Shadow falls further down the rabbit hole and plays the most intense game of checkers anyone has ever competed in.
Beware the Goddess of Spoilers…
“You All Don’t Know You’re Black Yet…”
Another “Coming to America” vignette keeps with the theme of violence and boats. A terrified slave on board a ship full of slaves bound for America prays to the African God, Anansi, the spider and storyteller. Anansi appears and has every intention of freeing these men, but not to help them. To ignite them.
“Once upon a time, a man got f-ed… that’s the story of black people in America.” Anansi continues his tale of what waits for the men once they arrive. Slavery, oppression, violence, heart disease, all “for a f-ing purple shirt.” He implores them all to “let the motherf-er burn” as he breaks the chains of the one who prayed to him. The no longer terrified slave then grabs a hammer and frees his companions. Together, the men take down the ship till there is nothing left but pieces floating towards America. “Anger gets sh-t done.”
“Strange F-ing Fruit”
Back to the present, Shadow pays a visit to his new employer after the beating he took to find out what in the hell he just got himself into. Mr. Wednesday answers with doubling Shadow’s salary, hazard pay and all, and assures him “don’t think because I didn’t lose my temper I’m not angry, or lacking a plan.” That night, after dreaming of Laura assuring him she didn’t die, Shadow breaks down in tears, finally starting to grieve for all he has lost.
The next morning Shadow cleans and packs up the house he shared with his late wife. Going through Laura’s things, he finds photographic evidence her affair with Robbie. Any hope he had Audrey was lying vanquished with a dick pic.
“Better Than Lamb’s Blood”
The great road trip across America has begun as Shadow and Wednesday make their way to Chicago. First the two stop at a diner where Wednesday has a meeting with a mysterious man with burning eyes. While the meeting takes place, Shadow is sent on an errand buying gifts for those Wednesday plans to call upon. Placing erotica books, vodka, cheese, maps, cigarettes, and other odds and ends in his cart, Shadow hears someone calling his name in the TV aisle.
In high-definition black and white, Lucile Ricardo/Media reasons with Shadow. The New God is very impressed with how he handled the confrontation with Technical Boy and makes an offer to Shadow. Come work for “their side.” But the man remains loyal to Wednesday for reasons I don’t think he is quite sure of yet. Before signing off, Media warns him those who have worked for Wednesday in the past “end up a suicide.”
Finding Wednesday back at the diner, Shadow is understandably upset over his encounter. A long dead comedian just talked to him through a television set and offered to show him her tits. Surely, he has lost his mind. Wednesday assures his man “it’s an onset of strange,” which is Wednesday speak for “just wait, it not going to get any better.”
Elsewhere, Biliquis continues to build her power by consuming more worshipers.
“No Cow Killing Stories At Dinner!”
Arriving in Chicago, Wednesday and Shadow pay a visit to the Zorya sisters, Vechernyaya, Utrennyaya, Polunochnaya (who is unseen, asleep in another room). Vechernyaya chides Wednesday for coming. She does not want to deal with his mischief, but invites the two men to stay for dinner. A short while later, their relative, Czernobog arrives in a haze of greasy hair and cigarette smoke. If Vechernyaya is unhappy to see Wednesday, Czernobog is incensed. He throws a lamp at Wednesday’s head and roars his insistence in not taking part the con man scheme. Wednesday never loses his Cheshire-like smile and presses his gift of cigarettes and cheese upon Czernobog.
At dinner, Czernobog informs Shadow in his Slavic homeland, he is considered the dark outcast like Shadow is in America. Czernobog is deemed the bad one due to his dark hair. His twin is blessed with fair hair. He regales the guests with tales from working on a slaughter house floor. In the beginning, they used hammers and skill to kill the cows before their anger tainted the taste of the meat. Now anyone can slaughter a cow with the push of a button, taking away the blood and finesse Czernobog loves.
Hungry for blood again, Czernobog challenges Shadow to a game of checkers. If Shadow wins, the Slavic man will join in Wednesday’s battle. If Czernobog wins, he gets to use his hammer and bash in Shadow’s head at dawn. Shadow agrees to the terms and loses the game. “It’s a shame,” Czernobog quips. “You’re my only black friend.”
I presumed last week the producers of American Gods were saying something about race in America. This week, they were shouting that statement with the introduction of Mr. Nancy/Anansi and his award-worthy monologue. Orlando Jones was magnificent. The god Anansi is known in folklore to take the form of a spider and uses his cunning to best those who are much bigger than him. Anansi used his silver tongue here to save his people from a fate worse than death and it can’t be helped to be seen as a rally call to action for those who are still oppressed.
It is interesting how the episode bookended the episode on prejudice of sorts. Anansi talks of the ongoing trials of what it is like to not be born a white man in America in the beginning, while Czernobog, who is known as the Black God, tells Shadow he is the quintessential black man of his home country.
Gillian Anderson was perfection as Media.
Till Next Week!
About the author: The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale