In American Gods episode 6, Wednesday and Shadow seek help from an Old God who fits quite well into the new world order, while Laura and Sweeney pick up an unexpected third wheel who has a set of four they can borrow.
In “A Murder of Gods,” Wednesday’s grand recruiting tour of the backroads of America winds through Vulcan, Virginia where an old weapons god is making a new name for himself among the trigger-happy masses, and Laura Moon sets out on a roadtrip of her own with two extremely unlikely allies.
Meanwhile, we’re questioning what part Shadow has to play in this master plan, and we finally meet Jesus Christ — or at least, a version of him.
Brittany: Alright, alright, alright, my new favorite TV trio.
Natalie: This combination of characters is the greatest dynamic I have ever had the honor to witness. We are hashtag blessed.
Brittany: Now we know what Salim’s been up to, and as you pointed out to me offline, the Jinn is wondering around with Salim’s suit on. The timelines are beginning to align.
Natalie: So the Jinn has met up with Wednesday, post-NYC, and Salim is tracking down his man. Happy sigh.
Brittany: And keeping Mad Sweeney and Laura from killing each other.
Natalie: I’m just so in love. I want to quote every single exchange between the three of them. It was all hysterically funny and absurdly profound.
Brittany: Did you envision Salim coming back in this way?
Natalie: Not at all.
Brittany: I didn’t connect the dots even with the taxi. It was a great surprise.
Natalie: Even when they started breaking into the cab, it took me a second. I got it like, a beat before they showed him. I love his whole new life attitude, and how much they play it against the others, with him doling out the advice and them being like “Dude, you’ve been doing this zen thing for five minutes.”
It was all just so delightful. And just that whole thing of two of them — any two of them — constantly challenging the third, in all sorts of shifts of allegiance.
Brittany: And like you said, he’s a great contrast to Laura’s decomposition. As he is coming alive she is literally falling apart. I’m really looking forward to whatever these three do.
Natalie: Sweeney and Laura, before they find their new best friend, their deal is also really fascinating, in that he’s going to save her — get her resurrected — so that he can get his coin back.
Brittany: And we get back to Jack’s Crocodile Bar, which is a great way to set them off on their own adventure.
Natalie: What a brilliant stalemate they have that forces them to be looking out for each other.
Brittany: Speaking of relationships and looking out for each other — Shadow and Wednesday kicked off this episode in a great and kind of gross way.
Natalie: Ooooof that was… rough. Shadow’s still really not grasping what is going on here – but despite this going week to week, this is still the same day for him, the day we started in episode 3. Poor guy, what a day.
Brittany: So much blood lost. Wednesday is incredible at keeping him at arm’s length and giving him nothing. But his line this week about Shadow not believing him – if we saw him shaken in the interrogation, in this scene he was really unnerved.
Natalie: Yeah – he was certainly freaking out here. How much more do you think Shadow needs to actually comprehend the scope even a little bit? Because he now believes… something, as he says. Because of Laura. And Wednesday dropped all that about gods and sacrifices, the cards were kind of on the table.
Brittany: And I think that’s interesting — that once again Laura is the one to inspire his belief in something. Wednesday is like a consolation prize.
Natalie: And it’s in such obvious juxtaposition with Sweeney telling her that Shadow doesn’t have to feel anything about her.
Brittany: I know Shadow keeps winning my unofficial “story told through facial expression” of the week award. But Wednesday walks away with it this time when he realizes how injured Shadow is. I think the car scene where Wednesday helps Shadow was hands down my favorite thus far.
Natalie: He’s so protective of him. It’s kind of hard to talk about without spoiling the book, though I will say to newbies – literally everything you need to know has already, in a way, been said — but trying to remove myself from that, just as a viewer, I’m asking — what does he actually want Shadow for? What part does he want Shadow to play, when he’s so protective and keeping him so… pure. Shadow is his prized possession right now, he’s the key to something.
Brittany: Going off of what we’ve been seeing in the past few episodes alone, Shadow is the ultimate test of belief.
Natalie: Because they go to Vulcan, VA, and as soon as Vulcan sees Shadow — not Wednesday — he knows what it means.
