The search for several lost souls – dead or otherwise – is on in American Gods season 3, episode 3, “Ashes and Demons.”
Bundle up, folks. The search for Alison McGovern continues in snowy Lakeside, and Shadow Moon – at first a suspect – is now a trusted ally of Lakeside’s finest, and an official search party member, armed with a disposable camera and everything. But will some light bedtime reading lead him to the deeper mystery lurking in Lakeside? He’ll have to take a closer look at that just as soon as he follows up on a message from a dream…
“Ashes and Demons,” the third episode of American Gods season 3, also features some worthwhile divergences from the Neil Gaiman novel, including a tough lesson for Laura in the afterlife, a bloody confrontation for Bilquis in New York City, and a new – or rather, very old – goddess on the block in the form of Blythe Danner’s Demeter, Wednesday’s long-lost “wife,” who he learns is a patient at a mental institution.
Our American Gods acolytes Brittany and Natalie discuss the ins and outs of Purgatory, the guilelessness of Chad Mulligan, and why our gods are so unwilling or unable to “pass,” in their conversation about episode 3, “Ashes and Demons.” The blue tickets have been called, you may proceed with your reading experience now.
SPOILER WARNING: At the very end of our discussion, there are spoilers below the marked section that discuss the outcome of Lakeside in Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods novel.
‘American Gods’ season 3, episode 3 review in conversation
Natalie: Getting into episode 3 of American Gods season 3, we return to American Gods’ traditional “Coming To America” format which we usually like very much, and witness the birth or manifestation of the American Demeter. Demeter is an Ancient Greek harvest goddess, one of the 12 major gods of Mount Olympus and such, but she’s summoned by a desperate mother on a farm in Pennsylvania, 1765.
Doing horribly graphic pig sacrifices and praying to the ancient Greek Gods in 1765 is quite unusual I must say – I’m curious about what made this presumably Christian woman believe this would work. Is there something I’m missing? And yet, here we are – one person is believing and praying and sacrificing, and a manifestation of Demeter comes to life. What did you make of that?
Brittany: I was very tuned in to the fact that this appears to be a single mother, laboring the field with her two daughters who are just about on the brink of exhaustion and hunger. That said, while I am sure that faith is not dependent on having a husband or father around, it did not appear to me that these three had anyone around, let alone a male figure. Without that community, perhaps there is no faith to tap into as a collective. Calling upon this female goddess as a last ditch resort to help her family made absolute sense to me in the moment. This particular Coming to America story felt so different, but also might be one of my favorites given the angle I’m viewing it from. That said I don’t know where she got that book!
Natalie: It’s funny because I guess many of the eponymous ‘American Gods’ we’ve seen are ones that weren’t worshipped in earnest since ancient times — thousands of years – yet various cultures lore still brought them over. But for some reason I had more ability to believe in a Germanic trader invoking Odin like we saw last week than a settler who may have been of British, Quaker or Dutch origin invoking Demeter.
I kind of want to know more — about her personal story that made her not just interested in the Greek Gods, but enough of a desperate believer to try it. I’m sure 99 out of 100 Pennsylvania farmers would not try this or have any belief it would work — and they might even have fear of being castigated as heathens. Nevertheless, it actually worked — she seemed a bit surprised, and Demeter is here to clear your skin, water your crops, and hopefully heal your daughter…. (no confirmation either way there.)
Brittany: The watering of the crops is perhaps the most pressing on the list, the rest will fall into place after. Another aspect of this that I enjoyed, that mostly plays off what we see a bit later in the episode, is that it was only one woman’s belief who brought her over. The power of that single source of devotion in such a small concentrated dose reflects what Demeter is getting at Haven Glen. These people who aren’t entirely sure who she is, just that they believe she can be a goddess.
Natalie: Yes. When the girl fell, the mother was praying to “God,” I imagine Biblical, Judeo-Christian God, asking for help, and I wonder if she sat down and was like “well He never actually magically fixes anything in an instant… but I’ve read stories about those old gods who did actually show up and do things. Maybe it’s worth a shot.” And when the doll becomes Demeter, I really did feel this was her American birth. The first person in America who ever invoked her.
