American Gods Recap Season 1 Episode 2

American Gods Recap: Meet Media — Plus: Orlando Jones Breaks Down His Stirring, 'Beautifully Put' Entrance

Need to catch up? Check out the previous American Gods recap here. 

Along came a spider… and immediately set a new bar for divine social commentary.

This week’s American Gods featured the introduction of Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy — aka Anansi, the spider figure from African folk tales — who showed up after he was summoned by slaves headed for the colonies in the 1627- “Coming to America” vignette that opened the episode.

As TVLine previewed earlier this week, Jones gave an impressive monologue as the natty Mr. Nancy encouraged the men on board to rise up against their white oppressors. At a press event in April, the actor told TVLine that he didn’t improvise anything said in the scene.

“There was no need to shift the verbiage in that one,” Jones said. “It was very clear and beautifully put.”

And though he acknowledges that Mr. Nancy’s speech has particular relevance in our current social and political climate, he’s quick to point out that the scene is about something different. (Though I hear it did earn him a standing ovation from the other actors on set.)

“As much as the people at home resonate with you, that’s not who I’m talking to,” he said. “I’m talking to 50 slaves who are frightened out of their minds, who have no understanding where they’re getting ready to go and who are looking for some sort of glimmer of hope in a really dark place. It requires [him] to connect with them and pull them out of that despair, and to ignite them in a fire.”

After all, “In order to worship Anansi,” Jones added with a grin, “you’ve got to let the motherf–ker burn.” (Which happened literally when the slaves realized what was happening to them and revolted.)

“Once they’re angry, now we can get something done,” Jones said.

Elsewhere in “The Secret of Spoons”:

* Shadow survived his fight with Technical Boy’s faceless goons, but he was in pretty rough shape — and he still doesn’t know who cut down his noose and saved him from certain death. While sleeping one night, he dreamt of Laura; when he woke, he finally started to actively grieve her death.

* The ex-con, with Mr. Wednesday in tow, returned to clean out his and Laura’s home in Eagle Point, Ind. Once that painful process was done — he found a photo of Robbie’s junk on Laura’s phone, ugh — he and Wednesday got back on the road.

* While Shadow was doing some of Wednesday’s shopping at a big-box store, a black-and-white version of Lucille Ball started talking to him from the television displays — even when he unplugged them. Book readers surely recognized this as the first incarnation of the New God Media (played by a sublime Gillian Anderson). She said that she thrives on “time and attention, better than lambs’ blood” and offered him a job that he quickly refused. Before she ended her pitch, Media warned Shadow that guys in his position “end up a suicide, every time.”

American Gods Recap Season 1 Episode 2* In Chicago, Wednesday and Shadow paid a visit to the dingy apartment belonging to the Zorya sisters: Zorya Vechernyaya, Zorya Utrennyaya and Zorya Polunochnaya. Vechernyaya was very old, didn’t seem to want visitors and drank vodka straight from the bottle like a boss. Man, Cloris Leachman just gets better and better, doesn’t she? The far more meek, slightly younger Utrennyaya quietly accepted a gift of romance novels from Wednesday (and HA! to the moment she realizes Shadow looks like he just stepped off one of those covers). The youngest sister stayed in her room, ostensibly sleeping.

* The apartment’s final inhabitant, Czernobog, returned home irate to see Wednesday there. (And Ian McShane could not have played that moment with the lamp any better, right?) Czernobog’s whole thing is that, in his heyday, he killed cattle in the stockyards with one swift blow to the head, and he was very good at it. Oh, and he has no interest in agreeing to Wednesday’s proposition and joining them on the trip.

* So Shadow offers a different deal. He and Czernobog will play checkers. If the Russian wins, he gets one chance to hit (and likely murder) Shadow with his giant, cow-killing sledgehammer. If Shadow wins, Czernobog will come along on Wednesday’s ride. The men agree… and then Shadow loses. Eep!

