TV Recap: American Gods — A Murder of Gods (1.06)

10 June, 2017 TV Recap, TV Reviews 2 comments

TV Recap: American Gods — A Murder of Gods (1.06)by Seamus Kevin Fahey, Michael Green, Bryan Fuller
Illustrator: Adam Kane
on 4th June 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
four-stars

After their run-in with the New Gods, Shadow and Wednesday flee to Virginia, where they hope to recruit another old friend for the impending war.

Meanwhile, Laura and Sweeney strike a tentative agreement to travel elsewhere in search of a more permanent cure for Laura's tenuous grasp on life.

*

Well, thank goodness for breather episodes.

 

Not to imply that “A Murder of Gods” is a throwaway week. There’s plenty of good stuff to consider here, and much that will be important in the final two episodes of the season (and perhaps beyond). As a whole, though, episode six is a fairly simple affair, with a lot of self-contained, straightforward plots and developments.

 

 

Which is nice, because I’m getting tired (with myself, mostly) for having to write so much about all of the noticeable bits that the writers attempt to cram into each hour. I think I may actually be able to keep things somewhat short this time. Hooray.

 

Anyway. American Gods got very… unsubtle this week, which I take as a good thing. It’s probably the liveliest episode we’ve had thus far, with a sort of sprightliness to the dialogue and tone that the show hasn’t really shown before. Granted, there’s been plenty of earlier wackiness, but it’s mostly been constrained to individual scenes within the typically slow, deliberate pacing. I don’t mind that, of course, but it’s nice to get a slight change to the approach without completely derailing the continuity.

 

 

It’s also pretty shameless in its subject matter, flaunting as it does some political ideology that is very, very, very, very hard to miss. The show has been pretty clear in its willingness to examine certain contemporary issues before, but this outing revels in it. I think the concepts it tackles oh-so-not-delicately are important ones (not to mention fitting, set as it is in a country filled with deities dedicated to what its people consider important), so I’m not complaining, but I’m sure it’s going to rub plenty the wrong way.

 

If nothing else, “A Murder of Gods” does give us something that I’ve been hoping for since the beginning: a new god (not a New God, mind you) that isn’t in the book. And I think that the writers handled the introduction quite well; he fits in nicely with the rest of the pantheon, and is given a pretty interesting role to boot.

 

 

Let’s get to it, then.

 

Spoiler Warning

Below are spoilers for both the episode and the book, so continue at your own risk. Going forward, I’ll try to avoid too many mentions of later events, so as long as you’ve watched, you should be okay. Hopefully. No hard-and-fast promises, though.

 

*

Coming to America

Some Time Ago

 

No year to date this one, but it appears to be set at a time fairly close to modern day. Mr. Ibis flips open his book (where was that last week, guys?) and begins to write.

 

A group of illegal immigrants heads for the border. They reach the Rio Grande, and wait for night. One woman prays over the group before they attempt a crossing, and the leader warns them that the river has risen due to the rains; anybody who cannot swim will have to stay behind. One man, with a tattoo of Christ on his forearm, looks worried.

 

 

They slip into the water and make their way to the other side. One man falls to his knees and thanks the Lord while everyone else reaches shore. The man with the tattoo has fallen behind and struggles before he starts to drown, but a man reaches down and pulls him up.

 

On solid ground again, the swimmer sees his rescuer walking across the water. When he asks the stranger who he is, the man claims that he already knows. He’s framed by a halo of light, but it’s coming from the headlights of a group of trucks pulling up.

 

Men get out and promptly load guns, firing into the crowd. They have Bible verses inscribed on their weapons and rosaries in their hands. A bullet casing flying from one chamber has ‘Vulcan’ stamped on it.

 

Subtlety? What?

 

When the drowning man cowers with his family, the savior jumps in front of them, taking a bullet through one hand another through his heart. He collapses to the ground, dead. A tumbleweed rolls across his head, and a crown of thorns appears upon his brow.

 

Nothing really confusing here, is there? The primary theme is obvious: the contrast of religion as something healing (praying for safe journey) and something deadly (used as a justification for violence). It’s a flagrant juxtaposition, but I like it. Sometimes, messages need to be dropped, and they need to be dropped hard. It’s a straightforward demonstration of how something meant to be supportive and unifying can be twisted in the face of xenophobic violence, and that’s an incredibly important idea to frame these days. Having Jesus (one of him, anyway) die in a manner akin to the crucifixion — not to mention play as a very routine, hands-open-while-walking-on-water caricature  — is pretty on-the-nose, but I think that’s the point. It also relates back to my theory last week that these ‘stereotypical’ embodiments of the gods can be justified by the fact that they are simply taking the form that their believers hold of them, which are oftentimes very much informed by archetypes from media.

