Last week on American Gods, in addition to meeting Mr. Nancy is a scene-stealing moment at the beginning of the episode, we also met a slew new of gods that will be seen in the upcoming episodes. Shadow is being courted by both the Old Gods and the New Gods, as he met Media. Shadow seemed to bit off more than he could chew as he found himself promised to take Czernobog’s hammer to the face as he was on the losing end of a high-stakes game of checkers with the Slavic god of darkness and evil. How would he get out of this mess?
The episode begins with the introduction of yet another god. Instead of the “Coming to America” theme, this time it’s a new theme of “Departing America.” We meet an elderly Muslim woman who is preparing dinner for her grandchildren who will come later while standing on a stool. Shortly, there is a knock at the door and we meet Mr. Jacquel (Chris Obi). At first, she assumes that Mr. Jacquel is at either the wrong house or coming to rob her as she doesn’t meet many black people at her apartment. He enlists he is there for her as she is dead. Only when he shows the woman her own dead body does she believe him. Mr. Jacquel is the god Anubis from Egyptian mythology, so the woman is a little confused why he would come to take her to the hereafter. But since she loved the ancient Egyptian stories as a child, he is there for her. He takes her up an endless flight of stairs and then she realized “This is not Queen.” You gotta give props to the production crew as they showed the afterlife for this woman as Mr. Jacquel judges her and then gives her the option of 5 different doors to choose for to spend the afterlife in. Let’s hope she chose wisely.
Meanwhile, Shadow has his head bashing dilemma to solve. Having lost the game of chess with Czernobog, he’s not long for this world. While sleeping the night before his impending doom, he meets one of the other Zorya sisters, the one we haven’t seen yet. It was assumed that she was a hideous monster they needed to keep in her room, but she is just a normal person (god). As she heads up to the roof, an intrigued Shadow goes up to see her as well. Thanks to the third sister, we finally learn a little bit about them and their purpose. The sisters are to watch the sky to keep a demon under watch, for if that demon escapes, all hell would break loose on Earth. Each of the sisters is representative of a star: morning, evening, and midnight. She knows that Shadow has thrown away the coin that Mad Sweeny gave him (by accident) and tells him his throwing it away is reckless. After plucking the moon from the sky, she gives it to him in the form of a silver coin and warns him not to throw this one away. Now was this entire exchange a dream? He awakens on the same couch he saw her, but there is no stairway leading to the roof available, yet he has the silver coin.
Shadow opts to see just how lucky he is and challenges Czernobog for another game of checkers. Shadow raises the stakes offering 2 head bashings (in case the first one doesn’t kill him) if he loses. But if he wins, Czernobog has to join Wednesday on his quest. Shadow defeats the god of evil, saving himself and gaining Wednesday an ally. This kind of deflates the ending of last week as it was so easily wrapped up. While it seemed as though there was cause for worry for Shadow last week, it simply becomes an afterthought as soon as the checkers match is over.
If Shadow’s luck is turning for the better, it most certainly is not for Mad Sweeny. The giant leprechaun wakes up in the same bar from the first episode, presumably after a major bender and is forced out at gunpoint. As he drunkenly walks on the road to meet up with Wednesday in Wisconsin, he luckily gets picked up on the highway hitchhiking. The man who helps him is doing his good Samaritan duties as the man is a former alcoholic and sees a little bit of himself in Mad Sweeny. After Mad Sweeny asks all the right questions you should ask when getting in a stranger’s car, they are off for the ride. Their ride doesn’t last long as a pipe falls from a truck in front of them, impaling the poor good Samaritan. Because that’s incredibly terrible luck, Sweeny looks into his pockets for his lucky coin and then he realizes that it was the coin he gave Shadow. He’s gotta get his luck back or terrible things will continue to happen.
Back in New York, we meet yet another god, and perhaps one of the most explicit gay sex scenes we have seen on television. While shows like Game of Thrones and countless others have not been shy about gay sexuality, American Gods put their foot on the gas when they introduced us to Salim (Omid Abtahi) and Jinn (Mousa Kraish). We first meet Salim who’s just a regular joe trying to make it in America as a salesman who sells “shi#t” as he would say. After being tossed aside for a presentation, he gets into Jinn’s cab. The two strike up small talk about being from the Middle East. Everything seems fine until Jinn’s sunglasses fall beneath his eye line and Salim sees flames where eyeballs should be. Turns out “Jinn” is a type of god called a Jinn. While Salim knows about Jinns from folklore, he’s genuinely interested in hearing about him and his life. There’s a mutual attraction between the two as well. After dropping Salim off at his home, Jinn comes in afterward. There we are treated to that extremely graphic and visually arresting scene between the two. As stated before, we rarely see such full on “hardcoreness” featuring gay males on television, and we almost never see it between Middle Eastern men as historically that is a cultural taboo. In the aftermath of their encounter, Saalim wakes up with Jinn having left him. However, Jinn gives him a new identity. He no longer has to be a salesman and can do whatever he wants.
Much of tonight’s levity was between Shadow and Wednesday as their big plan this week is to rob a bank. With Shadow being an ex-convict who’s fresh out of prison, this is the last thing that he should be doing. In fact, he tries to talk Wednesday out of doing this because he knows how bad it could be for him if he gets caught. Wednesday, as always is cool with everything. He tells Shadow to focus on one thing and one thing only, snow. Now that seems like a weird thing, but it pays off later on as out of nowhere, it starts to snow. The big head scratcher: did Shadow make it snow? If he did, then he’s a god of some sort, probably a demigod. We know his mother “had an afro” but we don’t know who she is, or his father for that matter. There’s got to be a reason that everyone Old and New God-wise wants him.
Although tagging he episode set it up to be some big heist, it really was a simple con. Why rob a bank with force, when you can rob gullible people. Wednesday sets up a con where he poses as a security guard outside of an ATM machine and Shadow waits by a pay phone (the official office of the security company Wednesday supposedly works at) to verify to the police that he is a real security guard. People wanting to deposit their money will come to the ATM (who still deposits money at an ATM when we all have apps for that now in addition to direct deposit?), see it’s out of order, and simply give the security guard their money with the promise of depositing it. They make out like bandits. After all, waging war against New Gods has to be pricey.
Mad Sweeny finally crosses paths with Shadow and Wednesday after their “heist” and demands that Shadow give him back his lucky coin. Shadow, not liking Mad Sweeny, gives him a hard time before telling him that he threw the coin on his wife’s grave. It’s back to Indiana the leprechaun goes. As he goes to dig up her grave, he cannot find the coin. He also cannot find the body as Laura Moon shows up at Shadow’s motel room. Remember how she died, that’s going to be an interesting reunion!
American Gods airs Sunday nights on Starz at 9:00 PM EST.