American Gods season 3, episode 7, “Fire and Ice,” takes stock of Wednesday’s allegiances as things heat up in Lakeside for Shadow Moon.
The seventh episode of American Gods season 3 opens with a bang, or rather a splat, as Wednesday and Cordelia discover – in a rather confronting way – that someone is killing Wednesday’s followers. Why? Unclear. But we’ve got a good lead as to who, and where to find him. However, the outcome of that confrontation leads to a rather unexpected twist involving one of our favorite season 3 characters, and now we are questioning everything. It’s American Gods, what else is new?
There’s romance in the air for Mike Ainsel, but those comforts and thrills are thrown into sharp relief against the realities that Shadow Moon has to deal with, and our American Gods writers are wondering what, exactly, is giving Shadow the confidence and security to move Mike forward in a relationship when he’s still getting daily reminders of all the secrecy, threats and unexplained phenomena about his life. Either way, we’re hoping those two crazy kids work it out – once Shadow gets back from being kidnapped, that is.
Meanwhile, Bilquis journeys to Chicago to find a neighborhood party full of Black goddesses, including a woman present at the birth of Shadow Moon, and at New God HQ, Salim and Laura are just a couple of penguins who think they’re in control of a situation masterminded by a leopard seal. As the episode closes, a montage set to the sinister “You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen hones in on lingering frames of our main players, letting us know that with only three episodes left, American Gods is setting up the board for the serious gameplay of season 3.
Lace up your skates and glide (or stumble) through the ins and outs of “Fire and Ice.”
‘American Gods’ season 3, episode 7 review in conversation
Natalie: So, Shadow is becoming such an upstanding member of the community in Lakeside. Before the Gods intervene in his life yet again, his main focus is what to do about the mystery of the panty thief. I think it’s kind of important to note that Shadow has these moral issues about reporting Derek to the police – we see him lingering around thinking about it – and instead decides to open up to Ann-Marie about whether turning the kid in to the cops is the right idea. I found all of this fairly thoughtful and perceptive in terms of how someone like Shadow might not want to destroy someone’s life by getting them arrested, but there is the potential Alison murder to consider. What did you think when he started genuinely opening up to Hinzelmann about Derek in a trusting way?
Brittany: The optics of going to the police are not great and I agree that Shadow wants to keep the uniform out of this situation. But I think if push came to shove and he had the choice between Ann-Marie and plain clothes Chad, he would want to go to Chad first. Ann-Marie offers that kind ear, her mood noticeably shifts when she is with Shadow, adapting to be this compassionate figure who will lend an ear and offer advice. With her coloring in some of the backstory for Derek, it gives Shadow the go-ahead to keep divulging more and more information. She’s easy to talk to! Renting ice skates and dishing dating advice. I personally don’t trust her, but Shadow is under this town’s spell right now and Ann-Marie for all her brown nosing tendencies is an open book of information. I was 100% not surprised she organizes and chairs the youth outreach group. Someone has to keep an eye on all the teens that may or may not have some greater contribution to make to the town of Lakeside.
Natalie: Absolutely. She also knows who might be vulnerable, like Derek, apparently. I am just genuinely shocked that Shadow chose to tell her such a big secret when it feels like she is a massive gossip. However, she really does turn quite sympathetic and give that advice and support that it’s a tough decision, she understands why Shadow might not want to totally ruin this kid’s life. Ultimately, Shadow does decide to loop in Chad and unfortunately we didn’t get to see that chat, but it’s clear he established the plan for gentle approach with Chad. But given Alison, they have to ask. I don’t think either of them really actually suspect Derek of being responsible for Alison, but with no other leads they HAD to ask. Anyway, it turns out Derek wanted the underwear for personal use because he has an interest in wearing it and does not feel he can buy it from a store. Amazon, my guy. Just order it on the internet. Plain packaging.
Brittany: Chad doesn’t understand what you’re into nor does he care, but he does not support breaking and entering. It was like watching good cop, annoyed cop. Shadow and Chad are not thrilled, but they also just want to know what exactly is going on to a) help Derek and b) get some kind of inkling as to what has happened with Alison. I am curious what the deal is that they struck, clearly going in Chad and Shadow had to know this wasn’t going to go anywhere in terms of the Alison case and came prepared to offer him something, which we don’t find out in this episode.