 

 

I’m also wondering what this means for Jesus. The book reveals (though not until later, if I remember) that a god does not truly die; they eventually come back in some new shape and form if there is enough belief in them. I assume, then, that He will return despite His sacrifice, and I’m sort of hoping that we get to see several of them interact at some point. (There’s another one cast for the season, and the finale is called “Come to Jesus,” so I think our chances are good.) I wonder if the implication is that this particular Jesus has been caught in a cycle — helping those who need assistance crossing and being killed for his trouble — for years now. I seriously doubt this is the first time that somebody has prayed to Him during such a trip, after all. But I imagine he must also live somewhere in America, given the many who have already found a living there. It’s a lot to think about.

 

Do you get it? Do you?

 

Anyway, this whole sequence makes me vaguely uncomfortable, if only because I don’t know how appropriate it is. Illegal immigration is, of course, an important thing to discuss, especially in our current political climate, and it’s good to see the script reaching to cover so many different demographics and ideas, but having a trio of white writers be the ones to frame this topic via several latinx actors being brutally murdered on-screen doesn’t seem to me the most tasteful way of doing so. I’d be interested hearing others’ thoughts about it.

 

*

Present Day

 

Shadow and Wednesday are still walking away from the police station. Shadow is having a lot of issues coming to terms with what happened. Wednesday explains that the New Gods’ killing of the cops was meant as a warning to him, and sacrifice for them.

 

 

“Like for a god?” Shadow asks. Yes, Shadow. Where have you been these last five episodes? Like I’ve said before, I’m glad that they’re making his coming to terms with the situation a lot more visceral and relatable than it was in the book, but I think that the line is starting to wear out its welcome just a bit at this point.

 

Wednesday tells Shadow that gods and monsters have always existed; people, however, have just been too used to their own lives to look beyond their immediate surroundings and see what’s never been completely out of sight.

 

 

“Who are you?” Shadow asks. Buddy, Mr. World straight up told you when he warped reality and plastered a room with video of a rocket clearly labeled ‘ODIN.’ Wednesday claims, however, that he wouldn’t believe him if he told him. Sure, all right. I hope this is the last week we do this, because I think it’s time for Shadow to connect the dots.

 

Anyway, Shadow admits that Laura came back, but Wednesday isn’t particularly surprised. They return to the motel and find the destruction from her and Sweeney’s fight, along with her ring. Wednesday comments that she must not be used to not getting her way, and asks if she apologized for her actions in life. Shadow says she did, sort of. (Fair.) Wednesday suggests they leave.

 

As they pile into the car, Wednesday asks if Laura was possibly a ghost, but Shadow mentions their kiss. When he wonders why Wednesday is so calm about everything that’s happened, the con man tells him that he’s been around too long to believe in simple blacks and whites: there’s plenty of shades of grey in between ‘alive’ and ‘dead.’ He claims that Laura has likely returned for some purpose, but Shadow isn’t sure what that is.

 

 

As they prepare to leave, ravens caw at Wednesday. As they pull out, Laura shows up, back from the morgue. Wednesday sees her in his rear view mirror, but ignores her, turning up the radio and speeding off.

 

Despite being slightly repetitive, I do like this dialogue. So long as this concludes this particular angle (“I don’t know what to believe, and you’re going to say some cryptic nonsense.”), I’ll go with it, because this seems like a solid narrative spot to more or less wrap up Shadow’s realization and acceptance: with Wednesday offering him the chance to leave now that he’s seen the extent of the danger, but deciding to stay.

 

 

I also dig Wednesday purposefully making sure that Shadow can’t reunite with Laura. It could add an interesting dynamic, the two of them having to deal with one another’s attempts to use their man differently. Wednesday will want to keep him by his side for his war, while Laura will likely try to steal him away so that they can attempt a new life together. Or, at least, use him to give her a chance at returning to the living permanently.

 

I’ll bet she doesn’t have a key.