By 2020 she’s much older, and being sustained off the belief of the patients at her institution, just the sheer belief that she is a goddess. While we learn – if you read between the lines – that she’s probably used her power to become wealthy, this episode raises a few questions about not only her, but also Wednesday and other gods in terms of how unwilling or naive they are about “passing” – pretending they’re not gods and such. There are a few moments to point to about that, but: enter Wednesday. From the sound of it, he’s known Demeter since the Pennsylvania farm, so she must have stuck around. Maybe we’ll see another flashback because their love story isn’t over. Off Wednesday goes in his best suit, freshly steamed.
Brittany: I 100% agree that she has used her power to garner wealth. Harvesting a bit herself by allowing others to believe they are contributing and reaping the benefits. Demeter definitely invented the pyramid scheme. She is making bank off of essential oils and weight loss supplements right now. And Wednesday is putting on his best suit to take some share of the profits. I am very intrigued by their past and hope we get some sort of flashback to fill in the blanks.
But I am loving his current partnership with Cordelia immensely. She is an absolute ace at dealing with Wednesday. I do feel bad for the deaths of that metal band. “A problem for another time,” as Wednesday says.
Natalie: True. We can chalk that up to New God Interference I assume – some faceless goons?
Brittany: I would assume as much. Easy way to expunge that worship on the side.
Natalie: Cordelia is doing very well, for someone who is being asked if pig entrails are a good gift without having any clue that the giftee is an actual goddess and that this is an actual symbol of worship. She just thinks this weird old man is suggesting giving a special lady some pig entrails. I keep trying to put myself in her shoes and boggling.
Brittany: She is really great at rolling with the punches. From the list of requests done prior to their departure to making a fake marriage certificate on the fly and changing the date. Plus, when Shadow calls I feel Wednesday is genuinely shocked that he would reach out to someone so close to his father, let alone want to speak to his father. He is really getting so much out of this. And, like you, I want to know what that must be like for her on a day to day. Most shockingly, I think she really, truly cares for him.
Natalie: At the moment, she has no reason not to. Wednesday is in his kooky and innocent phase and he probably didn’t make Cordelia drink mead or fight a 6’5” leprechaun to prove she deserved a job. But speaking of innocence, there is an innocence to both him and Demeter in this episode that I really want to talk about. Let me give you a few examples:
Wednesday assuming that Demeter was the owner or investor at the manor house “retreat.” Wednesday asking Cordelia about the entrails as I mentioned. Wednesday asking the admin person for Demeter, One Name Only, and being like ‘yep, that’s right!’ — unable to read their mocking tone. Demeter being arrested and institutionalized based on her naked Goddess activities and insistence that she is who she says. Wednesday giving Cordelia the real date of their union — in the 1700s — and her having to correct it, and then him having to cover up. I think there are more.
And honestly it’s probably series-wide but it hammered home for me here. What is with these people and not knowing how to have a cover story? Is it guilelessness and naivety? Pride? Principle? Surely Demeter had to pass as a normal human with a name if she had an investment portfolio. And Wednesday slips so much. So. What is with that? Why can’t they pass? Or is it “won’t”?
Brittany: Wednesday has been out of touch with Demeter for so long it didn’t phase me that he asked simply for Demeter, again assuming that if she was running the show at the Haven Glen that she would have had everyone there refer to her as just that, like Beyonce. However, I did not understand what was going on otherwise.
Maybe he has said so many odd things that don’t appear to bother Cordelia at this point that he speaks almost entirely in truths and so with her he has a looser tongue. Who knows how long these people have been dealing with the general public’s suspension of disbelief, that they forget how far they can take it before something appears out of line? With Shadow that is right away and it almost needs to be that way – so here fight a leprechaun in a bar and see your dead wife. But for others, Demeter and Wednesday keep going until they no longer can.
So, both? They need these people to believe in some part of them that remains with old god identity, they can’t mask it entirely or maybe the worship will not work. So they can’t pass, but also will slip away or into a cover when they need to.
