American Gods 2x06 “Donar The Great” Review
Right when I think American Gods is going full-speed ahead, we take an episode and slow down a bit. That’s exactly how I would describe this episode. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed it, but the pace was slow for the story at hand.
This week, we learned a bit more about Odin, himself. In the last episode, Wednesday was told he would have to seek Dvalin to fix the runes on his Gungnir spear. Wednesday and Shadow found him working at an engraving station in the middle of a mall, of all places. In exchange for working on the runes, Wednesday has to acquire a Lou Reed leather jacket that is currently being sold for $7500 in one of the shops. This might seem a bit...arbitrary in the world of American Gods, but the rune Dwarf wants what the rune Dwarf wants. That’s his price.
This sets up some season one-esque shenanigans for Shadow and Wednesday and I did very much enjoy this part of the episode. Wednesday dressed up as a man of the cloth and went to the guy working in the shop. He may be a Bishop, but he is also one of Lou Reed’s biggest fans and willing to pay cash. While the cashier counts the money Wednesday handed over, he tells him to try on the jacket. The poor shop boy never had a chance. Shadow comes waltzing in the shop appearing as a federal agent, followed by two mall rent-a-cops. Shadow arrests Wednesday on charges of counterfeiting money. Not only does Wednesday get to keep all the money, but Shadow had to “confiscate” the jacket as evidence since Wednesday was wearing it at the time of arrest. They got the jacket and they didn’t have to pay a cent.
To allow things to cool down and wait for the mall to close so they can deliver the jacket to Dvalin, the duo hides out in a closed shop with horrendous mannequins. This allows Shadow to interrogate Wednesday a bit. Earlier in passing, Wednesday made a comment saying that Shadow reminded him of his son. Well, Shadow can’t just let that go.
You see, while these shenanigans were happening, we got a glimpse into Odin’s past. Turns out, Mr. Wednesday used to run a Burlesque show and go by the name of Al Grimnir! This venue provides singing and dancing, as well as booze and smokes. There are a couple of some really good song and dance numbers in this episode too, which I immensely enjoyed! It was amazing to see another side of Ian McShane’s talent! Mr. Wednesday has always been so charismatic, so it would make sense that he previously owned a Burlesque show for some reason.
Anyway, once the first act is over, Mr. Wednesday’s eyes remain on a familiar face. That face turns out to belong to Technical Boy! Why, he must’ve been just a baby god at that point in time (around the 1940s). Technical Boy isn’t the only thing your eyes would be familiar with. There’s are a couple of men at the show wearing the familiar Nazi symbol on their arm. One of them approaches Wednesday and says they’re interested in sponsoring Donar The Great (Derek Theler). Donar, we learn, is Wednesday’s son. You might know him as Thor, but he goes by his Germanic name here.
In a separate flashback of this life, we are greeted by Mr. Nancy, who appears to work behind the scenes of the show with Mr. Wednesday. He’s searching for his “queen”, Columbia, who is actually the goddess of liberty and “the personification of America”. I didn’t know that was a thing, but a quick Google search informs me that it is! Columbia is one of the stars of the Burlesque show, along with Donar. They are also in love and wish to flee to California to escape the burlesque show life and make real names for themselves.
The Allfather isn’t so keen on this though. He encourages Donar to pursue a different venture; one that’ll take him away from Columbia. Donar is recruited by the American pro-Nazi group for his strength in sport. Further flashbacks show that Donar has started to make a name for himself with the group that recruited him. He faces a conundrum when he’s asked to throw a game against a German. Mr. Nancy says he should go for it. It will only help him carve his own path, but Donar decides to go his own way; away from the American Nazi group. He and Columbia decide it’s time for them to run away together, but Al Grimnir won’t allow that to happen. He introduces Columbia to the Technical Boy. Technical Boy wants Columbia to be the face of the war movement and because Odin’s a master manipulator, he convinces Columbia to carve her own path, since Donar already has with the Germans.
That’s not true though, but Columbia doesn’t know that. Donar is done with the Germans and his father is done with him because of that. The two face-off. Odin’s spear and Thor’s mighty hammer collide and the spear is broken into what we’ve seen the past couple of episodes. Donar is stronger than Odin gave him credit for. Donar, still upset with his father, decides to turn his back on him and walk away.
You see, when Shadow and Wednesday are hiding out until the mall closes, Shadow asks Wednesday about his son. Wednesday informs him that his son is dead, but Shadow is confused because everyone knows about Thor. This is where we learn that there are certain deaths even gods can’t come back from. Wednesday tells Shadow that in 1942, Donar killed himself. It’s seen as the ultimate sacrifice for a god. Seeing Wednesday get about as sad as we have yet to see him, really made me feel for him. It’s the most human we’ve seen him yet, whether it was an act or not.
It wasn’t just the Wednesday show this week, even though it sure seemed like it. (Not that I’m complaining. I genuinely loved it.) We did get a few short glimpses of what Mr. World and New Media are doing. New Media’s dancing around, completely in her zone with her followers. Mr. World’s firm grasp on reality seems to be...loosening. Crispin Glover plays unhinged so well! Anyways, Mr. World says that they need to harness more power from New Media’s followers. She just needs more bandwidth though to make it happen. This is what’s needed for a victory for their side of the war and once Wednesday’s spear is healed, that sets their side in motion. Pretty ominous moment, if I do say so!
I am firmly team Old Gods, but those glimpses into an unhinged Mr. World were really compelling and I just absolutely adore New Media. However, this was firmly Ian McShane’s episode through and through. He sang and he acted the shit out of this story. It was honestly such a nice surprise. I’m hoping we’ll get more of a glimpse into the old lives of the Allfather.
Some thoughts on the episode:
New Media is absolutely adorable and I love her so much.
When Mr. Nancy first called for his “queen”, I definitely thought he was talking about Bilquis, because he’s also called her his queen.
Also, where WAS she this week?? I need her in my life, weekly. Please and thank you.
When Shadow said, “Yeah, and I’m Beyonce.” I died. Best line of the series so far!
Donar deserved better.
American Gods airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.
Sarah’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