Starz’s American Gods
Season 2, Episode 2: “The Beguiling Man”
Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye
Written by Tyler Dinucci & Andres Fischer-Centeno
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “House on the Rock” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Muninn” – click here
After being sucked into the sky, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) finds himself fitted with electrodes all over his body, injected with an unknown substance, and connected to a strange machine. He meets Mr. Town (Dean Winters) before the electrodes are turned on and start to pulse energy through his whole body.
Down on the ground, Czernobog (Peter Stormare) mourns the “old star” Zorya, and awaits the “new star” who’ll rise in her place. He’s only more determined to send their enemies to the “Nine Hells.” He hates America. Mr. Wednesday (Ian Mcshane) is further resigned to the coming war. Apart from that, Laura (Emily Browning) is concerned about where Shadow’s been taken, and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) doesn’t dig how things have been going for him on the road as the “biggest, most unlucky leprechaun” in the country. Then there’s Salim (Omid Abtahi), who’s wandered into this whole thing. He takes the time to pray towards Mecca, and then manages to convince the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) to take him along for the ride towards the war of gods.
Only thing Father Gore knows? The journey’s going to keep getting WILDER.
Mr. Town knows everything about Shadow, recounting the ex-con’s lonely life, almost taunting him about his wife’s betrayal. Nasty. Town wants to know why Wednesday is recruiting him. He does’t believe it’s all just “curious spirit” behind Shadow’s decisions. And the torture continues on behalf of Mr. World (Crispin Glover).
We get a brief glimpse of Shadow as a young man with his mother, sailing into America. Mom’s American, but left for a long time. He was just coming to America, despite being of America. America’s history with people of colour, as we know, is so brutal. Compelling connection comes out of the talk they have about the Statue of Liberty, gifted to America by the French— the statue is of Libertas, a Roman goddess. Fantastic piece of history and mythology intertwined perfectly in Gaiman’s American Gods.
On the road, Laura’s not having a great time being around the gods as an atheist. She’s got to ride with the big, mad leprechaun, too. They’re not exactly what you’d call buddy-buddy road trip material. Won’t make it better now that they’ve got a flat tire, either. Elsewhere we see Queen Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) meets with Mr. World. He’s sure most of the Old Gods will eventually come to his side. She doesn’t want to be part of the battle itself, telling him plainly: “I will not fight for you.” World thinks the Old Gods will view her as a traitor and that, either way, she’ll find herself in danger.
More looks at Shadow’s youth see him trading Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha for a Walkman when he goes out to experience the streets of New York for himself. Not long until other young black dudes call him “white boy” because he’s much lighter. They kick the shit out of him, saying go back to France. When he runs for it he winds up getting cuffed by cops— welcome to America! Back home, mom explains how people project their fears onto others and how they view the world. Seeing the relationship between him and his mother adds an entirely new layer to the character of Mr. Moon.
“A little bit of poison to make you stronger”
Out in the midst of the city, Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) searches for Media, trying to convince her “the 20th century is ancient history.” He argues with Media through the many screens across the urban landscape. Then, she simply leaves refusing to talk anymore. This just pisses Technical Boy off. He won’t give up on the hunt.
More of young Shadow. He reads Ernest Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast while he sits in a waiting room. He sees a man playing with a coin over his fingers, like we’ve seen him do as a grown man. The unseen man gives Shadow the coin before disappearing, almost as if into thin air. Afterwards, the young man finds out his mother’s tests spell bad news. Later he fights a group of young black guys beating on an Asian man. He receives a beating but manages to take them all on. His mother tries to tell him to look away from anger and towards “the light” inside him she insists shines bright.
After things are going wrong on the road, Mad Sweeney tells Laura he has a shortcut to get them closer to Shadow: they’re “going through the hoard.” He holds her close, they fly through time and space, and after that they’re on a bridge. Laura sees Shadow’s on a train passing below. On the train, Shadow’s continuously tortured by Mr. Town. He keeps flashing back to his past, when his mother was withering away in a bed lurching towards death. The young man reached to Christ in a time of need, finding nothing in which he could take solace. Perhaps because he was meant for something bigger.
On the tracks, Wednesday parks his car in hopes of causing problems for the looming train. Mad Sweeney and Laura are making their way inside the train itself. She’s using that undead super strength to help her leprechaun pal fight a few lads. Shadow’s surprised to find his undead wife knocking down doors and stomping in heads to get him back. Big things are going to happen now that the gang’s back together again.
“We can’t just give up ’cause the fucking road ends”
A solid follow-up to the premiere. Already American Gods has been renewed for Season 3— praise the network gods! This means we’ve got lots to look forward to, and we know the story won’t be cluing up in this batch of episodes. For now, there’s a lot going on as we get to know the characters better and better. Excited for more.
“Muninn” is next time.