Natalie: Yeah, I noticed that too.
Brittany: Derek is a pretty good thief, 11 houses before he was caught. Maybe they could use his skills. I’m sure Shadow would be better in any undercover operation, but as Mike, he can’t exactly offer up his unique skillset to the class.
Natalie: True. I honestly did not think – at the first mention of the missing underwear – that this was going to become like, an ongoing plot point. And so I feel like there must be something else that Derek has to offer, something about the terms of the deal or whatever, that end up being a lynchpin for more action, because if not, this is just such a strange and random side plot. I found the lack of deal-cutting details quite a loud omission.
Brittany: Definitely something to keep an eye on in Lakeside. Maybe he is the key to cracking Ann-Marie, or getting some intel on something we haven’t been anticipating as a change for the upcoming arc. Just as Shadow is starting to recognize people on the streets and share in the morning gossip he gets ANOTHER out of town visitor. Mike is pretty popular and in danger of drawing too much attention to himself if women keep popping by his place.
Natalie: Absolutely. Mike Ainsel the honorable Lakeside citizen has to go on pause for a moment while Shadow Moon deals with an unexpected Cordelia. I was also quite surprised, but then again I had no idea what to make of the Cordelia and Wednesday opening scene in which an unidentified flaming body hits the road in front of Betty. Wednesday totally takes control of that situation, puts Cordy in the passenger seat, and drives them to Lakeside – apparently, along the way, letting Cordelia know the truth about his identity and mission.
I for one feel robbed of that conversation. Shadow’s understanding of it all was so patchwork. Wednesday never exactly sat him down and said “so hey I am a god and it’s a god war.” It was all learned by osmosis and whispers. I really would have liked to see Wednesday just plainly telling the story to Cordelia. Interestingly, she suspects that it’s true, which Shadow confirms. She fully accepts that it is all crazy, but instead of going back to the mental institution, something vibes for her that this is actually real. Why do you think that is? For her, Wednesday is just a slightly dotty old man. What elements of her journey may have made her suspect?
Brittany: Well taking into consideration all the pretty messed up stuff she’s seen in the past 2 weeks alone plus her skillset as a coder, putting together and synthesizing information is her jam. She seems disinterested, but picks up on a lot of emotional read out from Shadow in the few instances she is with him. I bet that reading Wednesday as he is rambling on about this god business might strike her as the first time she is hearing him speak with absolute truth. A bar named Valhalla blowing up and sending Wednesday on a power trip, a visit to see his ex-lover who just disappears, the flaming body, I think she is looking for logic and coming up short. But I do think she trusts him for some unknown reason. It boggles my mind, but as she kind of alludes to Shadow, it’s either accept it and see where the road takes her, or go on half in the know not able to move past this monumental information shoe drop.
Natalie: Yeah – I was trying to work out what she actually SAW (I don’t think she witnessed Demeter actually disintegrate but she did have to deal with a lot of goddess weirdness on that adventure) – but I think there’s enough of a vibe to have a gut feeling something beyond understanding is happening. Maybe Wednesday showed her a few party tricks as well. All in all I kinda just want to know how he would have said it. I also found it really interesting when she asked Shadow what he is or his part in this is, and he says “Jury’s still out.” He’s aware he is the son of a God and is kind of accepting his difference from humanity.
Brittany: I did like his reaction to her freaking out, he is very calming and not trying to talk her into downplaying what she is trying to navigate. This also to me solidified a bit further why she wanted to go off with Wednesday. The instant that stuff started going South and danger was on the horizon he sent her somewhere safe. Shadow softened the blow of what was happening and offered her immediately what he didn’t have — someone to talk to. We don’t get much beyond that because by the time they get back to the apartment, Wednesday arrives.
I do wonder where Wednesday went in the interim, but maybe he was checking on what he could and setting up a game plan for taking Shadow away. Which naturally Shadow rejects, but I think that conversation was really telling about this shift we’ve kind of talked about with Shadow from the book. He is fully in the know about his father, his game plan, etc. And here while he is still comfortable telling the old man to buzz off and mind his own business, he also softens at the idea that if his life is in danger, then so is Wednesday’s.
