head full of snow review

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

The fire and brimstone of last week’s introductions to Anansi and Czernobog was absent in “Head Full of Snow,” but what we lacked in impassioned speeches, we gained in methodical insight into the state of the old gods and Shadow’s continued agnosticism and apprehension to accept what he is seeing as truth.

Who Do We Worship this week? Shadow Moon

Between Annubis, Zorya Polunchnyaya, the Ifrit, and our old friend Czernobog, we had a world class buffet of mythological heavy hitters to choose from, but this week, our praise goes to the mere mortal, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle). After episode two left our protagonist gambling his life away to a brain-bashing, chain-smoking, slavic deity, our once fatalist lead set aside his apathy and started participating in his new life instead of just being a dog on Mr. Wednesday’s leash.

Zorya Polunchnyaya, played by Polish actress Erika Kaar, took Shadow to the roof and appealed to the softer side of him, the side that is affectionately nicknamed Puppy and likes marshmallows in his hot cocoa. All Shadow craved in prison was to return to a quiet life with his wife, and yet, the closest thing to affection that Shadow has received so far has been the ravings and revenge-fueled come-on of his best friend’s widow. Then Zorya Polunchnyaya kisses him gently and literally gives him the moon. She looks into his eyes and wills him to not lose this protection. When he wakes up on the couch, refreshed, with the moon (coin) in his pocket, he goes back to Czernobog and gets a rematch to prolong his death sentence, in a scene that plays out like many mythological hero stories do: with an ambitious and determined man poking the ego of a god and entering a game of braun or wits. With an appeal to his humanity and a win against Czernobog, this new Shadow goes on to make it snow.

Shadow went from a man falling apart at the seams after his meeting with Media in last week’s episode to being able to clear his mind enough to will the weather to change. Although this act raises more questions for Shadow, and more confusion about his black and white views of everything either being fantasy or reality, these events have started pushing him into the grey area where fantasy and reality are one in the same.

American Gods Season 1 2017

Where Are They Now?

Unlike the first two episodes, flashy new gods were no where to be seen: no faceless goons or TV legends in sight. Instead, “Head Full of Snow” gave us a deeper look beyond the curtain of what has become of the old gods in this new country. There’s Mr. Wednesday reminding Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) of her youth, draped in pearls and adored by her people, as she sat in her rundown ashtray of a Chicago apartment that she shares with her two sisters and Czernobog, and the Jinn, lamenting about not being understood while he drives his Taxi, as he has done for the last ten years.

These old gods have been essentially fired from their jobs and put into a permanent state of welfare. Zorya Polunochnyaya explains to Shadow how she and her sisters spend all day watching the sky in order to keep away a world-ending evil, and yet Shadow, like most people watching or reading American Gods, has no idea who she was. Prior to reading American Gods long before this show was made, I did not know what a Jinn was, or that an Ifrit is a type of Jinn with eyes of fire that does not grant wishes, and I am sure that I am not the only one. We see Mad Sweeney, a leprechaun that can pull gold out of thin air, down on his luck and suffering from alcoholism.

However, in this bleak America where gods are protecting people who barely even remember them, Mr. Wednesday clues us in that white Jesus is actually doing quite well for himself. Fervor and passion are the life blood of the gods, but that doesn’t mean that only the new gods are being fed. In a country where immigrants and refugees feel pressure to acclimate, the gods that they brought with them were abandoned for christian America. Jesus in America is a franchise (with many different versions), but these gods are mom and pop shops, struggling to stay open.  This is “God’s Country” not “Gods Country.”

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