Your turn. Thoughts on the episode and Mr. Nancy’s big scene? Tell us about it in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. Tom says:

    Another great episode

  2. To watch or not to watch says:

    I’m afraid of spiders (would rather not look at them) Should I avoid this show?

  3. Misti says:

    Gillian Anderson was FANTASTIC!

  4. Debbie says:

    As someone who hasn’t read American Gods, I came into this with fresh eyes and a fondness for other works by Neil Gaiman. I thought that would be enough given the stellar cast, alas, the narrative is so disjointed, I’m finding it difficult to follow and even move difficult to actually invest in any of the characters. I don’t have a problem with non-linear storytelling, the weird and arcane are squarely in my wheel house, but individual performances not withstanding, this isn’t jelling for me. I’ll give it a couple of more episodes to see if it starts coming together, but if it doesn’t, I’m jettisoning this one.

    • ScottJ says:

      The actual storyline so far has been perfectly linear, so I don’t get where the disjointed comment comes from.The Coming to America prologues, and the Bilquis interludes, are clearly defined as being outside the narrative.

      • Debbie says:

        The disjointed comment comes from the brief snippets of dialogue between Mr Wednesday and Shadow that should be giving us exposition but isn’t providing us with enough to gain any insight. Who are Cloris Leachman and Peter Stormare’s characters suppose to be? Which gods do they represent? Is that something I’m suppose to glean from the character’s names like with Mr. Wednesday and Mr. Nancy or are they more representative of the nations depicted in the characterizations? Aside from them being old gods, I don’t have a clue.

        • Misti says:

          They are the gods that go by the names they were given in the show, they are just older, obscurer (sort of) Russian gods. Peter Stormare is Czernobog, and Cloris Leachman is Zorya… something I can’t spell. In the old stories, there are only 2 sisters (the two we’ve met) who are, if I remember correctly, basically the morning star and the evening star? Each has a time of day when they are more powerful. Gaiman added a 3rd sister (The one who is asleep). Czernobog, as he mentioned, has a brother, who is as fair as Czerny is dark… and they’re kind of representative in general of light and dark.

          The characters in this story are not, for the most part, going to be ones you’ve heard of before unless it’s just been an interest of yours. They’re going to be the obscure older gods that have been forgotten (and that’s the point). I mean, yes, you’re going to have Wednesday and Easter, and it’s actually a fairly well-known God of writing who’s penning the “Coming to America” bits, I believe, although we don’t know it yet… but you’re also going to have Bilquis and Anansi and Mad Sweeney and the Zoryas and Whiskey Jack.

          • Emme says:

            I found the part where the younger (?) sister started getting upset with Czernobog, that he was being too loud and might wake the third sister. She seemed fearful, as if the third sister awoke, Czernobog and the other sisters would be on the losing end of the conversation. IMO, it was implied that Czernobog was Death, so that made me really curious. What god beats Death?
            .
            I’ll admit that I haven’t read the book so I could be way off with my observations.

          • Alexander says:

            A little Russian insight:
            Czernobog literally means Dark(Black) God. He said something about his brother, who is white, so maybe they represent day and night or darkness and light.

            Also the meaning of Zorya is ‘bright illumination of the horizon before sunrise and after sunset’. First, we have Zorya Vechernyaya (her name literally means ‘sunset’ in Russian). Secondly, Zorya Utrennyaya(and her name is ‘sunrise’ in Russian). The third sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, we can not see, maybe because her name would mean ‘sunlight in the middle of the night’ and it is not something we can observe often, if ever.

            I haven’t read the book and my conclusions could be wrong, but still it is some info for viewers who had no clue what the hell was going on with these Russians.

