May 8, 2017

‘American Gods’ Ep 2 “The Secret Of Spoons”

Shadow and Mr. Wednesday continue their trek across America as the second episode of American Gods introduces potential new allies and a warning never to scroll through your dead wife’s phone. This episode has one of the THE most powerful openings seen on television courtesy of Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy aka Anansi. The god has come to answer the prayers of a group of men shackled at the bottom of a slave ship in 1697. However, it may not be the answer they were expecting as he lays out the truth of what’s to become of them up to several hundred years. It’s a scene that Jones delivers with the ferocity and slickness that embodies the trickster god as he gets what he wanted in the very end.

Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and a not so happy Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle)

From here we pick up immediately where the last episode left where a beaten and hung Shadow was saved by a mysterious stranger after his run in with Technical Boy. After being patched up he seeks out Mr. Wednesday and has words with his new employer about the bizarre series of events that have just taken place. When it’s all said and done, Ian McShane delivers a chilling line all but promising retribution for what was done to Ricky Whittle’s character, Shadow. We also get to see a quiet moment for Shadow where he finally breaks down and releases some of that emotion and exhaustion. It’s another moment that is not only shot wonderfully but the music is just perfect here. And what is a bit of another sad moment for Shadow is when he returns to the home that he and his wife used to share to start packing things away. There’s no dialogue for some time here so as the music carries this we see Shadow make the mistake of going through Laura’s phone and is instantly reminded of the infidelity and how she died. Not sure if anyone is feeling sorry for Laura at the moment but Whittle’s performance is definitely bringing some serious empathy towards the situation.

After such an intense opening and moments thereafter a much needed change of pace takes place as Mr. Wednesday and Shadow continue their trip and we are introduced to more new and old gods along the way. There is quite a bit more levity here and it’s never a dull moment when Shadow and Mr. Wednesday are on the screen. In case you haven’t noticed yet it’s the chemistry between McShane and Whittle that has been one of the many highlights on the show. The two are just magic on the screen as the cryptic Wednesday is holding all the cards and Shadow is just confused and lost in this new world he’s walked into. Almost losing his sanity after being approached by the new god, Media played by Gillian Anderson as she attempts to recruit Shadow to their side. Her approach is much softer than Technical Boy’s but when a god who takes the appearance of Lucille Ball and talks to you through a television it’s enough to make you question your sanity. But it’s here where we find out there’s more to this journey Shadow and Wednesday are taking and the stakes involved.

Once in Chicago things become very tense because Mr. Wednesday isn’t a welcome sight to many of the people he’s attempting to gather to his side. Enter the Zorya sisters and the old god Czernobog. Cloris Leachman plays the eldest of the sisters, Vechernyaya, and you see that she has a history with Wednesday that isn’t too pleasant. However, the two banter and flirt as little pieces of her previous life are revealed through their conversation. When Czernobog (Peter Stormare) enters the room he wastes little time letting Wednesday know how he feels about him being in his home. If you also pay close attention he reveals the true identity of Mr. Wednesday which is still a mystery to Shadow.

Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) will probably drink you under the table

Stormare’s presence onscreen is just another testament to a great casting choice as he carries much of the final moments of this episode. Czernobog does not beat around the bush  and is quite direct as Shadow finds out during the conversation over dinner. There is something scary about Czernobog even though he is a shadow (no pun intended) of his former self but you still shouldn’t tread lightly around him. Made even more evident by the invitation to play a game of checkers with Shadow that ends up having some pretty high stakes in the end. The entire sequence is all parts dark humor, intense, and creepy. Especially when Czernobog begins to sing in an almost taunting manner

Through all of this we get a brief glimpse of Bilquis still sending people to the “vagina nebula” which is what I will now be calling it thanks to showrunner Bryan Fuller’s tweet. We see her take in person after person but it’s when she lays down and sheds a single tear that there may be a deeper meaning to all of this. Yetide Badaki, who plays the character gives a strong yet quiet performance when we see her have a moment to herself and it hints at more about Bilquis and who she is.

Everything about the show is what makes for very good television. From the visuals and special effects to the music and score there is always something to be impressed with and all of those elements are there for a reason that just enrich the story. I also suggest paying attention to everything as there are little breadcrumbs scattered around in much of the episode. American Gods is a very smart and entertaining ride so far and if this is but a peek as to what we can expect as the series progresses, then Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have my complete attention.

Infinite Speech



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