I’m assuming if you’re here then you’ve seen the second episode of American Gods. If not, you might want to go ahead and jump ship now because this show is about to be spoiled more than milk left on the counter for three days during a Texas summer…
Please be advised. Improper language shall ensue.
Mr. Nancy showed up and showed out
My god. That had to be one of the best character introductions I’ve seen. I mean, Bilquis still tops the list, but Mr. Nancy too came to slay. The saxophone music alone let me know this was about to be powerful. It’s 1697, and we’re taken to a ship with soon-to-be-slaves at the bottom. Those of us watching know the painful future they and their descendants will face. Oh yes, we know this story all too well.
A man calls out to his god Anansi the Spider, seeking help. “You are wise and though small,” he says, “you know ways to crawl in and out of danger unharmed.”
Oh, if he only knew.
Mr. Nancy comes downstairs wearing the flyest purple and green suit I’ve ever seen and gives the men on the ship a painful reality. To sum it all up, every last one of them is fucked. What’s waiting for them on the shores of America is captivity, racism, and heart disease. The lives of their children, grandchildren, and every descendant for the next 300 years will ultimately be fucked. So they might as well go ahead and take charge of their own destiny by “burnin’ this muthafucka up.”
When one of them points out that they’ll all die. The god matter-of-factly points out that they’re already dead anyway.
Welp. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. It’s the story of our lives.
In the end, he got his sacrifice in a scene that gave me Igbo Landing vibes, and guess what? The spider made it ashore.
Shadow seeks closure
Shadow rolls up to Wednesday’s motel room in his clothes still bloody from his lynching ordeal. He’s beyond pissed (rightfully so) and demanding answers from Wednesday who had been entertaining some girl, of course.
Wednesday assures Shadow that just because he doesn’t seem angry doesn’t mean he’s lacking a plan, and he doubles Shadow’s pay. He’s still not sharing the deets on the plan, though.
In the morning, Shadow goes back to the home he shared with his dead wife (peep the buffalo on his super white Motel America shirt), and there’s a box from the coroner’s office on the mattress. We know Shadow shouldn’t open that box. Don’t open that box! He sees Laura’s cell phone in the plastic bag. Don’t unlock that cell phone! Don’t read those texts! Don’t scroll up!
He scrolled up.
And now we know why Laura cheated.
Sidenote: why didn’t Laura have a passcode or some Touch ID on her phone? Or did I miss that? Come on, girl….
After his things are packed up and shipped off, Wednesday tells him he’s only allowed to feel bad about his situation for so long. It’s time to get back to business, and they’re en route to Chicago.
Shadow: what’s in Chicago?
Wednesday: my hammer.
While Shadow shops for Wednesday’s items, Media (played by Gillian Anderson) pops up on several TV screens in the form of Lucy Ricardo to recruit Shadow to her side.
She explains how Wednesday et. al. are so old they’re not even yesterday’s news anymore. People worship her. They sit side by side ignoring one another (read: sacrificing their time) and dedicate their attention to her instead. People honor her via their TV screens, cell phones, and tablets. In fact, we’re honoring her right now…
Pause. Let that sit a minute.
Will somebody please give Czernobog a clean shirt?
Wednesday is trying to gather his forces and takes Shadow with him to the home of hopeful allies. We meet Czernobog and the Zoraya sisters–only two of them though. One of them is still sleeping. They’re reading tea leaves and preparing dinner for their guests.
To say Czernobog is not happy to see Wednesday is putting it lightly. He wants nothing to do with him or his war.
But he’s fascinated with Shadow and uses a game of checkers with him to strike a deal. If Shadow wins the game, then Czernobog will join Wednesday. If Shadow loses, then Czernobog gets to kill Shadow using his beloved hammer–the bringer of 10,000 bloody deaths.
Shadow loses. Sigh. You. Had. One. Job. Bruh.
Character of the week
Mr. Nancy. I mean, please.
“Did you know your mama couldn’t swim? You all need to work on that. Take swimming lessons. This is how we get stereotypes.” ~Mr. Nancy
“Once upon a time… a man got fucked.” ~Mr. Nancy
“Angry is good. Angry gets shit done.” ~Mr. Nancy
You know what? Everything Mr. Nancy said!
“Strange fuckin’ fruit.” ~Shadow
“Time and attention. Better than lamb’s blood.” ~Media
“You’re always better dead than forgotten.” ~Mr. Wednesday
Even though he was only on screen for less than 10 minutes, Mr. Nancy stole the whole hour of American Gods. Orlando Jones absolutely killed it. So much so that I found myself getting chills. That’s how deep and powerful that was. Mr. Nancy kept it real. All the way real. Down to heart disease and cancer. And I feel like the theme of this episode (and one of the themes of the whole story) is keeping it real.
Because Media showed up and put all of us on blast. She had me looking at my smartphone like, “damn, I really do pick you up and pay more attention to you than I do to the people in front of me sometimes.” Media basically read everyone for filth with only a few lines all while wearing her Lucy Ricardo circa 1953 outfit. Then in another scene, Mr. Wednesday straight up dismissed technology and tossed Shadow’s cell phone out of the window as well as the phone Shadow bought for him. He’s not having it.
Media and Wednesday. Two diametrically opposed foes.
Even Czernobog had the nerve to talk about colorism and ask about Shadow’s blackness.
Listen. American Gods is holding up a magnifying glass to our culture and burning us on the asphalt in July. This is only the second episode!
Oh yes, and we haven’t forgotten about Bilquis–she’s making sure she’s not forgotten.
Bilquis’ scene in this episode serves as a painful reminder of what she’s lost. Her precious jewels are encased in glass for others to view, but they’re no longer hers. She is portrayed as a historical figure, a relic of the past that is no longer relevant. It’s the very thing that all of the old gods are fighting for–relevance. But in an ever-changing world where you either adapt or die, how will the old gods stay afloat?
And shout out to Zorya Vechernyaya. That’s my kind of god. We could hang.