American Gods 2x02 “The Beguiling Man” Review
I’d like to start this review off my giving a huge congratulations to the cast and crew of American Gods because they were renewed for Season 3! Neil Gaiman’s been working closely with their new showrunner, Charles “Chic” Eglee, for the past few weeks to bring about their vision for a third season! Congrats and welcome, Chic!
Now onto something just as equally exciting!
SHADOW MOON BACKSTORY! SHADOW MOON BACKSTORY! I don’t care about anything else that happened this episode. We got to see a side of Shadow Moon we’ve never seen before and Gabriel Darku did a fantastic job of bringing him to life! How did we get the Shadow Moon backstory? Well, that’s not at as fantastic.
You may know him as Mayhem from the Allstate commercials, but the wonderful Dean Winters is here as Mr. Town. Mr. Town was the one who had abducted Shadow from the diner in the last episode. He has Shadow strung up and connected to all these unpleasant-looking wires. Along with some, for lack of a better term, thugs, they plan to torture Shadow for information regarding Mr. Wednesday are well underway. Mr. Town is trying to figure out why Shadow is so important to Mr. Wednesday.
It’s through this torture that we get the flashbacks to a teenage Shadow coming to America with his single mother, played by Olunike Adeliyi. We see this pair and there is such a strong, fierce love between them. Shadow’s mother raised him to be kind, well-educated, and well-mannered. While out discovering his new neighborhood in Bushwick and trying to make some new friends, Shadow is jumped by a group of guys basically because he’s not one of them. They say things like, “You talk funny, like a white boy.” From the second Shadow went out to investigate his new surroundings, you just knew it wasn’t going to end well. Besides getting beat up, when he eventually got up and tried to run away, a few cops came and arrested him and the others. The innocence is being stripped away.
Throughout all these flashbacks we learn that it’s always just been Shadow and his mother. His father is dead and she will never tell Shadow anything more than that. These two lived in France for quite a time. It’s because of traveling that they did that Shadow is well-versed and respectful of different cultures. You can see that in how he reacts to all the different gods today. Another thing we learn is that Shadow’s mother died when he was still just a teenager, leaving him all alone in the world. She was sick and you see her get worse until she’s gone. Shadow, wanting to believe in anything, goes to a church to pray and grieve.
While Shadow is being tortured and reliving his past, Laura and Mad Sweeney are searching for him. Well, Laura is looking for him. Mad Sweeney refuses to let his lucky coin out of his sight. If he’s going to have to fight a war, he’s going to need his lucky coin. Laura is just as annoying as ever, but it appears that her super strength is kind of waning a bit. Sweeney certainly notices when they get a flat and Laura actually gets tired from holding the car up. She’s looking worse and worse each day and I can’t help but hope for her decomposing corpse to disappear one of these days.
However, that’s not today. After a touching moment between the two characters, they’re magically transported to a bridge with a train going by underneath them. Laura and her Shadow senses are tingling, so they hop on board the train. They are greeted by Mr. Town’s thugs. After a gruesome fight in which Laura actually slowly squashes a man’s HEAD, they are rewarded by discovering Shadow. He’s exhausted and definitely confused at seeing them.
One scene that gave me shivers was between Mr. World and Bilquis. Mr. World is just very creepy with his soft voice. None of the old gods had changed sides after Bilquis gave her pitch that you either change with the tides or die. If Bilquis knows one thing, it’s that Odin and the others just won’t fall under Mr. World’s command. None of them will give in to him. Bilquis, unfortunately, is trapped in his clutches, despite not being willing to choose a side. She refuses to fight for Mr. World and she’s seen as a traitor by the old gods. She has nowhere to go, really. The mighty and powerful Queen Bilquis looks the most vulnerable here and it’s breaking my heart.
While those are most definitely the darkest parts of the episode, some of the lighter aspects include Mr. Wednesday and Mr. Nancy. Orlando Jones constantly delivers with his comedic timing, even when you actually stop and think about what he’s saying isn’t actually funny. It’s the truth. The bit about Mr. Wednesday giving Mr. Nancy the fried chicken, while funny because of Orlando’s delivery, is actually incredibly ignorant, as it falls in line with certain prejudices and cliches.
It’s not quite clear what Mr. Wednesday is doing exactly, but it appears that he’s sacrificing his car at the end there. He and Mr. Nancy just abandon it on the train tracks. Mr. Wednesday wants to go to Valhalla, but Mr. Nancy has no intention of doing that, so they might be parting ways? It’s kind of hard to take a guess here.
We’re also getting closer to meeting a new character! Technical Boy was sent by Mr. World to track down Media after her disappearance. We catch up with Technical Boy in Times Square where he seems to have found her. Media appears to be giving him a pretty tough time in appearing in her new form, but she’s getting closer! I can’t wait to meet Kahyun Kim’s New Media!
Some thoughts on the episode:
Shadow’s backstory is all that matters this episode.
Bilquis makes me want to weep.
If Mad Sweeney could continue getting hurt in hilarious ways, that’d be pretty great! Pablo Schreiber’s pretty good with the physical comedy!
Loving the fact that the embrace in the field between Sweeney and Laura wasn’t romantic AT ALL. It was a way to transport from Point A to Point B.
I could’ve gone my whole life without seeing Laura step on that guy’s head.
American Gods airs on Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.