American Gods – Ep. 3 “Head Full of Snow” : A Review

Posted: 05/16/2017 in Uncategorized

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Episode 3 brought with it once more stunning visuals, lurid sexuality, beautiful cinematography, lyricism via the incredibly watchable Ian McShane’s “Mr. Wednesday” and overall beautiful performances. This is the zaniest, yet deeply engaging new show on tv. It revels in its cleverness as much as it does in its dream like sequences and non linear pastiches. In the world of American Gods, a car slowly drives over mountains of marshmallows as snow builds in the back ground real world. Wednesday puts it succinctly when Shadow balks at the madness which now surrounds him, “What a beautiful, beautiful thing to be able to dream when you’re not asleep”. It is indeed. Now on to my review.

Opening with a simple, yet developmentally elegant scene, we meet Mrs. Fadil (Jacqueline Antaramian) as she climbs a rickety stool to get some lemons to complete her meal for her visiting family. A visit via a man at her door takes the scene and flips it on its ear. The visitor is Mr. Jacquel better known by his true name “Anubis”(Chris Obi),  god of death. All moments between the two including their ascension to another plain and a judgement sequence involving scales and a feather are wondrous. Her stating “I was using that” as he swiftly removes her heart and weighs its worthiness mingles levity with gravity. The discussion of faith and final destinations are answered by a feline shove as this is not a show about the absolute.

The real magic occurs in Chicago via two meetings with the Zorya sisters. The first is between Wednesday and Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) in which he seduces her to take an evening walk in the rain. He is asking so much more. He tempts her with what she has lost. She dismisses him at first stating four walls and a roof is enough but as Wednesday exudes his charm, the viewer witnesses the temptation taking root, leading to a kiss and her shocked demeanor as she asks him “what did you do?” Moments between these screen veterans are effortless. One can also believe them to be elder gods.

An equally important moment occurs between Shadow (Ricky Whittle) who prepares for his morning demise via the hammer stroke of ‘night/black god” Czernebog (Peter Stromare). Awakened from a dream, he climbs to the roof top and meets the remaining Zorya sister, Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar). She is far younger than her sisters while appearing naive, demonstrates a greater wisdom than Shadow expects. He advises he doesn’t want his fortune told but she opts instead to tell him he is a man of “nothing, believing in nothing, but having lost something”. When he mentions his late wife, she pushes past questioning why his life has so little meaning to him that he freely offers it up. She offers him a gift, charging him with not losing the item, referencing his won coin from Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber). The visual is simple and cool as hell. Her price for her service is  a kiss, but one freely offered without strings, presenting a stark contrast to Wednesday’s earlier meeting with the elder Zorya. Rejuvenated, Shadow makes a play against Czernebog offering his life regardless of original outcome, but adding the circumstance of the older god joining Wednesday’s crew in Wisconsin.

This show freely embraces social commentary and fearlessly addressed American perceptions of Arabic citizens as well as cultural issues/biases against homosexuality. While the encounter between a cab driving Jinn/Ifrit (Mousa Kraish) and a lonely, downtrodden Salesman, Salim (Omid Abtahi) culminates in an extremely vivid over the top scene rife with a surrealistic finish, the moments between both men present a simple, all too human tale of two people reaching out for companionship and understanding. While the Jinn tells Salim he does not grant wishes, his actions afterward, in effect liberating him of his burdens would indicate otherwise. The Jinn presents the notion that not all gods require worship or mindless sacrifice. The easy assumption of the identity by Salim presents a mild indictment of America’s inability or unwillingness to differentiate between those deemed foreign as the ID resembles neither its former or latter owner.

The absolute delight brought about via this run is in the simple observation of Wednesday as a brilliant con man. As I have said, and will probably continue to say, all moments between he and Shadow are superb. Ricky Whittle gets more of an opportunity to bring out the character via this visual medium. He can express anger, frustration and hurt. If his novel version was accused of just being there….this version surely is not. Watching Wednesday draw him out from purposeless assistant to man in on the con is a joy to behold. Wednesday’s ‘encouraging’ Shadow to ‘think of snow’ hints at the young body guard being more than he appears to be. The discussion between the two on the subject of memory comes as close to the mark of Wednesday’s fear and Shadow’s acceptance of reality

Honestly, if you can watch Wednesday’s setting himself up from inception to stool by an atm and not smile, you might not have a soul. Seeing the newly christened “A. Haddock”/Shadow play his own part is equally smile inducing. The discussion on the “many Jesuses” might be one of the funniest sequences in recent memory. American Gods continues its quest to become one of the best things on television, having already gained my approval as simply outstanding and well worth your time.

 

 

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