American Gods

American Gods 1×02 – The Secret of Spoons

"To give a good death is art."

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Second episodes are so tricky, but The Secrets of Spoons is even better than the pilot. In fact, I’m almost totally on board with this show.

Sure they’re still not telling us much, but everything about American Gods is so captivating that you can’t possibly look away. This week’s hour introduced a number of a new characters into the show’s mythology, and they’re all brimming with potential. Prison Break villain Peter Stormare is mindblowing as Czernobog, the Slavic God of darkness and evil. His performance is plain mesmerizing – every word and every nuance is carefully orchestrated and unsettling. Also intriguing are the Zorya sisters led by the always hilarious Cloris Leachman. I absolutely can’t wait to learn more about the odd living arrangements these four have mustered up together.

The hour also introduces us to Media, the new goddess of television played to perfection by Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame. Anderson only gets one scene but boy is it a stunner. Under the guise of Lucille Ball, she gives one heck of a monologue (found below) to Shadow about our world’s current landscape. Speaking of monologues, we were also introduced to Orlando Jones’ trickster God who goes by the name of Anansi. He opens the episode with a glorious and bone-chilling speech (you can also read it in its entirety below).  The impressive thing here is that the show manages to be fantastical and otherworldly, while still tapping into topical themes like immigration (if the “Coming to America” title didn’t tip you off).

Bits & Shadows

– So Anansi can transform into a trippy-looking spider? Also, I loved the jazz music over the opening vignette.

– Very powerful moment: Shadow waking up crying after dreaming of Laura.

– Odd but hilarious moment: the kid throwing the newspaper at Shadow’s back.

American Gods sure isn’t shy of full-frontal nudity. We got the dick pic on Laura’s phone, and of course the man that got swallowed by Bilquis’ vagina in the pilot. Thankfully, he’s not suffering but in some euphoric trance in what looks a whole freaking’ galaxy.

– Good to know that Bilquis sleeps with the ladies too. Not too sure what she did there with her antiquities in the museum though.

– Wednesday doesn’t like highways. And phones… I laughed when he dumped the two cellphones out the window.

– Please notice the superb cinematography as Wednesday blows daffodils and the camera follows them through the air, above the clouds, and right until lightening sets them on fire. This show really is like nothing else on TV.

– Who’s the red dude that Wednesday was talking to?

– I love the road trip feel of this show. #Justsaying.

– That hammer bleeding was a pretty ominous shot huh?

– I have to say that the ending could have been stronger. Does anyone actually think Shadow will die at sunrise?

Godly Quips

Anansi: Did you know your momma couldn’t swim? You all need to work on that. Take swimming lessons. This is how we get stereotypes. You want help? Fine. Let me tell you a story. “Once upon a time, a man got fucked.” Now, how is that for a story? ‘Cause that’s the story of black people in America. Shit, you all don’t know you black yet. You think you just people. Let me be the first to tell you that you are all black. The moment these Dutch motherfuckers set foot here and decided they white, and you get to be black, and that’s the nice name they call you. Let me paint a picture of what’s waiting for you on the shore. You arrive in America, land of opportunity, milk and honey, and guess what? You all get to be slaves. Split up, sold off and worked to death. The lucky ones get Sunday off to sleep and fuck and make more slaves, and all for what? For cotton? Indigo? For a fucking purple shirt? The only good news is the tobacco your grandkids are gonna farm for free is gonna give a shitload of these white motherfuckers cancer. And I ain’t even started yet. A hundred years later. You’re fucked. A hundred years after that. Fucked. A hundred years after you get free, you still getting fucked out a job and shot at by police. You see what I’m saying? This guy gets it. I like him. He’s getting angry. Angry is good. Angry gets shit done.

Wednesday: Too many people tell each other not to repress their emotions, to release their feelings, to let the pain go. There’s a lot to be said for bottling up emotions. I’m gonna tell you something and you’re gonna want to hurt me, but what I say has gotta be said. So I want you to consider my words very carefully and refrain from knocking my teeth out.
Shadow: Say it.
Wednesday: Word on the street is your wife died sucking your best friend’s cock. And you, sir, are only obligated to feel bad about that for so long.

Wednesday: We’re not taking the highway. Not now, not ever. No highways.
Shadow: Okay, okay, no highways. Why no highways?
Wednesday: Seen one, seen ’em all. No chance for serendipitous lovely. Let there be beauty where there can be.

Wednesday: Here’s a thousand dollars and a list of things to get. Don’t like dropping in on friends empty-handed. Money situation’s a little tight at the moment, so we can agree now you bring me receipts or you don’t skim more than a reasonable 5 percent.
Shadow: Oh I’m not gonna steal from you.
Wednesday: If you can’t look out for yourself, how the hell you gonna look out for me?

Media: The screen is the altar. I’m the one they sacrifice to. Then till now. Golden Age to Golden Age. They sit side by side, ignore each other, and give it up to me. Now they hold a smaller screen on their lap or in the palm of their hand so they don’t get bored watching the big one. Time and attention, better than lamb’s blood.

Media: Look at it like this, Shadow: We’re the coming thing. We are already here. We are self-driving cars and 3D printers and subdermal time-release insulin. And your old boss is still selling oranges on the side of the road. Not even organic. We are now and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. And he ain’t even yesterday anymore.

Wednesday: (to Shadow) There are bigger sacrifices one might be asked to make than going a little mad.

Wednesday: The universe does seem to have singled you out for unique abuse. In these moments, you gotta ask yourself: Would I rather be ignored?
Shadow: Yes.
Wednesday: Okay, yes, ignore me. Always better dead than forgotten. And no one is ever gonna forget you. Now, flattering as that may be, this, on top of your other adventures– Hmm. Sudden onset of strange. Fair cause for consternation, unless strange is a new language and what we’re doing here is vocabulary building.
Shadow: Fuck your vocabulary.

Wednesday: Best thing about these states we’re headed towards– Minnesota, Wisconsin– is that they have the kind of women that I loved when I was younger. Pale-skinned, blue-eyed. Hair so fair it’s almost white. Wine-colored lips, full round breasts with veins running through them like a good cheese.

Conclusion
An even stronger episode than the pilot. American Gods is off to a very solid start. Excellent!

Nad Rating
A-

2 comments

  1. The Anansi monologue was so powerfully delivered by Orlando Jones. It serves as a memorable introduction to his character while delivering a socially relevant message about race.

    I was surprised by Gillian Anderson's scene as Media. She doesn't make a bad Lucille Ball.

    I'm liking the dynamic between Mr. Wednesday and Shadow. I am interested in watching more scenes between them.

  2. Wow very fascinating review Nad. I can't imagine whether it's super fun or incredibly difficult to write about this trippy show!

    Really loved those lines and quotes. What an intricately written show (that I have yet to LOVE but already like a whole lot more now). And that shot above the clouds with the lightning…seriously, this show is like nothing else on TV.

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