American Gods Recap Season 1 Episode 3

American Gods Recap: Wish Fulfillment

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

Forget making it rain: American Gods‘ Shadow Moon can make it snow.

That’s not some euphemism: It seems as though the ex-con who’s recently spent some time with some very odd people may have a touch of the weird about him, as well.

The Starz series’ third episode is when I started to really fall in love with the show. That happened for two reasons. First, this hour is the one where Mr. Wednesday and Shadow really start to gel, especially as comedic partners, and Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle just look like they’re having so much fun together. And second, the episode pays as much care and respect (and gives equally stunning visual treatment) to a brief vignette about a gay American immigrant’s rendezvous with a supernatural creature as it does the hour’s main plot. The result is stunning.

Read on as we go over the major developments that take place in “Head Full of Snow.”

‘THIS IS NOT QUEENS’ | The aforementioned “Coming to America” chapter is actually the second one in the episode; the first concerns an old woman who dies and then is surprised to find the Egyptian god Anubis at her door, ready to escort her to the afterlife. They climb out her window and up a seemingly never-ending fire escape, then wind up in a desert under a crazy beautiful sky. “This is not Queens,” the old woman says, looking around with wide eyes. “This is not Queens,” Anubis replies. (Ha!)

He reaches into her chest and pulls out her heart, then weighs it against a feather on a balance. “I tried my best,” she says, slightly nervous. “Your best is good,” he reassures her. He then instructs her to choose from one of four doors that appear before her. She steps into one, hesitates, and then a cat that’s been slinking around nudges her fully through the doorway. Rest in peace, wherever you wind up, ma’am!

American Gods Recap Season 1 Episode 3MOON SHOT | Back to Chicago, a doomed Shadow is trying to sleep in the front room of the Zorya sisters’ apartment in the middle of the night. But he eventually climbs out the window and up to the roof, where Zorya Polunochnaya — the sister who was sleeping last episode — is studying the night sky through a telescope.

She’s a cute, weird young thing who explains to Shadow that she and her sisters monitor the stars at all hours of the day. “It is a bad thing chained up in those stars,” she says, adding that the Zorya siblings make sure it doesn’t escape.

During Shadow’s strange roof date with the trippy astronomer, he kisses her — her first — at her request (her review: “Kissing is disgusting, but in a nice way, like blue cheese or brandy.”) and she literally plucks the full moon from the heavens and hands it to him as a talisman against harm. Like, say, a surly Russian who’s overly fond of his sledgehammer?

“Don’t lose this or give it away. You had protection once. You had the sun itself,” she says, referring to Mad Sweeney’s coin. “I can give you the moon. It’s the daughter, not the father. Now, you wake up.”

And so Shadow does, in the morning, on the Zoryas’ couch. Only when he looks at the window he used to get up to the roof, there’s no fire escape or any other means of getting to the roof from inside. Yet he still has that silver coin in his pocket. Hmm…

WINDY CITY WRAP-UP | A quick highlight reel of the other important stuff that happens in Chicago:

* Zorya Vechernyaya (aka the really old one) seems to know what Wednesday is up to with this whole road trip, and she does not think it’s a good idea. “This thing you want to do, you will fail. And they will win,” she warns him, but Wednesday laughs it off. “They will kill you this time,” she reiterates as they go for a walk. But Wednesday doesn’t seem terribly bothered by this, either. Instead, he kisses her and notes that war is in the air.

* Feeling lucky, Shadow asks Czernobog for a rematch. If Shadow loses, Czernobog gets two chances to kill the ex-con. If Shadow wins, the King of the Dirty Undershirts will agree to join them on their road trip, but he still gets a shot at sledgehammering the life outta Shadow later on. In the end, Czernobog winds up joining them on the trip.

* After a bank robbery con that’s so smooth, no one even realizes they’re being bilked out of lots of cash, Shadow reluctantly agrees to acknowledge that Wednesday may know what he’s doing. (That might have something to do with the fact that at one point, Wednesday tells Shadow to think hard about snow… and then it starts to snow. Spooky.)

* This quote seems important, so I’m going to put it right here: “Belief is a product of the company we keep and how easily we scare,” Mr. Wednesday tells his bodyguard. “The only thing that scares me is being forgotten. I can survive most things, but not that.”

IN WHICH I DO NOT MAKE A ‘RUB MY LAMP’ JOKE | Let’s leave Shadow there for a moment and go to that second “Coming to America” bit, in which a young salesman from Oman has a terrible time in America until he happens to hop into a cab driven by a down-on-his-luck jinn (or, as we Aladdin fans might call him, a genie).

