American Gods is living up to expectations as the second episode in the new series on Starz is just as good as the first one. In addition to answering a few of our questions from last week’s cliffhanger, this week’s episode, “The Secret of Spoons,” introduces us to a few more characters.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode
This recap contains spoilers
Following in the footsteps of the first episode in the series, “The Secret of Spoons” begins with another origin story. These short scenes, titled “Coming to America”, are a wonderful introduction to the various gods that are present in the series. This week’s episode features a new god – Anansi (portrayed by Orlando Jones).
Unlike last week’s journey, this one is not by choice. After a brief glimpse at a spider, the scene shifts to a slave ship, where we see dozens of African men chained together on their way to America. In desperation, one of the men begins praying in the name of Anansi, hoping for a way out. Shortly afterward, the trickster god takes form and, instead of offering hope, as one would expect, he launches into an informative speech about what lies in store for the men and their descendants: “You are staring down the barrel of 300 years of subjugation, racist bullshit, and heart disease.”
In an incredibly theatrical performance, Anansi inspires the slaves to rise up against their oppressors. Instead of submitting and facing a life full of subjugation and racism, Anansi uses his powers to persuade the men to seek a better life, even if it means death. Much like Bilquis, Anansi is unafraid to use his power in a destructive manner, as he persuades those who believe in him to sacrifice themselves by burning down the ship – arguing that it is better for them to die by their own hand and take their oppressors with them, rather than serve countless years in slavery.
It’s clear from this very brief and powerful scene that Anansi will have a much larger role in the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work, as the god manages to persuade the men to burn down the ship in anger and fear.
The flames of the fire and a glimpse at a small spider scuttling away serve as the transition back to Shadow, who is not in the greatest state. While it is confirmed that Shadow was beaten, as he has suffered a number of different wounds, it is still unclear what happened. Suspecting that Wednesday is involved in some way, Shadow visits the man in the middle of the night, demanding to know what happened. However, Wednesday doesn’t know any more than Shadow does. In fact, he shows next to no emotion about the entire situation. He does, however, let us know that the new gods are definitely involved, as he vows that he will find a way to deal with them.
Unfortunately, things don’t get any better for Shadow. The next day, Shadow visits his old home, where he finds the preparations that Laura started for his welcome home party. If that wasn’t depressing enough, Shadow finds himself remembering the past while he is met with the empty home that is now the present. He remembers all of the good times that he had with Laura in their home and it tears you apart. To escape the pain, Shadow begins cleaning up their home and packing, as he is working for Wednesday now and will no longer need it.
Throughout the entire scene, however, a box from the coroner’s office is present, which makes the scene that much harder to watch. Shadow painstakingly works on moving out of the house before taking a break to look at the contents of the box, which include the possessions that Laura had on her when she died. After removing her phone (which by the way, is still charged somehow), he takes a look at her recent messages and finds proof of the affair in the form of texts and pictures. Disgusted and hurt, Shadow goes back to cleaning, only to find that his memory of Laura is now tarnished.
A moving truck marks the end of Shadow’s old life and the beginning of his new life, as Wednesday appears and the journey to Chicago begins. Elusive as always, Wednesday only offers a few hints at what’s in store – they will be visiting one of Wednesday’s friends and they will be visiting one of the most important places in America.
Wednesday remains as mysterious as ever as he sends Shadow on a shopping trip in preparation for the upcoming visit to Chicago. In a small change, Shadow goes on the trip, picking up a few questionable items on the way (alcohol and romance novels are just a few) and encounters another strange episode with technology, wherein an episode of I Love Lucy comes to life. Lucy (portrayed by Gillian Anderson) speaks directly to Shadow, and much like the Technical Boy, warns Shadow that he is on the losing side and that it would be better for him to embrace technology and the new gods (while critiquing the power of technology in the process).
Shortly after the strange and rather unsettling scene, Shadow shares his concerns with Wednesday about his sanity. Talking television sets, abductions and mysterious encounters are just the beginning of Shadow’s worries, as he does not yet realize that he is surrounded by Gods.
A number of things then happen in quick succession. We are given a brief glimpse at the journey ahead through a glance at maps for Wisconsin and Missouri. Furthermore, a brief transition brings us once more to Bilquis, who remains as creepy as always. In just a few moments, we are given a look at Bilquis’ conquests, which are slowly empowering her.
Finally, we are transported to Chicago, where we are introduced to two of the three Zorya sisters, as well as Czernobog (portrayed by Peter Stormare). The strange shopping list is revealed to be a list of offerings to Wednesday’s acquaintances in an attempt to smooth over relationships and bring more of the old gods over to his side.
The remainder of the episode is devoted to the rather unsettling Czernobog, as we learn that he does not have the best relationship with Wednesday. Foreboding increases, however, as it is revealed that Czernobog works in the meat industry as a cow killer. In an extremely uncomfortable dinner scene, the most intricate details about Czernobog’s job are revealed. Immediately, it becomes clear that something bad is going to happen here.
Gambling ensues through an intense game of checkers in which Shadow and Czernobog wager in Wednesday’s favor. If Czernobog loses, he will aid Wednesday; if he wins, he gets to kill Shadow. The episode ends with Shadow’s loss – another cliffhanger that will surely be resolved in next week’s episode.