s a robber. He tells her he is not a thief, but part of death, and he is there to collect. That’s when she sees her dead body on the floor. She did not make it off the stool safely at all.
She asks why he, Anubis (Chris Obi), is there to collect her because she is part of a Muslim home. He reminds her of her childhood, where she was “a girl of Egypt” and the stories she learned there. He escorts her to the fire escape, where they will go to “the scales.” They climb an ever growing and dizzying fire escape until they reach a more celestial plane, with desert sands and lens-flare tinged blue skies.
At the scales, Anubis judges her by placing a feather on one plate and her heart (which he rips from her chest Once Upon A Time style, but with more blood) on the other. She confesses to some bad behavior, saying she tried her best, which Anubis confirms to her it was good enough. They walk over to five doors, where she must choose one to spend eternity. She can’t choose and asks Anubis to choose for her. But she’s worried; she doesn’t want to go to the door that has her abusive father, and she’s also concerned if she’s followed the wrong god, she’ll never see her family. She doesn’t get much time to fret though because the dang cat pushes her through the door (typical cat). We never see her on the other side, so we can only hope that Anubis, and that potentially jerk cat, chose well for her.
Back in Zorya Vechernyaya’s apartment, Shadow pops awake on the couch, seeing an unnatural sky above Chicago. Something draws him to the roof, so he climbs a less extreme fire escape where he finds a pretty young woman watching the skies through a telescope. He realizes she is Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Karr), the sleeping sister we heard about last week.
She tells Shadow she’s watching Odin’s wing and the big bear (aka the big dipper), and that something is chained in the stars that, if it ever escaped, would destroy the world. She offers to tell Shadow his fortune, and she insists she’s the best (apparently virginity is the key, according to her). Examining his palm, she tells him he’s on a path from nothing to everything, but has lost something. Shadow guesses his wife, but she gathers he lost to Czernobog. When she asks why he doesn’t care if he lives or die and keeps giving his life away, he tells her the world isn’t what he thought it was. She offers help, but for a price–a kiss. Polunochnaya isn’t a fan of the kiss, but keeps her word, plucking the moon out of the sky and giving it to Shadow in the form of a coin, along with a cryptic message about it “not being the daughter, but the father”, and an order to wake up. He does, and he’s back in the apartment.
Shadow decides he wants a chess rematch with Czernobog, with the same terms. Czernobog scoffs, why repeat the same bet? He only needs to kill him once. But Shadow taunts him saying he’s forgotten how to go for the kill and could mess it up and fail. Incensed, he agrees to play. As they play, Wednesday comes flirting to Zorya Vechernyaya, flattering her that things will be better and asking for his fortune to be told. She does so, telling him he will fail and “they” will win. Wednesday shrugs saying that’s only his fortune for today. They go for a walk during the breaking storm. Before the rain hits, Vechernyaya says “they” will kill Wednesday this time. He ignores her, asks, “remember when we were young?” and plants a kiss on her as the rain comes down. She pulls back and says she tastes war on him. Upstairs, Shadow wins the game (after realizing Czernobog is making all the same moves as before). Czernobog agrees to go to Wisconsin. And to also kill Shadow. So, win some, lose some I guess. The next day, Shadow wakes up to a pleased Mr. Wednesday, who informs him they’ll be robbing a bank.
We then go back to a scummy bar bathroom, where a passed out Sweeney wakes up on the toilet to a shotgun in his face. He cockily tells the bartender that she shouldn’t “press her luck” with the gun, but she fires and breaks the bottle he’s drinking from with precision. He’s shocked, and is next seen walking down the side of the road (more like staggering). A good Samaritan spots him and offers him a ride, thinking he’s an alcoholic in need of help. Sweeney brushes offers his offers of AA lectures and settles back to go to sleep in the car. As they drive, a truck in front of them carrying big metal poles, pops a tire, sending one of the poles flying through the windshield where it impales our good Samaritan (and gives everyone Final Destination 2 flashbacks). Sweeney pretty much just sighs as the car crashes. He survives in decent shape, but the police mention that he’s got some “crazy bad luck.” Panicking, Sweeney goes through his pockets, spilling gold coins everywhere, and realizes he’s missing one very important coin.
From there, it’s another “Somewhere in America” segment. We meet a young man, Salim (Omid Abtahi), nervously waiting in an office to meet with someone he’s trying to sell products to. He gets the brush off all day, and leaves dejected. He hails a cab, driven by the ifrit (Mousa Kraishi) we saw back in episode one, wearing his sunglasses at night to cover up his flaming eyes. They reminisce about their home country of Oman, including a lost city that was recently excavated. They also talk about their not-so-great jobs, Salim saying he’s only been in America for week and he sells crap anyway. The cab driver/ifrit says he’s surprised they aren’t buying, because all they sell in America is crap.
They get stuck in traffic, where the ifrit drifts off to sleep. Salim places a hand on his shoulder to wake him, and as he does, he spots the flaming eyes and realize who’s driving. He tells the ifrit a story about his grandma seeing an ifrit and indicates he knows what he is. The ifrit, or jinn, confesses there aren’t many of his kind in New York, and people seem to think he grants wishes (jinn does not equal genie, people). But if he really granted wishes, would he be driving the cab? Salim agrees it’s wrong, and places his hand on his shoulder again, with the jinn returning the gesture in a tender moment.