The fact that he asked, “aren’t you in danger too?” really stood out to me. And then to make it even more striking he added a bit at the end saying “look if you need me, really need me, you call.” It was all very much not what I was expecting to go down between them and of course happens when Cordelia was “in the shower” but naturally she heard most of the end.
Natalie: He gives Cordelia the chance to stay safe in Lakeside too, making clear there is no binding contract for her. Cordelia and Wednesday continues to be a relationship of choice. And I feel like Cordelia literally spells out the situation more so than any other human has done in American Gods so far, she actually straight up says like, “I know Gods are real, I’m supposed to go back to business as usual?” She is willing to risk the danger due to having her world opened up. Do we actually have any idea who the flaming body on the highway was, by the way?
Brittany: I certainly have no idea who it was. Maybe there were some members of the band left? I feel like that is somewhere Johan would start.
Natalie: Maybe, yes. We are not given too much of an explanation about the WHY of this, but I imagine it was somewhat tricky to work around as they cut Marilyn Manson’s actual scenes out of the episode, as previously announced.
Brittany: Yeah, I think whatever they had to do worked and the ID of the body might not be consequential at this moment.
Natalie: I was also quite touched by Shadow’s concern and assurance about being available if Wednesday really needed him, and also at Wednesday’s observance of the value of finding a soul to share time with or whatever in regards to Shadow making attachments… in reflection of his recent lost love Demeter.
Brittany: Wednesday appears to be in the mood to maintain his existing relationship with Cordelia but has no qualms about burning this bridge with Johan. Things have gotten a bit out of control and this is just not the mess that Wednesday needs right now.
Natalie: Indeed, though I have one or two questions about what exactly is going on. Also, I have a note to production: too many dead pigs this season.
Brittany: If I never see the inside of an animal or human again I would be fine with it.
Natalie: Basically, the first god-adjacent person Cordelia is exposed to after the big reveal is some sort of baby-eating riddler. A good start. Like, we can’t ease Cordelia in with a nice cute god, or a soothing one – no, she gets the baby eater.
Brittany: Dunker doesn’t get out much, all he has is butchering and his riddles. But he does pay attention at least, even if he makes Wednesday go on a stroll of the property for no reason.
Natalie: Cordelia can’t help asking what would have happened in the event that Odin did not solve the riddle right, and the answer maybe has her rethinking the commitment to risk on this trip.
Brittany: Ha! She is very smart, but maybe she’ll know now not to ask questions she doesn’t want the answer to.
Natalie: But yes – a little tidbit about a trip to the dentist lets Wednesday know that Johan is after Tyr. At which point I got VERY upset.
Brittany: Same. The concern that welled up inside me was shocking.
Natalie: Oh man, me too. And then the way they actually structured it all… I was just so afraid for him because he is the most decent of any gods in American Gods so far. Cordelia is still keen to be involved and go into the dentist office to face Johan with Wednesday, which honestly is fairly stupid of her. But as she says, she is involved now (even if she doesn’t know what she is involved in.) At the very least she makes Wednesday accept a phone with a tracking app, which he promptly throws in the trash. Why do you think he did that? Does he want to keep her safe, or something more twisted?
Brittany: He’s made it a point up until now that he does not trust devices nor does he want to be found. Ever. He even dunks that burner in the drink after calling Shadow. I don’t think it was anything contrived, but definitely could have had a bit to do with her safety. She would undoubtedly come after him.
Natalie: It seems kind of a shame to just spell out the events when the episode created such tension with the structure of it all, but ultimately we see Tyr get attacked by Johan, with some red flared vision over his lens and a CGI monster mask, and we see Wednesday discover the scene of the crime. Extreme carnage, a river of blood from a body being dragged, and the reveal of a disemboweled corpse in the dentist chair, with Wednesday even looking down at a particular hand. But it’s all a ruse – in succession with this discovery, we see Tyr himself burst in on Shadow and call him away from his Morning After (to be continued) with the claim his father sent him. The body itself is Johan. How much relief did you feel when Tyr came through that door in Lakeside?
