Love, as the great philosopher Pat Benatar famously observed, is a battlefield. This week’s American Gods episode begins on the actual battlefields of the American Revolution, where one of this season’s biggest mysteries is finally unraveled: just what exactly did Wednesday (Ian McShane) do that Demeter (Blythe Danner) still hasn’t forgiven him for all these years later?
Their tragic backstory is told partly through historical flashback, and partly through an elaborate shadow-play that Wednesday writes and performs for Demeter (Wednesday clearly has a thing for Shadows). The tale goes something like this: back when the country was young, Wednesday was making a good living as a gun-for-hire along with his fellow Norse war god Tyr (Denis O’Hare, now the dentist Dr Tyrell we met back in this season’s second episode). However, when Tyr tried to woo the goddess Demeter, she chose his roguishly charming mate Wednesday instead. Who can blame her? Before long Demeter gave birth to their daughter, but when the child died young – buried in a coffin not much bigger than a shoebox – Wednesday left, and it was the spurned Tyr who comforted the goddess through her grief. No wonder she slapped Wednesday when he first showed up – Pat Benatar was more right than she knew.
Wednesday lays out his regrets for Demeter, hoping he can convince her to walk hand-in-hand with him out of the asylum gates. For a moment it looks like he’ll get what he wants, but then, at the moment of victory, Demeter simply walks outside toward her altar and vanishes in a puff of seeds and grains. Demeter is gone – although if Wednesday is as mercenary as I think he is, he’ll go after her estate to find out exactly what happens to a woman’s inheritance in the event of her spontaneously vanishing in a puff of seeds and grains. There has to be a goddess clause, right?
Like father like son, Wednesday’s boy Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is also having an awkward conversation with an ex. He hasn’t seen his wife Laura (Emily Browning) in so long that she’s only just finding out that the two men are related – seriously, it’s like she hasn’t even been reading these recap columns. The discovery that Wednesday is technically her father-in-law doesn’t in any way affect her lust for vengeance: “I’m sorry,” she tells Shadow plainly, “He’s got to go.”
Laura soon gets back on the road with her new car-buddie Salim (Omid Abtahi), and she could be about to make a powerful ally in her hunt for Wednesday: Mr World, now played by Danny Trejo. Both Crispin Glover and Dominique Jackson have been excellent in the role, but to be fair if I knew there was a holy war coming I’d want to look like Danny Trejo too. Mr World is up to all sorts of scheming: When he’s not attempting to sign Laura and Salim up to his cause, he’s disingenuously telling the ailing Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) how much he loves him while simultaneously neglecting to mention he’s holding the Artifact that could help him. Most intriguingly of all, Mr World discusses both Technical Boy’s recovery and the return of Laura Moon in a mysterious phone conversation with an unknown ally. Who could it be? What rough beast slouches toward America to take this call?
Hits and myths
- We found out last week that Lakeside has a problem with “some sicko.. stealing ladies’ unmentionables” and this week Shadow catches him in the act – it’s Derek (Spencer Macpherson), the kid from Mabel’s diner who often awkwardly interacts with him. Whether or not he’s actually involved in Alison’s disappearance remains to be seen, but poor old police chief Chad Mulligan (Eric Johnson) could do with a break.
- No but seriously, who is Mr World calling?
- Bit rich of Laura to tell off Salim for obsessing over the Jinn when she’s still carrying around that box of Leprechaun ashes, isn’t it?
- There’s so much love in the air this week that even the orderlies get in on the action: Wednesday’s nurse Hank (Nabeel El Khafif) gets the hots for pottery teacher Elizabeth (Emily Shelton). We’ll likely never see the characters again, but their bumbling flirtation was super cute.
- Most McShane moment of the week: Wednesday borrows a line from Salvador Dali: “I don’t need drugs. I am drugs!”
- The devil has the best music: Did you have Shadow down as an enthusiastic fan of new jack swing? He enjoys dancing to Bell Biv DeVoe’s 1990 hit ‘Poison’ almost as much as Marguerite enjoys watching him.
— watch american gods on starz (@JasEdwards13) February 22, 2021