Drew: Okay, so for a moment with that opening scene, with the Mexican migrants and their lady coyote, I thought FOR SURE we were finally going to see the REALLY old God. Fire and brimstone and that shit. Instead we get the vague outline of Jesus in the white robes, walking on
Vinnie: Oh boy, somebody call for the God of Hot Takes (me) because “A Murder of Gods” sure felt topical. Between a group of immigrants getting gunned down by rifle-wielding amateur patrolmen at the border, an industrial town in East Middlefucknowhere that literally worships guns and bullets and a god who gets off from movie theater shootings, this episode really put the “America [is awful and terrifying right now oh my] god [please save us Canada]” in American Gods.
Although, as effective as that opening scene was it could only be a disappointment. After all, we know Jeremy Davies (aka Daniel Faraday from Lost) is set to play Jesus eventually and I, someone who actually worships at the altar of John Locke, thought that moment was now.
Drew: Also, good job showing the same God working on both side. The guns had crosses on them as well. And I love how Paolo Sorrentino this whole opening was. Like of COURSE Jesus is just the hippie son Lenny’s God dad wants living above that tire repair shop with him. He loves being martyred SO MUCH. All he wants to do is spin dance around in a hail of bullets!
Vinnie: Well, see, that was just Mexican Jesus; as Wednesday mentioned a couple of episodes ago, there’s pretty much a Jesus for everybody. Jeremy Davies, presumably, will play White Jesus, Terry Crews will play Black Jesus (in the script I’m writing on spec) and John Turturro will play Jesus Quintana, the god of bowling alleys.
Drew: With this Mr. Wednesday convo with Shadow, I feel like we can finally unpack some of this. In the universe of this show, praying to a god makes them exist and more powerful, so it makes sense Jesus and Old Testament God are like, kind of above it all. People are still praying to them and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. And they also get power with the more people that are killed in their name? So like, YES Jesus is like the MOST strong.
BUT: while we’re going down this rabbit hole for the umpteenth time in seven episodes, is Santa Claus a god? What about Mad Sweeney, the leprechaun? Is he just some “blue roses” supernatural being? Or a GOD? I mean, children wishes should, if anything, count for MORE than adult wishes. (Because they believe anything you tell them, those newbs.) So what about the Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? All the Creepy Pastas? I’d like a Creepy Pasta God, please. No, not the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I want SlenderGod.
Vinnie: There has to be a quality filter on what people are believing in hard enough to create a “god.” Or else you’d have some awful slimy monster-god slithering out of a Reddit forum all like “Barack Obama did 9/11.”
Drew: I’m going to suspend my disbelief and choose to believe Mad Sweeney was being utterly sincere when he says to Laura “Like my friend Jesus Christ, the only thing you need, Dead Wife, is resurrection.” A) way to name-drop, dude. That’s like me saying I’m “friends” with Dan Harmon because we’ve hung out a couple times. (SEE, THAT IS HOW YOU NAME-DROP, MAD!) But, okay, say that Jesus Christ and a Leprechaun actually do walk into a bar (that looks like it’s inside an alligator’s mouth.) They’re these not-quite-gods getting trashed and trying to one-up each other on their martyrdom. I think it would go, *achem* a little something like this!
Jesus: Today sucked. I got shot eight times by border control trying to save this Mexican family that, yes, will ultimately die when they try to swim back over the current.
Mads: So funny you should say that, I was just mentioning you to this bitchy corpse I had to drive around in a taxi….
Jesus: Oh my god, like you were some sort of Djinn? That’s AWFUL! Tell me that didn’t happen.
Mad: I swear by all the red hair on my hirsute ballsack! And speaking of that Djinn…don’t even get me STARTED.
Jesus Ugh. The worst. But still…I mean, Dad’s such a DICK sometimes!
Mad: I wish I had a father. All I had in terms of parental figures was what I could find on the front of a Lucky Charms box.
Jesus: Look, don’t spread it around, but actually dad only gave me permission to rescue other guys named Jesus. Do you know how much time I spend on that Mexican border taking bullets for guys with TERRIBLE renditions of me tattooed on their body?
Mad: Yeah, that happens whenever I go to Boston.
Jesus: Go Southies.
Mad: Go Southies.
At which point, I imagine this party dissolves into Monty Python’s “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch.
Vinnie: I’m actually way more fascinated by the logistics of American Gods’ Jesus than I am with the main storyline of American Gods. If I’m remembering my years of Catholic high school that I didn’t spend totaling my sister’s car in the junior parking lot, Jesus and God are the same thing as well as father and son (don’t even get me STARTED on the third guy), which works really well as a metaphor you teach to 14-year-old dudes who are way more preoccupied with jerking off anyway, but doesn’t work so well in American Gods where these figures are just, like, driving up and down the American highways trolling for truck stop Djinn jobs.
