So, Sunday finally came.
I had been waiting all week.
Finally, it was time to plunk myself in front of the altar, er television.
Well, actually no.
Still a bit early for that particular Sunday service, as much I want to watch my Colts again.
Luckily, I have something else to worship in the meantime.
That’s right, I am talking about the divine new show on Starz network, aka American Gods.
After all, NFL season is only for 6 months of the year, and between February and August, the only offering we get is the draft.
So I need something to tide me over.
Luckily, American Gods allows me to continue worshiping at the altar, even though it is not football season.
And once again, this week’s episode provided plenty of reasons to worship at the altar on a Sunday afternoon.
Almost made me forget about the NFL season being still so far away. Almost.
So join me, as I review and dissect episode 3, titled Head Full of Snow.
And, as always:
The episode begins with a small, elderly woman who is attempting to reach something on her top shelf. The woman is cooking a meal for her grandchildren, who will be coming to visit later that day.
Someone knocks on the woman’s door. The woman answers the door, and Mr. Jacquel, the Egyptian god of the dead, is standing there. The woman thinks that the stranger has come to rob her, but Jacquel informs her that she has died.
Jacquel then shows the woman her own dead body. He also tells her that her family will find her later. He reassures her that her family will miss her, and that her son will name his firstborn daughter after his mother.
Jacquel beckons the woman to follow him. The woman is confused, as she is Middle Eastern and Jacquel is the Egyptian god of the dead, but the deity offers an explanation: he has arrived to show appreciation for the fact that she listened to all the stories about Jacquel as a child and believed in the Egyptian gods.
The woman and Jacquel then ascend a staircase, and climb to the sky. They arrive in what appears to be a celestial desert.
Jacquel then unceremoniously rips the woman’s heart from her chest. He then weighs the heart against a feather, to determine if the evil in the woman’s heart outweighs the feather.
It turns out the woman has very little evil in her heart. Jacquel allows her to choose from four doors, all of which offer some variation of the Egyptian afterlife. The woman chooses a door and vanishes, presumably to her eternal reward.
The story flashes back to the present. Shadow is asleep in the Zorya sisters apartment. He awakens to a mysterious woman in a nightgown who climbs out a window. Shadow follows the woman to the rooftop. She introduces herself as Zorya Polunochnaya, the third sister who had been sleeping the night before.
Shadow is then given some more information in regards to the three sisters, courtesy of Polunochnaya. Zorya Utrennyaya is the morning star and Zorya Vechernyaya is the evening star. Together, along with Zorya Polunochnaya, the sisters are tasked with watching the sky, to make sure a demon does not escape. If the demon escapes, the world will end.
Zorya Polunochnaya admonishes Shadow for giving away the gold coin given to him by Mad Sweeney, as that coin offered him protection. She demands that Shadow kiss her. Shadow obliges, and Zorya Polunochnaya gives him another coin, which she appears to have plucked from the sky. She tells Shadow that this coin is the moon, and to not lose it.
Shadow then awakens in the apartment. He realizes that he did not dream the incident, as there is now a coin in his pocket.
Shadow decides to challenge Czernebog to a second game of chess. If Shadow wins, Czernebog will accompany Shadow and Wednesday to Wisconsin. If Czernebog wins, he will be allowed two swings to Shadow’s head.
Czernebog and Shadow sit down, and play another game of checkers. This time, Shadow wins. Czernebog agrees to accompany Shadow and Wednesday to Wisconsin, although he will still be allowed one swing at Shadow’s head, as he won the first game.
The show then flashes to another city, and we are introduced to a man named Salim. Salim has recently immigrated to the United States, and is attempting to make a living as a salesman. So far, he has not been very successful, and struggles to assimilate into American culture.
After another unsuccessful work day, Salim hails a cab. He notices that the cab driver is also of Middle Eastern descent, and strikes up a conversation with the man. The men commiserate over their jobs and how much they dislike New York.
Suddenly, the cab driver’s sunglasses slide down his face, and reveal that there are flames where his eyes should be. Salim realizes that he has met a jinn, a creature that he had previously believed to be merely a myth, something that was part of the stories his grandmother told him as a child.
The jinn then educates Salim, telling him that he does not have the power to grant wishes, which is why he drives a cab.
The cab arrives at Salim’s hotel. Salim gives the jinn his room number, and heads back into the hotel.
Salim meets the jinn in his room. The two proceed to make love. Afterwards, Salim falls asleep.
When Salim wakes up the next day, the jinn is gone. However, the jinn left Salim his clothes, driver’s license and taxi cab. Salim realizes that the jinn has given him a gift, and takes over the jinn’s life as a cab driver.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive in Chicago. Wednesday tells Shadow that they will be robbing a bank. Shadow is upset by this, as he does not want to go back to jail. Wednesday buys Shadow a cup of hot chocolate, and tells Shadow to think of snow.
