As they mourn the death of a beloved Old God, the Old Gods split up to complete different tasks while Sweeney and Laura track Shadow’s light. Here’s our review of “The Beguiling Man”!
“The Beguiling Man” opens up at the diner with Czernobog covering up Zorya’s body in the bed of his truck. He’s filled with grief as he lists all the things that need to be done for her. When Mama-Ji tells him that he needs to get ready for the next Zorya, he tells her that there will be no others:
“You let the dust of the Old Star slip right between your fingers, huh? There are no more believers left for Zorya, so there will be no more life for her. I know a new star will soon rise from the horizon and the ?hounds gate? will rest in the hands of this newborn star. We must pray that she is up to the task. If not, this country will be barren of believers.”
Wednesday tells him that he will have his vengeance for her death. Czernobog tells them that when his hammer swings, he will end up banishing all their enemies to Hell.
After he leaves, and Wednesday brushes off Laura, he asks Mama-Ji if she’ll fight with them. Of course, she says she will because he brought war to her doorstep.
I truly believe that Wednesday knew that something would happen, and the Old Gods would strike after his demonstration at Ostara’s. I really don’t believe he intended for Zorya to be killed, though.
Instead the diner, Laura is pissed that they’re not going after Shadow yet, and there having a wake in the parking lot. When Sweeney tells her that Zorya won’t be coming back, Laura agrees because she’s dead, but she doesn’t understand the far-reaching implications this has for them. One the believers are gone, Old Gods die. This is essentially what Wednesday is fighting against happening.
Mama-Ji comes inside and tells the Jinn that he needs to retrieve his spear, Gungnir. Sweeney doesn’t seemed pleased by this at all. He’s even less pleased when he gets to the parking lot and sees that Wednesday is taking Nancy with him and leaving him with Laura.
Laura wants to know why Wednesday isn’t going after Shadow, and he tells her she needs to have faith in him. At this point Sweeney confronts Wednesday about how he’s shutting him out:
“You keep giving away my fucking seats. What happened to our arrangement?”
“Well, you two make sure a great pair, it’d be a shame to split you up. And Laura seems to think Shadow needs saving so go save Shadow.”
“I’ll not be dying in battle for Shadow fucking Moon.”
“A problem of your own making.”
From here, the story splits off different ways. Wednesday and Nancy. The Jinn and Salim. Laura and Sweeney. Shadow Moon and Mr. Town. The New Gods.
To make it easier to follow, I want to hit the very short segments at once before the big threads of the episode.
First, the Jinn doesn’t want Salim to follow him to retrieve Gungnir. He even asks if he has money for the bus. Much like before, Salim doesn’t listen and follows the Jinn outside. After speaking to him in their native language, the Jinn holds out at helmet for Salim, and they’re off to find his spear together.
In regard to the New Gods, Tech Boy finds Media, but she won’t appear to him. She says that she’s taking a break to reinvent herself, and when she tries to run away from him digitally, he stops her. Tech Boy reminds her that she can’t run away from him in a system that’s his. He’ll give her some time, but she needs to get her shit together quick.
Meanwhile, Mr. World has a debriefing of sorts with Bilquis. World mentions her pitch to the Old Gods about partnering with the New Gods. Bilquis tells him that his attack will just make the Old Gods listen to Odin and join his cause, but World thinks they’ll all scatter. He tries to make her feel like she’s on his side, but Bilquis tells him that she’s not fighting for the Old Gods or the New. She’s not fighting at all.
“Love and war may sit on opposite sides of a coin, but only so they will never meet. I will not fight for you.”
“The Old Gods see you as a traitor, complicient in the death of their kin, and you shun the Gods of progress. So, I wonder if you don’t choose a side, will you be trampled by both?”
During all of this, Laura and Sweeney have begrudingly paired up to save Shadow. Laura lets him know from the start she doesn’t want him with her, but he’s not letting her out of his sight.
“You’re not going with me.
“I’m going with my coin.”
On the road, they get into a conversation about Gods and fate. Laura tells him that gods are selfish. They take and take, but they never give anything back, and they just fuck up people’s lives. This really rubs Sweeney the wrong way, and he tells Laura, she messed up her life pretty good on her own. She got her husband sent to prison and then while he was in there for her, cheated on him.
When he brings up her infidelity, she tells him that’s not enough reason for her to die.
“I don’t know what kind of syphilitic time period spawned leprechaun, but in my world infidelity doesn’t warrant a death sentence.”
“Where I’m from, it’s the greatest sin. To betray your sworn true love is the crime of a coward.”