Drew: Oh my god, the scene with Mr. Wednesday pulling out that….eXistenZ worm?….that Technology Boy shived into Shadow was almost straight erotic. Look at those two, illuminated by the headlights of the car, embracing in an almost sexual way. They just got intimate, yo. And then that little head kiss Mr. Wednesday gave Shadow? Oh my god, start your engines, Tumblr! (Is Tumblr a God?)
Vinnie: Of course Tumblr is a god, and when he shows up on American Gods he will be played by a photoshopped GIF of Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans kissing.
Drew: Also, side-note, I did NOT know you could raise worms by putting an electrical current to the ground, but from what I know about electricity—barely anything except for my fear of lightning storms because one time during intermission of a Big Top Circus thing out in a giant field, a big thunder and lightning storm kicked up and in the resulting chaos I couldn’t find my parents, and the metal poles from the tent themselves were getting struck by lightning and it was SO SCARY that from then on, whenever there was a swim meet and I heard thunder, I would JUMP out of the pool and race underneath my parents car because the rubber tires absorbed the current or something— just putting a jumper cable into the ground and flipping that switch on does not sound like the easiest way to get fishing bait.
Vinnie: Not to make the scene where Ian McShane digs a parasite out of Ricky Whittle’s openly bleeding torso EVEN SEXIER, but all those old Norse gods were basically pansexual, right? I mean, mythological figures have been transforming into swans and shit to have their way with the village stable boys pretty much up until the Bible. What I’m saying is if you want to add some sensual tension on to all this it doesn’t NOT make sense, and if you want to start shipping Wednesday and Shadow consider me one of your one-eyed oarsman.
Drew: I mean, is it ever explained how Salim, the new taxi driver that got boned (in more than one way) by the Djinn got the idea that Ohio was where the magical being he met in New York City may be hiding?
(Side-note: Did you have a Djinn in your bottle/butthole? Did you rub one out of him, darling?” is my new favorite quote from this show.)
Vinnie: Didn’t he mention he’s just heading in the direction of Mecca, hoping for the best? Which is as good an explanation as any, really. This show treats “faith” like Star Wars treats The Force, where it’s like any narrative loophole that doesn’t make sense the writers are just like “……um, because he believed real hard?” Other things that do that: actual religions.
But as a huge fan of sassy characters at odds going on road trips (see: 95% of Game of Thrones) I am loving Pablo Schreiber’s cheeky bastard leprechaun opposite Emily Browning’s pissed off dead-wife. This episode had three writers— Seamus Kevin Fahey, along with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green—I assume strictly to handle all the quips. “Soup don’t win her husband back, if that’s what soup is after. Why don’t you put that on your fucking scales and weigh it,” will be such a nonsensical delight to say to strangers, specifically ones that bring you the wrong soup at a restaurant.
Drew: Also, is the idea here that Laura Moon, who has enough flies swarming to her face to register as a Host at this point, is remembering all the reasons why she might NOT want to be resurrected? “Oh yeah I tried to kill myself with bug spray once, and I hate cooking, so….yeah, hard pass on this BS?”
Vinnie: At this point, I think the most interesting move Fuller and Co. could make for Laura Moon is to haver her eventually realize the husband she kiiiiiiind of didn’t even love in the first place isn’t the best reason to come back to life, and have her tell Jesus that maybe eternal darkness sounds kind of relaxing after all. I mean, what’s the alternative? Shadow finishes up his war between omnipotent celestial beings and she stops decaying so they can go back to normal married life? If anything, the biggest motivator to stay alive for a little be longer should be that the last penis Laura ever saw IRL belonged to Dane Cook (woo boy, it took a while this week but we got to it).
Drew: Next up, Vulcan, Virginia, or as I call it: Eraserhead Epcot.
It’s where blood sacrifice is keeping this wannabe Detroit looking like Pleasantville. They do things like shoot a LOT of bullets into the air without any regard for where the shells will land and have parades marshalled by a guy who looks JUST like Raymond Tusk from season two House of Cards is there as the Americana/Military God, also named Vulcan. (Look, I know it’s Corbin Bernsen, not Gerald McRaney. Calm down.) There’s something just NOT RIGHT about this town, with its cheery technicolor next to those smokestacks. What town in America still has a BOOMING industry for this AND its own hanging tree???
Vinnie: I think it all comes back to something Wednesday mentions this week, about how all this mystical magic and godliness exists right at the periphery of what humans see every day, and you can glimpse it if you know how to look. Right now, Shadow has been straight indoctrinated into this mess so he sees Vulcan’s hyper-violent gun-cult amusement park in all its banana batshit glory. Maybe if a normal fellow drove through Vulcan, Virgina they’d feel super uncomfortable but only see the normal small town Americana quirkiness.
Although, some of it would be exactly the same. I’m pretty sure this old lady with the rifle is just someone director Adam Kane couldn’t convince to move off set.
Drew: “You’re going to love it here. Everyone does. People tend to behave if they know they’re being watched. They LOVED being watched.”
