Written By: Mathew ‘JJ’ Simoes
This may be the most significant episode of American Gods thus far, as the series mythology was made far clearer, and Wednesday was confronted by the new gods.
The opening scenes of this episode were fantastic as they delved deep into the state of Shadow and Laura’s relationship to each other. American Gods operates on a very high concept premise, but the characters always ground the story. Shadow’s response to Laura’s return from the dead was a mix of shock, joy and anger. Whereas Laura has sorted out her feelings about Shadow and is adamant about their getting back together, Shadow wasn’t so sure. Shadow still hasn’t dealt with his feeling regarding Laura’s extra-marital affair, and finds it difficult to readily accept Laura back into his life, despite missing her greatly. Since the previous episode had Laura sort out how she felt about their relationship, it was interesting seeing the same thing happen with Shadow this episode. Their different states of mind made for some great back and forth, but also added a bit of sadness to the scene.
Focusing now on Laura, she has definitely been changed by what’s happened to her. She’s a far more violent individual, and coupling that with her post death strength, she’s a very treating individual at the moment. Laura had no problem torturing Mad Sweeney for information regarding the reason he first fought Shadow in the bar. She also didn’t show any remorse for murdering the morgue worker on her way out. It seems Laura, who was already a disengaged person before her death, seems to be very removed from reality after it. At the same time she is trying to become a more caring person, as she seems far less disengaged when around Shadow in the present. It makes one wonder how far she’ll go tor protect herself and Shadow in future episodes. Before moving on, one great moment was watching Laura play possum in the bath tub to frame Mad Sweeney for murder, so she clearly knows how to use her undead status to her advantage.
This episode notably featured the first major confrontation between the new gods and the old gods, which proved to be very illuminating. If anything, the confrontation clearly proved that the new gods possess far more power than the likes of Wednesday. Mr. World, a major antagonist from the novel was introduced this episode, and he was great. Crispin Glover’s portrayal was excellent, as the character remained very distanced from the individuals around him despite knowing everything about them. This speaks to the larger information age he represents, where we can learn anything with the touch of a button but at the same time can experience nothing. The way the gods connect to their followers was also brought up this episode. Wednesday states that the new gods of America merely occupy people time, and don’t provide anything deeper to their followers. The animated prologue however brings into question how powerful the gods are and how important they are to humanity. The one negative to the back half of the episode was the lack of clarity involved with World’s plans for Wednesday. At the moment it’s not very clear what World’s larger plans are, but I’m sure as the season continues more of the conflict will become clear.
Speaking of the animated prologue, that was very different and not what I was expecting. For a show that defies convention, it’s nice to see that it’s also not afraid to define its own. I’m not sure why they chose to do the opening as an animation, but it’s so beautiful to look at I honesty don’t care. As mentioned earlier this opening prologue ties into the episode’s later conversation about the relationship between gods and those who worship them, with the gods taking their power for granted.
The importance belief is stressed again this episode, with Media bringing it up frequently during her meeting with the technical boy. Media stresses that all they need is one person to believe, “and that would be enough”. The episode then cut to Shadow, subtly hinting at the character’s larger importance in the story. Shadow’s importance is also hinted at by Wednesday orchestrating the bar fight in the premiere, clearly wanting Shadow for a specific reason. Wednesday also tried Shadow to kept from his wife, so she clearly presents some kind of threat to Wednesday’s larger plans. It seems that making non-believers, believe, is an important goal for the gods.
In terms of performances Gillian Anderson is the standout of this episode, and is so good that I must talk about it. Media, the god of television, takes on different pop-culture roles during her scene, the most common one being the star of I love Lucy. Anderson shows versatility in her acting ability as she play these different roles to perfection, with Media’s David Bowie persona being a hoot to watch. She also made for a great caricature of Marilyn Monroe.
All in all, this was an excellent episode of American Gods, with the series explaining more of it’s mythology.
Mathew’s Rating – 8.5/10
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