 

Laura is left stranded now that the police have towed her car away. When she demands to know why there aren’t cops at the scene from the desk clerk, Sweeney shows up and tells her that they’ve all been killed. Annoyed, she tells him that she’ll need his car. He, however, doesn’t have one, but he agrees to hotwire a suitable vehicle — on the condition that the two travel together, as he refuses to leave her alone until he gets his property back.

 

 

He chooses a taxi (it’s the only one available that he knows how to disable properly), telling Laura that the only way he’s going to get his coin is if Laura no longer needs it, and that will happen if she’s properly resurrected, like his friend Jesus Christ. This leads to Laura giving us another golden bit of dialogue: “Did you just name drop Jesus Christ like you know a guy who knows a guy?”

 

As it turns out, Sweeney apparently does know somebody who can do bona-fide resurrections. He points out that Laura is only going to win back Shadow if she isn’t rotting away, but also wonders if she genuinely wants that.

 

Laura Moon: Master of distasteful, ‘done-with-your-nonsense’ looks since 2017.

 

I love this chemistry between them, and the fact that the show is apparently determined to make it a recurring thing. They’re both obnoxious, but in different ways, and they play off of one another’s own brand of jerk nicely: Sweeney is brash and blunt, Laura is snide and condescending, and the contest they make of trading insults adds some nice levity to a show that tends to be pretty serious.

 

It’s also a smart move away from the source material. The book’s Sweeney does not do much of anything (that we see, anyway) to actually find his coin, so we never learn much about it or who he as a character is in general. Now, the script has found a smart and believable way to tie two secondary characters into the ongoing plot more strongly, which gives the writers a chance to really expand on their personalities and their own conflicts in one move.

 

After he alludes to Anubis’s scales, Laura demands to know what he is. He admits to being a leprechaun, but their conversation is interrupted by the owner of the taxi, who cocks a gun at him.

 

Heeeeeey!

 

All right! I did hear that Salim and the jinn were going to return at some point, but I wasn’t expecting it to be in this capacity. Sort of a really, really incredible coincidence that they happened to run into each other like this. But who cares, and who knows? The Fates could show up at some point and reveal that they orchestrated these amazing odds. When you have deities of every shade running around, I imagine that it’s pretty easy to handwave lucky breaks.

 

 

After overhearing his admission, Salim asks Sweeney if he’s ever met a jinn; he’s been travelling towards Mecca looking for one. Sweeney admits that he knows where jinn — and just about every god and demigod — will soon be, and promises to tell Salim if he takes them to Kentucky, where his contact is. Salim agrees.

 

Shadow and Wednesday are on the road, and the latter tries to cheer up a grim Shadow, who he says is in a bad place now that he has to deal with his wife after already grieving for her. He knows many types of charms, he claims, and offers to use one on him.

 

Shadow, however, is having more physical problems: the wound from the tree creature is still bleeding, and now feels like something is moving around in it (gross). Wednesday realizes that it’s infected.

 

 

In the car’s headlights, Wednesday examines the wound and puts his finger to it, explaining that, like using electricity to draw worms from soil, he’ll need to apply a bit of power to get “it” out. While doing so, he tells a story: men have always wanted something to pray to, and the first place they turned to for a source of faith was the trees of the earth. Mr. Wood was the god of those things — the trees and the forests — until men began to evolve and industrialize, and so he was forced to adapt and become “something else.” Finally, Wednesday pulls some kind of knotty bundle of living vines out of the wound (really gross), that he tosses away.

 

Ew.

 

Well, then. It looks like we’ve made the bona-fide leap, then, from Mr. Wood being a dime-a-dozen mook to an outright god himself. And since he’s been around for a long time, I suppose he doesn’t possess the soul of one of those cops. Perhaps he can just manifest through any type of wood, and showed up at the station on the orders of the New Gods to kill the men there? That would be a great way to update the character into something more visually and dramatically exciting: still a servant of the New Gods, as he is in the book, but one much more powerful and odd, being something ‘divine’ himself. I look forward to seeing what other creative ways they involve him in the story. And I wonder what Mr. Stone and Mr. Town will be able to do.

 

Elsewhere, Salim talks with Laura and Sweeney as he drives. He admits of being scared of New York when he first arrived there, and Sweeney complains about his incessant talking. He notices that Salim’s ID definitely isn’t him.

