The focus was on death and faith on American Gods this week, and it was a jarring ride. Here’s our review of “The Ways of the Dead”!
“The Ways of the Dead” opens with a brutal lynching scene set in the early 1900s. This turns out to be a dream of Shadow’s but Will James’ spirit follows him throughout the episode, and we see scenes from the lynching again when Shadow talks to Mr. Ibis.
Will James was lynched because he crossed paths with a white woman, and that white woman later turned up dead. The town determined it must have been Will. Of course, the sheriff was a decent man who put off the inevitable as long as he could.
“The Ways of the Dead” features characters having series discussions about internalized racism and possibly using their positions of power (Ibis and Jacquel) to keep their business and worship going by keeping fresh bodies coming in the back door.
Anansi doesn’t want to believe that Ibis is using the death of black members of the community to keep his doors open.
“I do not answer to you, Anansi.”
“If you are taking brown bodies from this world, you are killing my worshipers. This cannot be. This cannot be!”
Earlier, Ibis explains to Shadow that Will James saw his own people watching as he was lynched, and they did nothing. He seems to blame them for not stepping up for him.
Ibis alludes to who is at fault for all of this in the clip below:
In Ibis’ funeral parlor this season, many layered conversations have been happening among Anansi, Ibis, and Bilquis.
During all of this, Shadow is possessed by the spirit of Will James, and he attends the funeral service for young man who is killed earlier the episode. They said he overdosed, but his wounds don’t look like an overdose, and we saw a police officer get very physical with him.
Anansi saw this happen, but did nothing, does this mean he is compliciant in this young man’s death?
This kid is actually Ruby Goodchild’s little brother. We met Ruby week when Bilquis spoke to her, and since then, she’s decided that she’s leaving Cairo. Her pastor tries to get her to stay, but after he hears Shadow’s eulogy, he changes his mind.
He tells Ruby to get out of this town, and if she finds a place that’s safe for their people, she needs to tell him so he can come to where she’s at.
This of course starts an idea for Bilquis…
She wouldn’t be dependent on World or Wednesday if she could secure her worshipers.
After the service, Shadow tries to talk to Wednesday, Ibis, and Anansi about what happened to him, but Anansi tells him magic isn’t real. This angers Shadow and he walks out of the room.
At the end of “The Ways of the Dead”, we see that Yggdrasil has grown substantially in the day that Wednesday has been away.
Wednesday leaves Shadow in the hands of Ibis as he embarks on a journey with the Jinn and Salim to have his spear, Gungnir, repaired. Before he leaves on this trip, he plants Yggdrasil in the funeral home and waters him by peeing on him because of course he does.
On this part of the journey, the main focus is monotheism in the face of the truth that there are many Gods.
Salim still thanks Allah after every meal. He prays whenever he’s supposed to, and the Jinn doesn’t understand this single-minded dedication, especially since Salim has seen that there are many Gods.
Salim asks the Jinn if Wednesday is the God he worships, and the Jinn tells him that he owes Wednesday. He’s one of eighteen gods around Wednesday’s neck, and that Wednesday can retire him whenever he sees fit.
This plays back to last week when World “retired” Tech Boy.
On this drive with Wednesday, he tries to get Salim to add him to his worship list, but Salim will not do it. When he sees that he won’t change Salim’s mind, he sort of drops it, but tells him that monotheist hurt other gods.
In regard to repairing Gungnir, the dwarf, Alviss, tells Wednesday that he’s not the person to see about fixing it. The eighteen ruins need to repaired, and that’s not his strength. Wednesday has to go in search of another to fix these runes.
It’s not a coincidence that the Jinn mentioned eighteen gods owe loyalty to Wednesday, and he has eighteen runes on his spear. Does this channel all their power into the weapon?
Despite everything, the group parts ways, and Salim still follows the Jinn even though he won’t admit that Allah isn’t the one true God.
In New Orleans, Laura and Sweeney meet the Baron and Brigitte, and things get crazy.
The Baron agrees that he’ll do this as a favor to Sweeney, and that he’ll only do it for Laura if she pays him in truths. So, he’ll make the potion for her, but in return she’ll have to answer his question truthfully.
Brigitte tells Sweeney they won’t be needed in the bar, so she takes him somewhere else, and it’s obvious she means they’ll be spending their time having sex.
In the bar, Laura talks to the Baron, and he calls her out on never being honest to Shadow. She never loved him, and her love is death.
Brigitte even told her earlier that she was always a cheater, and now she’s cheating her favorite god, death. This plays into how often Laura tried to take her own life before she actually died.
The Baron asks for his truth after he makes the potion, and Laura can’t answer if she’ll run to Shadow after this. In fact, the magic permeating the air leads Laura to kiss the Baron. They end up having sex on the bar, but this overlaps with Brigitte and Sweeney. They get physical after Brigitte says that Sweeney is in love with Laura.
The magic switches them, though, and before long, it’s Sweeney and Laura having sex while the Baron is back with Brigitte.
Now, the shipper in me was like YAY for a whole split second before I was like whoaaaaa, the consent here is missing. Sweeney and Laura have been played, and that’s not right. I want my ships to said, but I want my ships to sail with both people okay with what’s happening.
In the morning, Laura still has her potion, minus the two drops of something (Shadow’s blood?) she needs to complete it. Sweeney comes in to find her and get her out of their, and she blames him before he yells at her that this wasn’t his doing. They were both lied to.
Laura tells him that he’s a coward for following Wednesday, but Sweeney tells her that he hates Wednesday more than she’ll ever know. She leaves him in the bar, and we’re not shown if Sweeney will follow her or let her have her space after the events of the night before.
One thing is for sure, Laura Moon is one step closer to being alive again, but will she give Sweeney his coin back? Will she still have her superhuman strength?
American Gods airs Sundays on STARZ at 8/7c.