Brittany: So much relief. But also unease. It’s been very easy with the instances we’ve seen him thrown into in the present and especially with the coloring of his flashback to cast him in this weaker light. He isn’t a raving, fear mongering god. He’s good with kids! Collects teeth! Lives his life in relative peace. But he is a war god and now that fact is really starting to stick out a bit more than it might have over the past few weeks.
Natalie: Something is afoot, for sure. That note, and taking Shadow under false pretences. It makes me wonder if Wednesday is having Wednesday’s followers killed to make people rise up for Wednesday in defiance. Like this is all a ruse, and Tyr knows it. But Wednesday went to Tyr pretty urgently when he heard the threat… Pigeon meme time again.
Brittany: Oh, as if he sent off Johan to do his bidding while he was locked up for a while? That’s interesting. Tyr is very tired of Wednesday and maybe Demeter was the final straw.
Natalie: Yes, the sheer violent and ritualistic slaughter done by Tyr certainly makes him look darker but again and again I remember Tyr is about justice, in terms of his war-god-ness – about truly what is right and owed so I can’t see him as the bad guy here. I just can’t. But I have absolutely no idea what is going on. It looks like he is holding Shadow for ransom. I am trying to work out what must have happened – Johan comes to kill him, Tyr assumes Wednesday sent him, Tyr wins the fight and goes and kidnaps Shadow? Even if Wednesday is innocent here, I guess Tyr has reason to suspect Wednesday sent Johan.
Brittany: Wednesday has not given Tyr a reason to think otherwise. I have absolutely no idea what Tyr’s endgame is here, but he is certainly more than willing to take some kind of drastic measure to get Odin’s attention.
Natalie: I am so curious, and the end montage included Tyr driving away with a sinister smile, but if this is actually Tyr (and not possessed by some other spirit or something) I cannot imagine his plan being evil. I’m definitely excited that Tyr was more than just a one-off character though.
Brittany: Me too. Every time he pops up it is a surprise and a delight. I guess we’ll find out what happens at the Wolf Den next week, but until then Shadow rides shotgun in a very nice car with a road companion who just seems happy to be in his company. I do think he is less than thrilled about being dragged away from his first date with Marguerite. What did you think of their interactions after Cordelia hit the road?
Natalie: Well, very sweet. I have been wondering about their vibe I guess – in the book, they don’t really have a massively flirtatious relationship and it’s actually Chad that is keen on her – Shadow is more linked to Sam romantically than Margie. But American Gods the show has built up some tension with these two neighbors and it seems to have finally burst.
It’s interesting to me that Shadow is thinking seriously about this woman when he has a fake identity and uncertain future. Like, I don’t think he feels this is just casual or messing around, and he wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. Yet he dives into dating. Again, the difference from the book is the established divorce-like split from Laura, rather than just lingering on feelings for a hopeless apologetic dead wife, but I just find it interesting and a little strange that Shadow would feel secure enough in Lakeside to let a relationship blossom. Maybe he thinks that if he plays his cards right he can just be Mike forever, if Wednesday keeps out of trouble.
Brittany: It was very striking to me how he was all in on not just making this seem like a casual fling. He asked her son to join them for dinner, he’s making it known upfront that he isn’t trying to skirt around the life she has established here. Instead he seems keen on ingraining himself in it all. Which, as you mentioned, shakes up the book plot. But the hot tub moment with the snow really made my heart hurt. He is so happy with the little trick. But also that should have been the clue right then and there that he is not cut out for a life completely cut off from the larger things at work in the world.
Natalie: Yes. In a way, it also felt like living in the moment and not considering the bigger picture. He wants this right now, can make it work right now… Maybe he actually isn’t thinking too concretely about what he is doing here – how it might potentially mess everyone around.
Brittany: I guess he does have to take whatever moment he can while he can. Even if they include ice skating.
Natalie: Of course, he continues to get messages from the divine at work. The vision of the coin melting the spot on the ice, and the dream of all those bodies or spirits coming out of the snow.
Brittany: Since we kind of, sort of, possibly have alluded to knowing what’s to come it all felt very on the nose, yet I am still loving watching it unfold from this vantage point. The snow people on the ice was especially insane.
