Season 1/ Episode 2/ Starz
American Gods almost has more scene-stealers on the roster than I can handle. The first episode introduced Wednesday, Bilquis, Mad Sweeney, a vengeful widow and even Shadow’s curious cellmate. Episode 2, entitled “The Secret of Spoon”, introduces a new batch of characters who, collectively, are probably even more entertaining.
Shadow’s starting to remind me a lot of another bald black man who’s well-used as the least interesting person on his own show. He should probably avoid yellow t-shirts to prevent any confusion.
“The Secret of Spoon” has a handful of standout moments, the brightest of which are placed perfectly at the beginning, middle and end of the episode. The first of these comes in the tale of another god finding their way to the United States.
In 1697, a group of Africans are being transported across the ocean as part of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. One of the men pleads to Anansi to help him. He has no idea where he’s going, where his mother’s gone or why he’s sitting on the bottom of a ship. As he prays, a colorful spider makes its way down the stairs before transforming into a man wearing a purple zoot suit, fedora and oxfords – yes, this is still in 1697. This man (Orlando Jones), speaking in English, lets the man know that his mother was thrown overboard and drowned because she couldn’t swim.
Confused, the African man asks the well-dressed visitor if he’s Anansi. While never saying yes, the man begins to walk around the lower-level of the ship warning everyone present of the conditions they and their descendants will be forced to endure as a result of American slavery.
“Once upon a time… a man got fucked! Now how is that for a story? Because that’s the story of black people IN AMERICA!” – Anansi
Anansi’s speech opens the eyes of the Africans as he lectures them on the “300 years of subjugation, racist bullsh*t and heart disease” they’re headed towards. He even alludes to the systemic oppression still felt in contemporary America. This moving monologue is followed by him letting the slaves free and encouraging them to “slit the throat of every one of these Dutch motherf*ckers” as they burn down the ship to sacrifice themselves to “something worthwhile.”
No matter what the future of American Gods may be, this scene will go down as a standout performance for both the show and Orlando Jones. We’ve already published a separate article about just how incredible this scene was. Learn how it all went down here. Meanwhile, I’m watching this monologue for the fifth time.
In current day, we see Shadow immediately after he was nearly lynched by a bunch of faceless, digital, beret-wearing henchmen. He immediately goes to see Wednesday and asks him how he intervened. Clueless to what just happened, Wednesday is more focused on the young woman he’s got waiting inside. In his frustration, Shadow tries to walk away from Wednesday and his perceived apathy to his near-death. Wednesday offers to double Shadow’s pay and suggests he enjoys the first bed he’s slept in since he was freed from prison. But only after making it clear that he takes the attack on Shadow as an attack on himself, and will act accordingly.
Shadow goes back to his room and gets out of the now tattered, bloody suit he put on in prison. He sits down in the bathtub that’s clearly far too small for him – I feel you, brother. I haven’t taken a comfortable bath since 2007 – and takes off his wedding ring for what’s presumably the first time in years. That night, Shadow has a dream that Laura comes to see him, waking him up to an empty room and the first tears to fall from his eyes so far this series.
As he packs, Shadow makes the not uncommon, but still ridiculous, mistake of looking through his significant other’s phone. If you want to find something, you eventually will. Lo and behold, the first thing Shadow sees is a text thread between his dead wife and former best friend, dick pics and all. [Note: it doesn’t look like Laura replied either. Even fictional women don’t know what the hell to do with dick pics.]
Shadow puts everything in the back of a truck–to who knows where..??– and Wednesday waits for him across the street. Shadow determines there’s nothing left for him in Eagle Point, Ind. as it only has reminders of Laura and her friends. The two hit the road again, but make it clear they’ll never take the highway anywhere and stick to backroads.
The two split as Wednesday has a meeting with someone at a diner. Shadow takes the car to a store with a list of supplies he needs to get for Wednesday after promising he won’t steal any money from his new boss, much to his surprise.
“Can’t look out for yourself how the hell are you gonna look out for me?” – Wednesday
This brings us to our second standout moment of the episode. While at a store, Shadow picks up a bunch of books, maps, and vodka before he walks past the television section. He thinks he’s just walking past an I Love Lucy marathon like you tend to find at Sam’s Club but is in for the shock of his life.
Ready for sh*t to get weird? Gillian Anderson is playing Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy who’s actually the form of a god named Media. Out of all the weird sh*t that’s happened so far, THIS is what Shadow has a hard time accepting as real.