 

 

Laura asks if he killed the original man in his ID picture, but Salim admits that he never saw him — he imagines that the jinn gave him a new life as well. He gives them his name, but isn’t sure if it fits him anymore. Laura asks what he hopes to do with his old life, and they both agree that the policy of moving on should be one of “fuck those assholes.” Laura ponders her new revelation that she’ll never get to see her family again, but is sort of thankful for it.

 

Sweeney gets angry with her when she mentions their plan for a resurrection, saying it isn’t a fact that should just be shared with anyone. Laura grabs his mouth and threatens to tear off his lips if he keeps using the ‘C’ word that he’s so fond of. (Thank God. I am so tired of hearing him throw it out every two minutes he’s on screen.) She lights a cigarette.

 

Just take ’em, Laura.

 

Salim asks if she’s dead, which she admits to. He asks her about her faith. Laura reminisces that she used to pray in Sunday school, asking God that her family would disappear.

 

Salim states that he doesn’t pray to God for things, but to thank Him for what he’s given. He does hope, however, that he’ll find the jinn, as he believes he is his “afterlife.” Sweeney laughs about it, making innuendos about their sexual encounter. As they approach a turnoff, Laura quietly steers the car towards Indiana.

 

 

I am really appreciating this new direction. Is this going to become a regular parallel plot? I am all for watching more of this Salim/Laura/Sweeney road trip. Salim, bless his heart, adds a lovely, quiet optimism and politeness that helps ground the other two’s more brusque and cynical personalities, but he’s also not afraid to dish out some sarcasm, which keeps him from feeling out-of-place. I also like seeing Laura’s softer side here, as she’s rather understanding towards Salim, though I’m curious what the flashback to her hot-tub-insecticide habit is meant to mean. Does she miss the feeling it gave her? Is she starting to feel trapped by her current condition? I’m not sure.

 

 

Elsewhere, in Virginia, Wednesday and Shadow head towards an isolated little town swathed in the smog of a towering manufacturing plant. It’s very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque, but this place makes bullets, not candy. In a really sudden shift in tone, we’re suddenly hit with a jaunty “Get Happy” cover while an overseer there clocks in and strolls past molten metal and fellow employees, every one of whom is weirdly cheery.

 

 

While crossing a walkway, however, a handrail gives out, and the man takes the plunge into a vat. He gets converted into a shiny new shipment of Vulcan-brand bullets for his trouble.

 

Mondays. Am I right?

 

Man, I always love out-of-nowhere moments like this, if only because of how unexpected they are. It’s a beautifully shot sequence, and the peppiness of it is so ridiculous that it works despite the unbelievable corniness of the whole thing. (And I suppose we now know where the bullets from the opening came from, don’t we?)

 

As they roll up into town (also called Vulcan), Shadow comments on how empty it is. Wednesday explains that the citizenry here is extraordinarily dedicated to America — its particular version of it, anyway. And that mainly means that they hang a lot of flags and all carry guns. Even if that ideal falls apart under scrutiny, these people will defend the safety that it gives them. They patrol the streets with shotguns and uniforms, and at the center of town is a large mob.

 

 

Wednesday explains that the congregation is a “celebration of a sacrifice” — a couple of times each year, an employee ‘accidentally’ falls into a vat thanks to faulty railings, and the insurance company chooses to just settle rather than close down the factory to refurbish it. They pull up to the leader giving a eulogy for the dearly departed while “I Put a Spell on You” plays, because this show is not about subtlety when it comes to its music choices.

 

 

The head is — surprise, surprise — one Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen). He and the townsfolk fire their guns into the air, and as the crowd disperses, Wednesday greets him. Shadow sits in the car while the rain of bullets falls from the sky.

 

Wednesday tells Vulcan that he needs him, and the man reveals that he knows that Wednesday is trying to start a war. He admits that he is doing just fine, but Wednesday informs him that the rest of the gods aren’t nearly as well of.

 

I hope there weren’t any birds up there.

 

Another really uncomfortable sequence, but this one is clearly intentional. Again, nothing super subtle: it’s a very, very obvious take on the American nationalists who treat the second amendment as gospel. From the armbands to the fact that every single person in this place is apparently white, the entire setup is reflective of the neo-nazi movement, and it’s really unpleasant to watch unfold. I would say that it’s a bit much, but let’s be honest here — we’ve seen this sort of display time and again in real life. These kinds of people have always been around, and we’ve had some clear demonstrations of their existence quite recently, so it’s nothing to shrug off as dramatic license.

