If you’ve come this far, I’m guessing that you’ve already seen this week’s episode of AMERICAN GODS, “Head Full of Snow”, but on the off chance you haven’t, let me squash all of your hopes and dreams here. Nope, we didn’t learn anything more about Mr. Wednesday’s plan and nope, we didn’t get the face off between Shadow and Czernobog that we all wanted. Yeah, I might be a little salty about that last point but I’ll get over it.
Just like we’ve been doing, this week, we start with another “Coming to America” vignette. We start with an interesting tale of a small, New York City woman who hasn’t realized that she’s just died. The woman, Ms. Fadii, hurriedly rushes around the kitchen to prepare for her family’s arrival only to be interrupted by a mysterious man at her door, Mr. Jaquel, who tells her that she’s died and that it’s time for her to go. She turns and finds her dead body on the floor. Although disappointed, Ms. Fiadii follows the strange man up to an infinity of stairs, which leads her to a land of sand and pyramids. She’s then led to her judgment, a pair of scales that weighs her heart in comparison to a feather. After Jaquel proclaims that she led a good life, he escorts her to a series of doors that will take her to a different Duat, or underworld. He chooses one for her, and seals her away.
Mr. Jaquel is the second Egyptian God we’ve met so far, and he’s meant to depict the God Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Dead. Mrs. Fadii is confused when she realizes who Jaquel is, especially since her family is Muslim. Mr. Jaquel thanks her for believing in the stories of Egypt she heard as a child, which is what brought him to her.
While I thought this coming to America tale was particularly beautiful and sad, I was excited to catch up with Shadow in Chicago, who we left off believing he was about to get his head smashed in with a hammer.
Shadow wakes up on Czernobog’s couch only to climb up a fire escape himself and meets Zorya Polunochnaya – the sister who’d been sleeping all of last episode — who teaches him the lore of her and her sisters. She tells him that she guards the Big Dipper or “Odin’s Wing” and that there’s a bad thing chained in those stars, and each of the Zorya sisters are responsible for watching over it. She tells him that if the bad thing escapes, the world will end. Although Shadow protests, Zorya reads his fortune and chastises him for selling his head to Czernobog. She agrees to help him as long as he gives her her first kiss – which she more takes from him than is actually given. She then plucks the moon out of the sky , turning it into a silver coin, and tells him not to give it away because it will protect him. Shadow then immediately wakes up from what apparently is a dream.
With his new found confidence… and shiny moon coin, Shadow taunts Czernobog into another checkers game. If Shadow wins, Czernobog comes with him and Mr. Wednesday. If he loses, Czernobog gets two swings to kill Shadow. Meanwhile, Mr. Wednesday flirts with Zorya Vechemyaya, who tells Mr. W that this time, “they will kill him”. Back at the chess game, I was shocked to see Shadow lose a second time to Czernobog, who smugly tells him that he will kill him.
At sunrise, Shadow wakes up alive in an empty apartment. Mr. Wednesday, who doesn’t seem to give a damn about the traumatic events of the evening, and let’s Shadow know that he needs help robbing a bank.
We then catch up with the leprechaun from episode one, who is thrown out of a bar. He’s picked up by a driver who agrees to take him to Wisconsin. One their way there, his savior is suddenly killed by a loose metal pipe – you know the type of thing Final Destination has us all afraid of. The leprechaun digs through his pockets and searches through his gold coins, but curses when he doesn’t find, what I’m guessing, is his lucky one?
Then, right when I expected the show to take it’s usual Bilquis break, we cut to a random salesman named Salim, in what appears to be NYC, waiting for an appointment. The man he’s waiting for doesn’t show and he dejectedly climbs into a cab with a tired, but friendly cab driver wearing sunglasses. The two chat, and at a traffic jam, the cabbie falls asleep. After Salim gently wakes him, he catches a glimpse of two glowing, fire-y eyes behind the cabbie’s glasses. The man recounts a tale where his grandmother claimed to see “the Jinn,” like him. The cabbie gets annoyed, and claims that the only thing they know about his people in America is that they grant wishes… so if you haven’t figured it out right now, he is what we call, a genie. (BTW, for those of ya’ll who don’t need to pay attention that hard, this is the same genie Shadow passed by in the bar in the first episode).