Media goes on to commend Shadow for standing up to the cornrow Kenny wanna-be he met in the last episode, takes some body shots at Wednesday and offers him a job. It’s not clear why everyone wants Shadow working for them, we just know that they do.
“We are now, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow… And he ain’t even yesterday anymore.” – Media
As Shadow makes his way back to the diner, he comes across a man in a blue suit who was meeting with Wednesday. As they walk pass each other, fire appears behind the sunglasses of the other man. Hopefully, we come back to this later. The two hit the road again and Shadow tries to give Wednesday a prepaid cell phone before the latter throws it out of the window insisting it’s pointless.
Remember the woman who was eating people with her vagina last week? If you were wondering how often she does this, it appears to be pretty often. This week we get a montage of Bilquis eating half a dozen other people with her predatory pum-pum. Two things worth noting here: 1.) She doesn’t discriminate by gender so no one’s safe. 2.) After seeing the Shark Tank reject from episode one floating in the phantom zone between Bilquis’ thighs, one has to wonder if all of the people she consumes are hanging out together in the same place? Do they get to talk to each other? Does it ever get crowded? Do they ever disappear or are they stuck floating aimlessly in the twilight zone?
The episode offers a little more context into Bilquis’ character in the next scene as she visits a museum. If I had to guess, she was looking at the statues and jewelry once made in her honor being displayed for public consumption.
Back in Chicago, Wednesday and Shadow make it to their destination. They end up in the apartment building of an older woman named Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) who’s more than a little irritated by their presence until Wednesday bribes her with some compliments and a bottle of vodka. By the way, she chugs vodka, straight, like it’s water. She’d clearly drink any frat boy under the table.
We learn Vechernyaya is the oldest of three Polish sisters who are able to look into the future. She puts this on display later when she gives Shadow some bad news followed by some not-as-bad news. Another one of the Zorya sisters is aware, and noticeably younger, when Shadow and Wednesday arrive while the third is asleep in another room and not to be disturbed.
“When I was young there were servants to make meals… Here there is only us, and learning is beneath me.” – Zorya Vechernyaya
While Shadow is walking the halls, a man we saw killing cows in a cutaway scene earlier opens the front door. He’s wearing a tank top soaked in blood under a fur coat and a short cigarette hanging from his lip. He stops after a few steps and Vechernyaya says that they have visitors. He looks at Shadow then goes into the other room to greet Wednesday by nearly throwing a lamp at his head. At least we know his name now, Czernobog (Peter Stormare). Our latest scene-stealer.
The response the entire house has to Wednesday’s presence makes it clear how unwelcome he is. In the other room, Czernobog can be heard ordering him to leave and threatening to kill them both with his bare hands. Instead, Wednesday continues to ask for his participation in some vague mission. Wednesday tells Shadow they should leave, only to be stopped by Czernobog who says it would be an insult to Vechernyaya to reject her dinner invite.
In a scene ripped straight out of Look Who’s Coming To Dinner, Czernobog turns up the awkwardness of the meal by telling Shadow how he was somehow treated like a black man in his home country compared to his still unknown brother. The story goes on to talk about how he and his people came to New York from the old country before moving to Chicago when everything went bad. This somehow segue’s a detailed retelling of his experiences working in slaughterhouses and enjoying the art and skill of taking a life.
At the end of his tale, Czernobog asks Shadow if he knows how to play checkers, resulting in a look of caution on Wednesday’s face. Czernobog is elated to know Shadow wants to play and suggests they up the stakes. “You don’t have to play him,” Wednesday says before taking another shot of vodka.
After the first move, Czernobog already declares himself the winner of the match. Maybe it was to get into Shadow’s head or just a way to show how big his balls were. But Czernobog stops in the middle of the game to show Shadow the sledgehammer he used to cause 10,000 deaths. Oh, and it started bleeding for a few seconds for no stated reason. Another shout out to the visual prowess of this show.
Czenrobog sits back down and follows through on his suggestion that they place a wager on the game. The stakes are that is Shadow wins, Czernobog will accept Wednesday’s offer. If Czernobog wins, he’ll knock the rust off of his sledgehammer by bashing Shadow’s brains in.
Bruh, how did we get here?!?!
Czernobog starts singing a song that explains the title of the episode as he whoops Shadow’s ass for the entire game and eventually wins. Does this mean Shadow’s going to pull a Ned Stark and get offed 1/4 into the first season? Or is he going to find a way out of this? We’ll find out next time…
“So, at sunrise, I get to knock your brains out. And you will get down on your knees…willingly. Is good? A shame. You my only black friend…” – Czernobog