Natalie: Yes – obviously their worship is stronger when it’s coming to them direct as themselves – the metal band, for example, even if they think it is a myth, they are worshiping Odin of Asgard (perhaps for the aesthetic) rather than the ringmaster of a circus or whatever. They are worshiping the god on purpose, as was the farming mother in 1765. But their lack of passing – Demeter’s arrest. I’m curious if, at the core, it comes from a place of pride or a place of innocence – “I really am a god, why won’t you believe me?” Maybe we’ll learn more. Either way, Mama Goop isn’t too happy to see Wednesday, and he still takes a while to process she’s a patient at Haven Glen, not the owner.
Brittany: And to understand that she isn’t exactly thrilled to be sprung from the nest. I think they are a great pair on screen, and likely going forward as Odin and Demeter. That scene in the hotel room had all kinds of chemistry.
Natalie: Once again, I’m asking – is this the greatest true sentiment Wednesday has ever shown, or is it a ploy for her money? And I love that he basically addresses that head on. To paraphrase, “If I tell the truth (or so he claims) you won’t believe me, if I lie, you will.”
Brittany: “I see a god who has grown old and desperate. What are you desperate for?” That back and forth is simply… [chef’s kiss]. These two are reading each other so well, but I agree, Wednesday’s endgame is always top of mind. It seems that Tyr is willing to lend more than enough money for all, but there is something with Demeter being back in the equation — that expression on Wednesday’s face when he sees the postcard — that makes me think this may lean closer to true sentiment than just financial gain.
Natalie: I feel like we might get another flashback, I really do. They were “married” in 1779, she manifested in 1765 and apparently hung round that farm with her one follower the whole time. So I feel like we have to see their history to understand what he wants and why he’s doing what he is doing.
Brittany: And what happened to them to cause this rift. Another bridge burned, but not entirely lost it seems. I’m very intrigued.
Natalie: In the final scene between Wednesday and Demeter, he’s deeply worked up about the state-appointed conservator – he actually seems pissed off that the guy may be taking advantage of residents and grifting! The man apparently advises that patients go there — to Haven — when committed, and he manages their money, and funnels it into paying for their care at a place he has ownership in. “I’d give him high marks for conmanship if it wasn’t such a personal matter.” Wednesday is actually being quite moralistic about it! What a surprise. But Demeter doesn’t care — she doesn’t want to leave the retreat and Wednesday just won’t take that for an answer. That may be a clue as to the issues in their relationship before, but ultimately what do you see happening here, in this scene and in the future?
To me, Demeter also quite clearly lays out the clues that worship AS A GODDESS, in a literal and direct sense, is much better than succeeding in having “followers” via a hidden or adapted version of herself. I can’t help remembering that we once heard Wednesday make this argument about the worship of Easter and Ostara, remember? There’s something about getting the pure hit of named, purposeful, authentic worship as your truest god self that is better – even if it comes from mentally ill residents of an institution.
Brittany: I think it’s a coded version of their relationship, like you said. He can see himself in the conman, someone who is seemingly doing this for the betterment of the people who put their trust in him, but underneath it all he is a greedy bastard. He wants more and more. Wednesday and Demeter in the early days likely also wanted more and more (we know Wednesday did and still does) whereas Demeter might think now it just isn’t worth the effort. Changing people’s nature isn’t worth her time and she is getting those direct worshipers right where she is. Why does she need to look anywhere else?
I can see Wednesday wanting to regain that control. To be the provider of the worship for her, in a way that he maybe initially promised but failed to deliver on, choosing to focus on himself more than anyone else. His plan didn’t work then, it’s not going to work now. The fact that she is now seemingly content to have someone else controlling that environment gets under his skin.
Natalie: It really did hit me hard, how much this scene was like, Prestige Television, these two particular actors Ian McShane and Blythe Danner going at it like this. To have this high-level, storied cast is really something quite unbelievable and they keep pulling in new hitters. It makes me feel lucky that actors like Blythe Danner would be attracted to American Gods, regardless of it being genre fantasy (we know how people feel about that) as well as its production dramas over the past few years. Obviously we heard season 3 went off without a hitch and the proof is in the pudding, but it’s really quite incredible they keep pulling people of this caliber to this strange story.
Brittany: Definitely. New faces, seasoned actors, it is really quite spectacular. Blythe Danner is particularly special to me from the Will & Grace days, so watching her here going toe-to-toe with Wednesday is mind blowing. I love it.