Brittany: The Shadow we’ve seen on the show, just a few days ago in the timeline, was ready to throw his life away because he wasn’t connected to anything. He’s finding purpose, he’s finding and understanding belief. Wednesday can almost see the tides changing with Shadow. He was in prison, he doesn’t have the same connection to the tech gods as other people do — in fact he’s turned off by them.
Natalie: And of course we later discover what else he knows, but just in general. Everyone wants Shadow on their side. World and Media… Shadow holds something that has the potential to tip the balance.
Brittany: Vulcan’s introduction. That montage and the music choice, incredible.
Natalie: I cannot.
Brittany: Again I said out loud, “What. A. Show.”
Natalie: I’ve just taken to screaming “Bryan! No!” at these insane scenes, like the Monkees in the factory… god, it’s nuts.
Brittany: Then of course we see human sacrifice just accepted in this America, which brings us back to our conversation about America, and what people define as “American.”
Natalie: Did you get the impression that the townspeople actually knew the full deal of what was going on? Because oh, this made me so uncomfortable.
Brittany: I don’t think they do, probably because they are wrapped up in this idea of a surveillance state. Everything is happening for their own good, so why question it? It’s their norm. Doesn’t make it right, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Natalie: Even the sacrifice — so just to spell it out, they’re an ammunition factory town, and every now and then someone “accidentally” gets sacrificed to the molten steelworks, powering up the ammo in Vulcan’s name. Regardless of that, the fact that they’re all living in that insular, cultish way, with the armbands and stuff… yikes.
What was the excuse? That it was cheaper to settle than to have the works renovated to be safer? So these deaths are just an unsuspicious part of their lives…
Brittany: Yeah the insurance company just settles. Who would accept that? I mean they make it rain bullets. Their lives are so messed up.
Natalie: It made me really, really severely uncomfortable, which I know was the point. We weren’t meant to be like yay, this is a valid lifestyle choice.
Brittany: It’s also not far off from something that could and probably does happen.
Natalie: Even just the dedication to guns is a lot for me. It’s not something I can ever fathom being normalized as our culture [Australian] is really not the same as America’s in terms of the whole gun law thing.
Brittany: Vulcan’s statement about holding the heat of belief right there on his hip and all the sacrifice that leads to his worship was beyond cringeworthy.
Natalie: The thing Wednesday said, about the versions of America and the warm, safe feeling that their America gives them, nearly made me sick.
Brittany: Yes. Yes. Exactly.
Natalie: I can’t go too deep into the gun thing — it’s not something I will ever have the capacity to understand, like that long, institutionalized, determined right that people seem to just think is normal there. But just as a viewer, I felt that this was kind of really terrifyingly possible — the mindset, at least.
Brittany: Absolutely. And it again highlights a part of America that is very real. But even Wednesday has a line and Vulcan crosses it.
Natalie: Vulcan is an old god who has perfected the art of getting strength from new worship. Like Bilquis, he’s had to pull a bit of a trick and the people don’t know they are actively worshipping a god, but unlike her he ain’t sad about it. And his worship comes with all that sacrifice, and we learn how powerful the human sacrifice is. He’s got it made. But he initially seems pretty happy to help his old friend also find a way back to power.
Brittany: He is truly living the life. And now we have the blade, which… Shadow’s reaction to the death of Vulcan is so great.
Natalie: Bit of a dumb move for Vulcan to make the blade, knowing, presumably, its power and that it works as intended – whatever that may be – and also then betray them. I find it really fitting that he did betray them, because what better God to find a transition from old to new?
If we have new gods because of our belief in concepts – media, technology, and we’ll see more — then America’s modern dedication to guns surely would have sprung a god into existence if there wasn’t already one to fill the shoes. He fits with what the new are all about.
Brittany: And Wednesday can’t bring himself to fit into this new world. Vulcan says that he’s done it before, gotten the people to know and speak his name, but he won’t now. Again, Shadow is let in on a bit more intel, but still not in the loop.
Natalie: To tell the truth, I did ask myself a few times what Wednesday was so bothered by, why he needs whatever it is he needs – what he would do with the power once he wields it. What beating the new gods could actually do, if the general public still isn’t aware of the existence of any of them.
