After a few weeks of character introductions, this week’s episode of American Gods finally gives a few answers. Very important answers at that, as the truth behind Wednesday’s motivations are revealed. If you are unfamiliar with Neil Gaiman‘s novel and wondering where the gods are, last night’s episode “Lemon Scented You” will give you a new perspective on things.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode
This recap contains spoilers.
After an entire episode dedicated to Laura’s backstory, we return to the world of the gods in another “Coming to America” story – one that is visually stunning. Opening with a group a people crossing the land bridge between Siberia and what will eventually become America, we meet Atsula, a priestess who is traveling with her people under the guidance of their god, Nunyunnini. As they traverse the new and unfamiliar land, with their god, who appears as a massive mammoth skull, they realize that it’s not as promising as they originally thought. However, with guidance and support from Nunyunnini, they persevere and continue on.
Unlike the previous “Coming to America” scenes, however, this week’s reveals quite a bit about the gods. Although the people who crossed into the new world live on, Nunyunnini is eventually forgotten: “The gods are great, but people are greater, for it is in their hearts that the gods are born, and to their hearts that they return.” When the people forget Nunyunnini, he is left to die, revealing that the gods, can, in fact, die; immortality is not guaranteed.
As we watch the remains of Nunyunnini blow away, we find ourselves back in the present. For the third time, we are presented with Laura sitting on Shadow’s bed, and this time, there’s finally a confrontation. When Shadow enters the room, he is understandably a little skeptical about Laura’s appearance, and in a somewhat humorous moment, he throws a pillow at her to make sure that she is real. Things get uncomfortable quickly, however, as Shadow immediately wants to know what happened after he left for prison.
Laura begins to recount her relationship with Robbie, and although it hurts Shadow to hear, it’s not nearly as blunt as it was in American Gods; at least, not yet. Despite her infidelity, while Shadow was away, she insists that she loves Shadow. Although she may realize that she loves Shadow now, she most certainly did not have as much affection for him when she was cheating on him with his best friend.
Laura stays with him for some time and they talk more about what happened while Shadow was away. Shadow goes on to admit that he had a feeling that he would not see Laura again when he got off of the phone with her shortly before his release from prison. Laura briefly kisses Shadow, claiming that it makes her feel alive, before asking him: “Are you still my Puppy?” To which he responds with no, thank god.
Shadow’s reunion with Laura is cut short, however, as Wednesday knocks on the door. The next moment, the police appear and declare that the two men are under arrest for robbing a bank, in a twist that takes us away from Gaiman’s original work.
The slight move away from the events that take place in American Gods continues as we find ourselves face to face with the Technical Boy and Media, who is under the guise of David Bowie. Not only is it revealed that Media takes on different forms to convey different messages, but the influence of technology becomes even greater through Media’s words. She addresses the fear and complete immersion with technology that society has taken and even lashes out at the Technical Boy for his actions. He wasn’t thinking at all when he assaulted Shadow at the end of “The Bone Orchard,” going so far as to lynch him to prove a point about the power of the new gods.
We leave Media, who urges the Technical Boy to apologize to Wednesday and Shadow and return to Laura, who finds herself face to face with Mad Sweeney. Pissed that he no longer has his lucky coin, in another comedic scene, we see him demand the coin of Laura, only to get his ass kicked in the process. Just as Sweeney tries to kill Laura (and really, how did he expect to?), the police barge into the hotel room and arrest him.
Back at the police station, Shadow and Wednesday are confronted with the crime at hand. In separate interrogation rooms, we see each man attempt to get out of the robbery in a different way. While Shadow refuses to answer any questions, Wednesday’s ridiculous acting skills are back as he attempts to con the man into thinking that he wasn’t involved. When that doesn’t work, Wednesday starts to recount the truth; he talks of the imminent war between the gods, as well as his attempt to recruit all of the gods that he knows, even mentioning them by name.
After both men tell their version of events, with Shadow somewhat confessing to the crime because he is presented with very specific evidence, namely pictures of the robbery, the two are placed in the same room and given a few minutes to talk things over. The crime itself has given Shadow a true taste of who Wednesday is, and he finally begins to question the man’s actions. He knows that someone is after them, but does not know who.
As Shadow is finally pushing Wednesday to tell him the truth, Media walks in, this time in the form of Marilyn Monroe. As if Media’s entrance wasn’t mysterious enough, things turn sinister as Mr. World (portrayed by Crispin Glover) enters the room. The atmosphere changes completely as Mr. World’s soft tone of voice and rather unsettling smile make it very clear that he is not to be underestimated. At all. In fact, his appearance is downright chilling and it becomes obvious that he is the one who has been after Wednesday.
Mr. World quickly reveals that he is also a member of the new gods, fed by technology and media. He makes it very clear that he knows everything about everyone. In fact, he even changes his appearance to prove his point, spouting off bits of Shadow’s past in the process.
After a whistle, the Technical Boy appears and he is forced to apologize for his actions, showing just how ignorant and childish he is. He is reprimanded and even punished for his immature behavior by Media and Mr. World, before the purpose of their mysterious entrance is finally revealed.
The new gods want Wednesday and the rest of the old gods to join their side. They are aware of the fact that Wednesday is trying to rally up the old gods in order to gain relevance again. Instead, in a flashy scene, they offer a merger that they claim will help the old gods to reclaim fame and recognition. Media transforms the room into a rainbow and unicorn filled dream; one in which they will launch a satellite in Odin’s (if you didn’t already realize that Wednesday is actually Odin, now you know) name that will bring him the fame and sacrifice he wants.
Wednesday refuses the offer, but Mr. World and the rest of the new gods leave, offering to give him time to think it over. Wednesday and Shadow are left behind, unlocked and free to leave the room. On their way out, however, they realize just how brutal and destructive the new gods can be, however, as they find all of the police officers dead and the station destroyed.
As they make their way away from the carnage and the station, the scene transitions to show us that Mad Sweeney and Laura have also escaped their ordeal alive.
Ultimately, this week’s episode of American Gods was an unexpected surprise for fans of Gaiman’s work. However, it was one that fit in perfectly with the world that he created. From Gillian Anderson’s different roles as Media, which were performed perfectly, to the increasingly sinister and technical aspects of the show that continue to haunt Shadow and Wednesday on their journey, American Gods is quickly becoming an unexpected mystery that continues to keep fans on edge week after week.