Natalie: Enough of the Allfather for now — what of the All-son? Shadow is once again out in the snow, this time better coated and booted and helping out with the forest search for Alison McGovern. He and Marguerite are friendly enough despite her clamming up last week. She even rode with him in her missing son’s car — a factoid he hasn’t quite twigged yet. In the meantime, it’s time for Officer Chad’s announcements.
Brittany: If he can get a word in that is.
Natalie: It’s sooo cringey, which is of course the point, so it’s working. Like my shoulders physically went up.
Brittany: Without rehashing our spoilers in last week’s post, that scene does play into our hand quite well. The emphasis Ann-Marie places on using the disposable cameras instead of using their phones and that blasted new fangled Internet. Definitely had me side-eyeing her pretty hard. Those two are also perfectly cast. Chad Mulligan’s draining patience was so palpable.
Natalie: For sure. I have a Chad question that may need to go in a spoiler section at the end, but indeed this move with the cameras is… easy to pass off as a kooky old lady, I guess!
Brittany: She even offers fast turnaround!
Natalie: Chad is so done with her and I imagine every time anything like this happens, he has a few eye rolls prepared just for Ann-Marie Hinzelmann. Though it doesn’t seem like they’re out hunting for bodies too regularly.
Brittany: Just underwear. Small town crimes. This seems like a bit much for them. Case in point — the dropped glove by a member of their own search party.
My favorite Chad line, which I wrote down immediately, was when he is looking at the pile of blood in the snow and says, “probably just a squirrel and an owl mixing it up.” Just so pure for someone who [see spoiler section***]. What is going on inside that head, Chad?
Natalie: Chad is truly such a bean.
Brittany: We know his mind is struggling to handle talking about race relations in Lakeside.
Natalie: Oh, that was something else. It hurt to watch. An attempt was made. What do you think Shadow was thinking?
Brittany: I think Shadow was thinking that he just wants Chad to shut up while he still has a decent opinion of the man. But his line — “Lakeside’s still in America, right?” — what an incredible mic drop.
Natalie: It was. Shadow was very patient, and probably does believe that Chad wasn’t racially profiling him, but he was still very much like “you are naive and embarrassing and privileged.” The stare and head tilt from Shadow. The fact that Chad was barely able to even speak, physically choking on his words (incredible acting, I do not know how you recreate that sensation to make your throat go like that when not actually experiencing crawling anxiety) didn’t mean Shadow was going to go easy on him – he accepted Chad’s personal statement, I think, but didn’t accept that We’re Not Like That Here blanket statement. And he pointed it out in a way that was gentle, smart, and yet savage.
Brittany: And final. We never need to talk about this again with both sides understanding where the other stands.
Natalie: But it’s all in the eyes of Ricky Whittle, he barely says anything, but keeps flicking between “You’re kidding me,” “This is real cute in how dumb it is,” “I can’t believe I have to put up with this,” “He means well,” and so on. It’s very much a moment where the white guy is projecting his guilt and wants absolution, but I do think he does mean well, I think Shadow knows it, and Chad, meanwhile, has never been more relieved to hear about a breaking and entering.
Brittany: I am glad we are getting the general vibe of Lakeside here. It’s in these small interactions that need to be tighter than the book, not just casual run-ins over coffee, etc. They have to be all packed into the search to move along the narrative, but also sow these relationships. Which is also true of Margie, who we see a bit in the search and more so in the apartment complex.
Natalie: For starters, I would say her feelings for Shadow have turned distinctly warm. They’re even making jokes about the “attempted break-in.” And of course, bonding over books.
Brittany: Shadow has had a lot of time to read, you see.
Natalie: In prison. No wait. In… somnia. Nailed it.
Brittany: And now his reading material is about to get super interesting!
Natalie: Yes indeed – he has some more pieces of the puzzle fall into his lap. And now he may be able to see a pattern that Lakesidians have been ignoring.
Brittany: I do wonder if there is going to be some more Klunker magic here. Will things illuminate and guide him to the answers or will Shadow get by with just some good old fashioned reading?
