lemon scented you review

(Each week, we’ll kick off our discussion of American Gods by answering one simple question: which character do we worship this week?)

Last week gave us a taste of mortal malaise, but this week we return to the pantheon. American Gods continues to give answers at the price of a hundred new questions, as ‘Lemon Scented You’ offers us a seat in the war room for the first negotiations between the Old Gods and the New. As Laura Moon comes head-to-head with the unlucky Mad Sweeney and Mr. Wednesday comes head-to-head with Mr. World, we finally learn the nature of the storm.

Who do we worship this week? Mr. World

Who controls the boy that lynched Shadow Moon? Who controls Media? Who is Mr. Wednesday afraid of? Who rattles the cages of the juggernauts? Mr. World. Played to perfection by Crispin Glover, Mr. World waltzed into the show with the confidence of a salesman selling the cure to cancer. Technical Boy, introduced to us in episode one as our supposed big bad, is merely a goon to the likes of Mr. World. Mr. World forces Technical Boy to apologize to Shadow for lynching him, going as far as to restrain him and asking Shadow if he would like to take a few swings. He has the intimidation of a mafia boss, and the charisma of a salesman that would surely get him those properties from Glengarry Glen Ross.

Mr. World is the recording of human life, able to know everything about everyone in the world. He proves his power to Shadow, by not only morphing his appearance, but recalling Shadow’s recurring nightmare and the amount of sexual partners that his mother had. His cool composure is only shaken when his ego gets the better of him, and it really is one hell of an ego. Mr. World is so confident in his position over Mr. Wednesday that he lets him go (on a good line), much to Technical Boy’s dismay. This god feels like an element – a part of everything and unable to be broken down.

american gods lemon scented you 1

Lemon Scented You: Rebranding and Franchising

In the most delightfully creepy of presentations, our merry band of new gods unveiled their plans for the future of all gods, and it’s all about synergy. Under the guise of peace and aid, Mr. World, Media, and Technical Boy pitch the rebranding of the old gods. Valhalla anew. They’ll give Mr. Wednesday a satellite and the whole of the North Korean population as a sacrifice in his name, so that he may never be forgotten. Job security for the dying breed.

Knowing that dying breeds can still have sharp teeth, Mr. World is aware in his infinite knowledge that it would be almost impossible to delete human history and the legends of the old gods, so he seeks to franchise worship. He wants to be a stockholder of belief. However, buried under this colorful pitch, spun for the audience by the distractingly charming Marilyn Monroe, is the true nature of the game, one not so uncommon to the American people: selling liberty in exchange for security. Join us or die. There are no other options.

Not at all fooled by the rainbows, unicorns, and pixelated teddy bears, Mr. Wednesday ends the smoke and mirror show, in true old god fashion, by slamming his fist into the table. “That’s all you do, occupy their time, we gave back. We gave them meaning.” Wednesday and the old gods are the mom and pop shop that won’t sell their property for the new super center. They are fighting eminent domain, retaining their private property, and their individualism against the collective of the new gods.

American Gods Season 1 2017

The Mortality of the Gods

So we know the sides of the fight, we know the setting of the fight, but what are the stakes of the fight? Nunyunnini, an ancient god brought to America via the ice bridge that once connected us to Siberia, was prayed and sacrificed to so that his worshippers may survive in this new world. However, unlike the other gods that we have met in the various coming to America sequences, this god faded into complete obscurity, being forgotten by all who knew him. Nunyunnini, a once powerful god, died. The war between the old gods and new, is not just one of ego and land rights, but one of survival, and the old gods are not the only ones in danger of being forgotten.

Mr. World may argue that the old gods need them more than they need the old gods, but in a world of innovation and rapidly changing obsessions and technologies, the new gods are not only just as likely to die due to obscurity, but they are arguably more likely to die. Although still confident in his sale, Mr. World respects the kind of power that comes with centuries of belief, telling an angsty Technical Boy that Wednesday is “older than you will ever be.” The old gods may be lacking in actual worshippers, which is where the real power lies, but unlike the new gods, they are rooted in human history so deeply that their myths and legends could survive even the darkest of technological black outs.

Mr. World wants the new gods to have a piece of that action, he wants to be a benefactor not so Wednesday and the old gods can survive, but so that their worship becomes his worship. He wants to buy the kind of constitution that the old gods have had for a millennia. Coming to terms with mortality seems like something only us mere mortals need worry about, but survival is an instinct that transcends the natural and the supernatural.

american gods lemon scented you 2

Putting the Puzzle Together

Every episode of American Gods so far has created a firestorm. They have been electrifying, innovative, and fascinating to watch. They have introduced eccentric characters and tackled multiple storylines in each episode, but all of these elements, though massively enjoyable, have left us holding a bunch of puzzle pieces without a reference picture to put them together.  While this episode still dropped a few more confusing pieces in our laps, (including but not limited to killer branches in small town police stations), it also was the first episode to really start exploring the relationships of these characters, and provided some anchors to bring us comfort while our heads are spinning from the WTF moments that we have already grown to love.

The comedic relief of Laura Moon in ‘Git Gone’ carried over this week, in her hilarious beat down of Mad Sweeney as he tried desperately to get his lucky coin back. Affectionately referring to her as, “Dead Wife,” he gains a slight upper hand in reminding her that she is in fact a body in the process of decomposition…before then continuing his unlucky streak in the back of a cop car. In a show where survival is everything, even the zombified Laura has entered a fight for the right to exist. We also started to piece together the hierarchy and relationships between the gods themselves, finding out that Technical Boy and Media are only pawns in Mr. World’s army, and that Anansi is already on Mr. Wednesday’s team. These moments and interactions provide stability in this fantastical America, and advance the plot to something that we can really sink our teeth into.

Adaptation Notes

We’re going to talk book spoilers now. If you haven’t read the novel, you’ll want to stop right here.

Changing up the series of events, Shadow Moon got a similar experience to the “House On the Rock” sequence in the book, by giving him a big awakening into what he is dealing with as that blurry line between reality and fantasy gets more indistinct. However, with the reminder of Anansi’s existence as the spider in the jail house, and spectacular introduction to the power of the new gods, I can only imagine that next week that line will be essentially washed away, with what I hope will be House on the Rock, and the infamous Tiger Balls story. With the alterations made in the adaptation, there really is no telling when that scene will come. The references to Mr. Wednesday’s real identity were in full force this week, making it almost impossible not to pick up on it.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: