American Gods is back, and it’s time for war! The Old Gods and New Gods take aim with Shadow Moon placed precariously in the middle. Here’s our review of “House on the Rock”!
“House on the Rock” picks up immediately after the events of the season one finale. Mr. World has been knocked around by Odin’s power, and now he’s ready to launch his first attack. We saw this scene a few weeks ago, featuring Mr. World and Tech Boy talking in the parking garage of the Black Briar Country Club.
Like Mr. World says, Wednesday could have killed him, but he didn’t. Tech Boy wants to hit back quick, but World tells him they need to wait. They can’t be off balance in this war, and they can’t fight a war without their salesman, Media.
We see World tell Tech Boy to find her before he’s escorted into a bunker. Once they’re below the ground, World orders the man running the operations to use the Eye of Argus, so World can see his enemy.
Y’all, Crispin Glover is freaking amazing in this show, and it’s truly shown in this premiere. In his interactions with the security guard, in his speeches, and in his mannerisms. Mr. World may not be as old as Wednesday or some of the others, but he isn’t young.
The story splits here. Mr. World represents the New Gods, and the Old Gods meet at the House on the Rock.
In a road trip for the ages, Wednesday, Shadow, Mad Sweeney, and Laura all make their way from Kentucky, where Ostara was celebrating with all the Jesus’, to Wisconsin.
At the start, Wednesday doesn’t know that Sweeney has told Laura that he was behind her death. Laura tries to get on Wednesday’s good side by asking why anyone would want to hurt him, and he tells her jealousy.
During the car ride, Sweeney reminds her that she still has his luck and Shadow keeps Laura at arms length.
Where Shadow works things out in his head, Laura asks the questions we all want to know…
What is the House on the Rock?
Wednesday tells her:
“It’s a place where people can come to look, play, and wonder.”
The history of the place is very white, to be honest. A man, with no real reasoning as to why he did it, started building a house on land that he didn’t even own. People, without really knowing why, started coming there to see the project. As more people showed up, the man started charging admission and the project grew and grew.
They arrive and Shadow is trying to pick the lock on the gate while Sweeney, Laura, and Wednesday watch. When he’s starting to get pissed that Wednesday won’t just unlock the gate, it swings open and Mr. Nancy is waiting on the other side.
Wednesday questions Nancy on the Old Gods that have shown up, and he’s disappointed with the news. No John Henry, no Whisky Jack, no Rabbit. Apparently, he’s not popular with the rabbit community or Ostara after he mowed down all those bunnies in her driveway.
They make their way through the gate, but Wednesday stops Laura. He lets her know she’s more than welcome to follow them inside, but she can’t attend the meeting. That’s when Laura subtly mentions being murdered, and Wednesday says that highways are dangerous. Then in his own way, tells her that he knows what it’s like to be dead, and maybe they can come to an arrangement.
Whatever Wednesday’s plan is, he needs Shadow, and if that means he has to make a deal with Laura to keep her quiet over his involvement in her death, he wil.
As we are introduced to the insanity of the House on the Rock, we also learn that it’s not churches or cathedrals that people build on powerful sites, but instead all the random statues of beer bottles of the stops along the highway for the World’s Largest Yarn Ball are actually the places that Gods tend to visit. Of course, House on the Rock fits this description. It’s also the home to the carousel that Wednesday has requested the Old Gods meet him at.
Upon arrival, Wednesday speaks to The Jinn.
He’s the security guard of this meet-up, and he’s not happy that Salim has followed him, and even less so that Salim won’t go away. That’s not the big issue, though. The Jinn tells Wednesday that a God is there that wasn’t invited…
Wednesday takes tokens from the Jinn’s hand and approaches her. Nancy gets a token, and so does Shadow, but Laura isn’t allowed to pass. Surprisingly, Sweeney isn’t allowed to enter either.
Bilquis asks if Wednesday will let her talk or if he’s afraid, and he simply says that “the wit and wisdom of Queen Bilquis brought down King Solomon” and offers her a token.
She places it in a fortune machine, and as soon as she reads it, she looks at Shadow with wide eyes. Wednesday uses his token and gets a fortune which he laughs at. When Shadow asks what it says, Wednesday tells him a man’s fortune is his own.
Shadow is up next and when he reads his fortune he’s confused.
EVERY ENDING IS A NEW BEGINNING.
YOUR LUCKY NUMBER IS NONE.
YOUR LUCKY COLOUR IS DEAD.
Motto: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.
Wednesday tells him it’s like all fortunes:
“Opaque on arrival. Inevitable in retrospect.”
Nancy scolds him with:
“It’s a motherfucking fortune from a wax dummy, dummy.”
