Shadow and Wednesday take a trip to have a meeting with a very special God, and Tech Boy feels what it’s like to get on World’s bad side. Here’s our review of “The Greatest Story Ever Told”!
“The Greatest Story Ever Told” is split into three storyline. One follows Shadow and Wednesday as they go to a meeting with Money, another follows Tech Boy and his origins as well as losing his most meaningful follower, and another sees Bilquis, Anansi, and Ibis discussing the upcoming war.
At the end of the previous episode, Wednesday and Shadow made a deal, if he didn’t feel 100% better by the next morning, he could take Betty and leave. No questions asked. We see how Shadow feels better when, I assume Ibis’ cat?, transforms into a human and has sex with Shadow. She licks his wounds to make them better, and tells him that his wife is dead. What they’re doing isn’t exactly wrong.
The following morning, Shadow wakes up, and he’s healed. He think the whole thing may have been a dream, but he still has the scratches on his back and chest from the woman. Downstairs, Shadow speaks to Ibis about the funeral home he runs, and Ibis gives him much more background than he asked for, but it’s important that we learn it. It’s part of his “coming to America” story in a way.
He asks Ibis where Laura is, and before he can tell Shadow, Wednesday appears in the doorway and shakes his head. That’s when Ibis tells Shadow:
“They’re different when they come back. Like any formative life experience, it changes you. I’m sure your wife is lovely, but she’s not the person she once was.”
Shadow and Wednesday leave Ibis’ and go to St. Louis where they’re set to meet Money. Afterall, they need someone to fund their war.
At a diner in St. Louis, Shadow brings up the fact that the U.S. was taken off the gold standard a long time ago, so money isn’t really worth anything.
Wednesday illustrates that money is worth something by taking out a dollar and explaining how Shadow would trade a salt shaker for that piece of paper because:
“And why would you do that? Because this isn’t actually a piece of paper. It’s a story, and the story that you’ve heard over and over and over again. And it’s been drummed into you that this is worth something. That this is of value. No matter what country, culture, or religion, the whole world loves money. The greatest story ever told.”
Mama-Ji approaches them and fills their coffee cups. She tells Shadow that America wasn’t happy to hand over their money to immigrants, and they’ve worked hard for their success. Before she leaves, she tells Shadow:
“He will be the death of you. You know that, right?”
After she walks away, they wait their turn and are finally approached by some girl scouts. Honestly, this is the best personification of “money” in my opinion, and I got a big laugh out of it. Wednesday motions for Shadow to stay back, but Shadow gives his name to the girl’s anyway.
At this point, they tell him:
“There’s no account under the name Shadow Moon. That’s not the name on his birth certificate. There’s no account under the name Shadow Moon. No debit. No credit. Access denied.”
Does this mean Shadow’s real name is something else? Has he been lied to his whole life about who he is? We’ve already seen how his mother kept him in the dark about his father when he was younger.
At this point, Wednesday tries to do damage control and tell them that Shadow’s just the hired help. He doesn’t want an audience with Money. They tell him access denied, and Wednesday gets mad at Shadow. Finally, Shadow snaps and asks Wednesday again, “Why me?”
That’s when Wednesday tries to push Shadow away completely by breaking him down the way Mr. Town tried to.
“Well, I picked you because I needed someone with nothing to live for, with nothing to go home for, with noone to miss him or love him or give a shit if he lives or dies. That’s why I picked you because you literally mean nothing to any living person or any dead one as far as I know. You have no value. No worth. In this life or the next. Happy?”
Shadow doesn’t believe him, though. He tells Wednesday that the only answer is that he does have value to Wednesday. He doesn’t know why Wednesday doesn’t want him to know, but Shadow believe that he’s needed.
At this point, things get cold between the two until they’re allowed to see Money.
Meanwhile, Bilquis arrives at Ibis’ funeral home, so does Anansi. They are in the viewing room while a human sits and waits as her grandmother is taken care of it the back. She’s stuck between two Gods as they make incredible arguments.
Bilquis tells the woman waiting:
“A woman’s heart should never be so hidden in God that she cannot hear her own truth.”
Then Nancy pops in with:
“According to Maya Angelou, a woman’s heart should be hidden in God, so that a man has to seek him just to find her.”
“My faith is of a different kind.”
“Must be the way your ass is criss-crossing back and forth across the battlefield. Hither, tither, and yon like your ass doesn’t have a care in the world.”
“You need not fear me. World would have had an easier time convincing me if he had not killed Zorya. Make sure Wednesday understands.”
The woman asks if they know each other, and Anansi get smart and tells her, “Yes, biblically.”
In the back, Bilquis and Ibis reunite. He tells her that she’s a lovely as ever, but Anansi breaks up their reunion. He wants to know why someone as old as Ibis didn’t ride the carousel with them.
“I choose peace.”
Nancy goes on to talk about the book that Ibis writes, and Ibis tells him that it grants him a bird’s eye view, and that’s why he can make these decisions. Then he asks Nancy a very important question that sets Anansi off.
Please give Orlando Jones all the awards now. He’s incredible in this.
“Peace is a beautiful but shitty idea. Only a Goddess can adorn the sarcophagus of a God so help me understand what these new Gods giveth and what they taketh away.”
“Your thirst does not inspire our confidence only our curiosity.”
“I am not a God in the sense that I can’t tolerate the exploitation, oppression, and repression. My worshipers know: freedom ain’t free. They know the most potent weapon of control for the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. They know slavery is not a condition. Slavery is a cult. Human trafficking is a cult. Slavery got a rebrand like motherfucking the alt-right. And snatched, another one gone. Every thirty seconds another chocolate, brown, caramel, yellow, high yellow, redbone refugee girl with melanin in her skin gets snatched. Every thirty seconds.
