10:30 am EST, January 11, 2021

‘American Gods’ season 3, episode 1 in conversation: ‘A Winter’s Tale’

American Gods season 3, episode 1 finally takes viewers to Lakeside, but a detour along the way provides a more interesting journey to the destination for viewers.

“Why did you pick Lakeside?” Shadow Moon asks Wednesday in the pages of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The town holds a special place for readers, but viewers may be wondering the same exact thing. Why is this small hamlet with subzero temperatures in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin the ideal spot for a transformative part of the narrative?

As American Gods season 3 kicks off, both readers and new viewers alike are asked to consider that question. After all, readers are seeing a very different Shadow in Lakeside than the one who arrives in the books, making his time there all the more interesting in light of the events of season 2.

To break down all the happenings on the page and off, Hypable’s resident American Gods superfans (Natalie and Brittany) return to bring weekly in-depth conversations about the episodes. While we may not have all the answers about what lies ahead in Lakeside, it’s safe to say that the hype for finally arriving here is warranted. As for why, well let’s quote Wednesday’s logic (a rare moment) when Shadow pushes the question, “Because that’s the way it is.”

‘American Gods’ season 3, episode 1 review in conversation

american gods season 3 episode 1
Natalie: So welcome back to another season of “‘Is This Free Will?’ *gestures to a butterfly labelled Wednesday’s Manipulation*”, otherwise known as American Gods.

When we left season 2 of American Gods behind, the show had taken a dramatic turn. What was “meant to be” (in the book) a quiet waiting period in Cairo turns into a huge non-book-canon turning point in which Shadow discovers the truth about Wednesday’s identity as a god and as his father, and also discovers that he himself holds powers he doesn’t understand. In the book, those reveals don’t hit home until MUCH later in the game. So as we left Shadow with his new identity of Mike Ainsel, on his way – we assumed – to Lakeside, we had no idea how that familiar and famous arc – really a story within a story – would play out with Shadow more in the know, and in a different emotional state.

In the book, Lakeside was another waiting period where Shadow occasionally helped Wednesday on his little recruitment trips – and it may still be. But now it comes with all this knowledge, and Shadow has had all these warnings from many people – even about Wednesday killing Laura. We mustn’t forget the final two episodes of season 2 and how Mad Sweeney’s story ended in trying to convince Shadow to step away. (More on that later.) And it looks like that advice stuck – for a while. What we have here is a transition episode – Shadow has been trying to step away and put it all behind him – he didn’t go to Lakeside! He’s had a nice normal time as Mike for a few months, working at a metalworking factory in Milwaukee. But of course our story picks back up once Wednesday decides it’s time to re-recruit his best asset. So. How are you feeling about the transition into this Lakeside season, for starters?

Brittany: It’s been two or 40 years since we last spoke about American Gods and yet that Wednesday meme is as relevant as ever! And to your point, yes, we are in a very different place than in the book, even if we are technically weaving in and out of the passages on the page. Instead of enjoying a nice Christmas dinner swapping stories about famous cons and accepting a gift of a new identity and place to lay low while accepting the state of his service to Wednesday, we get a very different Shadow Moon and, by extension, a very different Mike Ainsel.

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This Mike is trying to have a life, keep one step ahead of his past catching up to him, and he has it good for a while. For one thing, Wednesday needs to spend some time garnering power and feeding off the worship of the crowds in any way he can, and that gives Shadow some time to play dominoes and flirt with his coworkers. I think it’s a nice glimpse at the person we saw flashes of in American Gods season 1—a good, hard-working man who things keep happening to. But all good things must end and as they do, I want to say that I actually enjoyed the shift in Shadow’s attitude once he realizes that once again, another chapter of his life is closed thanks to Wednesday. But before we get there, what did you think of him believing he could have this life? Did you buy that he was settled in or did you get the sense that he still had one eye looking over his shoulder?

Natalie: As an ex-con using a fake identity – he must have had one eye out. For so many reasons. He has no idea how good his magical fake ID is – what backstory it comes with – or how well his powers wiped out the events in Cairo. I think he must have been worried about all sorts of consequences, and I’m sure he doesn’t feel complacent in his security. When he’s offered the promotion, his initial reaction is assuming he’s being fired – accepting that the good times are over for now and he’ll have to move on again.