This conversation has such potential because we’re seeing a very loyal side to Sweeney. I want to know more.
At this point, they almost hit a cow then get a flat tire. During the changing of the tire, Sweeney tells Laura about a devil in NOLA, but the price would be steep. She tells him after they save Shadow. As they get back on the road, Laura feels like Sweeney isn’t driving fast enough so she puts her foot down on his. They almost hit a dead end barrier, and they get out of the car. Laura watches as Shadow’s light gets further and further away.
Feeling utterly defeated, Laura walks into a beautiful field of flowers and lays down.
Sweeney asks if she’s giving up, and that’s when he tells her he may have another way of getting to Shadow. She calls him an asshole for holding on this long, but they travel through a backstage-ish area to a bridge.
The train Shadow is on passes under them, and they jump onto it. Eventually, they both get inside and kick ass all the way to the compartment Shadow is in.
Now, we get to Shadow Moon, and his terrible predicament. We also learn a lot about Shadow’s past, and I feel get the hints that his father is actually a God. This plays into Wednesday telling Laura to have faith in him earlier in the episode, too.
At the end of the premiere, Shadow was taken by Mr Town, who wants to know why Wednesday trusts him so much. Shadow denies this and says he’s just a bodyguard. In the device he’s hooked up to, Mr. Town files through Shadow’s memories, and we see his mother for the first time and the angry kid he was after her death.
The first memory we see is Shadow arriving in NYC, much like the “coming to America” stories of S1, with his mother. His mother is very wise, measured, and optimistic. The way she talks is almost god-like to me.
“You’re light is strong, my beautiful son.”
They seem to have settled in in the next memory, and Shadow’s mom is going on a date. She reminds him to be careful if he goes out. He does go out and gets beat up by some guys in the park. They tell him he sounds white and call him white and when he says he’s not white, they beat him up.
The cops arrest him. His mother tells him the cops and the kids who beat him up both want the same thing, and they view him as the enemy.
“They don’t even know me.”
“They think they do. Their whole life, they’ve been hearing a story about who you are, and you’re the enemy in that story. One who will take what they have and keep them from getting what they want.”
“But that’s not me.”
“That doesn’t matter. Most things people believe about the world are lies. But you know the truth of who you are Shadow.”
“Yeah, not all of it.”
“But who was he?”
“Dead and gone. Nothing to miss.”
Later, we see Shadow with his mom at a doctor’s office, and as he’s waiting, a man behind him is flipping a coin between his fingers. He gives it to Shadow and then he disappears. This has got to be Wednesday…
We don’t ever find out what she’s sick with, but I feel like Shadow’s mom has cancer. At home, she’s arguing with someone on the phone, and Shadow hears some guys beating up a kid in the alley, so he goes to break it up. When he’s back inside, his mother tells him she doesn’t want him fighting.
“If you put anger out there, it will come back tenfold. You’re different. There’s a light in you that’s stronger than anything else.””
“I don’t feel it.”
“How do you know?”
“I gave it to you. I give it to you everyday.”
Shadow’s final memory of his mother is of her dying. She tells him that she didn’t want him to grow up so fast.
“I don’t want you to go mom.”
“Hey, you think I do?”
“I don’t want to live here. Not without you.”
“Be polite. Respectful. You feel the hate and the pain and let it make you stronger. No matter how dark the road gets you will always be shining.”
His mother passed away that summer, leaving Shadow alone. He goes to a church but he feels no connection. He’s angry.
Back in the present, Town shows him Wednesday’s coin. He tells him it’s a relic of a man who is unworthy of Shadow’s belief and that he needs to come to the winning side. Before it can get any further, a commotion is heard from the other side of the door.
Laura busts in the compartment and crushes a man’s skull under her boot. Shadow flinches, but she walks toward him anyway.
“I had to save you.”
Little do they know that Wednesday’s whole trip that day has been about wrecking the train. After an eventful, sarcastic drive with Nancy, Wednesday parks Betty on the tracks and starts giving her a hell of a battle speech.
Nancy realizes what’s going on as soon as Wednesday mentions Betty going to Valhalla, and he jumps out of the car. He tells Wednesday he’ll see him in Cairo.
“Ain’t no one going to fucking Valhalla.”
“The Beguiling Man” ends with the train hitting the caddy, and we see the explosion in Wednesday’s glass eye.
After tonight’s episode, I seriously think Shadow father was a God. I’d even go so far to say he’s Wednesday’s son or someone close to Wednesday. I wouldn’t be surprised if his mother had some angelic spirit about her either.
What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
American Gods airs Sundays on STARZ at 8/7c.