For a moment, Wednesday excuses himself and see Zorya and Czernobog. The conversation is short with Zorya telling him to forget his war and Wednesday telling her that soon everything will be different. Czernobog is sure to let Wednesday know that they only reason he’s here is because he lost the game of checkers to Shadow.
Finally, we arrive at the carousel. Shadow gets on, and soon, he lands on the grey sands of a beach. There’s a viking ship near him and a large building behind him. Bilquis is with him, and she tells him that they’re in Wednesday’s memories, in the wings, waiting.
They enter the Viking longhouse and see several Gods already there. Bilquis transforms in front of Shadow and he takes in all his surroundings.
This is Wednesday’s call to arms, and he’s introduced by Nancy.
“Just because we are few and they are many, doesn’t mean we’re lost!”
Wednesday says that they must fight the New Gods so they can claim their rightful place in the world. His impassioned speech gets attention, but not everyone is sold.
Mama-Ji says that she hasn’t seen any evidence of war on the horizon.
Bilquis explains that she was lost and the New Gods helped her adapt to the new world. Now she takes her offerings in her own way because she allowed them to help her.
“Evolve or die.”
This feels like a warning to me, and I’m surprised Wednesday allows her to continue on with them after the speech Shadow gives:
“Why won’t you just let him help you? Take the chance to be worthy of their belief.”
Wednesday loses his god-like appearance and says they’ll continue this in the “real world.” Shadow is at Motel America, in a booth, while Wednesday serves wine and food is being eaten. Wednesday compliments him, saying Shadow could be his closer, and after he walks away, Shadow turns to Nacy and asks if they really rode the carousel.
“What motherfucking carousel?”
Czernobog pulls up and chair and Shadow asks if everyone in here is a god. Nancy and Czernobog laugh, and Czernobog calls them idiots. They he asks if they can change the parameters of their bet. If they do best of three, he can kill Shadow and go home. It seems like many of the Old Gods aren’t interested in Wednesday’s war.
Unfortunately, Mr. World has his secret weapon right there in the resturaunt. Bilquis approaches Laura, but you can see that she’s got an app open on her cell phone. She places it on a table, and flatters Laura, calling her the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen. When she kisses Laura, she pulls back, though, before walking away.
Does she realize that Laura is dead and she can’t suck her soul away? I’m curious…
Bilquis leaves and Shadow goes to Laura. It’s not too long before Wednesday pulls Shadow away to talk to Mamma G.
When Laura goes to Sweeney, they’re conversation is interesting:
“I guess we all make our choices.”
“He’s not choosing. That’s not my puppy. My puppy wanted his 9-to-5 at the gym and his Sundays in bed with me.”
“Your puppy’s gone. He’s Wednesday’s now.”
“No, he’s still mine.”
“Hurts when someone takes what’s yours, doesn’t it?”
Back at Black Briar, Mr. World tells Tech Boy that he needs Bilquis to feel complicient in this. I assume so he can hold it over her head later. He types in an order to Mr. Town to execute the target.
“There’s nothing like a knife in the back for close up efficiency. I need to put the fear of me into some Old Gods. Let them feel shock and awe. Pain and grief. Let them know what real sacrifice feels like.”
In the diner, a laser appears through the window, and someone starts shooting at the Old Gods. Shadow knows down Laura before he runs out the back of the diner to try and stop the shooter. Before Sweeney is shot, he slips on some blood, so maybe his luck isn’t all gone? Laura is shot in the shoulder but fine.
Once Shadow stops the shooter, he’s captured in a beam of light and taken away by the New Gods.
Inside the diner, Wednesday and the others see who was shot. He rushes to Zorya’s side and hold hers as Czernobog grabs her hand.
“You’re such a bad, good man. I do not wish to say goodbye.”
She dies in his arms and Czernobog curses the person who killed her, and the curse sounds like Laura Moon could have a hand in their demise.
“Whoever did this, I curse. I curse you! I curse you with the Czernobog’s curse. Fuck you. Fuck your mother, and fuck that fucking horse you rode in on. You will not even die in a battle. No warrior will taste your blood. No one alive will take your life. She will find you, and you will die with a sweet kiss on your lips and eternal darkness in your soul.”
Wednesday asks if this is what it will take to motivate the Old Gods, and I can’t help but wonder his position in all of this. I fail to believe that he didn’t know that Bilquis was a double agent, but maybe he didn’t anticipate Mr. World killing a beloved Old God?
I feel like this was all Wednesday’s plan, though. If Mr. World and the New Gods strike first, he can play defense instead of starting the war. He can claim that he was right all along and the New Gods were always planning this.
To me, “House on the Rock” shows how Mr. World plays right into Wednesday’s hands.
What did you think of the premiere? Let us know below!
American Gods airs Sundays on STARZ at 8/7c