I will say I didn’t expect this small opening period where he’s left the past behind – at the end of season 2 I was very annoyed by how dedicated Shadow was being to Wednesday despite so many dissenting voices – he was just not listening to all the people saying “this is bad news” – and I assumed we would pick up as he gets to Lakeside on Wednesday’s command. But apparently, he didn’t. He sat on that bus and made a different choice, and a few months passed where he did decide to walk away. He definitely wasn’t waiting to be told what to do by Wednesday, we spent a whole episode getting that dynamic back where Wednesday wants it. But given the circumstances American Gods season 3 draws us back in with – I cannot imagine Shadow thinking he’s gotten away scot-free, from the law or Wednesday.

Brittany: Yeah, I definitely was thinking he was in the headspace of everything being borrowed time, especially given that there is no way Wednesday would let him go, and the fact that he is a victim to his own inquisitive nature. He wants answers, he’s not going to get them from a 9-5. But when we see him go off with Wednesday, while he is reluctant, he kind of slips into being the petulant child that could only be a result of Wednesday’s display of fatherly guidance and [extreme air quotes] love. I don’t trust Wednesday as far as I can throw him, but I do like how Shadow navigates their rekindled partnership, especially in his mannerisms—the physicality of how he sits in the RV, his eye-rolling at Wednesday sputtering nonsense, and his work in the background as Wednesday talks to Whiskey Jack is truly a display of great disdain.

But earlier than that, when they go through 20 questions in the diner, he keeps putting up resistance to dear old dad and won’t give Wednesday an inch. He won’t ask “Do you need me?” because he already knows the answer and it doesn’t make a difference to him. And now to try and re-tether Shadow to the mission, they are running on a quick errand that combines a few events with a new spin prior to Lakeside, which worked much better narratively for the state we find these two in at the start of season 3.

Natalie: He does go along pretty easily, as soon as he sees the background check people at his apartment. Maybe the background check would have gone fine? Maybe Wednesday would have made sure it didn’t? But either way, Shadow accepts with resignation that this is now the moment when he has to start dealing with this shit again. He probably knew – you know – ugh, I’m going to have to address this eventually – but he seems to have regrouped a bit. Some time away from the mind-spinning events of season 1 and 2, some time where he’s got some information – while he doesn’t know what to do with the facts of it, it feels a bit like he’s been able to at least step back and ground his sense of self. And that’s why he’s sort of ready for Wednesday. In the diner though… I fell prey to the butterfly meme myself.

Brittany: “Oh right, this guy again…”

american gods season 3 episode 1

Natalie: When they were talking about Mom, and how Odin couldn’t leave the country and all. He sounded quite authentic in his feelings there – but I really liked that they kept kind of addressing that. Like all through the diner conversation I was falling into the trap of ‘wait, is he being real now?’ Talking about his wish to save humanity, that the New Gods want to literally destroy the world and he wants to save humanity from its own self destruction, that yes, it’ll save him too but that he doesn’t see any conflict in enlightened self interest (a principle I actually believe in, regarding altruism! I believe people can do things to help others and help themselves and that both parts can be true!)

But honestly – in the book, we know Wednesday’s future allies and his endgame, but I could believe that the show version of American Gods has different goals or endgames in mind for a few people. So I was in the trap with Shadow – ‘do I believe this?’ I was so grateful when Shadow laid the only possible statement on the table – “Who in the hell knows if you actually believe anything you just said?”

To me, that’s the only possible response. It doesn’t even assign belief to Shadow, he doesn’t say, I don’t believe you or I do believe you, or is this a trick. He says, I have seen enough to believe that you could think you are in earnest and you could be playing me but it probably all ends up the same way. Whether Wednesday is in any way sympathetic hinges on whether he believes his own bullshit, though. What do you think?

Brittany: Absolutely. I have a hard time trusting Wednesday on principle, but I do like what they are doing in terms of making everything just murky enough to keep us in the dark. It helps that Wednesday is in the worst shape we’ve seen him in since his introduction. He could be giving off a cool, laid back vibe, but I did not get that at all. He is desperate and meandering, pleading his case to as many old gods as he can. And we get the sense that his messaging is falling flat, due to burned bridges, but also possibly a sense that he is starting to wander from his own messaging. Has he been beating the same drum for so long that he doesn’t feel connected to it as strongly anymore? As Sweeney would say, “you owe me a battle.” This isn’t someone I trust to bring me a battle.

