Hoo boy, was this week’s American Gods jam packed with information, character pairings, and Gillian Anderson doing impressions. Let’s dive in.

An original Native American American Gods

An original Native American

It’s not categorized as a “Coming to America” story, but this episode opens with an animated sequence describing a tribe’s crossing the land bridge from Siberia into North America to become some of the earliest Native Americans. Their god came with them, and as the narrator describes it, the barrier was thinner then between gods and people. A woman in the tribe communes with the god they brought when food is scarce, and he reveals the terrible price needed for survival. The next scene shows two tribes fighting, with the newcomers victorious. But even so, the god brought with the tribe eventually becomes forgotten and dies. The narrator describes the power people have to create gods in their hearts, and that once they’re gone, they’re gone because they are carried in the hearts of people.

We then see Laura in that hotel room for the third time, and she and Shadow FINALLY start talking. And it goes…okay? He starts off by throwing a pillow at her to make sure she’s real, and refuses to sit next to her as they talk about their unresolved marital issues (aside from her being dead and all).  Shadow asks why she had the affair with Robbie, and she explains much of what we saw in last week’s episode. He asks if she was going to leave him, and she asks “Why would I do that? You’re my puppy. I love you.” 

He asks about the night she died, and she confesses the blow job scenario, and that when she died she was very “blah” about it. She says she was somewhere (leaving out the details with Anubis) and then she was alive in a box. To break the attention, she asks Shadow to grab some cigarettes, thinking it’ll calm their nerves. As he leaves, she admires the warm glowing light only she can see. 

Outside, Shadow picks up the cigarettes from a vending machine, noticing a car in the parking lot. Someone is watching him. Also watching? A raven sitting on the motel sign.

Back in the room, Shadow first thinks Laura has disappeared, but she’s just in the tub. She’s hoping the water will warm her up to so she won’t be cold to the touch. Shadow informs her that when people die, they usually stay dead. Laura agrees that’s the norm, but she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

There’s a quick break to show the raven from the parking lot knocking on Mr. Wednesday’s door and delivering a startling message (in raven squawks of course).

Laura and Shadow continue to talk as she soaks in the tub. She’s rather upbeat about winning Shadow over, but he remains deeply skeptical. They talk about their last phone call, and how Shadow still thinks a big storm is rolling across the country and that nothing feels ok. Laura says they feel ok, emerging from the tub naked and giving him a kiss. The kiss radiates warm light through her and causes her heart to literally jump. 

Laura and Shadow try to reconnect American Gods

Laura and Shadow try to reconnect

After the kiss, Laura warns Shadow that he’s gotten mixed up “in some really weird s**t, but she’s looking out for him. She thanks him for the coin, and he warns her that someone is looking for it. Scoffing, she says it’s hers now and they can’t have it. Then she asks, “Are you still my puppy?” Shadow tells her no, and Laura looks hurt. A lot of damage has been done, even as she admires his bright light.

A fervent knock on the door reveals Mr. Wednesday, trying to convince Shadow to come out for a drink. He catches a whiff of a weird smell, with Shadow trying to keep Wednesday from the room. Before they can go, cops arrive with lights flashing and guns drawn. They’re under arrest for the robbery back in the third episode. Laura misses the arrest, and only sees Shadow’s light leaving the area as she sits under the water in the tub.

Meanwhile, Technical Boy exits a club and approaches his limo in the parking lot, as the lights go out around him. He spots the same device that brought Shadow into his limo in the first episode, just as it launches itself on to his face. Inside the limo, Media appears as David Bowie, circa “Life on Mars“. She warns Technical Boy that he has an image problem, having lynched a black man, and that he needs to think about how he’s presenting himself to Mr. World. The aforementioned Mr. World wants Technical Boy to apologize, but he whines about Mr. Wednesday’s recruitment efforts and initially refuses. Media tells him his efforts aren’t working and have in fact reinvigorated Wednesday’s cause. Technical Boy calls Media delusional for thinking the apology will work, and that Wednesday will cede nothing if he receives one. She counters that delusions are powerful, citing the War of the Worlds panic from 1938, and how she fed off that panic. He says not everyone believed it, but she tells him just enough did, and maybe Mr. Wednesday needs only one to help his cause.