 

I’m glad that they went this route, really. I think it’s a really important thing that has to be discussed and dismantled — this fanatical concern with carrying arms and the fact that said belief often ties directly into racism, homophobia, and the like. Vulcan’s interaction with Shadow is stiff and outright rude in every scene they share, which really drives the social implications home.

 

Sweeney wakes up to find that the band has arrived at the bar where he and Shadow first met. Laura is looking very not-good at this point. She orders the stiffest drink she can get, while Salim just gets coffee.

 

Rollin’ up with the crew.

 

In their booth together, Sweeney and Laura continue to argue after the former jokes about the latter’s appearance. Laura isn’t overly concerned with it, but Sweeney warns her to keep in the shadows and not draw attention to herself. She accuses him of only caring because he wants the coin inside of her, but Sweeney in turn accuses her of coming back to her home state in order to see her family, despite her earlier, haughty declarations of moving on.

 

She admits that her heart beat when she kissed Shadow, but Sweeney tells her that, to him, she will always be dead. He’s Wednesday’s man now, not her, and so he advises her to get a new life, just as her husband did. When she insists that she wants Shadow, Sweeney tells her that her love is toxic, because she forces it on people who don’t want it.

 

 

It’s nice to see Sweeney call Laura out on her actions, as well as address the futility that is her trying to get back with Shadow, though I could do without the jokes about Salim’s relationship with the jinn. We get that you’re a tactless ass, Sweeney. No need to make jokes about anal sex. They aren’t funny, and Laura’s admission that she likes it after Sweeney claims that women don’t seems a shoddy attempt at making her appear “cool” and “one of the guys.” It’s possible for women to be portrayed as strong without them putting down other women, writers. Keep that in check; especially when Laura’s status as a well-written ‘strong female character’ is definitely debatable. It wouldn’t be quite so irritating if she wasn’t one of the few women in the cast at this point, and I get the feeling that it’s going to be her in a ‘boy’s club’ setting for most of the series, so this could become a regular thing.

 

More women supporting one another 2k17.

 

Anyway, this conversation does hint at an intriguing setup for Laura’s arc: will she try to find a new life and start over, or try to reclaim what she had? And how will the possibility of resurrection affect her decision? I’m assuming that said plan is not going to be successful, as it would really screw up with both Laura and Sweeney’s storylines going forward. Still, it could provide some interesting direction.

 

Shadow cautiously looks at a tree in Vulcan’s yard, in which he sees another phantom noose. Vulcan tells him that it was a hanging tree. A neighbor walks by and greets him and Wednesday, but not Shadow. When Vulcan tells them that they’ll be safe here and can stay so long as they need, Shadow insists that they leave.

 

 

Yeah, the racism is strong here. Get out of there, Shadow.

 

Vulcan insists that everybody loves the town, explaining that people are much more content when they are being watched. Wednesday looks up into the sky and sees a satellite pass by. I’m guessing the Technical Boy (or Mr. World) is on the lookout.

 

The man’s home is filled with stuffed and mounted kills. He offers Wednesday a drink but tells Shadow that he does not get one, just to make it really clear that he’s a bigoted piece of garbage.

 

Wednesday is impressed by the opulence of the lifestyle that the town’s devotion affords him, and Vulcan suggests that Wednesday sacrifices himself to get a bit of power back, since the people no longer perform them for him. “You’ve done it before,” he accuses, and Wednesday admits that it was successful then, but likely won’t work out again. Shadow looks out at the tree, and Vulcan asks if he’s ever seen a man hanged, saying that it’s a terrible place for a man to find faith.

 

 

Because of that, he’s franchised conviction via a more convenient method to keep himself strong. He is the god of the volcano and metalworking, and so has evolved with the times accordingly. His new volcano is the gun from which a bullet erupts, and every one of them is inscribed with his name. “The power of fire is firepower, not God,” he claims. Every time somebody pulls a trigger, it is an offering to him. He cocks the gun and shoots one of mounted heads.

 

Wednesday asks Vulcan to come with him to Wisconsin, and Vulcan claims that he has always been with him. Before they can leave, however, Wednesday asks from him a blade fit for a god.