Natalie: Not everything can be magic, in my opinion, but he will get to the bottom of this mystery – whether because he’s destined to or not, just pure human meddling and intelligence.
Brittany: I am hoping they don’t go back to that visual myself. I think it is putting things into question that do not need to be. But that is coming from someone who has some inkling — if the story inches towards the same endgame — of what is going on. Perhaps it is meant to be a visual aid, like pay attention to this for audience members and I am looking for something new that isn’t there. Which is probably the case with this. But it bugs me!
Natalie: We definitely see some magic later, but Shadow has to fall asleep first. I’m still curious about the Klunker Calendar Magic – it can’t just be an effect for the audience, American Gods doesn’t really do that. It doesn’t make sense to say “this is what caught his eye” via a visual effect, when other visual effects literally mean magic. This isn’t Jane the Virgin.
Brittany: Yeah… I digress. The dream in this episode was much more targeted with a mission for Shadow.
Natalie: Indeed, we are back in the convenience store and this time, every magazine cover is Bilquis. That’s not subtle. Last week, the magazine who spoke to him featured a cover story about the Yoruba people, who are a particular African ethnicity from places including Nigeria, where Yetide Badaki is from. She’s spoken in interviews about her excitement to include a connection to the Orishas, who are deities or spirits for the Yoruba. I think we can assume the Orishas might be the fridge ladies. But the message is clear – Bilquis and Shadow have to connect in some way. Either for the sake of his journey, or hers.
Brittany: I’m glad we’re getting Bilquis more looped in with Shadow now. The dream was certainly laying that groundwork and we see Shadow reach for something in this dream. He isn’t a child where something is chasing him. He is an adult reaching out for what intrigues him. And of course, as an adult when he wakes up, he can choose to pursue what he saw. In this case, getting in touch with Bilquis. Which proves to be a bit easier now that he has a direct, modern link to an ancient deity.
Natalie: It was very cool to see Bilquis portray all the iconic Black American women on the magazine covers but I do feel like asking “Why doesn’t she just call him?” Maybe she doesn’t want to ask for his number. Maybe she doesn’t want Wednesday to know she needs Shadow. If that’s the case, Shadow blew her cover…
Brittany: Well in the timeline of things, she was attacked (?) I don’t think she had the means to connect with Shadow when she realized that she needed him. This was the only way.
Natalie: Ah, you think the dream contact happened, timeline wise, after the attack?
Brittany: Yeah, I do.
Natalie: I see. And that’s likely why Wednesday asks about what happened with Tech Boy – he’s already seen something of the scene Shadow finds at the end, via bird.
Brittany: I don’t think we have a clear idea how these timelines are synching up, but in my view she did not reach out to him before that suitor showed up, or in the immediate aftermath.
Natalie: So before we see what’s become of Bilquis, one final thing to note is Shadow changing the newspaper headline about Alison. I am truly boggled by that one. Did he falsify evidence? What the fuck, honestly? Maybe this came easy to you, but.. I didn’t follow.
Brittany: Do you mean did he plant a bloody scarf intentionally?
Natalie: Well, did he change the past? Or is he changing the future? I don’t understand AT ALL.
Brittany: I am not sure what you are asking. But my takeaway here was I don’t think he did anything with intent. Perhaps, he just wanted to see if he could feel some direction to her. And that hope for a turn in the case unearths a trail that wasn’t there. Because he leaves before he sees the fruits of his willpower. I wonder what if he will just believe that Officer Chad stumbled upon a lead while he was in New York.
Natalie: Yes, it definitely felt to me like he was trying to sense her, to help. For sure. That’s what I jotted down. As well as the idea of new evidence arising. The logistics of changing the headline just confused me, like that felt more reality warping. But never mind – we get the picture and I’m sure we’ll find out more next week.
In New York, he enters Bilquis’s elegant apartment and finds the aftermath of the chain of events we glimpsed for Bilquis during the episode. This included her remembering the horror of consuming the IT mogul, as well as finding his cell phone and reading texts from a granddaughter – humanising him. She really feels sick about “killing” him, and so I wonder if that’s the issue for her – she doesn’t want the consuming sexual worship any more because she doesn’t want to kill? Less about it being meaningless, more about her new compassion? I’m not sure.
