American Gods: 1.02 The Secret of the Spoons
Coming to America. So begins every episode of American Gods, illuminating a little of the paths of the gods of the Old World, and how they found themselves brought to the new. Last week, it was Odin, the one-eyed gallows lord of storms and lies. This time, it's the arrival of another god of lies and stories, Anansi the spider. Orlando Jones, hamming it up spectacularly, a more revolutionary less cuddly iteration than the literary Mr Nancy of Gaiman's book.
Shadow's not been having a good time. Beaten, lynched, confused... But at least his dead, cheating wife still has his best interests at heart. And with that the road trip continues as Wednesday and Shadow collect their deities and allies.
Gillian Anderson as the goddess of TV in the form of Lucy Ricardo is amazing, a better portrayal than expected. And she adds to our understanding of what powers these gods: It's sacrifice, for sure, but it doesn't have to be dramatic. "Time and attention; better than lambs blood" she drawls from the supermarket televisions. Sacrifice is a theme that is being reinforced over and over.
The Zorya sisters, the trifold goddess from Slavic myth, and their housemate Czernobog. The latter, a dualistic god of, is played by Peter Stormare of Fargo. Another hammer wielded, a cow killer; he's the muscle. Shadow must defeat him in a game to recruit him; or pay the ultimate price.
America's mythic landscape continues to unfold, revealing itself to us as it reveals itself to Shadow, always under the watchful eye of Mr Wednesday. It can feel a little piecemeal right now, as the cast assembles, but it feels satisfying. It's a generous pace that always keeps the audience wanting just a little more. This second episode, while still world-building, feels better put together than the pilot. Perhaps less visually dramatic, but the rich, languorous shots still add to the mood, suck us into this world where gods old and new vie for sacrifice and attention. That of the public, and that of our protagonist Shadow.