A new god appears and American Gods takes a deeper look at society in this week’s episode of the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel. Following in the footsteps of the last two episodes, “A Murder of Gods” continues to move us just a little farther away from the events as they take place in the Gaiman’s novel. Despite this, each and every change makes sense within the world of American Gods, as belief brings forth new gods.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode
This recap contains spoilers.
A new week means a new “Coming to America” scene, with this week’s introducing us to one of the different versions of Jesus. Yes, Jesus. You might remember earlier on in the series, Wednesday mentioned Mexican Jesus? Well, this week, we meet him.
It’s clear from the very beginning of the episode that this week’s episode of American Gods is a little different from the previous episodes in the series. For starters, it’s a little more political. In a good way; it addresses many things that need to be addressed. While I’m not here to sway your opinions or beliefs, this week’s episode definitely challenges you to take a look at the world around you and brings up two topics that have been pretty controversial as of late – immigration and guns.
Similar to the other “Coming to America” scenes, this week’s is full of fear and desperation as a group of Mexican men, women and children are shown crossing a river border into America. Tension is apparent at the very beginning, as the group is advised to stay behind if they cannot swim. Immediately, it becomes obvious that one man, in particular, does not know how to swim. Despite this, he makes his way into the dangerous water anyway, desperate to have a chance at a new life.
As the man starts to drown, his belief in God saves him; Jesus appears and pulls him out of the water. Shortly after he is saved, however, a border patrol firing squad appears, opening fire immediately on the group of helpless men and women. The worst thing? It’s made extremely obvious that they too, believe in Christianity and Jesus.
As the men and women scramble around in an effort to avoid gunfire, Mexican Jesus sacrifices himself to save them in a scene that is somewhat reminiscent of the crucifixion. As the scene begins to transition to the present day, Jesus is seen lying on the ground with gunshot wounds in the palms of both hands, as well as his chest.
Transition to Shadow and Wednesday who are walking alone on a dark road after escaping from last week’s horrific scene in which the new gods asserted their power by wiping out an entire police station. Understandably, Shadow is pissed off at Wednesday and starts questioning everything. Although it’s not quite clear yet whether or not Shadow realizes that Wednesday is a god, it is clear that he realizes that gods do exist. When confronted, Wednesday, in his typical fashion, neither confirms or denies anything, instead of leaving everything open-ended in the belief that anything is possible.
As Shadow and Wednesday continue on their journey and Wednesday performs some weird magic type ritual in which he pulls something out of one of Shadow’s wounds, we find ourselves transitioning back and forth between Shadow and Laura once again.
Just as Shadow and Wednesday are leaving, Laura appears once more, followed shortly afterward by a still angry Mad Sweeney. Sweeney, still after his lucky coin that is giving Laura life, offers Laura the opportunity to meet with a man who can return her to life in exchange for the coin. Just as the two decide to leave by stealing a cab as Laura’s car has been taken by the police, Salim appears in search of the Jinn that left him with a new identity back in Episode 3. While it was obvious that Salim (and the Jinn) would be making more of an appearance in the adaptation of American Gods, this week’s episode introduces Salim as a major character, as he joins Laura and Sweeney on their journey, as Sweeney offers to tell him where the Jinn is if he will drive him to Kentucky.
On the road, we transition from Laura, Sweeney, and Salim back to Shadow and Wednesday who are on their way to Virginia?! Fans of Gaiman’s American Gods will no doubt be confused as the scene transitions to a metal factory where bullets are being produced. On the way through a city that is obsessed with guns and the Vulcan brand, Wednesday comments on the changes that are taking place in America as a result of groups of people believing in their own idea of America.
Shortly after Wednesday’s speech and an alarming emphasis on guns, we are introduced to another old god, Vulcan (portrayed by Corbin Bernsen). If you were wondering, Vulcan is a new creation for the series and is definitely more political in a tone that the rest of the gods, which is unsurprising, considering the fact that American Gods is very much about society in America. Despite the fact that Vulcan is new to the series, he is an old god of weaponry and fire that Wednesday is trying to sway to join his side, hence their unexpected appearance in Virginia.
Along with representing the side of America that is obsessed with guns and violence, fans of American Gods might realize that Vulcan could be a possible means of clever foreshadowing on Gaiman’s part, as it’s made pretty damn obvious that sacrifice is a major theme of the episode as well. Without giving away any spoilers from the novel (if you haven’t read it, you really should!), sacrifice becomes a very important element in American Gods and this episode throws a number of very heavy hints in Wednesday’s direction.
Although Vulcan dances around the idea of joining Wednesday, not giving a clear yes or no immediately, he does forge a pretty cool sword for Wednesday. As he is handing Wednesday the sword, he reveals that he is a neutral party and that he will not help either side (although he clearly provided Wednesday with a new weapon and admitted to having informed the new gods of their current whereabouts, which is most definitely not a neutral stance).
Despite being an old god, Vulcan has been able to thrive as a result of the violent nature of America. Bullets, guns, and death give him power; he feeds off of America’s obsession with violence. Therefore, Vulcan does not need to join a side, as he has enough power as it is. In an unexpected turn of events, Wednesday uses his newly forged weapon to make a statement and kills Vulcan using his own power against him.
In the end, “A Murder of Gods” is true to its name, as two gods are murdered during the course of the episode. As the new series continues to take us further away from the events of the novel, next week’s episode is a complete mystery.