Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 6: “A Murder of Gods”
Directed by Adam Kane
Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey & Bryan Fuller & Michael Green
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Lemon Scented You” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” – click here
We start coming up through Mexico, along the river. We’re seeing a group of immigrants crossing over to the border; another Coming to America moment. The group goes slow, they bide their time. A woman leads them in prayer at night, calling to God for the strength necessary to make the remainder of their journey. Everyone, naturally, is worried. Amongst the crowd are all kinds: men, women, children. Most of all they worry about the water’s depth. They cross the river, people thanking God once they’ve mad their way.
But one man starts drowning. He’s lifted from the waters by a man standing on top of them: Mexican Jesus (Ernesto Reyes). He walks across the water, just as border agents arrive and mow down as many immigrants as possible; irony being their rifles are adorned with crosses and religious iconography. This modern Jesus, he’s show down, too. Even gets a bit of stigmata from a bullet. All the imagery is there. Brutal. Poignant. Darkly perfect.
On the road without a car, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) are alone, running from the madness back at the police station, the trees growing out of every corner, all that. Our reluctant hero wants to believe, in all sorts of things. Especially after seeing Laura (Emily Browning) again, he knows there’s… something else at play. When he reveals seeing his wife again the old man runs back to the motel, they get a car. And then they high-tail it out of there, Wednesday purposefully leaving Laura in the dust.
Wednesday: “So what came first, gods or the people who believed in ‘em?”
Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) – Ginger Minge – and the dead wife are going on the road together, as well. Albeit not altogether buddy buddy. They’ve fallen in out of necessity. So, they hijack a cab. Furthermore, Mad suggests he knows someone who can help resurrect Laura before the summer comes and her corpse body starts rotting. Only one problem, the cab they’re stealing belongs to Salim (Omid Abtahi). He asks Mad about the Djinn, then they’re all heading for Kentucky apparently.
In the car, Shadow starts suffering from a nasty wound around his belly. It bleeds and bleeds, and it seems there’s something moving inside. They pull over and Wednesday lays hands on his skin. He pulls out a creepy little root. Yikes.
Salim, Laura, and Mad make their journey towards Kentucky. Salim explains now having a new life, after meeting the previous driver of the cab. He hasn’t been taken by the Djinn, as I’d previously expected. Rather he’s been touched by the presence of one, now intent on tracking the spirit down again. He’s in good company, though. With a dead woman and a tall leprechaun. Moreover, Laura talks about her previous faith, Sunday school, her indoctrination into Christianity; she’s clearly not a believer, but that may change. These three are certainly a pair for a road trip.
Salim: “I pray I find the Djinn. He is my afterlife. I knew him, we knew each other. Now I want to know more.”
Mad: “Did you have a genie in your bottle? Did you rub one out of him, darling?”
At a Vulcan factory a man falls into a vat of molten steel. He’s processed into bullets, packaged, sent off elsewhere. Such a grim image: death processed into further death. In Vulcan, Virginia, Wednesday and Shadow roll through. It’s a vision of America that’s not far from the truth in certain areas. This is “their America” and not the America of everybody. This is a gun-toting, God-loving, Republican city. Lots of white faces. Led by their gun father, Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen). The man Wednesday’s come to see.
The road trip trio stop into Jack’s Crocodile Bar for a little drink and a rest. It’s hilarious to see them all together, each with their own troubles. Mad keeps insisting Laura give up on her old life with Shadow, that her man is finished with her and onto his own new life with Wednesday. She’s not willing to just let go: “Shadow made my heart beat again.” Although the leprechaun has a few points, despite his crass delivery.
In Virginia, the bullet maker entertains his guests, though Shadow doesn’t like the feeling of being there. He sees that skeletal noose drop from a tree in a terrifying image; it’s even an old hanging tree, so says Vulcan. He is the god of his own little pocket of America, like the god of war. Point of the whole visit is Wednesday wants his old buddy to stand with him in the latest war. And Vulcan is more ready than ever.
Note: Vulcan, historically, is the Roman god of fire, of volcanoes, metalworking, the forge; a perfect fit!
Vulcan’s preparing a sword for Wednesday. Meanwhile, Shadow isn’t so thrilled by the guy, especially seeing as how he somehow knows about his being lynched. Turns out the guy isn’t as good of a friend as he seems. He’s gone turncoat. He has become one with the New Gods, changing from craftsman to manufacturer; no longer forging blades as he did before, now making guns, bullets. After all’s said and done, Wednesday cuts Vulcan’s throat and tosses him to the fire. Then pisses on him for good measure, as a curse. A new load of tainted bullets is then processed with urine and a god alike inside.
On the road, Laura and Mad wait as Salim takes time away for Muslim prayer. He bends toward Mecca, touching his head to the prayer mat, and speaks quietly to himself. Then he and Laura share a moment between themselves, acknowledging that it isn’t so much God that is great: “Life is great.”
One of my favourite episodes in this first season! Spectacular, love all the Neil Gaiman stuff combined with Bryan Fuller + Michael Green’s wild, hybrid mind. Comes together in beautiful, dark, wild fashion. Next episode is “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” – which questions whether he’ll find himself a bit of faith, or who knows what else.