Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Gods ponders the “Conscience Of The King” in another solid episode

Bruce Langley in American Gods
Bruce Langley in American Gods
Photo: Starz
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“Why am I not surprised the Buckeye state has a freaky Norse underbelly?”

This week’s opening scene brings the show back a second time to the Revolutionary War. But unlike last time, which was a means of segueing to the African peoples dragged to America against their will, this week’s intro forks to how the white men murdering their way across the continent helped revive the Norse gods of war. It also features the jarring choice to have Ian McShane do a VO from the jump. That’s because this isn’t our usual “Coming to America” tale. It’s Odin, telling us about a love story, his and Demeter’s.

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We’ll return to this element, which gives the story its episodic structure this week, but first, we need to check in with Shadow Moon, who is back in Lakeside, trying to wrap his head around Laura’s upgraded condition. Her request for Wednesday’s whereabouts isn’t helping since she wants him to aid and abet her in killing him. He already did time for aiding and abetting with her once.

But this scene also drives home how disjointed and bifurcated season two was in its little silos of different adventures. Here it is, over halfway through season three when Laura learns Wednesday is Shadow Moon’s father. It makes it all very awkward, since that doesn’t change her plans. However, it’s not as uncomfortable as Marguerite’s return, interrupting what was otherwise a sweet goodbye to the show’s OG couple.

It’s also not as awkward as Laura’s return to the motel, where the next-door neighbors are fucking like it’s the end of the world. To ignore them, Salim turned on the TV only to find himself being extorted not to be down because he lost his Djinn and to call. Luckily, Laura’s not about to let him pick up the phone, insisting Salim must move on. But without Shadow, the two have to start over, with Salim suggesting they try heading to Ohio for the wake resulting from the Valhalla East explosion a couple of weeks back. It’s not much to go on, but it’s a start.

Between all the sex Laura and Salim aren’t having and Shadow painting half-naked to Bel Biv Devoe (Never trust a big butt and a smile), this week is super horny. Perhaps that’s why Shadow thinks Millennial Pink (excuse me, Salmon Mist) is a good color for his digs. Unfortunately, Marguerite doesn’t think the owner, Anne-Marie, will approve. Yes, weirdo bossy Anne-Marie, who thinks she runs Lakeside, owns this house and five other buildings to boot. Maybe she does own Lakeside after all.

But first, Shadow Moon has other problems, as Marguerite has invited him to dinner to meet her sister, who turns out to be none other than Samantha Black Crow, who fans will remember as picking up a hitchhiking Shadow Moon in season two. She kindly doesn’t blow his cover, but she does threaten him lest he hurt her sister. As Sam drives off, Shadow has a moment standing in the night of his god-senses, only to see the town’s “Panty Thief” escaping a break-in. He gives chase, but the kid gets away, but not before he sees who it is: Derek (Spencer Macpherson), the kid from the diner who’s always trying to be cool and down.

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Julia Sweeney as Ann-Marie Hinzelman
Julia Sweeney as Ann-Marie Hinzelman
Photo: Starz

Technology Boy wakes up after last week’s emotional collapse and decides to start fixing himself, pulling out a diagnostic robot circa 1983. His machine is not exactly sympathetic, informing him if he wants a full diagnostic of his emotional state to insert “Artifact 1.” But Technology Boy’s going off the grid has not gone unnoticed, and Mr./Ms./Mr. World is growing impatient at the inability to find him. (Love that this week, Mr. World is played by Danny Trejo. I’m on board with the character being played by a new actor every week until the series ends.)

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But before our new Mr. World can start murdering, Technology Boy walks in asking what’s good. Despite his bravado, the real reason is our young god hopes World can tell him what the Artifact is. World plays it calm and gentle with his broken Techie Boy before descending to check the Artifact and call *someone* to report on his protege’s condition and Laura Moon’s re-emergence. As the episode concludes, he turns up at the now-canceled Valhalla East wake to round up Laura and Salim to his cause.

Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday,
Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday,
Photo: Starz
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Returning now to Demeter and Odin and the love story that could be. Demeter keeps hoping to remove Odin, to the point of stashing pills in his belongings and blaming him for breaking pots in hopes of setting him off. (Unfortunately for her, Odin quickly picks up on the weaknesses of Hank, the orderly assigned to him, using Hank’s crush on Elizabeth as leverage to wiggle out.) Having failed, Demeter owes Odin one night, which he uses...to tell the story the show began with, how he and Tyr both loved Demeter, and how she chose Odin over Tyr, to her ultimate regret.

Odin attempts to portray himself as regretting it too. He left when their child died; he wants to turn it all around. Demeter fights him every step, even bringing Tyr, now in his dentist format, to stand by her side. But Tyr won’t stand in the way if Odin is serious about wanting Demeter back. And it seems he’s winning, as she agrees to go with him, now the release papers are here.

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Until, in his moment of triumph, Odin declares they will go together and lead the Old Gods to victory. Demeter knows at once she’s been had. She’s not going with Odin. As he stands, Cordelia and car at the ready, she walks out for the last time to the altar her handmaids created and releases herself to the ether. Her seeds and grains blow in the wind and the rain. Odin has lost.


Stray observations

  • The threat of Anne-Marie is worth keeping an eye on.
  • I keep waiting for Lakeside to turn on “Mike Ansel.” He’s now left holding the underwear evidence with no proof other than his word against Derek’s. I am worried.
  • Laura hugging Sweeney’s remains while telling Salim to move on was adorable.
  • That should have been a 1-900 number, not 1-800 that the TV was hawking. Just sayin’
  • I wonder if Technology Boy’s machine can play Global Thermonuclear War.
  • Miss her, kiss her, love her, wrong move, you’re dead. That girl is...
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