American Gods: Episode 2 Recap and Review

The history of America is a complex one.

People came from all over the world.

And contrary to popular Ben Carson opinion, many of these people did not come to America on their own accord.

In fact, violence and bloodshed are a large part of our history, for better or for worse.

This country was also built on the backs of vulnerable people, including women, children and slaves from Africa who were kidnapped and brought over to this country, in the name of making this country wealthy and powerful.

And of course, elements of all of these different cultures are now part of American culture.

We eat pasta.  That is Italian.

Some of us listen to jazz music.  Jazz music is something that can be traced back to African culture, and was brought over to this country by the non-immigrant folks, aka slaves.

Even if you watch a movie such The Avengers, there are references to Norse mythology, as characters such as Thor, Loki and Odin are based on gods from Norse mythology. In other words, Hulk’s “friend from work” is actually an immortal Norse god.  That must make for some interesting office dynamics!

But, back to my point.

This country owes a large debt to immigrants, along with African American slaves.

Chances are, something that catches your fancy can be traced back to an immigrant or possibly an African slave.

In fact, someone wrote an entire book about this phenomenon.

The name of the book is American Gods.

At it’s core, American Gods is a dark fantasy that gives us an interpretation of religion along the lines of “it’s real if you believe.”

American Gods also serves us to remind us how important immigration and slavery are to this country, and the large debt that this country owes to both.

Now, American Gods has been translated to the screen, so these ideas have come to life.  And what a glorious trip it has been, even though only two episodes have aired, so far.

So, here is the recap and review of the second episode, titled The Secret of  Spoons.

And, as always:

Synopsis

The episode begins with a Dutch ship sailing through the ocean in 1697.  The ship is filled with frightened Africans, who have been kidnapped by slave traders, to be sold in slavery.

One of the men is desperate.  He prays to Anansi, his god.  He tells Anansi that he may have nothing to offer him, but begs for his freedom.

An elegantly dressed man then appears, descending down the stairs of the ship.

The man then begins to describe the fate of the soon to be slaves’ descendants and what the future holds, even after slavery is ended:  discrimination, police brutality, a higher risk for heart disease, and many other unpleasant fates.

Anansi’s speech stirs something within the men, and they become angry.  They revolt, and set fire to the ship.  All passengers to the ship perish, including the would be slaves.  However, the god demanded a sacrifice, and the sacrifice was received.

There is one survivor of the revolt: a large spider.  The spider makes it’s way to the shores of America.

The show then flashes to the present day.  Shadow is rescued from the attackers set on him by Technical Boy, and makes his way back to Mr. Wednesday.

Shadow tells Mr. Wednesday that he was lynched, and demands to know why there have been so many strange occurrences since he agreed to work for Wednesday.  Wednesday does not appear concerned, but tells Shadow that he will double his salary, as the job may be more dangerous than anticipated.  Wednesday also tells Shadow that while he may not be showing too much concern, to not mistake the lack of concern for apathy, and that Wednesday also has a plan.

Wednesday and Shadow then return to Shadow’s old house.  Shadow cleans the house and packs up most of the belongings.  He peeks at the text messages in Laura’s phone, and finds evidence that Laura’s affair with Robbie was ongoing.

The episode then flashes to Bilquis, who continues to demand sacrifice from her lovers, both men and women.  Bilquis continues to attempt to build up her power, and attempts to remove some jewelry from a glass case.  However, her attempts are unsuccessful.

Shadow falls asleep, and dreams that Laura has returned.  Laura tells Shadow that she is not dead.  Shadow awakens, and the bed is empty, except for him.  He breaks down and weeps, mourning the loss of his wife.

The next day, Shadow and Wednesday leave the town of Eagle Point, and head to Chicago.  Wednesday informs Shadow that he will be meeting with some important people, and hands Shadow a shopping list, telling Shadow to purchase the items on the list for him.

Shadow proceeds to purchase the items requested by Mr. Wednesday.  However, something odd happens as Shadow makes his way through the store:  the title character of the show I Love Lucy, which is playing on the store model television sets for sale, begins to speak to him.

Shadow attempts to turn off the television set, but Lucy is not silenced.  The woman explains to Shadow that she is worshiped via the screen, and that people sacrifice to her, as they give up their time when they are entranced by a television, smart phone or any other type of device.

The woman tries to persuade Shadow to join her, and tells him that she impressed by how he handled his confrontation with Technical Boy.  She also tells Shadow that Wednesday and his crew are no match for her and Technical Boy.

However, Shadow refuses the offer, and exits the store as quickly as possible.  He meets Wednesday at a diner, and expresses his fear that he is losing his mind, after speaking to what appeared to be Lucille Ball.  Wednesday tells Shadow that he can believe that he is losing his mind, or accept that the world may actually be more fantastical that what Shadow had previously been led to believe.

Wednesday and Shadow then head to Chicago.  While on the road, Wednesday disposes the cell phones that Shadow had purchased, telling Shadow that they are not necessary.

The men then arrive at an apartment in Chicago.  The apartment belongs to three sisters, all named Zorya.  However, Shadow and Wednesday are only introduced to two of the sisters, as the third is sleeping and needs her rest.

Vechernyaya, the older, nonsense sister, prepares coffee for Shadow and Wednesday.  Wednesday flirts with the woman, and gives a gift of a bottle of vodka.  Vechernyaya also offers to read Shadow’s fortune, as Shadow’s coffee was not stirred and therefore contains dregs for reading.