The two obviously share a bond, Salim finding beauty in the genie, and the genie happy to finally connect with another person. They head up to Salim’s bedroom, and ya’ll know by now that American Gods doesn’t shy away from explicit, mystical, and literal out of this world sex scenes, so we got one.
What I found most interesting wasn’t the sex, but the implication. As the genie climaxed, we cut to an almost x-ray vision of the two, where we saw the fire from the genie pass through him to Salim. This might imply that he now possesses powers of a genie and that sex with gods could be a dangerous and powerful tool.
Salim wakes up to find that the genie’s left his clothes, ID, and taxi outside. So even though he doesn’t grant wishes, he granted Salim’s wish to have a better life in America.
ANNNND back to Shadow, who’s frustrated at Mr. Wednesday for forcing him to rob a bank in broad daylight. As Mr. Wednesday prepares to rob a bank, he demands that Shadow think hard about snow. While Mr. Wednesday runs his errands, Shadow continues to think about snow and he’s shocked to see that it actually begins to snow. THEN FINALLY, we get a scene where Shadow really questions what’s going on in the world.
Before he can get to the bottom of it, the leprechaun storms into the diner and demands the coin back that he gave Shadow– claiming it to be his lucky coin. Shadow lets him know that he threw his lucky coin on top of his wife’s grave, and the leprechaun storms out. Mr. Wednesday claims that he’ll catch up with him in Wisconsin.
Later that night, Mr. Wednesday accomplishes his admittedly well put together bank robbery scheme. The two are able to make it without a hitch and drive off into the night. Shadow questions Mr. Wednesday one last time about if he’d actually created snow, and Wednesday’s answer ended up being a commentary on belief and how it shapes our lived experience.
We end the episode cutting between the leprechaun looking for his gold coin at Shadow’s wife’s grave, and Shadow and Mr. Wednesday checking into a hotel. The leprechaun finds that Shadow’s wife’s grave is empty, and Shadow finds his wife waiting for him in the motel room. Dun dun dun!!!
Every time I try and type the sentence, “OMG American Gods needs to speed it up and give us more information,” I have to stop myself. Each episode, we get just enough information for us to be genuinely excited about next week. This week we learned that gods can and enjoy having sex with people and that they may pass on their powers to mortals. We learned that gods can be brought over to America, even if a person no longer prays to them. We learned that Shadow’s wife may be a zombie/god situation. The thing is, this show isn’t bound to traditional storytelling – it’s a story about a man’s journey with gods so why should anything be a to b? True, it requires us to be more active viewers. I also admit that I find myself getting frustrated at times when I just want to understand where things are going – but this show has Stockholm Syndrome’d me into just accepting it. American Gods is experimental and it’s telling the story the way it wants to.
I’m not going to lie, I was slightly disappointed at the Czernobog storyline resolution. Maybe it’s because I was so invested in the story and seeing how Shadow would escape getting his head smashed in. While I can appreciate the fluidity of this show’s storytelling, I was definitely let down when the resolution ended up being a Zorya Ex Machina, and that it didn’t take much for Shadow to earn her help. But oh well, I can also appreciate that this show doesn’t care at all what our notions of what storytelling should be are.
But also, shout out to this show for calling out the idea of Jesus, and how people of different colors see him as different colors, therefore there are a multitude of Jesuses. I really appreciate how this show really goes after the idea of lore, and continuously plays with the idea of the “melting pot” and how religion and gods aren’t shaped by doctrine, but by people’s beliefs.
I promise you that this is all legitimate. I wish I could be the person that’s like, “American Gods is pretentious and unwatchable” but I honestly don’t feel that way – and I prefer good ole traditional storytelling. But there’s something authentic in the way that Gods does it. I do hope, just like I’ve hoped for the past two weeks, that we do get more info and it does get a little easier, but we’ll see.
Season 1, Episode 3 (S01E03)
American Gods airs Sunday at 8PM on Starz
Read all of our reviews of American Gods here.
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.
Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
Keep up with all of Vanessa’s reviews here.
Vanessa Jay | Contributor