Once it’s clear that the passenger knows what the driver really is, the cabbie starts to grouse about his lot in life. “They know nothing about my people here. They think all we do is grant wishes,” the jinn says. (Side note: Sorry about that Aladdin comment, guy.) The passenger, Salim, is sympathetic and touches the man’s shoulder in comfort AND THERE ARE SPARKS. Not literal ones — though that wouldn’t be too far afield, given that the driver’s eyes are actual flames and at Salim totally knows by now that his cabbie is supernatural — but I just mean the scene is crackling with their attraction, that’s all.)

The driver comes upstairs to Salim’s hotel room, where they have incredibly beautifully shot, tender, hot and transcendent sex. “I do not grant wishes,” the driver says once more, just as they’re about to have a literally religious moment. “But you do,” Salim softly replies. Aw, guys! That’s so sweet, I just want to  — oh hold on a tick, we’ve got full frontal. But it’s cosmic, attuned-to-the-universe full frontal, so it’s ART. (No, seriously, this scene is gorgeous and kinda perfect.)

When Salim wakes up the next morning, the driver is gone — as are his clothes, ID and the sample case of tchotchkes he’s been peddling to no avail. (Remember when we saw the driver in the diner last episode? He was wearing Salim’s suit!) But the driver has left behind his own clothes and ID, giving Salim the new life he’d yearned for. Next thing we know, Salim is behind the wheel of the taxi, happily informing his new fare, “I do not grant wishes.”

Some final thoughts on this interlude: Props to American Gods executive producers Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Neil Gaiman, director Guillermo Navarro and everyone involved in this scene — not to mention actors Omid Abtahi and Mousa Kraish. I haven’t seen a love scene between two men this done this well, or this affectingly, before. It’s insane, don’t get me wrong, but only in the best way. We’ve all felt the need to connect with someone; the fact that the show is able to keep that universal truth at the forefront of a sequence that prominently features fiery, fantasy dong is a refreshing delight.

COIN TRICK | But where’s Mad Sweeney, you ask? Oh, he’s totally spit outta luck, thanks to giving Shadow the coin he wound up tossing on Laura’s grave. The leprechaun tracks Shadow down and is vexed to hear where his golden piece wound up. He’s even more irked when he digs up Laura’s final resting place and finds the coffin — with a coin-shaped hold burned straight through its lid — empty. Wait, what?

At the end of a long day, Shadow returns to his hotel room, and there’s someone sitting on his bed. “Hi, puppy,” Laura (?!) says.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments to let us know!

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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  1. Shahar says:

    I’m super excited to see this! Jinn aren’t gods though, just creatures of fire in Islam and Arab literature. (The only ones to have free will besides humans.)

    • Tom says:

      But people believe in them. Leprechauns aren’t gods either, and yet we have Mad Sweeney.

    • J.B. says:

      I don’t think they are trying to portray them as gods but supernatural beings. Mad Sweeney and Bilquis aren’t gods either. They’re characters based on mythological/religious figures/beings.

  2. Tai says:

    This show continues to exceed my expectations for the book. I haven’t yet found myself saying “that’s not how they do it in the book”. So far I’m so impressed. And I was anxiously waiting to see how the Jinn/Salim scene played out and it was amazing. I really liked the show the first two episodes but I can safely say I love it now. It’s great.

    • Tom says:

      I loved the begining, great introduction to Anubis and who we (those of us who have read the book) know him to be in America

      • Tai says:

        Yes. I loved the opening as well. It was funny as soon as I saw the woman on the chair and then the cat, I had a feeling we would be seeing Anubis. And he was great. Seriously the casting has been so on point for this show.

  3. Tom says:

    The bank robbery was perfect. The whole episode was great. I really can’t wait to see who plays Sam Black Crow

  4. Mike Leo says:

    It’s actually “papi” she calls him, not puppy. I take this as furthering the ambiguity of his melting pot American racial identity

    • J.B. says:

      She said “puppy” in this episode not “papi”. The official AG Twitter account even made a joke referencing the line. Not sure what she calls him in the book as it’s been a while since I read it.

    • J.B. says:

      Just got my copy of the book out. She calls Shadow “puppy” in the book too.

    • Tom says:

      Trust me, it’s puppy. There’s even an explanation, that we might get in the next episode based off the previews, of why it’s puppy.