          • Emme says:

            The third sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, we can not see, maybe because her name would mean ‘sunlight in the middle of the night’ and it is not something we can observe often, if ever.
            .
            Well, lightning. Or a comet or meteorite. Any of those would make the night appear like day. Many of the Tunguska eyewitness accounts said the meteor was “brighter than a thousand suns”. It could be that the sister is some concept of salvation? I could see that as appearing as the brightest ray in the darkness, looking “brighter than a thousand suns.” And that would certainly beat Death or Darkness. Shrugs.

        • A says:

          There isn’t much exposition-type insight given in the book, either. That’s typical of Wednesday’s character.

      • quang says:

        I kinda agree with Debbie her. There isn’t much plot here besides a number of confrontations between Shadow Moon and a series of unnamed gods. The show expects us to look up Sheba and Anansi after watching these episodes.

        • I don’t know if the show expects you to look anything up because knowing their history isn’t really relevant. They’re washed up gods. That’s all you really need to know. If you know more – awesome. But that’s only bonus layers of information and not needed to follow anything.

          I honestly think it just expects you to take it as it is. Your own comfort with that, however, is up to you.

          • Isobel says:

            agree if you want to research old Pagan gods, all the best to you. but you don’t have to, the point of the story is old gods versus new ones regardless of who the old gods actually are in mythology.

    • JIm says:

      Agreed 100% This show is just a mess structurally. I’m out.

    • gdv says:

      I was worried that the show might lose non-book readers. However, my husband hasn’t read the book, and is eating the show up. The acting + visuals + hints of things to come are working for him, and he’s enjoying guessing who the gods are. The pilot was, at least for me, a very straightforward filming of the book’s first few chapters, so I wouldn’t really give up on the narrative yet. It just started! :) If it helps, most TV reviews I’ve read say that episode 4 is where the show gets “amazing.” So perhaps stick around until then before you jump ship. Also, even though I’ve read the book, I still had to watch the pilot more than once to catch all of the dialogue. There’s just so much going on visually, it’s easy to ignore a line that’s actually important.

    • Ange says:

      Totally. Im dont understand what Im watching u.u

  5. AngelWasHere says:

    I think this show is more for book readers. Still hard to follow. Like I would have never guessed that the God of media was the whole I love Lucy thing. I also have no idea why Mr. Wednesday is traveling other than it’s something about a war between Gods. Like there’s almost no plot, because it’s trying to hide too many things. Meh I’m tempted to watch again to see how Shadow gets out of getting hit with the hammer and I’m kind of curious to see what the coin on the grave did, buuuuuttt I may just read the recaps instead.

    • ScottJ says:

      Mr Wednesday gave a brief explanation as to why he was traveling in this episode. But generally the audience at this point has only been told as much as Shadow has. We’ll find out properly about Media and Technical Boy when he does.

    • I don’t think you’re supposed to know that Lucy was Media yet. Honestly, that’s a spoiler/explanation from tvline.

  6. Miranda says:

    It was 1697 not 1627 – the slave ship part.

  7. Love this show. It was incredible!!!!

  8. Emme says:

    I didn’t even recognize Gillian Anderson. LOL
    .
    Orlando Jones’ monologue is just another example of what a great actor he is.

  9. A says:

    For those non-book readers feeling the show seems disjointed: So far, the series is very true to the book. If you’re confused, it’s because Shadow is confused and we’re viewing it from his perspective. At this point, the only characters who know what’s really going on are not parting with that information lightly, and others assume Shadow knows more than he does. Trust me that this is going somewhere.

    • skyebright8 says:

      agree even in the book you start at the same point at Shadow without any knowledge, and the information about vikings and slaves and other stories with separate gods begin at the start of chapters. you really have to just go with the flow and not worry about understanding. if at the end of the season you still feel that way then its a reason to worry.

  10. Vas says:

    I was very disappointed that they didn’t consult with Russian speaking person. Pronunciation of Russian words/names was completely wrong, cringeworthy. How was I supposed to buy that they are Russian gods?
    I didn’t recognize Gillian, she did a great job.
    The show is too weird, it won’t be a hit like Spartacus, I think.