But that also makes me feel, just a tiny bit, for him. Then there is Shadow, the one person who needs to be in his corner and Wednesday kind of just lays it all out on the table. But the option isn’t take it or leave it. For both of them it is, this is what we are working with and we both know we’re going to take it, because it’s what we have open to us. Shadow can retain some of that fleeting hope of independence and room to think, but at the end of it all, they are going to walk through the door and get in the RV.

Natalie: Wednesday is in full lockdown couture and honestly I would wear his outfit, but it’s certainly scraggly on him. Yet the New Gods think he’s gaining power (more to come on this.) I don’t think Wednesday particularly wants to need Shadow – but even before Wednesday tells him that’s the question he should ask, Wednesday is playing the whole “only family we’ve got” line. We know Wednesday needs Shadow for the empowerment vigil which may or may not happen at the end of this season – we discussed last season how we saw a bunch of sons and grandsons and stuff that Wednesday had tried to collect and press into service, even Sweeney was connected in that way.

But this episode and the trip to see Wisakedjak reminded me that Wednesday might need him for recruitment too. People who aren’t loyal to him might be loyal to Shadow. He has done this before – he pushes Shadow out to show to people and his innocent goodness and charm makes people like him, or feel sorry for him, or in some way be more drawn in to the cause. Shadow has something Wednesday doesn’t… Maybe that’s another need?

Brittany: I don’t see Wednesday needing Shadow for this trip in particular, but his purpose down the line is inevitable. Maybe Wednesday senses that baby steps are more important than one giant push to get him back. I also think he genuinely enjoys Shadow’s company. He’s a two-man job kind of guy. But I do like that we had this interlude of them going on another trip, getting back on the road, feeling the familiar hum of Betty under the guise of something new. Oh how things change, oh how they stay the same. Taking him to see Wisakedjak really highlights that. Another lost cause of a trip from the start for Wednesday, but I think we are going to see a very different Shadow and he will have a new relationship with everyone we are going to meet now. While he was always prying for answers, I think that this is going to shift things a bit now that he is way more in the know. I do want to see what Wednesday has in store for him though, or what he thinks Shadow will do for him. He’s not exactly out pimping for Wednesday here, he basically looks at him like a joke once he shows up after being on the literal wrong path.

Natalie: Yes, I should clarify that the whole “peddling Shadow” element – I do not think that was at play on this side trip, I don’t think this trip went how Wednesday wanted it to go, with Wisakedjak. The stunt getting “backstage” was quite the thing though – turning the campervan off the road and out of reality, when they were ambushed by the World goons, Wednesday literally just crawling into the back and making Shadow take the wheel… but when they end up backstage and head to Wisakedjak, I very much felt that yes – Wisakedjak thinks Shadow is important and sees a fate for him, but that it doesn’t extend to allying with Wednesday. He’s very “you do you, Shadow – you’re bigger than this” and then shuts Wednesday down. It was almost like he was controlling his surroundings, the woods – allowing Shadow to find him first.

The Enaemaehkiw are the Native American Thunderbirds, which tracks with the book alongside the buffalo, the spirit of America beyond Wednesday’s meddling that Shadow keeps getting glimpses of.

Brittany: I definitely got the controlling vibe as well, misleading Wednesday away for a bit of privacy.

Natalie: I was going to ask if you think Wednesday wanted Wisakedjak to feed Shadow that separate destiny idea – because it felt truthful, what passed between Shadow and Wisakedjak. So does Wednesday want Shadow to feel this false autonomy? I have something for you, but not for Wotan? But on second thought I actually firmly feel he doesn’t. This wasn’t his plan. If it was what he wanted I’ll stand corrected! And I still think what passed between Shadow and Wisakedjak was true – just not sure if Wednesday wanted this to pass or if it’s all to his naivety and detriment.

Brittany: Yeah I am erring on that side as well. This is falling apart for Wednesday and I don’t think he realizes to what extent. With the exception of what we see on the New Gods side, I have trouble seeing that Shadow and Wisakedjak’s conversation was disingenuous. But I too will stand corrected!

Natalie: I don’t think it was disingenuous at all, my only query is if Wednesday wanted them to have that genuine conversation that he wasn’t a part of, but I actually doubt it. But we wind up back in the real world where Wednesday has a new ally coming to pick him up – the RV has done its duty and Betty’s soul is in a VW Kombi now. New character alert! Cordelia, Wednesday’s WINK fiancee – someone else in his service. Who the hell is she?