And to make matters worse, these dazzling new plantation owners built a pipeline to take our children from school to prison quicker than a cut can bleed. And the lucky ones go from the school to the NFL where they don’t even let them n****** take a knee. They’ve been programmed since birth with shitty food options, contaminated drinking water, gun violence, police brutality, and trauma after trauma after trauma. PTSD, no therapy. Missing? No Amber Alert. Alone. Vulnerable. Snatched. Another one gone.”
“I hear you, brother, and I hear them. I hear each voice, and I write each name.”
“We have lived long enough to know these troubles are timeless. Suffering is not sacred.”
“And sooner or later, they all lay before me. War need not be the answer.”
Anansi sees that he’s not going to sway them to his side with this argument, so instead, he goes directly after Bilquis. He tells her that white people are default considered “good”. When they do something bad, it’s a good person who did a bad thing.
However, black people considered bad from the start so when they do something bad, it’s just their true nature coming out. He voice slides into his natural accent then as he gets more animated.
“You keep track of the days, numbering the years for scribes that record human history. Do you see progress? I count one, two, three African Gods in this room, and two of them want to exercise restraint!? And let the donkey walk continue while you live your best life?! War is upon us. An old white lady is dead. Wednesday avenges Zorya Vechernyaya, but if it was a dead black lady, like this sweet old soul, Czernobog’s hammer would not swing.”
Bilquis tells him that his words move her, and that Ibis and him see the Goddess and Queen she is. They start kissing, but before Anansi can share his idea with Bilquis about what they do moving forward, Ibis breaks the moment and suggests they get a drink.
Bilquis goes back out to talk to the woman who’s waiting for her grandmother’s funeral, and asks what her God gives her. The woman says he gives her comfort and community. She says that even though she messed her leg up and couldn’t go to college, she got to be with her grandmother, so maybe it wasn’t a bad deal?
She goes on to say that her grandmother was still laughing and happy. Even at the end. She was content.
Bilquis tells her that Jesus wasn’t content. He was a rebel, a troublemaker. She even says that he didn’t actually die for anyone’s sins. He died because he angered the men in power.
“He refused to be cowed. Controlled. Now look at the power he wields. The worship he commands. He was onto something.”
Does this mean that Bilquis is looking into martyrdom to gain followers without the help of the New Gods? I’m very concerned about this.
The anchor story of this episode is that of Tech Boy.
We see how he came into existence from the mind of a young man. We see him go from a kid who just wants to play Pong on his Atari to an adult who builds a computer program that mimic the way that Bach wrote. During one particular scene, his father loves classical music. It’s his version of religion, in a way. As this child grows into a teenager, listening to rock music, his father comes in and changes the record to Bach.
“I know Bach.”
“Listen. He only just returned from a trip to find his wife had died. Bach had already lost three children, and he would lose seven more. This is grief and yet the rising notes of joy, shattering his own rules. Can you hear it? This is how men like me pray.”
In college, he creates the program mentioned above and when he shows it to his dad, his father thinks it composed it. When he realizes it’s the computer writing the music, he’s so disappointed.
At his father’s funeral, Bach plays again, but this time it takes on a bit of a techno beat as Tech Boy appears at the piano, playing, as he comes into existence.
At Black Briar, Tech Boy is extremely nervous about what World will do to him since Argus was killed when he was there. New Media goes off on a thought about what it will feel like when she dies, but Tech Boy brushes her off.
“You know the difference between people and animals? People are aware that they’re going to die someday and pray to the Old Gods to stop it, but an animal is ignorant.”
“I don’t get your point.”
“My point is Media is not a person or an animal. She, unlike you, understood she’s a fucking God.”
This isn’t going well for Tech Boy because World shows up at that moment, and he’s pissed beyond belief to have lost Argus. He tells Tech Boy to fix it, but not before he almost kills him. He tells Tech Boy wars are won by information and right now, they’re blind.
World leaves, but the warning is clear:
Fix this before World steps in to fix it himself.
This encounter prompts Tech Boy to visit his first follower at his company. The young man we saw before is now the leader of a huge technology company.
“I only thought I’d see you again. Are you here to show me something new?”
“It’s time to get back in the game.”
Tech Boy unveils his plan for total surveillance of people online, through their devices, security cameras. Everything. The man slowly gets less and less focused on Tech Boy, as if his presence is being erased.
World comes through the doors then, and it’s obvious what’s happening.
“I’ve never seen a God more effectively argue his own obsilience.”
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Well, go on then. He’s waiting. Show him. No? Then allow me.”
Media appears on the man’s computer screen, and he sits down, amazed at the code he’s seeing. When Tech Boy tries to talk to him, he doesn’t seem to hear him anymore.
He’s lost him.
World says, “It appears he’s forgotten about you.”
Then Tech Boy tries to run out of the building as New Media shuts down every screen he runs past. He manages to get down some stairs, but he comes across a device on the floor that explodes out, attacks to his face, and captures him inside of it before shutting down.
World comes across Money’s girl scouts, and they ask if he wants candy.
“There’s a need for candy. I retired a God today.”
At the diner, Wednesday and World approach Money. Shadow sits behind them and watches. After they state their cases, Money answers:
“Money doesn’t make emotional investments or invest in emotional entities. Too much risk in such ventures. Not enough opportunities. There’s no deal for you today gentleman.”
He leaves, but Wednesday turns to World.
“I’m gonna win this one. People like me more than they like you.”
“I preferred to be feared. I’m not your enemy.”
The whole diner goes back to the way it was before with all the people moving around. Wednesday takes the money that Money left off the table.
American Gods airs Sundays at 8/7c on STARZ