    • It’s “Puppy.” She calls him that almost exclusively in the book. And there is an explanation in the book as to where the nickname came from and it’s inside reference between Laura and Shadow.

  5. 1idpete says:

    It was a very good episode though I thought the Saiim/Jinn encounter may have been a tad over the top but it exceeded the book’s narrative. My favorite part was the opening sequence with Anubis.

    That’s a lot of Jesus!

  6. Ben Anderson says:

    I am having a hard time understanding this show. Thank “God” for the online recap. lol

  7. abz says:

    Has anyone else been finding it hard to get into this show? Ian McShane is great. I like Shadow and I’m intrigued by the relationship between Salem and the Jinn, but overall the show just feels so weird and all over the place. It’s strange because at times I feel like I’ve been following along okay, but at the same time I have no idea what the hell is going on. None of the stories come together. The woman who sucks people up her vagina, Salim and the Jinn, the woman at the start of this episode who died, the slaves on the ship, Shadow and Wednesday, etc. Everything just feels so separate and random. Admittedly I haven’t read the book, but you shouldn’t really have to read the book to understand. Can anyone tell me, is the show following the book very closely? Do all of these stories start to come together or make a bit more sense? The show is intriguing, but feels all over the place. Don’t know if it’s gonna hold my interest much longer.

    • Card_D says:

      It really follows a format similar to the novel. There are two paths: the main story with Shadow, and the other interstitial vignettes are a world-building look at a-day-in-the-life of these creatures and deities. However, the themes will begin to merge.

      Also, know that with the second season pickup and the discussion about where the first season ends, less than a third of the novel will have taken place in these 8 episodes. However, with Neil Gaiman participating, the series will add encounters and plot that he wanted to include or expand upon yet was unable to. I’m loving everything so far about this show!

      • Sam says:

        That’s not the point. The point is it is no secret that Gaiman takes a lot of his inspiration from Stephen King (Pennywise=The Other Mother btw) but King was literally stoned during the creation of most of his books and this show is just SO way out, it is like what you would be seeing as if you were highly strung. I like fantasy and sci-fi but this is really pushing it. Then again I also hated Black Mirror, so boring.

    • Dennis says:

      So far, it’s following the book near perfect. If you decide to read the book, it will help a lot, but you’re right, you shouldn’t need to. As a huge fan of the book, I’d recommend trying to finish the season (only 5 more episodes), then seeing how you feel.

    • LAwoman says:

      At first I was not getting it at all, but this week’s episode made me finally start sinking into the story. I will definitely stick with it. I do have to say that the Coming to America vignettes are my favorite parts of the show.

    • ScottJ says:

      The only thing you need to follow is the Wednesday / Shadow storyline and that for now is very straightforward.The Coming To and Somewhere In pieces are like short stories set at other times and places within the world that the show has created. Some might connect to the storyline in the future, others never will.

    • Sam says:

      Yeah it’s kinda a niche show also and those who read the book and liked it will love it but it’s marmite for sure.

  8. retrobullet8 says:

    I’ll probably get crucified for this, but I’m not really feeling this show. Reading the book and watching the show side by side at the same time, I loved episode one, parts of episode 2 (for the most it felt like nothing was happening), but this episode was the worst, it dragged in places, and the business man part bored me, I feel like the bank stuff and making it snow could have been rounded up faster to move to other things. And I don’t see what’s so “magical” , “unique”, “perfect” or “cosmic” about the sex scene, it doesn’t compare to anything on sense8, which does better in showing lgbtq s3x scenes. I’m loving the novel, but the I feel the show is getting overrated. Anyway, it might be better to binge, or maybe it’s just my taste that’s different, but I’m sticking to it anyway, since I like Sweeney, Shadow, Wednesday and bilikis

    • Sam says:

      Sense8 was alright, the best lgbtq couple in a sci fi show for me was Clexa though, before they killed Lexa, cursis! I watched this because another dude from the 100 is in this. It is a niche show definitely and, yeah really really far fetched for me. But to be fair I have seen a lot worse shows and this isn’t awful.

  9. leerhode says:

    This episode was absolutely mind blowing. I did not understand exactly what happened at the end of the encounter with the jinn and the salesman until after multiple viewings and reading a few different re-caps. This recap has been the best. This series is number one on my DVR queue list. I predict Ricky Whittle will blow up big because of this. This is just a great show and a part of me wishes it was on Netflix or Amazon, so I could binge watch an entire season. However, kudos to the Star Network for giving us this amazing show and Neil Gaiman for writing such good source material. Please pardon my gushing