Brittany: While I completely vibe with her energy and feel that she can kick Wednesday’s ass, I am already concerned for her. Another innocent? According to her character description, she doesn’t know he is a god. Wednesday does love playing on humanity’s innocence and fallibility, but usually for worship. I don’t know what he is getting from her, but it must be something.

Natalie: It looks like she’s been doing Shadow’s role – driving him around and running errands. They seem to get along well enough. I don’t know if anyone believes the fiancee thing, but Wednesday is sleazy enough that Shadow may roll with it. I wonder if it’s another relative though – not that she has any idea.

Brittany: Oh yeah, could be. I am looking forward to seeing more of her though.

Natalie: I guess during the Lakeside period, Wednesday does travel around recruiting in that VW with Nancy and Czernobog. And they’re not returning for now. So there’s a practical level of how Wednesday will spend this season.

Brittany: Yeah, I was curious how most of this section of the book would shift for him. But it seems they’ve got it sorted. Like we were saying, he can’t work alone.

Natalie: Once he forces Shadow to Lakeside, using all his tricks. Obviously, earlier in the episode we have him saying “You’re meant to be hiding in Lakeside! I set it up!” And Shadow’s like – “Fuck you, Dad, no!” And here, we return to – well, we could take you to Lakeside. And so we – and Shadow – must ask “What’s with you and Lakeside?” What is with him and Lakeside, honestly? I can’t quite remember why he’s made that the safehouse – maybe it’s warded, or maybe it’s just the place he picked where he knew Shadow would be out of the way, where he wants him for when he needs him. Either way, they agree to take Shadow to the bus station where he ends up being gifted a cute new hat, and of course, Shadow is not allowed to exercise free will over his destination. A storm gets every bus cancelled – except for the route to Lakeside. Classic Wednesday. Shadow decides to roll with it. I guess it’s that or sleep in the bus station.

Brittany: I’m sure that nice woman would have taken him home for a nice warm meal. But yes, give us the maps! I was very happy for the return of the map. Thanks, Wednesday.

Natalie: Traveling by Map! With lots of clues on it. Like the outline of the Thunderbird over Minnesota. But yes, we travelled by map to Lakeside and Shadow learns the true meaning of a Wisconsin winter. Lakeside is a lot of people’s favorite part of American Gods, I think it’s also one of Neil Gaiman’s favorite parts, and he says this season really feels like the show is back on track to the book, vibe-wise. I wonder how that will play out in Lakeside. Maybe we’ll follow Mike there quite closely as things happen with the local people, and we’ll see action elsewhere while other characters do their thing away from Mike? I said this last season, but I don’t really want insane multi-god action converging in Lakeside the way it did in Cairo.

Brittany: I would also like to see some of Mike’s quiet daily life, eating a pasty, renting some videos, getting a proper coat.

Natalie: There’s the local mystery he discovers, the local townspeople, eventual Betty Gilpin maybe. And he does go on several road trips with his “uncle” during that period. I’m kind of hoping this story stays the way it is – with the exception of Hinzelmann genderswap, which is fine by me.

Brittany: I would like to keep the gods out of Lakeside, keep the haven a haven, some place Shadow can have as a touchstone. And yeah, the gender swapping is fine, even having Chad Mulligan drive Shadow home instead of Hinzelmann – which was actually kind of a good pull, given Shadow’s being on the run – but the conversation was almost spot on.

Natalie: Yes – driving him home was great, that constant fear of the law and the slight relaxation. Chad has an interesting role to play once the truth comes out, but they do have a nice friendship. The girls getting off the bus with Shadow, also important. Once we get past that whole transition from season 2 going off book – we spent this episode sort of tree-trimming back to a place where the American Gods branches are where they’re meant to be, and as you said, everything is almost exact, ready to begin the “My Ainsel” portion. Would you have felt fine with it if Shadow just got on the bus to Lakeside and we opened on him arriving and still doing what Wednesday said? Did you need this whole process to get us back here?

Brittany: I am glad we didn’t go right to Lakeside. While I was initially excited to open up and have Mike chatting it up with Hinzelmann and moving in, I never gave much thought to Wednesday. The fallout of season 2 needed some tending to and I like that we got a peak at what a rebellious Shadow would do if not tied to Wednesday. Then shortly after seeing Dad show up and entering the scene as if to say, “now that you got that out of your system, can we stop messing around.” That’s not to say that anything was solved and in fact more questions are on the table, but forcing these two in a room to deal with the breadth of information we as an audience are walking around with was needed. So yeah, happy that we got the small trip before the “uncle visits” and that we didn’t just step off the bus in town.