You tacky thing, you put them on (Don't AT me, it's a lyric) American Gods

You tacky thing, you put them on (Don’t AT me, it’s a lyric)

At the police station, Shadow and Wednesday are being interrogated. Wednesday first offers up his befuddled old man routine, claiming Shadow stole him from a retirement home. Shadow remains stoic and demands a lawyer with every question from the detective (played by Tracie Thoms). We switch between the interrogations where Shadow refuses to answer, and Wednesday starts speaking completely plainly about gods, leprechauns, and Mr. Nancy.

In Shadow’s room, things are much more serious, with the detective explaining how small town cops were tipped off to their location after the robbery. It came in as a fax, and gave exact coordinates and satellite photos. The detective suspects someone much larger is after Shadow and Wednesday, and offers help if he cooperates. She adds that the D.A. may be more sympathetic to the face he recently lost his wife.

Speaking of that leprechaun, Sweeney busts into Laura and Shadow’s hotel room, demanding the coin. He tries to physically threaten her, but with her undead powers, she’s able to knock him away with a flick of her finger. As they argue about who’s coin it really is, she realizes that he can’t just take it from her (it’s literally inside her chest), she has to offer it back. He performs some magic and shows that he can pull many coins from the air that are just as good as the coin she has inside her. Laura doubts his offer, knowing that any old coin won’t work for her the way this one does. Sweeney admits that he can’t just take it, but warns her that she’ll eventually start to rot, especially if she keeps soaking in bath tubs, and that when she does, he’ll be there to snatch the coin back.

He tries one last time to attack her, landing them both in the tub just as cops arrive in the room again. He insists she’s not dead, but she sure looks dead to the cops, sunk at the bottom of the tub. “Asshole dead wife!” Sweeney declares as he’s hauled away, and Laura smiles underwater.

And now we get to the biggest scene in the whole episode. It’s easily 15 minutes long or more, but a lot is revealed and explained, so bear with me.

It begins with the detective bringing Shadow and Wednesday together, showing Wednesday the “god’s eye view” of the robbery. She tells them to go ahead and talk their stories out and leaves the room. Wednesday is actually scared for once, and hustles out of his handcuffs with help from a familiar, colorful spider. Shadow notes how afraid Wednesday is and demands to know who’s after them. Then, Media, as Seven Year Itch Marilyn Monroe, floats in the room. Shadow realizes she’s also the Lucile Ball he saw in the tv screens, and he is completely shocked and confused. “This isn’t real, this is reality reprogrammed!” he declares, trying to wrap his head around what’s happening.

Happy Birthday, to the New Gods.... American Gods

Happy Birthday, to the New Gods….

In comes Mr. World (Crispin Glover, perfectly cast), lighting up the tiles like Michael Jackson in “Billie Jean.” He begins with an apology to Wednesday, saying they should have met ages ago. Wednesday orders Shadow to say nothing to Mr. World. World however frees Shadow from his handcuffs, saying he already knows him. When Shadow says he doesn’t know, World rattles off a terrifying amount of personal details, down to the number of sexual partners his mother had. 

That’s when he calls for Technical Boy to enter the conversation. Technical Boy offers a hollow apology for lynching Shadow. World offers to let Shadow knock Technical Boy around, but he declines. Technical Boy then turns to Wednesday saying he could help Wednesday spread his message, and World says they’re not here to fight. Wednesday asks if this is truce, and World says they were never at war. Media offers that their idea is a merger, a chance to upgrade to a new “lemon scented you.” 

Wednesday asks what happens if he doesn’t agree to join. World tells him he respects the individualism, but that everything is interconnected now, and everything is one product from one company. Then he and Media launch into a dizzying presentation, where the room’s walls are filled with images of an “Odin rocket,” that would bomb North Korea, offering Valhalla anew with the number of people who would die knowing Odin’s name. Wednesday says they’re trying to smooth him over to make him presentable, which he doesn’t want. He says his kind gave people meaning, whereas Media and the rest only occupy people’s time. World says they could give meaning again, and moves to leave.