Natalie: Yeah, I was not a fan. But it’s just another reminder that his life is not like the other Lakesidians. Luckily Tyr doesn’t call him Shadow or anything in front of Margie so it all seems relatively normal to her – urgent family issue, absolutely nothing suspicious here and no hard feelings about Shadow taking off.
Brittany: Everyone is so good about keeping Shadow in the shadows when they come and go it’s truly mind boggling. I can’t even keep typing Mike and Shadow correct! Since Shadow has taken off for days at a time for the family business this seems probably normal for Marguerite now. Granted this is the first time he has left her specifically, but the last time he left he checked in and so another day another “there goes Shadow (Mike), off to the family business.”
So with Shadow on the road with Tyr and Wednesday on his way to the Wolf’s Den, it seems that those two paths are set to converge. But another storyline that popped up this week began when Ibis took up his pen once more. When the camera found him in his study, I wrote down “Ohhhhh, whose story are we getting now?” I did not think that he was going to be starting over on a fresh page for Bilquis, but I am happy to report that we are reunited with her and a new storyline that will keep her in Shadow and Wednesday’s life for the foreseeable future of this season of American Gods.
Natalie: Bilquis’s part starts with Ibis recapping how her identity was something placed upon her – a role people said she must fill. And now that she’s home safe and sound she is doing the work to rediscover what lies beyond that. When she begins casting her shells and looking into her past and her path to the future, it shows her a lot of Shadow’s life. This surprised me a fair bit because what the link is here is still very unclear.
Brittany: I was fairly confused by her vision, especially with her involvement. We’ve seen a lot of her and Shadow’s stories mixing this season in dreamscape moments, most notably when Shadow is contacted and decides to go check up on her. Were these new flashes connecting her to these moments as if remembrances, or were they guiding her toward something that would connect the pieces? The latter is obviously the path we follow as she heads to Chicago and meets some very welcoming people with one notable exception. Luckily, the Orishas are also in attendance to continue offering their spiritual guidance.
What did you think of Eugenia? Besides her unwillingness to die and desire to eat cake and be left alone (to be honest, same) I was a bit confused as to what Bilquis was trying to accomplish with her. Draw out belief? In some sense, I guess that was the end game — she needed her to see the real Bilquis — but at the same time, I guess I’m just a bit hazy on the rest of her identity beyond midwife. There is a connection to Wednesday, but it seems like she performed one task and then set out to ensure she was not a part of their lives ever again. Now before she goes, she needs to get this information to someone who can use it.
Natalie: I guessed Bilquis needed that information about Shadow’s birth and apparently the forced separation from Odin? Making sure Shadow leaves America? Eugenia must be someone special. Maybe you need a particular skill to deliver a God baby… Again there’s a layering of reality and fantasy vision with the Orisha dancing and Eugenia was able to witness it, whereas the other guests were just vibing. Maybe she is an old God too, or some sort of God adjacent spirit person. Maybe that’s why she isn’t a Christian. Or maybe she has forgotten whatever she is and Bilquis needed to reawaken the knowledge- maybe this is all a game of Orisha telephone.
Brittany: All of these, or at least a combination of them make sense. Regardless of the mechanics, it seems that Eugenia is awakened enough to convey the information that Bilquis needs to continue to provide help to Shadow and only she has the power to find whatever the “other half” is. So that begs the question, is Bilquis going to go on her journey solo? Or is she going to try and reach Shadow first?
Natalie: The “other half” reveal is an absolute mystery to me. Secret twin? (I don’t really think so.) We don’t really get a clear idea of what Bilquis will do next but I did want to say I find it interesting that American Gods has confidence to lay out these unfolding mysteries that have absolutely no resolution in the episode. Like what is going on with Tech is another good example. We are getting pieces of these puzzles but none of the episodes so far have had like an aha moment… it just keeps adding to the mystery. There hasn’t been any short term gratification so far. They aren’t answering questions at the rate they’re asking new ones. Are you okay with that?
Brittany: I am actually okay with it. I think the ending of this episode actually made me more okay with it than in other episodes. The montage at the end that flashed in on all the storylines, even those we didn’t get to, like Tech, really gave this feeling that we are at the height of the action for season 3 and it’s all going to topple over from here. American Gods seems to trust its audience to get invested enough in these stories that give over breadcrumbs one week and yet still make these seemingly complex stories track over the course of a season. Are you feeling at a loss without any short term gratification?