Much to Shadow’s surprise, snow begins to fall, even though the weather forecast did not call for it. The weather allows Wednesday to set up his bank robbing scheme: he tapes out of order signs to the ATM, and tells would be customers to leave the money with him, and he will ensure that it is deposited. Wednesday is able to fool everyone, including a police officer. The officer phones Shadow at a phone booth, and Shadow vouches for Wednesday.
In the meantime, Mad Sweeney awakens at the bar. Sweeney’s luck seems to have taken a turn for the worse, especially when he is hitchhiking and picked up by a driver. The driver is hit and killed by a metal pipe that falls from another truck.
Sweeney realizes that he is missing his lucky gold coin. He tracks Shadow and Wednesday down to Chicago, and confronts Shadow. Shadow tells Sweeney that he does not have the coin, as he tossed it on Laura’s grave, back in Eagle Point.
Sweeney then travels to Eagle Point. He digs up Laura’s grave, but does not find his coin. Laura’s body is also missing.
Shadow returns to his room later that night. He opens the door to find a very much alive Laura waiting for him.
Well, here we are again…
And this week’s “Ermagerd award” goes to…
The Jinn, along with his friend, Salim!
And yes, it seems every episode of this show will have a *that scene* moment.
This week, the honor goes to the Jinn and Salim.
First of all, sex.
This show (and book) do not shy away from S-E-X. Not in the slightest.
So it’s no surprise that this scene was included in the show.
It was also beautiful, on so many levels.
First of all, the scene involved two men. Hey, equal opportunity, right? Don’t penises deserve equal air time and exploitation?
Except the exploitation part.
Because there was not any exploitation.
No, this was just a beautifully done sex scene, with quite a few implications.
While sex between two men is becoming less taboo in our culture, there is still a stigma attached to it.
Often, it is made out to be “dirty” or cold. Or just promiscuous.
On the screen in this country, sex between two men is often not personal at all, and lacks any type of warmth.
This was not the case for the love scene between the jinn and Salim.
When Salim tentatively touches the jinn’s shoulder, there is a powerful feeling of connection.
In fact, the entire cab ride is an emotionally charged scene.
Both men are immigrants.
No one understands them.
Salim is trying to sell trinkets, and is not successful at his venture.
The jinn is misunderstand as well, too. People have come to think of him as a “genie,” a being who can grant wishes, willy nilly.
In other words, he has been stripped of his humanity, and is now a caricature of sorts. If that doesn’t symbolize cultural appropriation, then I don’t know what does.
But finally, the men find someone else to commiserate with. Someone who can understand their struggles.
Two broken people find each other. Often, people are attracted to each other because they are missing a part of themselves.
If those people are lucky, they can find their missing piece.
And the two can consummate their union.
Sometimes sex is just…well…sex.
But sometimes, as with the case of Salim and the jinn, sex is something more.
Sex serves to unite two separate beings. To turn two into one.
One, like Salim the next morning, who is greater the sum of its parts.
However, let’s not let Salim and the jinn have all the fun this week.
This episode had quite a few goodies to offer.
And one of those was the production and cinematography.
Now, we are three episodes in.
It is becoming quite obvious at this point that American Gods is simply a gorgeous show.
We saw evidence of this in The Secret of Spoons, with the apartment of the Zorya sisters.
And I think that Head Full of Snow may have outdone The Secret of Spoons.
Just makes me wonder what we will see next week…I can’t wait!
Anyway, back to this week.
And one particular word in the title.
Of course, I am referring to the one with four letters.
(Hey, I am from the Midwest and now live in the Southeast. Snow was a four letter when I was growing up, as opposed to a strange novelty that actually gets kids away from the computer and outside to see this unknown in this region weather phenomenon!)
We could see it almost from the time that Wednesday told Shadow to think about snow.
Now, normally, one character tells another to think about snow, and you may see the character close his eyes, and imagine a snow storm. Maybe the character also adds in sledding, a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, etc.
But, as we all know, American Gods is no ordinary show.
So “think snow” means something different.
We saw the snow EVERYWHERE.
And I mean everywhere.
It started out with the marshmallows on the hot chocolate.
(No, Shadow was not covered in marshmallows, although that sounds really yummy too!)
Shadow seems to see the show everywhere.
Including on the marshmallows on his hot chocolate.
And on the copier at the office store.
So no, this was not any ordinary snow.
I mean, turning a copy machine to a window pane showing all the snowflakes? Who does that?
Oh, right. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Since they are geniuses!
I also loved how the show is just beginning to crack down Shadow’s barriers.
Shadow thought of snow, and it snowed. Even though it wasn’t in the forecast.
Shadow is beginning to realize that nothing is what it seems to be, and that not believing may actually be dangerous.
Slowly, he is gaining entrance into another world.
A world that exists parallel to ours, but not one that just anyone can access.
But Shadow made it snow, so he is gaining entry.
And entrance to that world includes believing that your wife can come back from the dead, and find out which hotel you are staying at.
Honey, I’m baaaaccckkk…
Well, that’s if for Head Full of Snow.
Join me next week as I review and dissect Git Gone.
Tune in next week…
Same bat time, same bat channel!