TV Recap: American Gods, Episode 6: "A Murder of Gods"
American Gods hasn't been shy letting its politics be known up until this point, but "A Murder of Gods" ramps the social commentary up to a whole other level, seething with contempt. We catch a glimpse of an awfully Nazi-like militia brewing in gun heavy, small-town America, and the opening scene is a gut-punch, a brilliant skewering of the twisted ideals behind border control. Besides these few inspired images, the episode is largely a simple, fluffy dialogue stuffed road trip. Hopefully a calm before the steadily approaching storm.
We begin by watching a large group of people attempting to cross the Mexican border into America. The path looks clear; the last step is to swim across a river. They make it across, but near the end one of them begins to drown, only to be grabbed last second by a figure walking on top of the water, Jesus. Jesus sends them on their way, but they're cut off by border police suddenly showing up and opening fire on them. Jesus attempts to stop them only to catch a bullet in the hand and chest. He lays bleeding on the ground, with bullet hole stigmata.
Wednesday and Shadow are walking to the hotel after their escape from the police station. Shadow's still rightfully freaking the hell out over being grabbed by a tree. When they reach the hotel they realize Laura's gone, Shadow wants to stick around and wait for her but Wednesday's strict schedule won't allow for it. As soon as the two pull away we see Laura sprinting after the car. Wednesday sees her as well, but instead of stopping he cranks the radio to mask her yells and speeds up. Laura tries to find her car so she can chase after them, but as the man at the front desk informs her, it's been impounded because it belongs to a dead girl. Mad Sweeney appears and tells her that he's going to help her get to a man that can fully resurrect her rather than using the coin, which will eventually lead to her body falling apart. The two attempt to jack a parked taxi but are stopped by the D'jinn, Salim, aiming a gun at them. Salim overheard the two talking about her being dead and him being a leprechaun so he asks if they know where he can find other D'jinn like him. Mad claims he knows where some are, so Salim agrees to drive the two around in exchange for that information.
On the road, Wednesday is trying to convince Shadow that Laura doesn't deserve his love and that he doesn't love her anyway. She's merely a distraction. Shadow starts complaining about his side, lifts up his shirt and we see a large gash gushing blood right where he was grabbed by the tree. He feels something moving around in there. They pull over and Wednesday reaches directly into the wound, pulls out a large black creature with many tendrils and tosses it across the road. At the same time, as Mad snoozes, Laura and Salim are discussing their various beliefs in God while heading a completely different direction towards Kentucky, until Laura guides the steering wheel in a different direction.
A cheery man clocks in to his job at an industrial space, full of burning hot pools of liquid. The Partridge Family sings a happy song while he passes by his fellow workers. Each one has a friendly smile despite their oppressive environment. The man leans against a railing that gives way and he falls straight into the lava, getting swallowed up along with his World's Greatest Boss mug. We then watch a montage of the metal he fell into being used to make bullets.
Shadow and Wednesday get to their destination of Vulcan, Virginia. There's an American flag wherever you look, and everybody on the street is carrying guns and dressed in Nazi-like attire, although instead of the swastika they have a "Vulcan" patch on their red armbands. A large group of citizens are walking down the middle of the street, a celebratory funeral procession for the man who is now infused in their bullets. This is a regular occurrence, happening multiple times a year as a sort of blood sacrifice. Wednesday's there to speak to the leader of the town, Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen).
Laura has led the group to the same alligator themed bar that Shadow and Mad fought in. They light up cigarettes and drink something hard and argue while Salim looks on sipping his coffee. Just as Wednesday was doing to Shadow, Mad is attempting to convince Laura she doesn't want nor need her better half.
Wednesday and Shadow are meeting with Vulcan at his gated mansion. Vulcan shows Shadow the old hanging tree and asks him if he likes it. He doesn't. Vulcan and Wednesday speak over drinks about their past exploits. Vulcan once again brings up hanging to Shadow, as if he knows he was lynched. Vulcan worships his gun, "The power of fire is firepower." Each bullet is engraved with his name, and his believers feel him whenever they fire. Vulcan agrees to help in the war, Wednesday requests him to forge a blade for the battle and Vulcan heads off to make it. Shadow and Wednesday speak. They both know it's odd that he knew of Shadow's hanging. Shadow shuts his eyes and he can see Laura. She's staring through the window of her childhood home, watching her family who doesn't notice her. We cut to Laura's perspective and this is exactly what she's doing. The two are linked together somehow.
Vulcan has forged the blade, an epic beautifully inscribed sword. Wednesday pushes Vulcan into confessing that he called the New Gods and informed him of what he's planning and where they are. Vulcan wanted to remain neutral, but Wednesday isn't having it. He picks up the freshly made blade and slices clean through Vulcan's neck before kicking him into his own burning metal and pissing in it.
It might not have been the most action packed episode yet, but American Gods took on some huge themes Sunday night. Immigration, guns, and God as they relate to America were all called out, coming to the conclusion that what we hold dear is hardly reality. It's this bold, refreshingly nihilistic viewpoint that the show pulls off incredibly well. Veteran character actor Corbin Bernsen gave a fearsome performance, it's a shame he's not sticking around (although in this world, who knows) but he had a great exit.