Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 5: “Lemon Scented You”
Directed by Vincenzo F. Natali
Written by David Graziano
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Git Gone” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “A Murder of Gods” – click here
Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes) tells us the story of a people crossing Siberia, many, many years ago. Woolly mammoths walk in the distance, snow everywhere. The people experience many hardships. And like others, they bring their god with them. However, once they reach the new lands it isn’t as they once imagined. So they had to pray. What they discovered is that prosperity always comes at a heavy price.
Many Old Gods, after so long, were forgotten, like that of these people – the woolly mammoth god, Nunyunnini. Note: I don’t believe this is a real god, but I do think Neil Gaiman intended this as a sort of Indigenous tribe worshipping animals, the land, et cetera. Particularly reminiscent of the Cherokee myth of Nun’Yunu’Wi, which is a monster in human form with skin like stone.
Mr. Ibis: “The gods are great, but the people are greater. For it is in their hearts that gods are born. And to their hearts that they return.”
Back with Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), we see him walk into that motel room to find his dead wife Laura (Emily Browning) sitting on the edge of the bed, good as new. It’s a lot for him to process, not only her coming back from the dead but the fact she was cheating on him with his supposed good friend Robbie (Dane Cook). She’d rather focus on her reincarnation, though Shadow’s seen so much since his release it isn’t the biggest surprise. They hash out the affair, why she did it, so on. Such an odd reunion. Through all the pain I’m glad that Shadow’s at least trying to heal old wounds.
Soon enough Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) is at our man’s door, after receiving word from a little bird there’s something going on. Then, suddenly, cop cars and flashing lights arrive. Picking Shadow up for the bank robbery.
What about Technical Boy (Bruce Langley)? What’s he up to? Smoking toad and the like, meeting with Media (Gillian Anderson) who’s got concerns about his behaviour, and what Mr. World (Crispin Glover) thinks of it all. Love Media’s appearance as various different stars – first a bit of I Love Lucy, now David Bowie. Most of all we see how the New Gods are starting to rally together against Wednesday and the Old Gods. The battle’s brewing.
Over with the police, Shadow’s getting grilled. At the same time Wednesday spills the story of why he was in Chicago, which is – as expected – received with furrowed brows and disbelief. Who knows how they’ll get out of this one.
At the motel, Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) turns up looking for his coin, and Laura’s not too happy to oblige. Since returning from the dead she has… powers, wild strength. He tries taking back the lucky coin, so she beats the shit out of him. But the big leprechaun wants it back, he won’t relent. No matter how many fingers and bones she breaks. Also, we discover Wednesday’s name is Grimnir. Hmm. Interesting. Seeing as how Grimnir is another name – out of the 200 existing names – for the one-eyed god Odin. Not hard to see Wednesday has two different coloured eyes, either.
Anyways, the cops come into the room as Sweeney tries drowning Laura, even though she can’t drown. She plays dead to make it look even better. What a sly customer, that Mrs. Moon.
Laura: “My lucky coin, ginger minge.”
Shadow and Wednesday are put in the same room for a chat, as a little spider – Anansi, no doubt – helps get the old guy’s cuffs off. Turns out there’s danger coming, it’s right on the doorstep. From the darkness appears Media, this time as Marilyn Monroe floating on air. This is a lot for Shadow to handle. But then she introduces Mr. World, he’s sly, all knowing – even knows about our man’s Bone Orchard dream, the face he makes as he masturbates, how many sexual partners his mother had, and (too much) more. Technical Boy, he’s there, too. To make an apology for “lynching” Shadow. Furthermore, they want to bring Wednesday into the fold, to find his “audience.” Or else, war. They’d like to merge the Old Gods with the New Gods. They have no time for “rugged individualism” any longer, only branding, corporatisation, marketing; an entirely new religion. The New Gods even give Wednesday a brand option, an Odin guided missile.
Media: “Valhalla anew, doesn‘t that sound swell?”
But Wednesday, he doesn’t see it as a merger. He sees it as being sent to exile. Refusing their deal. For now, the New Gods retreat and let the Old God reconsider things; while Technical Boy has no respect for the old, Mr. World has plenty. I can see infighting becoming a thing for the New Gods.
The police station’s been ransacked and officers left bloodied. Outside, Mad is being transported in handcuffs. Inside, a tree-like creature grows, through the building, through the dead bodies. Luckily Mad gets himself free, as do Shadow and Wednesday, before the tree creature can consume them.
Meanwhile, at the morgue, there are strange noises emanating from one of the body’s drawers. The cover busts off and takes out an attendant. Laura’s not staying in there, no way. Being dead takes some getting used to, naturally.
Another fan-fucking-tastic episode of American Gods, from acting to adaptation to score to visuals. What a feast! Love this series, even more than I anticipated before its arrival. I hope Gaiman is enjoying, too. He deserves to see his work adapted in such spectacular fashion.
Next episode is titled “A Murder of Gods” and I can see a fight coming, of some kind. Not sure between whom, but it’s coming. And the larger war is playing out, ready to unfold in front of our eyes.