Natalie: No, I just found it interesting that they chose to do that. It requires a level of trust that the audience is invested in a long game, not a complete story every week. I guess I’d like a few answers, but the Leonard Cohen montage at the end gave me the same impression, like an ominous check in on the players.
Brittany: We got nothing from Tech this week and I still felt my heartstrings tug when he appeared. Same thing we were talking about with Tyr, these are characters we don’t have any external connection to. It’s a testament to at least the characters they are building in this universe. I mean I also care a great deal about a cardboard box this season, so… They really are doing their job well.
Natalie: Hahaha. The cardboard box is putting in the hours! She won’t even leave it in the car. Where she goes, he goes.
Brittany: For someone who just got her life back, Laura has a hard time letting go of death. I don’t blame her, just an observation. I do like this new partnership she and Salim have going, he puts on his best business face with World and his goons. After World picked them up at the end of the last episode they begin to discuss terms of a deal. Laura can execute Wednesday, World will help her get the spear to do it, their hands are clean and Laura gets protection for the rest of her life. Seems like a dream, really. But Salim is not so sure and for the only other human we have dealing with the gods he knows right away that these words are binding and unbreakable. So let him take care of setting out the terms and conditions of the contract. Plus, he is feeling a bit burned by the Jinn (and Sweeney) for selling their souls away and for what?
Natalie: I found Salim’s motivation and his business sense really excellent here, despite Laura’s initial misgivings.
Brittany: He’s been burned by this country in so many ways, but he still finds it in his heart to protect the one good thing he has here, his friendship with Laura. So sweet. The terms pretty much end up as the new gods will provide the time and place of the attack, immediate extraction from the scene, 24 hour protection from retaliation (which includes Salim and Shadow). Seems great. But as that imagery in the background shows us, the penguins can’t exactly waddle away from the seal. So of course if they fail at killing Wednesday everyone dies. Laura accepts and tells Salim that she isn’t going to mess this up, but I guess he is in no position to argue now that his life is now tied to the death of a god.
Natalie: Yeah. Not quite the terms he was hoping for. The leopard seal/penguin imagery was fairly on the nose. Obviously Laura is meant to be the penguin. And I’m just not sure what World is playing at here. We know this is some sort of ploy, it isn’t as simple as it seems. So what do you think World is hoping the outcome is?
Brittany: Well if we are going to way of the book, I think he needs to wipe the chess board clear. Laura will be the key to gathering up some outliers he can’t access, that I think was the point of the phone call last week. We have this one-track mind player who will be his errand girl. I can see there possibly being another role for her maybe, but I can’t quite string together what that might be.
Natalie: Yes. Of course she needs the spear from the hoard before anything else happens. And I guess that’s her next move?
Brittany: Yeah I think this is how we are going to meet our new leprechaun friend.
Natalie: Yes – I’m imagining they all access the same hoard, maybe?
Brittany: Perhaps or at the very least connected in some way. I wonder if we will find anything else down there. I don’t know if my heart can take it to be honest though. Just get the spear and get out.
Natalie:Oh god. What, like feelings?
Brittany: A small Laura shrine.
Natalie: Keepsakes he snuck away?
Brittany: Some flowers from the field.
Natalie: Good lord.
Brittany:A sticker from the ice cream truck.
Natalie: Now I’m terrified. I wonder if Leprechaun 2 will have any opinions on Sweeney and Laura’s relationship. I get the feeling it’s going to be an antagonistic meeting at best.
Brittany: Especially if the circumstances are less than amicable for World to have one on call.
Natalie: True! A leprechaun tied to the New Gods. How did that happen?
Brittany: Maybe World got the new leprechaun a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl deal in the states and has been keeping him in business that way.
Natalie: OMG LOL. The Bilquis approach but for leprechauns. Sweeney was so anti progress and commercialisation, maybe this will be a different sort of guy who enjoys playing the role. We shall see I guess.
Brittany: Enter the coupon code oldgodssux for 50% off drinks on St. Patrick’s Day! But yeah, we’ll see!
American Gods season 3 airs Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET on Starz.