“What the fuck are you?” Laura asks Mad Sweeney in “A Homicide Of Gods.” “I imply, what the fuck are any of you, however first inform me, what the fuck are you?” Shadow asks Wednesday the identical query after he wrenches a squirming, digging root (a parting present from Mr. Wooden, an outdated god turned new god) from the wound in Shadow’s facet.
Mad Sweeney solutions Laura, Wednesday refuses to reply Shadow, and each solutions are equally confounding, partly as a result of not even Mad Sweeney and Wednesday get to outline precisely what they’re. “Folks consider issues,” Wednesday says, “which suggests they’re actual. Meaning we all know they exist. So what got here first, gods or the individuals who believed in them?”
From the beginning, American Gods has been in regards to the tapestry of identification, however “A Homicide Of Gods” is much more express because it explores transitions from one nation to a different, from one identification to a different. Within the opening, a bunch of vacationers battle to ford a river. When one of many pilgrims goes beneath, a god—certainly one of the many Jesuses Wednesday described—materializes to avoid wasting him.
These characters aren’t named. Neither is the place. Nor are the cowboy-hatted males who pull up, headlights blazing and weapons in hand, to take them down in a storm of gunfire. One rifle is inscribed with a wreath of thorns and the phrases Thy kingdom come. A rosary dangles from the shooter’s set off hand, and his crosshairs type a crucifix.
Rescued from drowning to be killed with gunfire: That is one story of coming to America. The vignette is draped within the symbols of Christianity. However all of the bullets are engraved with the title of Vulcan.
Like its gods, whose attributes and talents fluctuate with their believers’ pictures of them, American Gods is a protean creature, altering tone in a flicker, shifting style from episode to episode. However that adaptability isn’t relegated to the gods, or to the present. It’s shared by the nation American Gods is ruminating on. As Wednesday tells Shadow, explaining the stone-faced martial zeal of the residents of Vulcan, Virginia, “There aren’t simply two Americas. Everybody seems at Girl Liberty and sees a unique face, even when it crumbles beneath query.”
As they roll by way of city, it’s apparent that there are not less than two Americas proper right here in Vulcan, Virginia. One belongs to the residents—conspicuously white, conspicuously suspicious of Shadow, conspicuously somber till the time comes to fireside their arms into the air—who shut down the city for a funeral march. The opposite America is the flip-side of this one, the America Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen), bristling with whiskers and barely submerged hostility, smilingly reminds Shadow of: the America of “hanging bushes” and watching eyes. When Vulcan fires a shot into certainly one of his personal trophies, it’s not only a celebration of energy, however a press release of intimidation to his unwilling visitor. The locals will scrutinize a black man driving by way of Vulcan, however not certainly one of them will query, a lot much less examine, a gunshot of their chief’s home. Not on this city the place bullets fall like rain.
Nothing but has bested Mr. Nancy’s stirring address, however Vulcan’s rhapsodizing over his followers’ devotion (and Bernsen’s supply of it, which rises to poetic heights and delves into bare starvation as he caresses his firearm) rivals every other speech of the collection up to now, and it deserves to be transcribed in full:
You’re what you worship. God of the volcano. Those that worship maintain a volcano within the palm of their hand. It’s crammed with prayers in my title. The facility of fireplace is hearth energy. Not god, however godlike. They usually consider. It fills their spirits each time they pull the set off. They really feel my warmth on their hip and it retains them heat at evening.
Vulcan has performed greater than rework himself from a god of volcanos and open flames to a god of armaments and open hearth. He’s made himself god of a specific sliver of America, and it’s a sliver that solely grows extra vociferous within the face of menace. Vulcan gloats, “Each bullet fired in a crowded movie show is a prayer in my title. And that prayer makes them need to pray even more durable.”
When Wednesday tries to recruit Vulcan to “be a part of us in Wisconsin,” he makes use of a phrase designed to enchantment to that sliver of the nation. “They’re taking up America,” Wednesday tells Vulcan.
They each know the “they” right here is the brand new gods—and so they each know Vulcan has vaulted the border from outdated god to new—but it surely evokes different occasions when different entitled individuals discuss “them” taking up. They might be speaking in regards to the band of immigrants murdered on the financial institution of a brand new house. They might be speaking about Shadow, or males who seem like Shadow. They might be speaking about Salim, or about Ibrahim Bin Irem, who owned Salim’s cab earlier than him.
“Choose one,” Mad Sweeney tells Laura Moon early in “A Homicide Of Gods.” He’s speaking about hot-wiring a automobile, however he would possibly as effectively be speaking hijacking a few life, about selecting a future and selecting an identification, as a result of that’s what the episode’s about: identification as a car for getting the place you’re going. And that’s what Mad Sweeney’s making an attempt to influence Laura to embrace. Perhaps a brand new identification, however for positive a brand new life. Mad Sweeney will discuss a god into speaking a god into resurrecting Shadow’s useless spouse if that’s what it takes to get again his mis-given coin, to quiet his misgivings, to retrieve his luck. He is aware of the one means he will get his valuable coin again is that if she will get her valuable life again.
Life is valuable to Laura, now that she’s misplaced it. Within the final minutes of the episode, Salim smiles at her as she watches him kneeling to the west, and addresses a line of his prayer to her: “Allahu Akbar,” he says, that smile gentler than ever. “God is nice.” (That’s American Gods’ translation of the takbir, not mine.)
Not disagreeing, however not agreeing, Laura responds, “Life is nice.”
“Life is nice,” Salim agrees earlier than turning again, contentment and craving mingling in his expression.
It’s not Laura, and never Vulcan, who has finest succeeded at adopting a brand new identification and adapting to a brand new life. It’s Salim. Vulcan luxuriates in materials consolation and admiration, however falls prey to his personal entice, turning into a sacrifice—and what a sacrifice!—a god, glutted on the worship of hundreds of thousands, immolated within the pyre of his personal making. Laura trudges by way of the afterlife in a rotting physique, single-mindedly pursuing her widowed husband. Salim is in search of his jinn, however he’s additionally reveling in his journey. He’s free to do both, and desirous to do each. He’s free to tug to the facet of the street, unfold out his prayer mat, and worship one God whereas in search of one other. He’s free to be who he’s, and to grow to be whoever he desires to be. So long as he survives, that’s.
- I maintain saying it as a result of it retains occurring: There’s nothing funnier on this wickedly humorous present than Mad Sweeney getting manhandled by Laura, and bless Pablo Schreiber and Emily Browning for making it higher each time.
- Jack’s Crocodile Bar is again! (Extra exactly, we’re again at Jack’s Crocodile Bar.) Sadly, Beth Grant isn’t.
- Shadow’s response to Wednesday’s sacrifice of Vulcan is reassuringly human. “Holy shit,” he squeaks out, palms on his knees, “What did you do? Oh, fuck, what did you do?”