Brittany: I think she is reconnecting to the roots of the “before” time. For a long while now she has been going along with what Tech Boy and by extension the IT mogul threw in her face this season — that she has been using a connectionless app to fuel her worship. It strips away the initial human to human contact. Instead it is transactional, these people are 2D and that is what draws them in, no one wants that tease or building attraction it’s just about getting what they swiped for. Not that she would have known about the granddaughter had they met at a roller disco in the 70s, but there also wouldn’t have been a paper trail then either.
Natalie: It might have hammered home the reality of it, the smallness of the world. But the last we see of her is grabbing a feathery weapon before an intruder enters her place. And all Shadow finds is a lot of blood and a very sobby Tech Boy. Do you think he was the actual intruder and she beat him down and fled, or do you think he came along after and is wrecked by whatever he saw go down?
Brittany: Based on what we’ve been seeing with Tech Boy and because I feel badly for him any time I see his face this season apparently, I am leaning toward the latter. I think he arrived to see what some goons/World did because he failed to recruit her and shoulders the blame.
Natalie: Sure we may be giving him too much credit but I’m inclined to agree. He’s there, narratively speaking, to tell Shadow what happened. Would you like to see Shadow and Tech on a side quest to save Bilquis?
Natalie: Tech sounds like he’s glitching, so I am not ruling out him having done this in a psychopathic rage, but given that he’s the only one there… we assume someone else took her. So I guess we know what to look out for next week.
Brittany: Yeah, I think that if it was him it was perhaps an override that he is coming out of. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out because I do have him pinned as someone I want to root for.
Natalie: Me too. I feel like he is being sympathised, but maybe we are being played.
Brittany: Yeah it’s possible.
Natalie: Thus concludes the events of Earth, and we can move to the events of Purgatory. It feels wrong to reduce such a fascinating, episode-threading B-plot to a mere summary, but overall, it can be summed up pretty succinctly. After finally dying, Laura’s soul is sent to Purgatory, she’s classically Laura about it (I almost wanted to count the fucks), she plays the system and screws another soul over to find out right now what’s going on, and eventually experiences her… well.. purging, via a video about her childhood.
She thinks she has her past on lock, but after some cocky know-all explaining about being aware she’s inherently destructive and evil gets her nowhere, she is forced to take another look and see things for what they really are – and that maybe some things weren’t actually her fault.
There are things she needs to re-file in her brain, and when she does that, she’s going to have to reckon with how her own misinterpretations (for self defense probably) of her own heart and soul, have damaged her. First of all, I thought this was just a brilliant arc.
Brittany: I agree, I think this was probably my favorite bit of the episode. It reminded me a lot of what I liked about The Leftovers and cycling through this process in the afterlife with examining what you need to let go of in order to move on and how that will reshape your life in either the final resting place or back on Earth.
Laura’s impatience here is classic Laura, where does she think it is going to get her? Eventually she does get a front row seat to watch her life play out before her, but again, no questions she has are answered. And it was absolutely brilliant when she inserts herself into the narrative and then realizes she is only hurting herself by accepting the lies she told herself. The line, “If you already know all of this, what are you so angry about?” was… oof.
Natalie: Usherette and AV Guy might be my new favorite characters. When he tapped the tape on her head! The corridor set up reminded me a lot of Supernatural’s clinical Heaven (with bonus bug spray) and something about the ticketing system reminded me of the World of the Dead in The Magicians…
Obviously, the details of the memory she explored are rather vile. She saw herself as a child, orchestrating her father’s infidelity. That’s how she processed it in retrospect. I didn’t quite know where the thread was going, but given Laura’s behaviour, you could almost believe it – that she was just a nasty little child. However, this isn’t true, and the important thing is that Laura has been building her self image – even embracing it – on a foundation of lies, of things she processed wrong. This is therapy, essentially. Knocking out the foundations that damaged you and rebuilding afterwards.
