We’re halfway through the series and I don’t want it to end! Do me a favor, if you’re watching AMERICAN GODS and you haven’t told everyone about it, please, please do. I need everyone to know and love this show as much as I do, and since I don’t know that many people who watch it, I’m forced to ramble on about it to you all.
This week’s episode is called, “A Murder of Gods”, but it should be called “A Murder of Television Shows” because American Gods is really killing it’s competition. Was that corny?
This week’s Coming to America vignette introduced a familiar face for a lot of viewers – Jesus. Although to clarify, Mr. Wednesday stated in an earlier episode that here are a lot of different versions of Jesus because a lot of people worship him – so this week we got Mexican Jesus.
A group of immigrants trying to cross the border are stopped when they hit a body of water that separates them from the “land of the free.” The leader warns the group that the water is deep, and that if anyone cannot swim they should not cross. Of course, that wouldn’t stop me from trying if I had already gotten that far, and it certainly didn’t stop a man in the group who couldn’t swim and begins to drown. Just as he begins to go under and meet his fate, a hand grabs him and brings him back up the surface. The hand belongs to a man who doesn’t belong to the group, who walks on water, and has a glow around his head (you get one guess as to who it is). But just as we’re lulled into a false sense of security, inhumane shotgun toting border patrolmen arrive, and begin to massacre the group. Before the patrolmen can kill everyone, Jesus steps forwards and takes the bullets, sacrificing himself so that no one else is killed. I was really invested in this story, and I love the inclusion of a Jesus from a different culture. I wonder if all the different Jesus’ are going to meet up on the show at one point.
Shadow’s still traumatized from what he’s seen in the police station, and questions Mr. Wednesday about “what’s real.” After Mr. Wednesday dismisses Shadow’s belief system (or lack there of) Shadow tells Mr. Wednesday about Laura – something he’d kept from him during the last episode. Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow that the dead usually comes back with a purpose, and her purpose is to let him go. Mr. Wednesday, who doesn’t seem completely interested in learning more about Laura, quickly makes a get away with Shadow, and distracts Shadow long enough to prevent him from seeing Laura running after them. My guess is that he doesn’t want Shadow to get distracted from their mission by whatever Laura wants with him.
Meanwhile, Laura and the leprechaun form an unlikely team. The leprechaun agrees to help Laura be resurrected so that she won’t need his lucky coin anymore. Right before the two of them escape in a cab that they’re about to steal, they’re stopped by the owner of the cab – Salim (from ep 3)! He overhears the leprechaun mention that he’s a leprechaun, and asks if he’s heard about a genie. The leprechaun agrees to take him to the genie, if Salim takes him to Kentucky.
While on their road trip, my hatred for Laura only grows stronger, when she reveals that as a child she never knew how to pray so she would pray for her family to disappear. When the leprechaun has his back turned (or more like his eyes closed), Laura convinces Salim to make a detour towards Louisiana instead of Kentucky.
Back in the car, Shadow reveals that he’s been severely injured from the tree killer thing at the police station. Mr. Wednesday heals him, and we get another hint at who he is and what he’s capable of.
This leads us to Vulcan, Virginia, where we witness the disturbing accidental death of a bullet factory boss, who falls into a vat of molten hot metal and dies – the imagery leads us to assume that his body is then made into bullets. Shadow and Mr. Wednesday enter the town and witness my worse nightmare – gun-wielding, “Make America Greaters” who live life like their the victims and that the good ole days need to be preserved. As Mr. Wednesday said, it’s their America.
They enter this gateway to hell to see a parade of people, who have gathered to celebrate the death of the factory boss, or as Mr. Wednesday calls it, a human sacrifice. He approaches a man named Vulcan, the leader of the town, who Mr. Wednesday wants to join he and Shadow. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire, who now rules over this town in Virginia. Vulcan claims that he’s franchised his worship, and that his townspeople place their prayers in the bullets of their guns. Every murder that they commit acts as a blood sacrifice to the Vulcan. He agrees to join Mr. Wednesday in Chicago and wield him a weapon.
Meanwhile, Laura who’s beginning to rot, leads the group to a bar in Louisiana – the same bar that Mr. Wednesday properly introduced himself to Shadow in the first episode. The leprechaun taunts Laura, telling her that her chase is futile, and that Shadow doesn’t want her anymore. Laura insists on finding him, simply for the fact that he made her heart beat again.
In a sudden twist, Mr. Wednesday learns that Vulcan sold them out – alerting the New Gods about their whereabouts. Vulcan tells Mr. Wednesday that they’re the ones who gave him his new power. That he didn’t need his religion anymore, he needed the guns. For his betrayal, Mr. Wednesday kills Vulcan with the blade he’d made for him, throwing his body in his bullet vat and peeing in it. Mr. Wednesday claims that he’s cursing everything, so one could only imagine what will happen to the town of Vulcan once they use those cursed bullets.
Ya’ll, I feel like American Gods has really hit it’s stride in both story and momentum, and this was definitely one of my favorite episodes so far. While I love the Coming to America vignettes, and I look forward to learning about a new god’s arrival to America, I’m so into the main story that I’d almost say I wouldn’t mind doing without them, just so I can get more action. I’m only half serious though, because the Coming to America stories are so well written and directed in themselves that they literally set a trap that keeps my attention ON LOCK for the next 50 minutes. Either way, I just feel like the story has really hit its stride, slowly building up the New Gods/Old Gods while fleshing out each of the characters in organic ways.
Also, speaking of character development, can we talk about Mr. Wednesday? I mean, here’s a man who presented himself as a humble “nobody” on a mission, and this week he’s slitting people’s throats and peeing on them. Shadow’s been warned by a few people that Mr. Wednesday could not be trusted, and normally shows will throw out warnings like that and leave it be until the climax where the character shows his true colors. I’ve been doubting Mr. Wednesday’s motives ever since last episode, where the New Gods extended an olive branch to him that he firmly shut down. However, it can be argued that considering how corrupted Vulcan became after being helped by the New Gods, it’s clear that Mr. Wednesday likely has legitimate reasons not to work with them.
Let’s talk about Vulcan: what a way to talk about America’s gun obsession, right? Vulcan, Virginia isn’t just terrifying because it’s a town run by a god who demands blood sacrifices, but because it’s representative of the divide in America today. Mr. Wednesday never lied when he spoke about the townspeople being so fixated on keeping America “the way they remember” and the images of white townsfolk (even children) carrying around shotguns and worshipping the American flag is truly a mirror to our own society. To me, Vulcan, Virginia represents Trump’s America: a town runs on fear and distrust of “outsiders” and change, and have a firm belief that it is their right to protect themselves against that change with arms. The introductory scene truly looked like a still from one of Trump’s rally’s. I think what makes it so disturbing is the scene’s accuracy – that kind of hatred and gun fueled resistance is exactly what Trump’s America has allowed to regain power today. I do wonder what will happen to the town now that Vulcan is killed. Personally, I think it’ll remain the same. Those people lived in their fear and hatred far before Trump – I mean Vulcan — arrived, and will continue afterwards. The shape of the leader may change, but the demands of the people will not.
Two more episodes to go… I don’t know if they’ll be able to top this episode and make another that will become my favorite, but I’m excited to find out.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
American Gods airs Sundays at 8PM on Starz
Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
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Vanessa Jay | Contributor