AMERICAN GODS Episode 5 - 'Lemon Scented You'
Well, shit is getting serious for everyone, and we are getting a better sense of the stakes here. A reminder that these recaps will contain spoilers for "American Gods" the novel which is, I will say again, almost 20 years old now. And also that just because i'm spoiling something out of the novel doesn't mean I feel I'm necessarily spoiling anything for the TV show, as they are separate, and just because the TV show is an adaptation of the book doesn't mean it will do everything exactly the same. Already it's done several things differently. All I'm doing regarding possible future events of the TV series is speculating. If you've been reading these recaps I'm sure you're robust enough for some "This happened in the book, I wonder if it will happen in the TV show" stuff.
I am of two minds as to whether I liked the "Coming to America" sequence being done with animation rather than actors. On the one hand, "Clan of the Cave Bear" taught us what can happen when you try to use prosthetics and make-up to make actors look like prehistoric people. On the other hand, it feels like a missed opportunity to have some actors of colour play some very early immigrants. And it was beautifully done, and a very interesting stylistic gear change from what the show has been doing so far. It also laid out the mythos of the show very clearly, including the crucial element that when us humans forget a god the god does, in fact, cease to be.
Back in the present day, Shadow and Laura have an incredibly grim and awkward reunion at the motel. Shadow throwing a pillow at Laura to see if she was real made me LOL, and I really appreciated that both Shadow and the TV show refused to let Laura off the hook here. The miracle of her resurrection doesn't erase the fact that she cheated on Shadow, and even without the fact that came back from the dead he's plenty confused and heartbroken. I said in the last recap that I like when TV shows allow female characters to be difficult and complicated, and Laura is certainly this. She seemed genuinely surprised and heartbroken at Shadow's rejection of her and come on, was she really expecting some kind of romantic/sexual event to consummate their reunion here? The fact she hopped into the hot tub in order to warm herself up for him suggests yes. She does manage to get a kiss out of him, and for a moment the light in him pours into her and makes her heart beat. This is a change from the series, and whilst it is a little obvious and unsubtle, it does a good job of visually representing the connection Laura has with Shadow, and how it took her dying to realise how much she does love him.
Maybe something more would have happened after the kiss maybe not (but I really truly think not, the way Shadow was responding to her) but Shadow and Wednesday get arrested and Laura's left alone in the motel room for my favourite part of this episode, Mad Sweeney arriving and trying to get the coin from her. In the book she first just held it in her pocket before getting it put on a chain so she could wear it around her neck, in the series she's swallowed it and it glows inside her like an ember, mirroring the light she sees radiating from Shadow when he's near. Mad Sweeney throws personal insults at Laura, calls her "Dead Wife" repeatedly, and threatens her in a manner that has her responding in violent ways that will surely find themselves onto the internet in the form of #misandry gifs. But it's tough rocks for Sweeney that he gave his lucky coin to Shadow, because he gave it to Laura and Sweeney is unable to take it from Laura by force, she has to give it willingly. Or, as he points out, he can just wait until she's decomposed sufficiently that he can take it from the goo that used to be her body. The resurrection hasn't totally restored and rejuvenated her, we are not to forget that she is, essentially, a zombie. A very pretty and delightfully sardonic one, but a zombie nonetheless. Anyway, during their conversation/brawl, Sweeney throws Laura into the hot tub because reasons, and a couple of police arrive (we see in an earlier scene that their ruckus is disturbing everyone else in the motel) to see a man apparently drowning a woman in a tub, and after he starts shouting "Fuck you, dead wife!" etc, he's hauled away in handcuffs while Laura smirks to herself under water.
The meat of this episode, however, is a meeting between gods old and new. Shadow and Wednesday are arrested by the local cops for the bank robbery in episode 3. One of the cops is played by Tracie Thoms and she is delightful and surely we must be getting to see her again if they cast an established actor for that role, even though she does look very dead come the end of the episode. The two human cops exit the scene quickly however, for Wednesday and Shadow to have an impromptu meeting with Media, the Technical Boy and a new character, the apparent leader of the new gods: Mr World. Anderson appears in this scene as a pitch-perfect Marilyn Monroe-as-icon, and appeared in an earlier scene to scold the Technical Boy for his racially insensitive handling of Shadow earlier in the series as David Bowie. This scene was amazing and was almost like someone told the American Gods writers "Whoever can come up with as many David Bowie lyric references for this dialogue will get a week's paid holiday".
But about Mr World, played by Crispin Glover with a dapper black suit and disconcertingly floppy hair. Firstly, not feeling the hairstyle. Secondly, Glover must surely have an portrait in an attic in somewhere showing him as wizened and grotesque because this man is not ageing. Thirdly, I wonder where they're going with this character?
SPOILERS FOR A BOOK THAT CAME OUT IN 2001
In the book, Mr World, who has been rallying the new gods into a war against the old, is actually himself an old god, Loki, and he and Wednesday (Odin) have been in cahoots all along. Their end game is to instigate a massive divine blood sacrifice, the power of which will fuel them both for a long time to come.
It works and comes as a surprise (but one with plenty of clues deftly laid) in the book partly because we don't actually see much interaction between Mr World and Wednesday and Shadow. If Mr World of the TV series is also engaged in a two-hander long con with Wednesday to play the new and old gods against each other, then I'm not quite feeling a scene where he tries and fails to tempt Wednesday over to their side (although this scene was, again, amazing, the animated nuke called Odin, the rainbows and the unicorns). If they are in a con together, there's zero stakes to this scene and I don't care about how Wednesday resists the lure of the new gods. Unless of course it was a performance for the benefit of Media, Technical Boy and Shadow, in which case yes that does make sense and I will go along with it for now.
Finally, my favourite Crispin Glover thing is "Clownly Clown Clown". YouTube it, thank me later.