As any Viking will tell you, it’s important to get mashed before a big fight. Season three of American Gods may be drifting towards assassination or war, but first it’s going to give us a party.
The setting is a pleasant, rustic little motel called the Grand Peacock Inn – which we’re introduced to in 1951 when a young man named Tianbo (Daniel Jun) is chased through the front doors, pursued by some unpleasant homophobic cops. Luckily, by the time the slow-footed bigots actually arrive he’s been safely sequestered away by Toni (Dana Aliya Levinson), the trans woman owner. Tianbo, it later emerges, is actually Tu’er Shen, the Chinese rabbit god of homosexual love. He rewards Toni by blessing the Inn as a temple to free love – and he even throws in a brand new neon sign for the place.
It seems Tu’er Shen also grants Toni eternal youth, because they look equally fabulous after we’ve fast-forwarded to the present day Grand Peacock Inn. Laura Moon (Emily Browning) and Salim (Omid Abtahi) are there because she’s heard there’s a Leprechaun working behind the bar. It’s that kind of place. It just so happens they’ve arrived on the opening night of The Seelie Court of America’s annual jamboree, an anything-goes party attended by lots of beautiful, barely-dressed men wearing butterfly wings. One Adonis in particular catches Salim’s eye: Kai (Noah J. Ricketts), or as Laura aptly christens him: “the hot bellhop”. Salim has been struggling for much of this season to get over his relationship with the djinn, but also to come to terms with who he is. At the Grand Peacock Inn, with Toni’s guidance, he finally learns to embrace himself – and the hot bellhop too.
The orgy scenes are a delight – it’s always a pleasure to see an ass being eaten on a mainstream television show, however briefly – but alas we must press on with the plot. Salim only came to this inn in the first place because Laura wanted to ask the leprechaun behind the bar, Liam Doyle (Iwan Rheon), if he could go and get Odin’s spear Gungnir back from Mad Sweeney’s hoard for her. He doesn’t want to, at first, but somehow sweet-natured Liam winds up doing exactly what Laura wants him to do. Mark my words, she’ll be after his lucky charms next.
Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), meanwhile, is having a painful experience with a dentist. Dr Tyrell (Denis O’Hare) has taken him hostage at Wolf’s Den, but really he’s just bait designed to lure in Wednesday (Ian McShane). Things between Tyrell and Wednesday are bad, like Morrissey and Marr bad, and apparently it all goes back to the time Tyrell sacrificed his arm to the mighty wolf Fenrir. The pair decide to settle things “the old way”: a furious battle decked out in flamboyant armour. Tyr has the upper hand, Shadow intervenes to save his old man, and Wednesday stabs his mate in the back while he’s distracted. Dr Tyrell’s death will no doubt be a loss to the field of children’s orthodontics, but perhaps more importantly for Shadow, by saving his father’s life he has repaid his debt to the obstinate old deity. He’s free to go, but instead of heading back to Lakeside he sees a sign that redirects him towards Jacksonville, and the search for Marguerite’s son, who disappeared in Florida and never returned. Either that, or Shadow’s just on his way straight to Margaritaville.
Over at Ms World’s (Dominique Jackson) HQ, meanwhile, Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) is trapped in a face-grabbing prison. He asks the version of Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) he’s projecting in his own mind for help, and eventually realises he needs to get his hands on the ever-mysterious ‘Artefact 1’, which has to be the laziest name for a MacGuffin I’ve ever heard.
Hits and myths
- Regular readers of this column will remember we explained the significance of Tyr’s missing arm back when he was first introduced in episode two.
- When Liam gets back from Sweeney’s hoard, he complains: “He had a púca in there, a full-on Harvey, twelve feet tall and hungry!” A púca is a shape-shifting creature from Celtic folklore, and is how Jimmy Stewart refers to his 6 ft 3 and a half inch tall rabbit companion in Henry Koster’s 1950 classic Harvey.
- The scenes between Tianbo (Daniel Jun) and Toni (Dana Aliya Levinson) are some of the best this show has produced. Levinson wrote a great behind-the-scenes thread about shooting them:
Alright, he's not on Twitter, but I've forewarned him that I'm writing something nice and then I'm gonna screenshot it and text it. BUT THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW 😂 (THREAD)
I need to talk about Daniel Jun who plays Tianbo. I remember when I first got the script for the episode,
— Dana Aliya Levinson (@DanaALevinson) March 7, 2021
- No news at all from Lakeside this week. Things really aren’t looking good for Alison, are they?
- Most McShane moment of the week: The way Wednesday refers to Tyr being afraid of the “big bad wolf” drips with such contempt it’s a wonder it doesn’t burn through the floor.
- The devil has the best music: As Laura happily announces to Liam that she’s off to kill Wednesday, the ecstatic sound of The Polyphonic Spree’s ‘Hanging Around’ bursts into the air. For those of you too young to remember, The Polyphonic Spree were a band made up of about a dozen people wearing matching robes who released a totally excellent album in 2002 and nobody was quite sure if they were a cult or not. Hearing the song instantly transported me back to the Friday night at Reading Festival ’03 when those glorious freaks headlined the Radio 1 tent shortly after I’d taken ecstasy for the very first time in my life. That was a religious experience, let me tell you.