TV Recap: American Gods, Episode 3: "Head Full of Snow"
Episode 3 of Starz's now bonafide hit (it was just renewed for a second season, averaging just under a million viewers an episode) starts off a bit differently than the past two episodes which delved into the past to introduce characters to pay off later. This time we are introduced to the Egyptian god of death, Anubis (Chris Obi), in modern day, shortly after he takes the life of an older Muslim woman who fell off of a stool while reaching for spices for a soup. Moments ago she was cursing her grandchildren for their laziness and now she seems surprisingly content with her fate. He leads her out her window where the two climb her fire escape which now extends farther than the eye can see into the sky. They climb until they reach a beautiful desert area. Death ushers the woman to a scale where he weighs her heart against a feather and she starts desperately confessing her sins. He tells her that she is good and asks her to have her choice between five doors that have appeared in the sands. She can't choose and asks Anubis to pick for her, he picks the middle door and she steps through. We do not learn where it leads.
Shadow Moon is getting some rest after losing a bet to have his head smashed in by Czernobog (Peter Stormare) and his giant hammer. He has another bizarre dream, this one takes him to the roof of the apartment complex he's sleeping in where he meets the youngest of the Zarya sisters (we met the other two in the previous episode, played by Cloris Leachman and Martha Kelly), Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar.) She has a chaotic setup of telescopes for stargazing. The scene is mixed rather poorly, I had to struggle to hear dialogue underneath the ethereal music, but the gist of the scene is that she warns of something that lives amongst the stars and if it were to ever wake up it would destroy everything in an instant. She says that she will save Shadow from Czernobog in exchange for a kiss. She kisses him, remarking that it's gross but not in a bad way. She plucks the moon out of sky and hands it to Shadow as a coin, telling him that his luck will change.
Shadow wakes up with a new confidence and goes to challenge Czernobog again. Same bet, if Shadow wins the game of checkers then Czernobog will join him and Wednesday on their quest, if he loses he will get his head crushed. Shadow wins the game and Czernobog agrees to come along, but he will still kill Shadow. Wednesday comes in and says that he and Shadow are off to go rob a bank.
Before the robbery we have a couple characters to check up on, the first, Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schrieber) we haven't seen since the first episode where he picked a fight with Shadow in the bar. Mad wakes up in the bathroom stall of the bar and hits the road. A friendly passerby offers him a ride and Mad reluctantly agrees. Not long into the drive a semi starts going out of control in front of the car and a pipe that it was carrying breaks off and flies through the driver's head. Mad frantically searches for his magical coin only to realize he gave it to Shadow.
Salim (Omid Abtahi) is a salesman from Oman who can't catch a break. He's been waiting all day for a meeting with a man who never shows so he goes and hails a cab to head home so he can try again tomorrow. He gets into the cab of Ifrit (Mousa Kraish). Ifrit is a Djinn, a supernatural inhabitant of the lost city of Ubar (he has flames shooting out of his eyes at all times that he covers up with sunglasses. Salim feels a connection with Ifrit and invites him up to his apartment where the two engage in the most explicit male on male sex scene I've ever seen in a TV show. Salim wakes up the next morning wearing Ifrit's shirt, goes outside and gets in his cab. He looks in the mirror with flaming eyes and we realize he is Ifrit and has switched places with Salim.
We finally check back in with Wednesday and Shadow who are staking out the bank that Wednesday plans to rob. Wednesday tells Shadow to write down the number on the pay phone and to start imagining snow. The two stop at a copy store so Wednesday can make some business card. Suddenly it starts snowing outside. A coincidence or did Shadow make this happen? They go and get dinner where they are ambushed by Mad who wants his coin. Shadow lets him know that he tossed it on the grave of his wife and the Irishman leaves angry.
It's time to rob the bank. Wednesday notices Shadow's nervousness so he gets the easy job, all he has to do is sit out by the payphone and wait for a call. The plan isn't all that exciting it turns out, no guns, no flash. Wednesday merely sits outside by the deposit box which he put a closed sign on in a bank jacket with a pen and clipboard waiting for people to come by with deposits, which he pockets. The only minor hiccup comes when a policeman stops, Wednesday gets out of it by handing him the business card, the number leading to Shadow across the street who acts as the bank's boss.
The day is done and Shadow heads to his hotel room. The scene is intercut with Mad digging up Shadow's wife Laura's grave. When Shadow opens his door he sees Laura sitting on his bed. "Hi puppy."
Last week's episode left me hopeful for the future of this show, and I feel no different now. The show continues to lay the groundwork for what promises to be an exciting meeting of the gods later on. Its exciting but not exploitative gay sex scene should be commended, further showing they are willing to break new ground. I still want answers, but I'm having fun not getting them.