“Someone is watching.”
“Somebody’s always watching.”
Is it just me, or is that EXACTLY how you imagine the elevator pitch for a Bravo-built planned community, RHOWYS, FL? (Real Housewives of Wherever You’re Standing, Florida.) And as someone who went to high school in literally America’s creepiest planned community NOT owned by Disney, can I just say that statement just chills me to the bone.
Vinnie: Well it’s just, like, the general thesis for most religions, isn’t it? “Be kind, and gracious, and peaceful to each other or the big scary thing in the sky will turn you into dust.” That’s why when a real-life figure like a mayor, or a boss, or the PRESIDENT even hints at demanding your faith it’s so scary to us. It’s the stuff we’ve been hard-wired to fear through myth come to life.
Drew: I mean, so this Vulcan Mr. Wednesday dialogue is really enlightening. Apparently, Vulcan wasn’t really a god until he found a “volcano” (the smelting pot or whatever where you make bullets, with or without human chunks) (but yes, mostly human chunks), but now he just gets to be THE war God? And Mr. Wednesday, aka Odin, aka THE OG WAR GOD needs Vulcan to help forge him a battle sword, but Vulcan’s like “Dude I’ve been down for this for so long, just tell me how many World’s Best Boss Mugs you’re gonna need for this project.”
Vinnie: See, like the whole Jesus dilemma, Vulcan raises more questions for me than answers. Because he was the god of fire, the forge and weapons and all that in the Old days, but now he gets to be the gun god? But shouldn’t there be a NEW God for guns? What happens when there’s overlap? Is it basically the difference between a company head-hunting to fill a position and promoting within? Like (some brief examples) does Adephagia, Greek goddess of gluttony, just become the McDonalds goddess? Does Dionysos, Greek god of wine and orgies, just become the Pornhub god? Did Ceres, goddess of plain white bread, just become Ryan Seacrest? This is important to me!
Drew: But, okay, not to get all Lil Dicky on this, but logically, it’s like Mr. Wednesday doesn’t even believe in HIS side. Because there are American Gods, like Vulcan, who are CLEARLY the new embodiments of Odin for modern Americans. And we’ve already seen that Mr. Wednesday a) does not want to incorporate with the New Gods, b) wants to go back to the old ways (which, I’m assuming, would mean LESS bullets and MORE shit-covered shivs) and c) does not trust any modern technology. SO WHY VULCAN? He’s not hurting for sacrifices, as he told Mr. Wednesday. Why not get cow-hammer God to make him a sword or something? Why does bullet guy also make swords? Please god(s), let the answer be “For Ren Faire cosplay.”
Though, it’s pretty clear that Vulcan isn’t being straight with Mr. Wednesday and Shadow. As Shadow himself tries to spell it out: how could Vulcan know about Shadow being lynched unless he’s already been approached by Mr. World and Technology Boy and offered a deal?
But “franchise your faith” is a great term.
Vinnie: For as much as I love grand-speech Ian McShane, and as much as Corbin Bernsen killed as Vulcan, this beheading scene read to me like the writers saying “right, something has to happen on this show occasionally.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m digging American Gods, maybe even more than the majority of people. But even when the show is hitting on all Gillian Anderson-fueled cylinders like last week, there’s STILL not much happening outside of long speeches that boil down to “technology is evil but so is human sacrifice maybe we should all just shut up?”
This is the second or third time Wednesday has alluded to this “war” that is totally, 100 percent happening right now but, like…issssssss it?
Drew: This also establishes that Gods— like zombies, windigos, White Walkers and vampires—can be dispatched by one good beheading and then throwing their bodies into a fire. VERY HELPFUL. Is there any kind of monster you can think of, Vinnie, that can’t be killed via this method?
Vinnie: Probably Krumm from the early-90’s cartoon Ahh!!! Real Monsters, because technically he doesn’t have a head. (Thank you to the 17 people in the back row who get that joke. The God of Outdated References is appeased)
Drew: Nevermind, I got it. Ghosts. Ghosts can’t be beheaded. PROBABLY.
Vinnie: They can be NEARLY beheaded!
Drew: Now, this episode ends on Laura Moon smiling in the sun and correcting Salim saying “God is great” with “Life is great.” Now, I’d buy that if this whole episode wasn’t about really nailing down how much Laura hated being alive and NOW hates being only half-alive. “Life is great,” Laura? Either role your eyes when you’re saying that or risk becoming Sunday night TV’s most annoying Laura.
Vinnie: See, I saw it as Laura trying really hard to be a trooper for Salim, who had maximum earnestness sex-ed into him by that djinn, but that look back to the sun (paired with that dang fly) read as, if not acceptance, than a strong likelihood she’s going to realize life isn’t even worth coming back to life for. Besides, her hunt for Shadow isn’t even going to be worth when she inevitably walks in on him and Wednesday making passionate man-on-deity love. GIF that, Tumblr gods!