As American Gods moves within touching distance of the end of its third season – and, with no news of a fourth season to come, quite possibly its last – you might expect hawkish old god Wednesday (Ian McShane) to be in the final stages of preparation for his long-desired war with the New Gods. Instead, he’s got in touch with his inner hippy and is having second thoughts. After meeting up with Cordelia (Ashley Reyes) in a diner, he heads to Chicago where he has a surprising proposition for the mallet-wielding Czernobog (Peter Stormare): to be his second-in-command at peace talks. ‘Peace talks’? Czernobog thinks he’s lost his balls – but agrees to go anyway, after letting off some steam with his massive hammer.
Speaking of unwieldy weapons, Laura Moon (Emily Browning) finally has her hands on Wednesday’s spear Gungnir, the one she plans to kill him with, but her new Leprechaun road trip partner Liam Doyle (Iwan Rheon) is concerned she might not be much good with it – and they both know she’ll only get one shot. They find a picturesque abandoned church in which to practise, and when she struggles to hit the target he offers to loan her his lucky coin. Clearly, Liam is not the sort to worry about what happened to Mad Sweeney when he did the same thing. Still, with the coin in her hand Laura can’t help but kill gods – as she swiftly proves by taking out Jesus in a ‘Last Supper’ reproduction on the back wall.
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In Lakeside, meanwhile, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) finally gets to the bottom of young Alison’s disappearance – by getting to the bottom of the frozen lake. It all starts when hapless local pervert Derek (Spencer Macpherson) turns up hanged. Alison’s coat is found in his closet, but Shadow’s not buying the suicide story and thinks Derek’s being framed. Shadow learned from his (offscreen) trip to Florida that Marguerite’s (Lela Loren) son Sandy is also missing, which means a pattern is forming. He checks the newspaper archives and soon realises that young people from Lakeside have a nasty habit of disappearing in late December. When his lucky coin is returned to him by an ice sculpture of Ganesh he makes his way out to the old car on the frozen lake and finds Alison’s corpse in the trunk. When the ice breaks, he falls into the freezing water and realises she’s not alone – every old clunker on the lakebed contains a missing child. Town busybody Hinzelmann (Julia Sweeney) has been sacrificing them, and after Police Chief Chad Mulligan (Eric Johnson) tries unsuccessfully to shoot her Shadow finishes her off by slitting her throat with an ancient dagger.
Mr World (Crispin Glover), meanwhile, arrives for the ‘peace talks’ with Wednesday, but he’s in no mood to negotiate. He informs Wednesday and Czernobog that they will be allowed quiet, forgotten deaths – or alternatively he will “systematically hunt and kill every one of you that gets in our way.”
As Wednesday is leaving the meeting, Laura saves Mr World the trouble. She finally gets her shot and – gripping the lucky coin in one hand – looses Gungnir fast and true and skewers Wednesday like a shish kebab. Back in Lakeside, Shadow feels something has changed – and outside in the trees, even the ravens seem to be in mourning.
Hits and myths
- Adverts for the New Gods’ sinister new form of social media/tool of worship SHARD are everywhere this episode. One question remains: how much more evil than Facebook can it actually be?
- Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu god known as the “clearer of obstacles”. If you ever find yourself stuck in a traffic snarl-up in Delhi, you might witness him in action: Indians will break up gridlock by carrying a statue of Ganesh aloft through the street – and as Ganesh always get priority, traffic can start to flow behind him. In American Gods, Ganesh likewise clears the way for Shadow to see the truth about Alison’s disappearance. Either that, or the writers just liked the fact he could imply to Shadow she was in the “trunk”.
- After entertaining turns by Dominique Jackson and Danny Trejo, Crispin Glover is back as Mr World this week – and Wednesday approves. The “Savile Row psycho” look, as he puts it, really does suit the character.
- Julia Sweeney’s Hinzelmann was always destined to be more sinister than she initially appeared, and this episode’s horrifying reveal of her true nature did justice to all that build up.
- Most McShane moment of the week: Near the start of the episode, our weary Wednesday announces: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” with equal parts foreboding and foreshadowing. Either that or he’s just a big Warren Zevon fan.
- The devil has the best music: When Wednesday and Cordelia reconvene in the diner at the start of the episode, the song playing is Indiana country singer Juli Maners’ ‘After All These Years’ which features the apt lyric: “It’s hard to know you’re leaving me, after all these years.” Can this really be the last we ever see of Wednesday? We’ll find out in next week’s finale.