American Gods 2x08 “Moon Shadow” Review
This week was the Season 2 finale and, I’m going to be honest, it didn’t feel like a finale at all. It fell more in-line with what a mid-season episode would probably be. With a season as short as American Gods’, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that. It was still a very well-done episode. I got to see most of my favorite characters and I feel like this episode was a perfect balance between showcasing the new gods and the old gods. Most of the episodes this season focused more on one than the other, but this episode was a perfect melting pot of the two.
After the death of Mad Sweeney in the last episode, Shadow is clearly dealing with a lot of guilt. He killed somebody. He actually took a life for Mr. Wednesday and for what? Mr. Wednesday snuck out of the house in the middle of the night. Everyone appears to be turning on him, and for good reason. He backstabs those who do everything for him and then makes it seem like it’s their own fault. Needing some “me time”, Shadow resorts to falling asleep on a tomb in the funeral home’s backyard. He wakes up to see Laura on the one next to him. She spouts off a fake-sounding, rehearsed apology that, usually, would probably be what Shadow wants to hear. However, Shadow’s not as naïve as he once was. What Laura did to him is unforgivable, in my books. What she needs to do is to let him go. At this point, he may or may not find his way back to her eventually, but she’s still a walking, talking corpse. She’s still dead. Shadow is still living and that’s what he needs to focus on in this whole mess in his life.
Meanwhile, we’re finally shown what Mr. World and New Media have been cooking up. Fear is their weapon and it’s showcased in one real-world mishap. Old Media’s influence in 1938 is where this story begins. In 1938, dramatists on a radio program acted out War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. It felt so real that it caused mass panic by anyone who heard the broadcast. Today, New Media is manipulating all the news stations. On every channel, there’s breaking news being broadcasted that Shadow Moon, Mr. Wednesday, and Salim are dangerous fugitives and need to be taken in by the FBI. Everyone who’s come across any of them will know who they are and could lead the police right to their door. New Media is causing everyday people who are watching to fear for their lives, if they were to ever come across these three men. Much like the media in the real world, people are being manipulated by fear through scare tactics, created by certain news outlets and politicians.
Technical Boy has also become Quantum Boy? He’s been upgraded. The man who worshipped technology in Episode 4 of this season continues his worship. He had devoted his whole life to technology. While everyone was off having families, he was working on his company, rarely leaving the office. This gave Technical Boy power. As you’ll remember, Technical Boy, Mr. World, and New Media had started having their own issues. New Media even called her existence and Technical Boy’s redundant. Quantum Boy is the rebooted, upgraded Technical Boy and, judging by his robotic behavior, he is firmly back on Mr. World’s side.
Mr. Ibis’ funeral home is surrounded by police and FBI agents towards the end. Salim and Shadow are scared for their lives, being a brown and black man, respectively (and Salim being new to the country), with lies being spread about them across the nation. They could be killed if they move the wrong way or say the wrong thing. With the cops getting ready to bust the door down, Salim seems to be ready to accept his fate. He shares a passionate kiss with the Jinn because, despite whatever squabbles they have regarding faith, they care about each other immensely.
Shadow, meanwhile, is looking for a place to hide, since he has no time to make a run for it. The tree that Mr. Wednesday had planted grabs Shadow and pulls him into its depths. Not only is Shadow terrified of the police, but now he’s terrified of a tree that’s pulling him to lord knows where. Turns out the tree is trying to protect Shadow; give him cover from the cops. This is also how Shadow, as well as the audience, finds out about his powers. The fear for his life most likely triggered this fight response. It brought Shadow memories of his mother and how she would tell him very little about his father. Remembering what his mother said and what he’s since learned, Shadow comes to the conclusion that Odin is his father. In an earlier episode this season we saw a bit of Shadow’s past. When he was waiting to hear back about his mother’s medical test, a man gave him a coin and showed him a trick. It was Mr. Wednesday, but Shadow was only putting the pieces together now.
While Shadow is trying to fight to get out of the tree, we see a young Shadow playing with a toy set that’s been made to look like the funeral home surrounded by police cars. Young Shadow merely wipes at the toy cars and they’re gone. Everything outside of the actual funeral home is silent. The police are gone. They were seconds from barging into the house and they all just disappeared. The tree and Shadow are also gone.
While all this chaos is happening at the funeral home, Mr. Wednesday is seen at a restaurant, cool as a cucumber. He believes “his boy” will be just fine. At the end of the first season, Shadow admits to openly believing in Mr. Wednesday and just everything he’s seen so far. At the end of this season, we see Mr. Wednesday believing in Shadow. That’s kind of nice when you forget how he continues to lie to Shadow, put him in uncomfortable situations, and just completely abandon him.
At the end of the episode, we get the lead-in to next season. Running from his issues in Cairo, Shadow gets on a bus. He thinks he’s safe, but the bus is pulled over. The black men were taken off the bus and told to line up. Sounds a bit like racial profiling, if you ask me. For fans of the book, you’ll recognize the name on the license that Shadow provided the cops. Just one thing though, Shadow is just as surprised as we are to discover that his ID says “Michael Ansel” and not “Shadow Moon”. I think I’m with Mr. Wednesday on this one after seeing that. Shadow will be just fine for a little bit longer.
Overall, I really enjoyed this season. As a finale episode, I was expecting something bigger. Last season, we had the face-off between the old and new gods. This season finale, while I was terrified for Salim and Shadow, it wasn’t exactly heart-stopping. Nothing can top the last episode though. “Treasure of the Sun” was just beyond amazing and I know American Gods could’ve done better, in regards to a season finale. All that being said, I’m excited for what Season 3 may hold. It seems we’re back on the road next season, whereas we were pretty stationary this season. I hope we’ll also see the return of Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs).
What did you think of Season 2? What are some things you’re looking forward to seeing in Season 3?
Some thoughts on the episode:
I really enjoyed Mr. World doing the narrating this episode. It gave an entirely different vibe than what we get from Mr. Ibis.
Crispin Glover is an amazing, creepy menace.
Could you HEAR my hollering when Shadow told Laura to stop calling him “puppy”??? YOU TELL HER, SHADOW!
I thoroughly enjoyed Salim’s panicking. He brought some much-needed humor to the episode.
I am confused as to what Laura hauling Mad Sweeney’s dead body away from the funeral home will mean for next season. Pablo Schreiber has been cast for another show. Mad Sweeney was always going to die, based on the book. It made sense to leave his character there. I don’t know what Laura is going to do with him, but I think Sweeney’s story is over.
I really appreciate that Mr. Ibis and Mr. Nancy weren’t stressing about the cops smashing down the door to get in. A nice game of chess was being played and they just couldn’t be bothered.
Bilquis’ kisses can turn anyone’s day around. #FactsOnly
I just want Shadow to find some peace. May he finally get a BREAK.
American Gods will return in 2020 on Starz.