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Technical Boy pulls a Scott Evil attitude, calling out Mr. World for just letting Wednesday and Shadow go. World tells him it’s a matter of respect. Technical Boy balks, and Media smacks his teeth out with a super powered kiss she blows through the air. They leave, and Mr. World assures Shadow he’s not the enemy. 

Still confused, Shadow asks if that was real, as he and Wednesday try to escape the police station. The new gods have completely decimated the place, killing everyone including the nice detective. Shadow asks what story is going to be told here, and Wednesday tells him any one they want. Suddenly, a wooden chair attacks Shadow, shooting branches down the hall. The two men barely escape out the back of the station.

In front, the cops arrive with Sweeney. As they investigate the ruined station, Sweeney makes his escape from the back of the car, clumsily landing on his crotch before he makes it down the road still in handcuffs.

Finally, at another morgue, a lonely tech hears a noise and investigates. Laura accidentally launches the door to her morgue gurney at the guy. She looks in the mirror to confirm she’s still dead, gets dressed and leaves.

And that’s this week’s episode. It seems like we’re finally acknowledging gods being real, and that even though Shadow is still struggling, he’s seeing enough to believe. I mean, his dead wife with her autopsy stitches is just chilling in his hotel room. If that ain’t magic buddy, I don’t know what is. We also get a real sense of some of the stakes of this brewing war, from the information at the beginning about being forgotten, to the New Gods offers to assimilate Mr. Wednesday.

Questions for Next Week

  • So, Shadow and Laura are separated again, so we’re going to have another reunion, but when?
  • Where is Sweeney off to, apart from tracking down Laura?
  • Now that Shadow has really seen the New Gods in full action in front of his eyes, will he stay with Mr. Wednesday?
  • How is Wednesday going to keep Shadow on his side?
  • Are we going to get more Mr. Nancy? I was so hoping he would pop out of his spider form when they showed it, but no such luck.

Points of Interest

  • Really interested that they addressed the lynching, and acknowledge that it is deeply, racially charged imagery. 
  • Loved that Technical Boy not only offered a lame apology, but was still appropriating a version of cornrows in his hair. It added to the tone of “Sorry you’re offended, that’s your problem” in his apology.
  • I’m going to say it: The David Bowie look was great, but I feel Anderson didn’t really nail his distinctive speaking voice. DON’T AT ME.
  • I did enjoy all the Bowie lyrics worked into her conversation with Technical Boy
  • Her Marilyn Monroe was passable. Also interesting that they declare she was murdered by the C.I.A., with an agent putting a needles in her eye and giving her the fatal overdose (as opposed to accidental). 
  • All the details Mr. World rattled off about Shadow were so creepy and invasive, and he mentions that everything is recorded. Timely, no?
  • It almost seems that the women are the muscle in this show, with Media smacking out Technical Boy’s teeth, and Laura fighting off Sweeney with no problem.
  • Laura’s whole attitude has shifted, and it’s pretty fun. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green said in the post show featurette that she’s “kind of a dick” and that now she’s dead, it’s her true self coming through.
  • They also addressed using the animation for the opening story of the early Native Americans. They said their plan was too ambitious to film, but honestly, I think they could have filmed it with Native American actors on green screen anyway. To me, there wasn’t anything prohibitively difficult in the final product that needed animation to cover it. It’s kind of a missed opportunity to continue their otherwise excellence in diverse casting.
  • Fuller and Green talk about meeting Crispin Glover as they were casting Mr. World, and that they recreated their initial meeting with his entrance in the show (he apparently rolled up to the meeting on a bicycle in a velvet suit with a bowler hat on. I would pay so much money to see that in person).
  • I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt about what kind of bird has been spying on the characters, a crow or a raven, but it’s definitely a raven since Mr. Wednesday is Odin. This is actually the first episode they come in to play, and that Wednesday is hinted at being Odin as well (with the rocket).

RELATED: Read all American Gods recaps here.

 

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