 

Shadow asks Wednesday if he trusts the man once he leaves, but Wednesday simply states that he knows what Vulcan is and has always been. He also reveals that he didn’t tell Vulcan of Shadow’s lynching, which means the weaponsmith’s little comparison is neither a coincidence nor an understandable admission. Shadow calls it a very big “fuck you,” and Wednesday promises to deliver one of his own, but won’t tell Shadow what it is, as he appears to be distracted.

 

 

Man, Vulcan is a terrible character. I mean that in a good way, though. It’s pretty obvious that he’s in line with the New Gods, but I don’t think the show is trying to hide that fact. Clearly, he’s taken up World’s offer of being repackaged and upgraded — the same deal that Wednesday so dramatically turned down last week. The translation of the volcano and metal into guns and weaponry is a smart update, and it does a great job at demonstrating World’s ideas for the Old Gods. Just as he promised, he’s rewriting their domains into something dangerous and destructive, carving out a little world for them to rule over and settle for. But while Wednesday was unwilling to accept a condolence prize in his exiled part of the world, Vulcan has apparently embraced the idea and is perfectly happy with the arrangement. (Of course, his reach at least partially extends to the rest of the country, considering those men during the ‘Coming to America’ bit had his personal brand. I wonder if he has the monopoly over ammo in the United States? It would fit World’s ideology to a ‘T,’ if so, and possibly better explain his power.)

 

And in the end, the idea of a god of fire and metallurgy taking the form of a super-racist, gun-loving white guy who lords over a super-racist, gun-loving town is an eerily appropriate direction to take things in today’s world.

 

I’m wondering what the writers intend to do with the “sacrifice yourself” bit, as well. I’m assuming it’s foreshadowing something that happens near the end of the book with Shadow, but I’m not entirely sure.

 

Us watching Wednesday watching Shadow watching Laura watching her family. There are a lot of layers here.

 

When Wednesday notes that Shadow is still thinking of Laura, he has Shadow concentrate, which causes him to have a vision of her. She’s outside her mother’s home, where she looks through the window and sees her family. They don’t notice her, however, and Laura leaves. Wednesday asks if he’s willing to let her fade away, but Shadow doesn’t seem certain. Laura, meanwhile, gets back into Salim’s cab and brusquely tells him to drive, reiterating her “fuck those assholes” mantra.

 

 

I like this episode’s focus and contrast between Laura and Shadow, demonstrating their new companions’ urging to let the other go. We all know that it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, of course, but it sets the groundwork for some development on their relationship and what may become of it going forward. Props also to the writers for including Laura’s peeking in on her family, which was a throwaway moment in the book but has been turned into a climactic realization for her here. She’s come to terms with the fact that she needs to move on from at least some of the elements of her old life, and that’s going to direct her story from here on out, I imagine. Also, having Shadow frame the scene gives us a chance to see more of his apparent powers at play.

 

At a forge in his factory, Vulcan crafts a ludicrously large and ornate sword. He laments not being allowed to make Wednesday a gun instead, noting how much more destructive even cheap, mass-produced firearms can be.

 

 

He wants to know why Wednesday desires a war, and the con main explains that he wants to make sure that the other Old Gods get the same good deal that Vulcan has now. Vulcan admits that it’s a good idea, but only for Wednesday.

 

Wednesday asks if he told the New Gods about where they are, which Vulcan confirms (*gasp*). They are coming, and he’s been advised to appear neutral in the conflict. Neutrality, Wednesday admonishes, only takes the side of the oppressor. A very apt message.

 

 

Vulcan claims that the New Gods aren’t oppressors, but simply the inescapable future. It feels good to have power again — every bullet shot in a crowded movie theatre is a prayer to him.

 

Wow, we’re really hitting these contemporary issues hard, aren’t we? I like it. No sugar-coating it.

 

He asserts that his religion doesn’t need to be a moral one, and Wednesday states that all religions need martyrs regardless. Vulcan in turn accuses Wednesday of wanting to be one as a means of spurning the others to his cause.

 

Wednesday, however, says that it isn’t him who will be the martyr, but Vulcan; he’s going to claim that the man swore allegiance to him, and was killed by the New Gods in retribution. He slices Vulcan’s throat with his new weapon and pushes him into a vat, then pisses in it as a way to curse “the whole damn thing.”

 

And once again, somebody gets made into bullets.

 

This is probably going to impact this month’s overhead.