Natalie: For me, I don’t think it would have felt great if Shadow had just continued to be complicit in Wednesday’s plan, off the back of season 2. We were getting pretty angry at him by the end. Shadow still hasn’t asked the big questions, about Laura getting killed and how Wednesday acted with everything in Cairo, but if he had just gone along as Wednesday’s man, no “break-up” – it would have felt weird. I was kind of expecting him to go straight to Lakeside of his own volition/end up there randomly – but the time apart and Shadow needing to be pushed and handled back into it works for me too. I wouldn’t have liked it if he had just been complacent.

In the book, Shadow has to leave Lakeside when things REALLY kick off between Wednesday and World, and the exchange happens and then the vigil. That’s when Shadow starts learning the truth – some of which he already knows in the show. Do you think American Gods season 3 will cover all of that, up to the vigil? Or end before that?

Brittany: I hope we get there in this season, but I think there are a variety of factors that are going to need more fleshing out before I can predict if we will though. What are we going to be dealing with in terms of the New Gods and their side missions, what about Salim and the Jinn, etc. But we do have a lot on the table already, as you mentioned, so while I hope we do hit the pages of Lakeside pretty close, I am also looking forward to seeing what we get out of these other threads.

Natalie: Timeline wise, I need to check out how it all flows in the book, but I have a feeling the vigil will be the season 3 finale. I may be wrong. But before we get ahead of ourselves with predictions – I guess I’ll ask, do you still think the Wednesday/World stuff will play out the way it does in American Gods the book – the same endgame? Given that there’s a World thread through this episode too.

We won’t spell out what exactly happens (though I think most fans are book readers) but did you feel any clues from the World story about their plans vs Wednesday’s? Or do you suspect that American Gods the show may pivot their goals – and therefore, how everything gets affected in the war?

Brittany: You know, I was thinking about this when I was going through for bits about Lakeside. How much is changing and how much is staying the same. I have a feeling that the show is actually doing a great job of keeping book readers in the dark.

Things are askew just enough and the characters are overly compelling, that I can’t help but think that things are not going to go the route of the book in terms of the World story and Wednesday story at least. Perhaps the outcome will be the same, but I think it is something to pay attention to. I’m going to need to do a close rewatch, but I think American Gods season 1 did a great job of laying the groundwork for where I thought we were headed in terms of their stories and season 2 then made it a bit less certain. For now I’m enjoying the ride.

But speaking of the New Gods, their plans are crumbling just as quickly as Wednesday’s are, and they are having just as hard of a time staying relevant. It seems as though no matter how many times you say “engagement” or “viral” things just don’t seem to last as long on the internet. And if the henchmen aren’t getting the likes and retweets, they are simply disposable. But there is one person that Ms. World — welcome Dominique Jackson — can’t seem to shake: Tech Boy.

Where do you land on the New Gods and their approach to power right now?

Natalie: In the shining halls of the New Gods, what I see is honestly much the same principle as what the Old Gods face. Shadow asks, at a point, “Are these New Gods really even gods?” and I think that ultimately what we keep learning is that no one in American Gods is anything without human belief. Human power is what matters. Wednesday is gaining a little by influencing some gothic rock bands (absolutely thought he was going to sacrifice that singer on stage, by the way) which World’s lackeys dismiss as unimportant, power stakes wise – but the New Gods’ plan, whatever SHARD is, this church of the mind – whatever it is, World needs humans to believe in it, to consent to it. To pay for it! Stealing the money for the project won’t work. The plan only works if followers believe in the message enough to pay – to choose it. So again, we’re told where the power lies. Gods have some party tricks and some ambitions – they can want things to happen, but they don’t really ever work without the human belief system feeding the energy of their idea. So I found that part interesting.

Brittany: And Tech Boy falls perfectly into the role of the questioner. Why can’t we just have it now? New and shiny comes so easily, look at all that they can do. But the fundamentals aren’t there — the belief. And while it may surge at moments, it’s not sustainable. More, more, more. It’s what drives both sides of the equation. What I liked in particular about the New Gods here was Tech Boy’s entrance, particularly his hair. I don’t know why, but it was so simple that I felt that he was reverting closer to humanity than working towards god-like status. And of course, I loved his whole deal with Bilquis and his fringe-like association with these gods, especially following the events of season 2. It was very quickly how I was reminded that I would die for him, etc, etc.

