American Gods ep 1×03, “Head Full of Snow” aired on May 14, 2017
First things first! Some very good news dropped this week along with other tales of cancellations and renewals. Still early in its first season, American Gods was renewed for a second season. This is excellent news, because we’re only three episodes in and there is still so much more story to be told. So many creation myths and Gods of Old whose stories remain untold. Here’s to seasons of story to come. Okay now onward to tonight’s all-new episode, “Head Full of Snow.” This recap will contain spoilers for the episode.
Somewhere in America
The show tried something a little different at the top of tonight’s episode. We didn’t get a “Coming to America” story until nearly halfway through the episode. And this particular story gave us more background on a character we briefly glimpsed last week in that scene with Shadow at the diner. Before we get to the Jinn’s very interesting encounter, the show gives us the tale of Mrs. Fadill and her introduction to Egyptian God, Anubis. The Queens resident is cooking in her kitchen when she takes a nasty fall. Of course, we don’t realize that she’s fallen to her death until the old woman is interrupted by a knock on her door. It’s a death come to collect her. There’s levity to the entire meeting.
The old woman turns to see her own body lying dead and she reaches out to adjust her shell’s clothing, wanting to be as presentable as possible for when her family arrives and finds the body lying there. Anubis has come for her to deliver her to the Scales. She knows of Anubis after listening to countless stories at her grandmother’s knee and so she climbs an endless set of stairs until she and Anubis reach their destination in the heavens.
She hasn’t arrived though. She must first pass the test of the scales. The God takes a white feather and places it on the Scale and then he casually rips the old woman’s heart from her chest. She calmly informs, “I was using that.” She really wasn’t. Being dead and all. She gets nervous when he places her heart on the other side of the Scales, and she tries to recall all the bad things that she’s done in life. “I tried my best,” she tells him and it appears that this was enough. He allows her to choose her final destination, but she asks him to choose for her. Watching this scene and then the preview that came for next week’s episode (no details because I don’t want to spoil anyone who doesn’t watch the previews), but methinks that there was a specific reason for giving us this scene with Anubis and the Scales.
Now for the Jinn. So last week, Shadow passed a man in the diner and the guy totally had flames shooting out of his eyes. This week’s “Coming to America” segment, first introduces the audience to Salim who a businessman in the country trying to sell cheap trinkets. He’s only been in America for a week and he’s already disillusioned. Enter the taxi driver with the fiery eyes of the Jinn. The driver catches Salim’s attention when he speaks Arabic, giving Salim the comfort of home. Turns out that it’s not easy being a Jinn. He can’t just snap his fingers and wish himself a better job that doesn’t leave him completely miserable. The Jinn reveals that he’s been in the driver’s seat for 30 hours and he even falls asleep at one point while they’re sitting in traffic. The two bond quickly and a moment of shared comfort, something deeper sparks to life.
The two end up back at Salim’s hotel room and share something so intense and tender. Still, perhaps because of the past two episodes with Bilquis, there was a fear for Salim and if this encounter might prove deadly for him. The next morning we see Salim alone in bed, but the Jinn’s clothing still on the bathroom floor and the Jinn’s ID now depicts Salim’s face. Did the Jinn pull a body switcheroo while they were coming together the night before? If so what happens to the Jinn’s old body? So many questions. I’m sure we’ll learn more soon.
It’s a Mad Mad World
Mad Sweeney’s luck has taken a turn. It turns out that he gave Shadow his lucky coin. The one that apparently allows him to wander through life without suffering so much as a scratch from gunshot wounds or ‘final destination’-esque scenarios like the freak accident with that metal pole impaling the poor guy who gave him a ride. The leprechaun makes a beeline for Wisconsin looking for Mr. Wednesday and Shadow. He tells the young bodyguard that he wants his coin back and Shadow refuses to tell him anything until Sweeney reveals how he made it seem that he pulled the coin from mid-air. Mad succinctly explains that he managed the feat by (tada!!) pulling the coin from mid-air. Shadow isn’t satisfied but reveals that he tossed the coin on top of Laura’s grave.
Mad isn’t pleased and gets in a parting jibe about being one of many men landing on top of Shadow’s dead wife. Pissed, Mad Sweeney returns to Eagle Point, Indiana and proceeds to dig up Laura’s grave. He doesn’t find his coin, but does find a lucky coin-sized hole in the coffin’s lid. Inside the coffin? No Laura. Oops. Guess that coin is really lucky.
Coffee First, Then a Bank Robbery
Shadow gets a second chance at life after an interesting conversation with one of the Zorya sisters. The sister, Polunochyaya who was sequestered during most of their visit. The night is her time and she spends it on the rooftop watching the skies. She marvels at the constellations with some many names. She tells Shadow about the dark creature chained high among the stars and warns if the beast is set loose, it will destroy them all. Wait, could this have something to do with the moment with Mr. Wednesday and Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) in the rain. She kisses him and then demands to know what he’s done. She tastes him in the rain and something else…war. Wouldn’t put it pass Wednesday to go all out when it comes to his war with the new gods. Meanwhile, back on the rooftop, Shadow is gifted with another coin. She tells him that he previously had the protection of the sun, but gave that one away (Mad Sweeney’s coin or something else). Polunochyaya warns Shadow against giving this protection away.
Later we find that this moment was a dream, but real as Shadow does indeed have the coin. Shadow decides to go looking for Czernobog not long after that. The God tells him that it’s not yet sunrise or time to meet his hammer. Shadow manages to goad Czernobog into another game of chance. He tells the God that surely he’s out of practice and has gone soft using the boltgun instead of his hammer for the past twenty years. If the God can beat Shadow a second time then he’ll win a second swing at Shadow’s head. If Shadow wins then the God will come with Mr. Wednesday for their mission in Wisconsin. Czernobog agrees and loses this time. He agrees to come but says that he still intends to kill Shadow. The younger man agrees to these terms.
Mr. Wednesday, con man that he is, comes up with a scheme to help bankroll the rest of their trip. He says he intends to rob a bank and Shadow’s going to help him do it. Our ex-con wants no parts of it, but it turns out that they’re less robbing a bank and more tricking people to give their money to Mr. Wednesday rather than the “broken” ATM machine. The fact that Shadow has “willed” it to snow heavily only helps their cause. Shadow spends most of the episode wondering if he did indeed somehow cause the snow to come. Mr. Wednesday refuses to tell Shadow either way. With everything he’s seen so far though, why not believe this thing as well.
In any case, Shadow has a whole different set of problems when he returns to his hotel room. A very corporeal Laura is not in her coffin, but sitting waiting for him. “Hello, Puppy.” WTF…well, nope nevermind. It’s the coin. I refuse to say WTF about anything on this wild and amazingly rendered show.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Do you wish Mr. Wednesday would grab a heavily marshamallow’d hot cocoa like the one he brought for Shadow? Did Shadow make it snow? Is Salim now the Jinn or is the Jinn simply wearing a new face? So many questions. Hit the comments and let me know what you think.
American Gods airs on Sundays at 9/8c on STARZ
Photo Credit: STARZ/American Gods