The woman takes a look at the dregs, and tells Shadow that he will be blessed with a long life and children.  It is obvious to Shadow that the woman is lying, although it is unclear as to why she is lying.  However, Vechernyaya also mentioned that Shadow’s mother died of cancer, which turns out to be true.

An elderly man then enters the apartment. The man’s name is Czernobog and he is not happy to see Wednesday, and even hurls a lamp at Wednesday’s head.  The man is introduced as the brother to the three sisters, and states that he is employed at a slaughterhouse.

Wednesday, Shadow, Czernobog and the three sisters then sit down to dinner.  Czernobog describes the more gruesome aspects of his job at the slaughterhouse, despite the embarrassment of his sisters.

After dinner, Czernobog challenges Shadow to a game of checkers.  Shadow accepts, and sits down to a game with the old man.

Czernobog then raises the stakes of the game:  if he loses, he will accompany Shadow and Wednesday on their quest.  If Shadow loses, then Czernobog will kill Shadow with his ax.  Czernobog’s ax appears, and appears to drip blood.

Shadow accepts the challenge, even though Wednesday tells him he doesn’t have to, and the men begin their game.

However, Shadow loses the game, and Czernobog relishes the thought of murdering Shadow with his ax.

My Thoughts

So, I have come up with an idea.

The idea is to give an “Ermahgerd award” every week, to somebody or something on American Gods.

(Yeah, you see what I did there?  You are welcome!)

So winner of this weeks “Eermagerd award” is…

Ladies and gentlemen (and gods), may I present to you…

“Once upon a time, a man got fucked.”

Aka, Mr. Nancy!

So, I had been hearing about this particular scene for a couple of weeks at this point.

Every episode of a show like this will probably have a *that scene.*

And for The Secret of the Spoons, Mr. Nancy’s speech to the captured slaves on the Dutch ship will be *that scene.*

First of all, the ship.

I didn’t feel like I was looking at ship.

Nope, I didn’t feel like that at all.

I was on that ship, actually.

I was shackled in chains.

I was frightened out of mind.

I didn’t know when or if I would ever see my family again.

I heard a strange language being spoken, that I didn’t understand.

I was not in my own world, but unwillingly thrust in another world.

That scene transported me to that slave ship, and for a moment, I became one of this men.

In other words, the production was spot on.  Beautiful, in fact.

And then there was the music.

Jazz music.

Reminding us that jazz music came from Africa.  Came from people who were probably brought over to America as slaves.

A nice touch.

But, production and music aside, let’s talk about what really made this scene.

As in, the actor.

Orlando Jones is a terrific actor.  That is not news.

But in case you forgot, watch this scene.

The different types of speech and accents were a nice touch too, acknowledging the different facets of African American culture.

And the words were powerful.

Especially the part about the black sharecroppers who may be royally screwed over, but at least the tobacco they farmed would give the white motherfuckers cancer.  I loved it.

Again, I became those men, and I understood what I needed to do, and I was ready to burn.

So, that is an “Ermagahd award” well earned, Mr. Nancy!

But, as excellent as he was, let’s not Mr. Nancy hog all the glory this week.

In other words, there were quite a few more aspects of this episode that stood out.

One of those was the appearance of Scully, er Media.

Well, Scully is a goddess, duh.  As is Gillian Anderson, the woman behind Scully and Media.

If I closed my eyes, I would have thought Lucille Ball herself, er Lucy Ricardo (*face palm*) had miraculously come back to life.

Gillian Anderson appears to be an excellent mimic, which was impressive.

She provided a bit of sultriness to the character of Media, while also providing a bit of menace.  This is perfect, as Media is one of the “new” Gods, and not to be trusted.

I also loved the last third of the episode, when Shadow and Wednesday make their way to Chicago, and meet the Zorya sisters, and Czernobog (trust me, we will be talking about him shortly.)

The scenes in the apartment were also beautiful.

Once again, I felt like I was in Chicago, and I had a feeling of great age in that apartment, especially when I saw the kitchen, along with the photographs on the wall.

American Gods is a story about immigration.  And I could easily see the Zorya sisters as immigrants, or perhaps refugees, from Easter Europe.

Maybe they came over to this country, to get away from all the bloodshed.

Three sisters, who have to learn to assimilate into American society.  And they do, for the most part.  They speak English, but they still speak their native language.  They are part of America, but they still keep their own customs, like cooking native Eastern European food and knowing the old folk songs.

Just three sisters, living in a small apartment in Chicago.  With their brother.

Yeah, their brother…

Who happens to work in a slaughterhouse.

And is crass enough to tell stories about work at the dinner table, and remind us all of just where meat comes from when he is chastised.

A bit racist, too.  Kind of like that right wing, Donald Trump fan boy uncle who cannot shut up at Thanksgiving.

But wait, he is ok, he has a black friend!  And he doesn’t see color, it’s all just shades!

Oh, and he has a hammer.  That hammer could be a stand-in for that uncle’s gun.  Same difference, right?

A hammer that appears to bleed.

And he sings too, although his singing is a tad creepy, as opposed to charming.

Oh, and do not, I repeat, DO NOT, accept this guy’s offer to play checkers with you.

Otherwise, you may end up in the same predicament as Shadow.

In other other words, you may be at the mercy of someone or something to get you out of that predicament yet again.

So, we have to wait for the next episode to find out just how our hero Shadow Moon will get out of this one, bloody hammers and all!

Once again, Sunday (along with Wednesday) can’t get here fast enough!

So that’s it for The Secret of Spoons.

Tune in next week for the recap and review of Head Full of Snow.

Tune in next week…

Same bat time, same bat channel!

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