Natalie: The fact that Tech doesn’t understand that belief power about himself – his godhood – did also stand out to me. Maybe he’s still too new. It’s interesting. The switch from Glover to Jackson was so smoothly done, the picking out of the new World identity – very clever and well done to show that character recasting. But World is still World, and then we contrast that with Tech, who – she says – fucked up his own system upgrade. Remember, when we left Tech 2.0 and his acolyte, Tech was new and shiny and more advanced and robot-like, but he’s already reverted. It didn’t stick.

And it reminds me a bit of brainwashing, in some other stories, like more fantasy or sci fi – that once it’s been cracked once, cracking it again is easier. Tech reverted fast, to the place he was at before his reboot. We talked about how he started gaining feelings and feeling more close to humanity, that he may even lose godhood and become human. Not sure if that will happen, but the contrast is pretty loud and I wonder why they chose this. American Gods has a new showrunner, maybe he didn’t like the idea of a new Tech or losing that development, or maybe there’s a big endgame plan for him. Sweeney and Bilquis have all this development in the show, all this special “humanity,” as those fringe players. And the Jinn! And we think Tech may be on the same path, but from the other side.

Brittany: I hope so because Langley is doing fantastic work and I want to keep seeing him toe that line. It’s supremely interesting, especially in the given context of the reboot.

Natalie: Yes – he tells World that his game with Bilquis – why do they want her so bad, anyway? They need some primal passion to get people hooked on their plan maybe? – that his game is building up the idea that she owes Tech, but when he visits, that doesn’t really work out. She’s firm in her neutral position – thanks for the app, but I don’t feel I owe you at all, I didn’t agree to this being a debt. Which, good for her. But then something interesting happens, when they talk about the impact of war. I actually started wondering if this was his past – like a prior version of earlier technology, a WWII or a Vietnam, many upgrades ago and he doesn’t remember and she makes him remember. The gun looks modern though. Maybe it’s his future, or just a concept. But I have the same question he does – what the fuck did she do to him? Whatever it is, she made him feel something huge and unusual. So. Stepping towards a level of human empathy, maybe.

Brittany: I like the idea of it being an earlier version of Tech Boy, a version that gets wiped away with new upgrades. And if it was a flashback for him, he would have also been on the edge at that time, seeing the cost of some technological advances and what happens when humans believe in their value more than the value of the life they are aiming at. Look what we have wrought. What is the cost of that that he isn’t weighing in all of this modernity?

Bilquis has so much sense, and like you said, good for her. I think she is a good spirit guide for someone like Tech Boy, bridging that gap that exists between him and humanity. For now he is terrified, not of her, but of something getting so out of control. Not clean lines or 1s and 0s. I don’t think he can handle chaos and that is what the world is tumbling towards, as the flashback shows. I am interested to see if he keeps coming back, without the motive to seek out her allegiance.

Natalie: Yeah – we definitely leave him in kind of a shaky place, on that emotionally traumatised note. He and Bilquis are both series regulars for season 3, so I expect this journey to continue. The American Gods promo poster this season features 7 leads. Shadow and Wednesday, who we saw, as well as Cordelia (her label is godsend, which.. hmm!) Bilquis and Tech. Salim, who we didn’t see this week. And Laura- who we did, briefly. But crucially.

Brittany: Laura and her shopping cart. For a dead wife, she did a ton of emoting behind her usual disdain for all humanity and BS of the gods.

Natalie: So much. Laura, hauling this 6″5 dead body from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans. Let’s hope she stole a car.

Brittany: Or another ice cream truck. She is strong, but girl, that’s a hike.

Natalie: She’s been waiting for months on news of whether Baron Samedi can resurrect Sweeney, and – as we predicted – asks about using the potion he made for her, requiring blood containing love or whatever it was specifically involving true love.

Brittany: Our favorite topic, of course.

Natalie: It’s truly been hard to hold back. Mad Sweeney has been kept in rather undignified shape under an old mattress, and we learn she needs him to be just a little bit alive because she needs something from his hoard for her revenge quest. We assume that’s the spear. But is that the only reason, Laura? “Yes! (No.)”

Brittany: [looks at camera] It’s not.