Brittany: Has Wednesday gone soft in his old age? He isn’t willing to do what needs to be done to get worship through sacrifice at least. But he’s sticking to his guns and stirring the pot for a good old fashioned war.
Natalie: When he argued with Vulcan, before killing him, he also said something that’s kind of huge both in the perspective of how he sees himself and in terms of messages for the world, which was “neutral, in the face of injustice, is taking the side of the oppressor.” Which is true and important, but what on earth went down here? What injustices have been done that started Wednesday on this crusade? What oppression has taken place among this community?
Brittany: It’s something much bigger than losing people’s faith. Other have adapted as we’ve seen, but Wednesday is on a warpath. There are conversations happening with a lot left unsaid, but something has set Wednesday off and I agree the reveal is going to be rewarding and also horrible.
Natalie: So he has his Shadow, his special sword, his pee-bullets going out across America to have messed up sacrifices in HIS name now.
But of course, the episode starts with another huge, gun related discomfort. Which was the present-day Coming to America of some Mexican immigrants and their own Jesus Christ. Jesus is starting to get name-dropped, as Laura sassed Sweeney, quite a lot, and I am really curious and disturbed about what part he may play.
Brittany: It was such a horrible yet great opening. The idea of two groups of people who worship the same scripture so against one another. It’s the same idea that Vulcan lives by — you twist the words to suit your ideals.
Natalie: Seeing the Bible reference engraved on the gun shooting at this Mexican Jesus… I’m kind of terrified to see White American Jesus. If he might be everything those who pin things on him have made him out to be.
Brittany: I’m not looking forward to meeting him either. He is going to reflect the worst of us and it’s not going to be to pretty. We’re in episode 6 now. Where are we going next?
Natalie: So close to the end, and yet so far to go, still. Where did we leave everyone off, to recap?
Brittany: Sweeney, Laura and Salim are heading to Kentucky. Shadow and Wednesday have their blade, but I’m not sure where they are off to yet. The Vulcan recruiting mission was a bust but they need to reunite with Czernobog at some point.
Natalie: And we got a traveling by map moment! Road trip story ain’t a road trip story without traveling by map.
Brittany: Love that element.
Natalie: One small side-note: in “Git Gone,” we said that Laura wasn’t quite a sociopath. I take that back. She totally is. I don’t know if she was before death or not – the stuff she was saying about her mother? – but wow, this girl.
Brittany: Did you sing Dear Evan Hansen while Shadow was explaining where she was? Because I did. Also that connection is unsettling to me, and to Wednesday.
Natalie: No one was waving back at her, Brittany.
Brittany: But I didn’t feel bad that no one was staring back at her.
Natalie: But yeah — is that connection something Laura is projecting? Or is it a two way street — is she allowing him to access to find her? Or is it his power that she’s on the recieving end of?
Brittany: Or is it something that Wednesday is doing? We’re getting a lot of what Wednesday is capable of — removing that plant thing, possible resurrection — could he be giving Shadow something? I get the sense “no” because he wants this Laura thing to be over, but I’m not ruling it out.
Natalie: Yeah, I don’t think Wednesday is Laura’s biggest fan.
Brittany: She’s messing with his Shadow. He needs him focused.
Natalie: Again, Laura here – it’s the exploration of humanity thing that genre allows, with her pondering over their kiss and just her little pow-wow with her boys about her relationship.
Brittany: She drops that heartbeat like a mic in that conversation. It just turns the tables of what they are after, loved that moment.
Natalie: She’s such a drama queen. But it does really change the possibility of what might be in store for her.
Brittany: It would work out for both Sweeney and her — he gets his coin, she gets to live — and then they can both kill each other. Lovely relationship.
Natalie: I was thinking that they might have sex, honestly. But not too much distance between those options, attitude wise, for these types of people.
Brittany: To circle back to the beginning — this trio is something I am so grateful for.
Natalie: So now all they’ve gotta do is take the taxi, drive to Kentucky, find Jesus, resurrect Laura, grab Salim’s boyfriend, go back to Jack’s Crocodile Bar, have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.