American Gods 2x01 “House on the Rock”
Season 2 of American Gods is here, everybody! Finally! Two years after the first season premiered, we’ve been graced with the second season. After a couple different showrunners, Neil Gaiman himself took the helm. I’ve got to say, if the rest of the season is anything like this episode, it’s going to be pretty amazing!
The season opener picks up right where we left off. Mr. World (Crispin Glover) and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) are recuperating after the showdown between the old gods and new gods at Ostara’s house in the finale. While Mr. World gets himself together and tries to track down where Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) is, he sends Technical Boy out to find Media, who had disappeared after the confrontation.
Meanwhile, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday are back on the road, and this time Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Dead Wife Laura Moon (Emily Browning) are along for the ride. The trip is several states in and the awkwardness in the car is stifling. Here’s a recap: Shadow Moon works for Wednesday, who is the All-Father, Odin. Mad Sweeney, a leprechaun, is one of Wednesday’s men, meaning he works for him occasionally. Laura is Shadow’s dead wife, who cheated on Shadow when HE went to jail for HER plan to rob a casino. Laura is only “alive” because Sweeney accidentally gave Shadow his lucky coin and, in turn, Shadow left the coin at Laura’s grave. The only reason Laura was actually in the grave to begin with was because Mr. Wednesday had her killed in order to get Shadow to eventually work for him. Sweeney, Wednesday, and Laura know this, but Shadow does not. So an “awkward car ride” is putting it lightly.
Where are they heading? To the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Mr. Wednesday has called a meeting of the old gods to prepare for the upcoming war. The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) and Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) have already made themselves comfortable while waiting for the rest to arrive. Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) arrives just as our protagonist(s) show up. Mr. Nancy stole the show this episode! He was absolutely hilarious! Sarcastic and flamboyant. The back-and-forth he had with Shadow made my night.
The House on the Rock might as well be its own character. It presents some stunning visuals and made for a fantastic season opener! Nothing I love more than seeing a bunch of grown adults having the time of their lives on a carousel! It certainly led to one of my favorite scenes to envision from the book! Riding the carousel was the key to entering the meeting of the old gods in Mr. Wednesday’s mind. Czernobog (Peter Stormare) and Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) have returned and we’re introduced to Mama-ji (Sakina Jaffrey), who is an old Hindu goddess of war. Along with several other old gods, the conclusion of not wanting to fight the upcoming war is reached. Mr. Wednesday is trying to get them to rise up, but these old gods are cocky that these new gods will just disappear like a fading trend. Bilquis steps forward and informs them of how one of the new gods showed her their ways and her power is stronger than ever. You’ll remember Technical Boy threatening her into his service. He gave Bilquis her power back through technology. This has us wondering if Bilquis is actually recruiting for the new gods or if she’s just trying to convince the old gods to give in to them and accept change. In her own words, “Evolve or die.” Judging by the way Bilquis left the episode, I’m thinking that’s the case. I’m really excited to see Bilquis’ arc this season for that very reason.
The episode ended with the old gods hanging out and drinking in a diner at Motel America. Laura reminded Shadow that Mr. Wednesday is dangerous. He doesn’t really seem to care because, for once, he’s actually believing in something for HIMSELF. He feels a part of something bigger than him. However, things don’t stay jovial for long. Mr. World has located this gathering (probably because of Bilquis, as she seemed to be doing something on her phone) and one of his lackeys starts shooting up the place. Shadow runs out to take the gunman out and gets abducted in the process. While there are a couple of casualties, the one that hits the hardest for our dear gods is that of Zorya Vechernyaya. She turns to Mr. Wednesday before she dies and says that he’s a bad good man and that she doesn’t want to say goodbye. I got emotional. Mr. Wednesday got emotional. Czernobog got emotional...and vengeful. It would seem that now we have some old gods looking to go to that war now.
One thing I’m really sick of is Laura Moon and honestly? Kudos to Emily Browning. I hated Laura in the book and I just can’t stand her even more in the show. There’s a certain cockiness to her that I can’t stomach and it definitely helps that this beautiful young woman is decaying right before our eyes. Laura Moon didn’t have much of a presence in the book. That is certainly different in the series and the only good thing about her in the show is her antagonistic co-existence with Mad Sweeney. I know some people ship them and I know some people ship her with Shadow. I say just let her rot already. They both deserve better. Also? Stop calling Shadow your “puppy”. He’s not a dog. He’s a person. He’s a person who went to jail for YOU. He’s a person who you CHEATED ON with his BEST FRIEND while he went to jail for YOU. He’s also made it clear that he is no longer your puppy. I appreciate Laura saving his life, but she also wrecked it to begin with. I’m not bitter or anything. (I totally am.)
Also, really not a fan of Laura being the first Moon to be kissed by Bilquis. I unabashedly ship Bilquis and Shadow because they’re beautiful and I adore Ricky and Yetide and their chemistry. Not really sure how that relationship would work, seeing as how Bilquis has a people-eating vagina, but I love it nonetheless and I’m feeling really disrespected that she kissed the rotting corpse of a dead wife before Shadow.
While I’m still on the Laura train here, I am begging this show to give us more Sweeney without Laura. While I love their antagonistic relationship, because it’s honestly really fucking hilarious to see them go back and forth, he can have that kind of relationship with anybody. Pablo has chemistry with everyone in this cast. We got a glimpse of that in this episode with Mr. Nancy and we saw that last season with Mr. Wednesday, Shadow, and Salim. Laura ain’t special, yet the writers of this show seem to think she’s worth something. Can’t say I agree.
All that saltiness aside, I’m actually really looking forward to this season! I can’t wait to meet Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs) and New Media (Kahyun Kim). Last season’s Media was played by Gillian Anderson and she was only signed on for one season. I think it makes complete sense to have the goddess of media be an ever-changing face. I am excited to see what Kim brings to the role and don’t even get me started on my little queer baby, Sam Black Crow! I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for her and we’re finally getting her! They couldn’t have picked a better actress! I’m eagerly anticipating both of their introductions to Shadow!
American Gods airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.