American Gods is starting to hold its place in my mind as the visually fantastic show that’s more into statement-making than touching upon actual plot. It’s a rather new take on storytelling, and at this point in time, and I’m still not entirely sure if it’s a type of storytelling I like, but I’m currently finding the experience interesting so far. Let’s dive deeper to actually discuss what happened.
Meeting the Gods 101
The show’s third episode, “Head Full of Snow,” starts with our seemingly consistent segment of getting to know the particular god. This week, we meet Mr. Jacquel, or Anubis/Anpu/Inpu (Greek/ancient Egyptian language), played by Chris Obi. Anubis is the Egyptian god of and guide to the Afterlife. He is usually depicted as a jackal and always in black, a color that symbolized rebirth. In our introduction to this god, however, we don’t get an origin story; we get an charming (as charming as a death scene can be) interaction with a 68-year-old woman he’s retrieving after her death. (She died falling on her uneven stool while reaching to grab cooking ingredients… ouch.) It’s an entirely interesting way to write out a death scene with carefully timed tension and witty dialogue, so I was more than satisfied with our episode introduction this week.
Even though this is a bit out of order chronologically, we do get to meet another mystical being in this episode: a jinn from Oman. A jinn is a supernatural spirit closest to a genie from Arabic mythology.
Vocabulary lesson aside, let’s get to why our side-story with a jinn really stuck out this week, and that’s the incredibly tender sexual rendezvous with Salim, an encounter faithfully done from Gaiman’s novel. Despite being told multiple times that he “doesn’t grant wishes,” it seems like the two characters have a sincere night together while Salim wakes up with what he wants: a life of more promising career opportunities compared to his old job. The mini-arc is very genuine and extremely well done, even more so considering how male homosexuality isn’t depicted often, if at all, in such a loving way on television.
Shadow and Wednesday’s Road Trip
We left off episode two with Shadow losing to Czernobog, but we start catching up with his misadventures by receiving the moon in the form of a silver dollar from Zorya Polunochnaya. They also share her first kiss that was apparently “disgusting, but in a nice way.” Shadow and Czernobog have a rematch, and this time, Shadow wins, while Wednesday and Zorya Vechernyaya warm up with each other in the rain.
For the rest of the episode, Shadow and Wednesday prep and rob a bank in the least invasive way I’ve ever seen a bank robbery executed. Shadow was told to think of snow, and then it does, leaving Shadow to continue to doubt his sanity when he has to question if he really made it snow. Considering that he’s going to have to figure out what he believes in one way or another, we’ll just have to see how Shadow takes on this world of gods and the supernatural.
Mad and Laura
Like I’ve brought up last week, it looks like we’re going to see just what happened to Laura for next week’s episode. It also looks like Mad Sweeney and Shadow are both going to see just how a lucky coin fits into this particular puzzle in the plot. The show so far has been putting Shadow’s handle with his wife’s death on the back-burner, but now it’s been revealed that they’re bringing that aspect back around for the surprise element of it. Here’s to hoping that there’s actual chemistry between these two characters in the show like they seemed to have in the book.
It looks like I’m going to have a problem with the pacing of this show because they seem to be pushing random tales about mythical encounters into the show. Don’t get me wrong, they’re quite random in the book as well, but for the sake of the main story arc we’re following (Shadow and Wednesday’s quest), I’m not entirely satisfied with the brief glazing over of their adventures in the show. It seems like they’re not exactly given the amount of attention and character depth as much as these random gods are given, and it’s a bit disappointing to see, considering how they’re the protagonists.
As I stated at that start of this recap, American Gods so far is more focused on building this beautifully gritty world, while presenting honest controversial stances, rather than telling a story. It’s a rather interesting take on creating a universe, but I don’t think it’s a take that will hold an entire audience’s attention for long.