 

Good to see Wednesday more manipulative and dangerous. So far, he’s been mostly ominous talk and loopy jokes, so this is a nice way of demonstrating the fact that he has something to back up his bluster. I’m assuming Vulcan won’t be gone too long — given how powerful his town’s (and country’s, really) belief in his craft is, he’s sure to be reincarnated in some new form fairly quickly. I wouldn’t mind an update on this place at some point in a future season, just to find out what effect his death and Wednesday’s curse potentially had.

 

(How hilarious would it be if this turned into a literal Chekhov’s Gun? I want there to be a moment near the very end of the series where somebody tries to kill Shadow with a bullet, and it ends up backfiring because it was made from this batch.)

 

 

On the side of the road, Salim says his prayers as the sun sets (rises?). Laura and Sweeney watch silently, and Sweeney gives Laura a look. Salim tells Laura that God is great, and Laura tells him that life is great, which he agrees with. He and Laura smile as Sweeney gets back into the car.

 

A nice end. I think it’s incredibly powerful for the show to portray the Islamic faith this way. It bookends the opening’s contrast of religion’s capacity for good and evil again, what with it coming right after Vulcan’s horrendous speech. And given how much Islamophobia runs rampant in our culture right now, I think it’s very important for it to be removed from the violent, fanatical context that Western media typically uses.

 

 

Also, it’s nice for Laura and Sweeney — two characters who normally won’t shut up with the insults — to, for once, stay quiet and respectful.

 

I’m not a big fan of that look Sweeney gives Laura, though, because it makes me think they’re going to try to spark a romance between the two of them. I get the appeal of the idea, given the situation they’re both in and how they’re connected with one another, but I don’t think I want to see it play out. Just let the two be themselves separately, please.

 

Stop it, Sweeney.

 

Anyway! Some ending thoughts:

 

  • Wednesday mentioned that there was no way to be completely sure that Shadow’s injury from Mr. Wood was completely healed. Does this mean it’s going to have some sort of impact on Shadow later, or was it just a throwaway piece of dialogue?

 

  • Speaking of Mr. Wood: Do Shadow’s visions of the noose somehow tie into his abilities, seeing as how it always appears in a tree? The version that was seen this week was particularly weird, since it appeared to be made out of bark, rather than rope. Is Mr. Wood haunting Shadow somehow? And does he hold any kind of sway over Shadow’s dreams of the bone orchard?

 

  • What does Wednesday intend to do with Vulcan’s sword, exactly? We’re all in new territory here, so I don’t know what to expect.

 

  • I hope the jinn and Salim get some kind of happy ending. I’d like to think that Fuller would know better than to pull out the old Bury Your Gays trope after going to such pains to make a couple of minor characters a more prominent part of the cast, but I can’t be sure.

*

So while w definitely did have plenty of development here, I’d consider “A Murder of Gods” the lightest episode of the season so far, both in terms of tone and narrative weight. Not a bad thing, though. Sometimes, it’s nice to take a breather, and making sure that the episode still has relevance to character development and overarching plots prevents it from being completely superfluous.

 

Last note: I really dug the music this week. Very jazzy and striking. It’s almost obnoxious, but it suffuses everything with an artsy vibe without seeming like it’s trying too hard. And though I make fun of it, I do like how obviously the licensed songs tie into whatever scene they’re soundtracking. It keeps things fun.

 

Only two more episodes left!

 

Rating

While it feels more like a pit stop than a grand step forward, “A Murder of Gods” doesn’t waste the opportunity to make its small character moments and plot developments count. It’s mostly setup, and that’s what makes its lighter tone and smaller scale worthwhile.

B+

Monteverdi
A reader who doesn't pick up his books nearly as often as he should, but who would like to offer the occasional review when he can nonetheless. Find me on Goodreads here.
Monteverdi
If nothing else: thank you, @MClyburnFCC and Jessica Rosenworcel. Thank you for standing up for the rest of us and… https://t.co/3522ZuXwRI - 50 mins ago

2 Responses to “TV Recap: American Gods — A Murder of Gods (1.06)”

  1. Ben

    Sometimes I don’t like shows that try to make a political statements about some social issues – Amazon original shows have been bad about that. Maybe I’ll give this show a try – not sure how I feel about the depiction of Jesus coming to the rescue of people doing illegal activities, like sneaking across the border.
    Ben recently posted…Sell Your Used Books and Textbooks OnlineMy Profile

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