Previously on American Gods, “The Secret of Spoons”
The first “Somewhere in America” story of this episode touches on the core theme of American Gods in a way I’d never considered. Mrs. Fadil (Jacqueline Antaramian), 68, dies while preparing a meal for her family. Though she’s Muslim, death comes in the form of Anubis (Chris Obi), who takes her to the scales where her life’s deeds will be weighed to determine her afterlife. This is a kindness, a thank you, for holding the stories her Tita told her of old Egypt in her heart. She earns the choice of a door, each leading to one of the Du’at worlds. Mrs. Fadil asks that Anubis picks for her, hoping to avoid the world where her abusive father resides.
It’s a beautiful sequence that implies her grandmother’s stories held more prominence in her heart than the religion she practiced for most (if not all) of her life. And that belief, though old, was strong enough to summon a visit from Anubis when it was her time. Even more interesting than what people choose to believe is how and why they hold their beliefs.
“You believe in nothing so you have nothing.”
Shadow has consistently turned his nose up at things he doesn’t believe in, even when he witnesses them with his own eyes. His next bizarre encounter takes place on his houseguests’ rooftop where he meets Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Karr), the third sister whose job it is to watch the night sky so that the Great Bear (Ursa Major) doesn’t escape and bring about the end of the world. No biggie.
Though Zorya V. implied Shadow has an unfortunate future, Zorya P. tells him he’s going from nothing to everything, but notes he doesn’t seem to care if he lives or dies. This is evident by giving away the protection he was once given and foolishly betting his life on a game of chess. Zorya P. gives Shadow the moon, literally, in the form of a coin and warns him to hold onto it. The next morning, the encounter feels like a dream, but he still has the coin.
Shadow challenges Czernobog to a rematch: If Shadow wins, Czernobog will meet them in Wisconsin as Wednesday requested. And if Shadow loses — again — then Czernobog gets two swings at his head — an extra swing Czernobog might need given his age and lack of practice for his favorite skill. Appealing to the vanity of a god works, and Shadow gets into Czernobog’s head enough to win the game. Meanwhile, Wednesday lays out his own seduction of Zorya V., kissing her beneath rain that tastes of him and war, and laughing off her reading that he will die in this coming war.
“That’s only my fortune today.”
So far, many of the encounters with gods have been due to, or ended in, death. Salim’s (Omid Abtahi) encounter with The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) changed things up in more ways than one. Salim is a timid and unsuccessful salesman, who has bled more money than he has earned in his one week in New York City. At the end of a particularly unproductive day, Salim strikes up a conversation with his overworked cab driver, who is also from his home country, Oman. When Salim catches a glimpse of the fire in the cabbie’s eyes, he remembers his grandmother’s claims of seeing an ifrit (a type of Jinn). Much like other old gods we’ve encountered, life is hard for The Jinn; he is also all but forgotten in America and the few who know of his kind mistakenly think he grants wishes. Turns out: he kinda does.
Salim and the Jinn make love in Salim’s hotel room, and when the salesman awakens the next day, he finds The Jinn gone, but his clothes, wallet, and car keys left behind. With his wares also missing, Salim is free to start over. It was such a beautifully poignant encounter. Salim clearly hadn’t experienced such a romantic sexual encounter with another man. When The Jinn enters the bedroom in a towel, Salim almost immediately goes to his knees. The Jinn guides him to his feet so that they stand as equals, caress, and kiss. When we see The Jinn again (it seemed he agreed to meet in Wisconsin last week), I wonder if he’ll be selling a case full of that Melania Trump jewelry. Salim said he couldn’t get rid of the shit so I just assume…
Low on funds, Wednesday decides he and Shadow will rob a bank. Wednesday promises Shadow will not go back to jail and that he’ll do all of the heavy lifting. Shadow’s only jobs are to stand by a pay phone and wait to say the right thing and to make it snow. With his mind. Some snowy thoughts, a nap, and a cup of cocoa later and it is indeed snowing despite the forecast to the contrary. Did Shadow make it snow? Wednesday is more concerned with whether or not Shadow believes he made it snow.
Their debate is interrupted by Mad Sweeney, who’s come looking for Shadow to return his lucky coin. Seeing as how he narrowly escaped death twice without it, he doesn’t see himself making it to Wisconsin alive unless he gets it back. Shadow sends him to the cemetery in Eagle Point to retrieve it from atop Laura’s grave.
There’s gotta be an easier way to score some cash than robbing a bank (or deposit drops to be precise), but Wednesday clearly gets off on the con of it all. Fake signs, fake IDs, fake business cards, and a fake reference provided by Shadow is all it takes to put them back on the road with their pockets full of cash. Yet, Shadow’s head is still full of snow. Even the smartest people believe in something that can’t be proven be it religion or ghosts; Shadow’s not impressed by believing. Show him something real.
Well, shit’s about to get real. Just as Mad Sweeney discovers his coin burned its way into Laura’s now empty coffin, Shadow finds his not-dead wife waiting in his motel room.
When Zorya V. reads Wednesday’s fortune in his coffee cup, what did the grinds look like to you? I saw a woman’s profile like you might find on an old brooch.
Did you note the shadow of a person in a hat when we saw Shadow appear on the bank’s security cams? It happened twice, and the last time it appeared as though an eye (Media’s?) closed shut to transition out of the camera’s view.
Wednesday slyly tells Shadow he’s pretending, but since he follows it up with “you’re pretending,” Shadow latches on to that, and doesn’t ask his new boss for clarification. Oh, Shadow.
Can we see The Jinn, with his fine ass, again, please?
You can find more information on where some of the characters are derived below. They may be a bit spoilery, so if you don’t want to know who these characters represent in religion and literature, stay away.
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American Gods S1E3
"Head Full of Snow"
Starring: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Pablo Schreiber, Crispin Glover, Gillian Anderson, Demore Barnes, Cloris Leachman, Peter Stormare, Kristin Chenoweth, Orlando Jones