If they could play into the star-crossed lovers theme a bit more here that would have been great… I kid, of course. The rolling of the coin, the dropping of the vial, the two lovers dead in a tomb. My skin was on fire. A lot to handle early on in the episode, especially following the death of Mad Sweeney that has taken me almost 2 years to get over.

Natalie: Samedi isn’t available but Brigitte insists that they can’t help, so Laura takes Sweeney to a more dignified resting place – a crypt – and then cuts herself open and returns his coin. His dead body can’t hold it, and she also can’t survive without it… so it very much looks like they’re both just dead. Together. Forever. But they can’t be – Laura at least has a starring role. So I wonder, when she gave the coin back… did she have a goal, or was it “well, I tried and I can’t see anything else so I guess I’ll just die and give him the coin back in his honor.” I can’t tell if she had a plan here, but something has to give. She seems super dead though. Deader than before. And if Pablo didn’t act in this episode, that’s an incredible dummy.

Brittany: I was thinking the same thing! I don’t think he came back to be dead. But if he didn’t, simply great. Especially when she is writing on his forehead. I can’t see how she can come back from dust, her body was too far gone even with the coin and now it seems irreparable. Unless someone is able to still get his blood and use the potion to bring her back. I will die on the hill that his love-fused blood can bring her back. But the message is out there for the universe: Find Spear Kill Odin. A simple but effective campaign platform.

Natalie: She has main billing! She’s so dead! I’m so confused.

Brittany: Well Salim could find her next week and bring her back, we don’t know!

Natalie: If Salim knows Sweeney loves Laura – which Salim does know- that’s possible. Is her revenge quest for her own death, Sweeney’s, losing Shadow, or what? We are getting another leprechaun, a new one – maybe they can all access the same hoard. Or maybe he’s a new Sweeney iteration in secret, though no one could do it like Pablo.

Brittany: I feel as though it has fluctuated, but… I want to say her priorities have shifted. I think she still has some lingering resentment over her own death, but now she has moved on to Sweeney as her driving motivation. I assume we will get back to the hoard with the new leprechaun, but Pablo was one of a kind.

Natalie: I was not expecting Laura and her shopping trolley boyfriend in quite this way even though we last saw her carrying his body away. It was a lot, took me right back there.

Brittany: I just wonder how they will play into the rest of the story now, what drives someone to them? The coin? Does it call to another believer/leprechaun? Or does someone just go looking and track them there? Who would even be looking for her at this point?

Natalie: The fact that she ultimately gave up, let herself die and return the coin – maybe she thought giving it back would bring him back, like she’d die but he’d be alive to get revenge for them both. Maybe that’s why she wrote the message – for him to read if the coin revived him. Or maybe she felt it was just the right thing to do and the end of the line… But oof.

Still can’t believe this transformative romance. It looks like the new showrunner believes in it too, if this is anything to go off… though it’s unlikely to get a happy ending. Regarding who would find them – I suspect it has to be another leprechaun after the Sun’s Treasure. I have no idea who else would find them. But then, only Salim might know the context to save Laura. It’s very confusing.

Brittany: Another thread of a side story that I am ready to see how it ties in. Sorry, Wednesday, this just isn’t your show.

Natalie: Yes – I’m definitely keen to follow all these antics elsewhere for the action and keep Shadow in place within Lakeside, buying the library books he feels sorry for and learning about snow. But first he has to overcome a shotgun to the neck.

Brittany: Right! No coat, no key, and somebody who does not share the same neighborly spirit of the downtown folk. What do you think is going on there?

Natalie: I assume it’s Marguerite, because a strange man is trying to open doors on her property. Maybe Shadow thinks it’s the cop, onto him already. But why didn’t the key work? Why must things be so hard.

Brittany: Especially since Wednesday wanted him there so badly. Literally wanted him locked away there, and didn’t reinforce the key? Seems suspect. But Shadow is definitely going to make the front page of the local reporter, he is the hottest topic of interest.

Natalie: To be continued, I guess!Is there anything else you want to say about the return of American Gods and where we might be going, or how it feels in general?

Brittany: I still can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since the last one. These episodes are so dense and rich that they stay with you. So I am interested to see where we go with season 3. I think it was a strong opening, and I’m glad to see how much the story is continuing to lean into the gray areas for each of these characters.

Welcome to Lakeside, try the pasty!

American Gods season 3 airs Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET on Starz

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