There’s a storm coming. With just four episodes remaining, American Gods is steadily drawing towards its third season finale. That means there’s no time in this episode for our usual pre-titles flashback to the adventures of the old gods. Instead, we begin in the present day with Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Cordelia (Ashley Reyes) motoring along a country road when a burning corpse suddenly appears. “A flaming body just fell out of the sky!” complains a visibly shaken Cordelia. “I’m up for a lot of shit but I did not sign up for whatever the fuck that is!”
Wednesday’s reaction to this fiery bump in the road is to finally tell Cordelia about the gods and that he’s one of them. He then does exactly what he once did to Shadow (Ricky Whittle): send her away to the off-the-grid safety of Lakeside, Wisconsin. Quite how safe Lakeside really is remains to be seen, especially given that the townsfolk still aren’t any closer to figuring out who abducted local girl Alison McGovern. Shadow thinks he’s got a lead, having spotted Mabel’s diner employee Derek (Spencer Macpherson) breaking into homes to get his hands on women’s underwear. Shadow reports him to police chief Chad Mulligan (Eric Johnson), but under interrogation from the pair Derek maintains he had nothing to do with Alison’s disappearance and only wanted the knickers so he could wear them himself. After leaving Derek’s place, Shadow runs into Cordelia, but his attempts to reassure her that he’s been where she is just raises more questions. “You are what, exactly?” asks Cordelia. “The jury’s still out on that one,” replies Shadow.
Someone else asking that very same question about Shadow is Bilquis (Yetide Badaki). After performing a spell to look into Shadow’s past, she takes a trip to Chicago to meet Eugenia (Sharon Hope), the midwife who helped bring the baby demigod into the world. After winning the wise old woman over with some nifty dance moves, Bilquis is tasked with an important mission: “Only you have the power to find the other,” Eugenia tells her. The other who? “Shadow Moon is only one half. He cannot lead the people, the ‘we’, alone. You must find the other. If you do not, the people can never come together and these will be our last days.”
So the big question for Bilquis is: who is Shadow’s other half? Right now, his neighbour Marguerite (Lela Loren) might stake a claim. Shadow finally wins her over this episode by face-planting on the ice more times than Bambi before they go home to the hot tub and he shows off his party trick of making it snow with only his breath. All that snow just makes things steamier…
Things are heating up between him and Marguerite, but let’s not forget Shadow may or may not still be a married man – depending on how seriously you take the “’til death do us part” bit. His wife, Laura (Emily Browning), spends much of this episode deep in negotiation with Mr World (Danny Trejo) about exactly how they’re going to get Odin’s spear back from her beloved Leprechaun’s magical hoard so that she can assassinate Wednesday with it. As Mr World explains, better that she does and they then write it off as a personal vendetta rather than do it himself and provoke a holy war.
Speaking of turning against Wednesday, we learn that the beast dropping flaming followers at his feet is none other than Johan (Marilyn Manson), the berserker who has now, apparently, gone fully berserk. When Manson was dropped from the show following recent abuse allegations we were told he’d be cut from future episodes and his likeness appears here just once: his bloated face resting above his own disembowelled chest cavity in a dentist’s chair.
The dentist responsible, Wednesday’s old war god buddy Dr Tyrell (Denis O’Hare), knows there’s no time to waste. He picks up Shadow and hits the road, leaving a note for Wednesday to find on a prescription pad buried deep in Johan’s bloody guts. It reads: “Odin, find me at Wolf’s Den, with the son you hold most dear.” That’s one dentist’s appointment Wednesday won’t want to miss.
Hits and myths
- In the midst of her struggle to readjust to her new reality, an exasperated Cordelia gets the episode’s funniest line: “When my boss announces he’s a god, and someone is killing his followers, which apparently explains why it’s partly cloudy with a chance of human remains… I mean, what the fuck?”
- The local children’s theatre in Lakeside, a town in which a young girl has recently disappeared, is currently advertising a performance of child-abduction classic Hansel & Gretel. Either that’s a clue or the theatre bookers really need to learn to read the room.
- Most McShane moment of the week: Wednesday’s list of reasons why Johan may have started slaughtering his followers is delivered in a vintage McShane rant: “Psychedelics, brain fever, the curse of Fu Manchu, who knows?”
- The devil has the best music: Bilquis’ arrival in Chicago is aptly soundtracked by Otis Clay’s ‘Got To Find A Way’. Clay was a gospel singer, born in Mississippi, who signed to Chicago’s One-derful Records in 1965 to make secular recordings. American Gods season 3 episode 7 concludes with Leonard Cohen’s remarkable ‘You Want It Darker’, the title track of the record he released just weeks before his death in 2016. In the chorus, Cohen sings: “Hineni, hineni/I’m ready, my lord.” Hineni is a Hebrew word meaning ‘here I am’, and was the response Abraham gave when God asked him to kill his son Isaac. Tread carefully Shadow, these old Gods really do have a thing for child sacrifice.