Next thing we know, they’re in the elevator, awkwardly holding hands and then they’re in Salim’s room. The jinn appears in just a towel, his sunglasses removed to show off his flaming eyes. He then drops the towel, and we get some FULL FRONTAL MALE NUDITY. He insists one last time that he doesn’t grant wishes, and Salim says, “But you do.” They then engage in a very tender and erotic sex scene, and as they’re making love, they travel to a celestial desert, where they both turn black and shiny, and we see the jinn’s fire shoot through Salim’s body.
The next morning, Salim wakes up alone in the hotel room. He finds the jinn’s clothes and a wallet, which has a different person’s ID in it. His clothes are gone, so he leaves the hotel, wearing the jinn’s sweater. Popping on the sunglasses, he enters the cab, checks the rearview mirror, and says, “I do not grant wishes.”
Back in the Midwest, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday case a bank together. Shadow is understandably nervous about going back to jail, but Wednesday calms him and tells him to think of snow. As they go to a copy shop where Wednesday places an order after he and Shadow discuss Jesus, and how well he’s doing for himself (white Jesus anyway. There’s apparently many Jesus types, one for every culture). Wednesday orders Shadow to concentrate on snow some more, and when he’s done, a snow storm has kicked up on an otherwise sunny day.
Before the robbery, they stop for some lunch, where they argue more about believing in reality versus fantasy. Wednesday question why Shadow believes tiny people on screen predicting weather more than his on ability to think about it and make it happen. During their debate, Mad Sweeney arrives, having tracked them down despite his bad luck. He demands his lucky coin back from Shadow. Shadow agrees to tell him where it is, if Sweeney will tell him how pulled the coin out of the air. Sweeney replies, “I pulled it out of the air.” Annoyed, Shadow says he threw it away on Laura’s grave. Sweeney stalks off after making nasty crack about being another man to climb on top of Laura, and as he leaves, Wednesday wishes him good luck.
Then the heist begins. Wednesday dresses as a security guard, fakes an out of order deposit box, and collects money deposit bags. The cops pull up, but Wednesday planned on that by creating business cards with a fake security company and the number of the payphone across the street, where Shadow is waiting to participate in the con.
After they collect enough money, they drive off into the snowy night, Wednesday asking, “Believe me now?” Shadow is still extremely skeptical, questioning the snow and if he’s delusional or dreaming, but Wednesday counters with the idea that it’s a beautiful thing to be dreaming when you’re not asleep. He asks if Shadow believed in love, and he says he didn’t before Laura. Wednesday points out that he didn’t believe in it until he did and his world changed. Wednesday tells him belief is determined by the company you keep and how easily you scare. And the only thing Wednesday is afraid of is being forgotten. He asks Shadow what the first thing about today he’ll remember, and tells him it will probably be snow. Shadow may finally, slowly, be coming around to the idea of the kind of world he’s really living in.
They arrive at a motel and Shadow goes to check into his room. Meanwhile, we see that Sweeney has arrived at Laura’s grave. He starts digging, finally reaching the coffin lid, with a whole seemingly burned in it. He rips the lid off to reveal Laura’s empty coffin.
Shadow enters his room and sees Laura, looking pretty alive for a dead woman. “Hi, puppy.” CUT TO CREDITS
Cliffhanger you guys, and a pretty good one! Shadow can make snow, Laura’s alive-ish, and Sweeney needs his lucky coin back.
Questions for Next Week
- So, how did Laura track Shadow down?
- Is this what’s going to make Shadow believe, finally?
- Will Sweeney getting his coin back stop Laura from being reanimated?
- Where are Shadow and Wednesday (and maybe Laura) off to next?
Points of Interest
- There has been a lot of press/interviews about the sex scene between Salim and the Jinn. I thought it was well handled and touching. They’re both miserable in America, and find this brief, but intense connection with each other. There was no sense of “OMG, they’re gay!” exploitation. Just two people (or one person, one mythical being) finding each other in this crazy world.
- In the post show breakdown, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green talked about showcasing that scene as a romance.
- Not to mention, fair’s fair–we saw a lot of naked Bilquis in past episodes, so I appreciate American Gods egalitarian approach to nudity. Nudity for everyone!
- Salim seemed okay with taking over the cab situation. I feel like in the book, it wasn’t as welcomed.
- To go with the different Jesus types conversation, Wednesday also mentions in the car that America is the only country that wonders what it is. Hence so many gods running around, I would wager. Everyone’s looking for an identity and a place to belong.
- There was a solid Frozen reference with Polunochnaya saying cold doesn’t bother her.
- Speaking of Frozen, Fuller and Green point out that Shadow summoning snow is his first real experience with god-like powers.
- That was Scott Thompson, from Fuller’s Hannibal and Kids in the Hall fame as the doomed good Samaritan.
- I laughed super hard at the radio playing, “I’m into Something Good” during Sweeney’s brief (and failed), stint hitchhiking.
- I also chuckled at the Sphynx cat in the woman’s apartment. Pretty clever, Fuller and Green.
- Did you all get the plow joke at the top? Because, snow?
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