When you say things like “I am the architect of every fucked up thing that ever happened in my life” so loud and proud, it shows you’ve embraced that almost, like you’ve owned it, and that perpetuates fuck ups. I’m always going to fuck up, so I might as well fuck up. Case in point, dying mid-blow-job on Husband’s Best Friend. (She’s even back to wearing the same clothes as when that happened – the outfit she died in the first time – not the one she was buried in and came back in, the clothes she was wearing in the car crash.) It’s kind of like “this might as well happen” for people who have accepted that their fate is self destructive. So… what now?
Brittany: I think she still has some work to do in order to “restore order to her soul” as the pamphlet states. From what we saw here, it might take her a while. But I also think she is going to have one eye on a way out. Who or what will bring her out of this is going to be something we’ll need to wait for, hopefully somewhat more patiently than Laura does upon arrival. Speaking of The Magicians, I definitely also got that feeling here as well. It helped that the song they use to close out the purgatory scenes is used in the season 4 opener and I had a hard time.
Natalie: What? Really??
Brittany: It is in heavy rotation on my Magicians playlist and yeah, very eery to hear it outside of that context! It is “Alive” by ADLT VDEO.
Natalie: How long do you think we will see her in Purgatory? She’s spit back out into the lobby… not sure if she’ll be seeing another video or what comes next. We’ve still heard she and Salim have a journey so she must get pulled back to life, but I could handle another episode of Laura Home Movies. Emily Browning is just so good and every curse she utters is art, there is only so many ways to praise her distressed and dirty-mouth eyebrow furrowed emoting here so a blanket brilliant must be said.
Brittany: I think in line with that I said above we’re going to come back to purgatory for at least one more episode, but she is either going to be looking for a way out or someone is coming to take her out. She has work to do on her soul, but whether or not that task gets finished is to be determined.
Natalie: That sounds fair. Did you have a favorite Purgatory moment?
Brittany: I think just watching Emily Browning act as the silent viewer. It’s not often she is silent and as you pointed out that her distressed and cursing emoting needs a callout, I was definitely taken by her silence here. We don’t see it often and it was captivating to watch. She has it all.
Natalie: I personally really liked the Usher being like “This is just what they gave me.” Her whole energy really. As well as the AV guy pulling Laura out of the pool. Who are these people, how did they get a job? I’m very curious to see what’s next for her here, but the entire thing – from the elevator to the pamphlets to stepping into the video, one of the best things American Gods has ever done.
Brittany: By this point they have probably accepted their fate. Rolling with the punches in Purgatory, but I did like that callout as well serving as a blanket statement to say, “Yeah, we don’t have the answers lady, we’re just here to do our job.”
I am glad that we are exploring something that tracks with the story of, “She could not live off a coin forever.” I was curious how far she would go like that, perhaps forever, but with Mad Sweeney gone, we needed another trajectory and the potion was probably too easy. This is much, much more interesting and narratively fulfilling. It’s something that we’ve been praising American Gods about for the first two seasons. The ability to build out these characters is one of the show’s greatest strengths. Giving Laura this storyline is just one example.
Natalie: Definitely totally invented and not in the book at all, but feels entirely (theme and dialogue wise) like Gaiman could have written it, so you know it’s the right track.
Jumping back to the Lakeside portion of the episode, here’s your warning that there will be a very short spoiler chat for American Gods the novel in this next section – relating to the Thing Natalie Wanted To Say About Chad handling Alison’s disappearance.
So, STOP READING TO AVOID BOOK SPOILERS now.
*** redacted words “regularly handles kidnappings!” Or, so we presume. See below.
Natalie: Given that a child goes missing every single year, does Chad not have to do this every year? Like, is there no big question mark over that, no concern? Every year, whoops, dropped another one. Maybe other years there are more plausible cover stories for Hinzelmann, but they’re acting like this is meant to be the worst thing that ever happened to Chad, cop-wise. But it happens every year!
Brittany: This whole search seems very novel for the town. Maybe there is some sort of mind wipe at Christmas? Seems like something that could be pulled off with the right influences. “Well the Klunker dropped, guess it’s back to stopping teens for skateboarding in the parking lot for the rest of the year” — Chad, probably.
Natalie: It’s possible, but I’d like an explanation once the mystery gets more drawn into focus.
Brittany: Fingers crossed it comes from someone other than Wednesday.
American Gods season 3 airs Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET on Starz.