Last week we were introduced to the new weird, world of American Gods. Much like the lead character Shadow Moon, we have no idea what the hell is going on. Fresh out of prison, Shadow was having pretty much the worst day ever. In addition to his wife dying, his finding out she died while giving fellatio to his best friend. The cherry on top, he’s now thrust into a world of Old Gods and New Gods as he is in the service of Old God leader, Mr. Wednesday. He’s already met Mad Sweeny, and unfortunately met the Technical Boy, who wasn’t keen on him getting involved in the affairs of the Old and New Gods, and has him hanged. We also got to meet Bilquis, who proceeded to show her powers by swallowing a man whole into her nether regions during her lovemaking. Needless to say, this is a weird and fun new show, and can only get weirder and more fun!
This week continues the “Coming to America” theme, and just like last week, they showed a horrifying “immigration” story. Instead of Vikings coming to America like last week, this week the show addressed the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as we see a slave ship coming to the New World from Africa. One of those in captivity begins praying to the African God Anansi. Throughout mythology, Anansi has appeared as a spider. We see a spider crawling down into the belly of the slave ship, and then we meet a new Old God, Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones). Mr. Nancy gives a stunning monologue where her explains to the slaves what the next three hundred years will entail for them. He tells them that they are now “black” versus “human” as they thought they were. He explained what the slave trade would do for black people and the horrifying legacy that will happen. As he gives a rousing speech to the captive Africans, they get angry, which Mr. Nancy wanted. He frees one from bondage, and then they proceed to carry out a revolt, burning down the slave ship, killing their Dutch captors, and even killing themselves. Mr. Nancy shows his power by just using his words to inspire his wishes. Expect big things from him and Orlando Jones looks like he’s having a fun time doing the role.
Back in the present day, Shadow is recuperating from his ordeal with the Technical Boy. Thanks to a mysterious benefactor, he survived a lynching from the Technical Boy’s faceless goons. He immediately rushes to speak with Mr. Wednesday about this crazy new world that he’s facing. He even mentions “strange fruit” during the conversation. The ever so calm Mr. Wednesday offers to double Shadow’s salary because of the dangers now present. Even though Wednesday is calm, he assures Shadow that he is just as pissed as he is at the Technical Boy and will do something about that.
Before he leaves with Wednesday, Shadow has to put his affairs in order. As he dreams, he still imagines his wife still alive. When he wakes up, he has to clean up his wife’s house. As he’s cleaning and packing things, he continues to be drawn to the box containing her effects when she died. Shadow makes the grave mistake of looking through his cheating dead wife’s phone, where he not only sees messages between his wife and his friend, but he also sees a “dick pic” he sent her. Now, every picture he sees is a picture of his friend’s penis whenever he looks at a picture of him and his wife in their house.
Once he had packed up everything out of his wife’s house, it’s time to hit the road. Mr. Wednesday still hasn’t told him what his mission in as he’s “easing him in” to the world of Gods and the war against the New Gods. As they go on their road trip, he gives Shadow a shopping list and a group of items to pick up when shopping. He even doesn’t mind if Shadow skimps off 5% of the money for himself. Shadow then heads to what appears to be a Costco type of store where he goes on the shopping spree for Mr. Wednesday. As Shadow passes by a television, I Love Lucy is on the television. However, Lucy herself is talking directly to shadow. Now we are introduced to a new member of the New Gods, Media (played by Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame), who looks remarkably like Lucy from the old TV show. She’s trying to recruit Shadow to her side. Media tells her that she is the future, as we now live in an age of us ever consuming media, either on our TV screens or on our phones. After all, we’re watching a TV show, essentially “worshipping” her as we watch American Gods. Shadow declines her invitation, but it’s clear he’s special as all sides are actively recruiting him.
Shadow runs back into Mr. Wednesday where he reveals that he thinks’s he’s losing his mind. As he sees Wednesday, it’s clear that Wednesday has just finished speaking to another Old God as the person’s eyes light up as he leaves. We’ll surely see that person in a future episode. The two continue their road trip and the next person they meet is in Chicago. They run into Old God Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) and her sister. They have another sister, but she is not to be bothered as she sleeps in her room. Zora and Mr. Wednesday have a rapport, so recruiting her doesn’t seem to be that big a deal.
Mr. Wednesday’s next recruit Czernobog (Peter Stormare) might be a problem. He calls Mr. Wednesday by another name and speaks down towards him. Over dinner Czernobog remarks on the fact that Shadow is black, and also comments on his day job, working at a slaughterhouse. In mythology, Czernobog is a god of evil or blackness, and he relishes in the slaughtering of cows. As he’s antagonistic to both Mr. Wednesday and Shadow, he challenges Shadow to a game of checkers. The large and intimidating man raises the stakes. He will go with Mr. Wednesday and Shadow if Shadow beats him in checkers. However, if Shadow loses, he will bash Shadow’s head in with his famed hammer (which he used to intimidate Shadow during their game). Unfortunately for Shadow, he loses the game and Czernobog ends the episode saying, “It’s a shame. You’re my only black friend.”
It looks like Shadow’s not long for this world.
American Gods airs Sunday nights on Starz at 9:00 PM EST.