‘American Gods’ 1×02 Review: Anansi’ Entrance, Shadow’s Grief, and the Power of Belief

If you were under the impression that Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was going to get any less weird in it’s second episode, you’d be wholly and unequivocally wrong. Things always get weirder when it comes to Gaiman books and it’s just going to get weirder as we peel back the layers of the struggle between the Old Gods and New to survive.

In ‘The Secret of Spoon’ we’re introduced to the unforgettable Anansi in a ‘Coming to America’ vignette, we watch Shadow Moon grieve the loss of his wife, and get a better understanding as to why Mr. Wednesday hasn’t told Shadow…well, anything about Gods. Oh and Gillian Anderson appears as Media. That’s worth mentioning, even for the briefest of moments, because if there’s anyone we’d worship, I’d be her!

Yes, He Was Totally Rocking the Head of a Spider in That Suit

Out of all the ‘Coming to America’ vignettes, Anansi’ is my favorite. 25% of it is definitely due to the fact that American Gods was like, “Go big or go home,” and took a chance by placing a spider head on the body of a suited man. The other 75% goes to Orlando Jones and his portrayal as the trickster God.

It felt like watching a masterpiece. His words wove a tale that not only enthralled the captive slaves but also viewers at home. He easily switched between multiple dialects, honoring the multitudes of people who worship him. And he made you believe his words, aka the most powerful gift a God could have and the means of their survival.

And just when you didn’t think his speech could step it up or take it any further, he elevated it. He talked about things people are afraid to talk about, the horrors many try to forget, and the pain that our country was founded on. There were no limits with Anansi.

By the end of his speech I felt uncomfortable, aware, and angry because his words were/are relevant to the world we still live in today in the United States of America. It made me want to talk, to get out there, to say something for the injustices that these people have endured and are still going through.

It left a mark. And if it did that for me, I can’t even begin to imagine the sort of mark it would leave on someone who understands Anansi’ words first hand and whose life has been changed by these injustices. And with that thought in mind, I’d like to give all the kudos, electronic cookies, anything mildly rewarding, to Orlando Jones.

I don’t think anyone could’ve done a better job.

Watching a Man Grieve a Wife He Never Knew

Shadow grieved the end of a life he never thought he’d have in ‘The Secret of Spoon’. He took off his wedding ring, packed away their house, and said goodbye to this town because it wasn’t his to begin with. And most importantly, he said goodbye to a woman he didn’t even know.

He saw an opportunity with Laura. A chance to live a happier and more fulfilling life as her husband, friend, and confidant. And as far as he knows, all of it was a lie. She didn’t love him enough not to cheat. She didn’t love him enough not to hide secrets. She didn’t love him enough to wait.

Shadow needed to close this chapter of his life and cry over Laura’s loss so he could survive just getting up in the morning and not be crippled by her death and her deception. It’ll haunt him, how much he truly didn’t know her, but at least he took a moment to compartmentalize the pain he’s feeling, something many don’t do.

Keeping all of this in mind, and taking into account the tease at her return in the form of a dream & copious media coverage before the show premiered, it’s going to be hard to ascertain how he’ll react to her return. He’s closed himself off but we know that he’ll want answers. He’ll want to know why. He’ll want reasons, an explanation, a sign of remorse from her.

But no answer will ever be enough. Because at the end of the day…she betrayed him and everything they promised to each other.

The Power of Belief is Yours

Just because Shadow says, “Fuck it,” when playing checkers with Czernobog doesn’t mean that he’s ready and willing to believe the unthinkable around him. It’s a process, a painful one for Shadow, that will only be solidified through time and careful exposure.

Mr. Wednesday needs Shadow to believe. It’s the crux of the show and the power that all Gods are desperately trying to keep a hold of. So he’ll toy with him, speak in riddles, and let him come to his own decisions. Mr. Wednesday doesn’t want to just tell Shadow, “Yes, I Love Lucy did just offer up a peek at her tits in exchange for working for the God of Media.”

Shadow needs to come to this decision and acceptance that there are multiple powerful Gods out there, on his own. Belief is always more powerful when it appears that way. It’s unshakable, grounded in your own beliefs, and nearly impossible to extinguish once it’s discovered.

And as Shadow starts peeling away the layers of this world and looking into its many faces, we’ll be along for the ride, worshipping Media (you watched the show, didn’t you?), and starting to wonder what Old or New Gods we give power to in our daily lives.

American Gods airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.


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