SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen episode six of American Gods.
Quote of the Week- “C’mon Get Happy!”
This episode delves into the American psyche and how we view two topics which currently face this country: illegal immigration and guns. It opens with illegal immigrants crossing into America and the sacrifice of what appears to be Jesus. It closes with the body of a god forged into bullets as well as a curse placed on those same bullets. This episode gives us a fresh take on illegal immigration and guns but it does not provide any solution.
A Murder of Gods opens with a group of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Rio Grande on the southern border of the US. Before they cross, they offer a prayer to God for safe passage. The river, which has been swollen by rains, is too dangerous to cross for non-swimmers. The leader of the group orders all non-swimmers to stay. Most of the people make it to the other side. However, one man, who cannot swim, is starting to drown when a hand reaches down and saves him. It is Jesus, who is standing on the water as he saves the man. This Jesus more closely resembles the immigrants than the one depicted in classical art.
On the shore in America, a group of armed vigilantes arrive in four-wheel-drive vehicles and open fire on the illegal immigrants. They kill several people as chaos reigns on the beach. It is interesting to note that one of the vigilantes has a crucifix hanging off of his rifle, as well scripture engraved upon it. Jesus steps in front of the bullets to shield the illegal immigrants. He is shot in the hand and the heart. He dies on the beach. A tumbleweed blows by and leaves a crown of thorns on his head. His body is in the classic crucifixion position. He was killed by bullets from the Vulcan company.
Meanwhile, on a deserted road, Shadow and Wednesday are walking back to the motel. Shadow is still holding his side where the tree impaled him. Shadow tries to make sense of what happened in the police station as he demands answers from Wednesday. Wednesday tells him that all of these strange happenings were there before Shadow met him, it’s just that Shadow never saw them before. Shadow finally asks Wednesday who he really is. Wednesday just answers that Shadow would not believe him if he told Shadow the truth.
Shadow finally tells Wednesday that he saw his dead wife. He asks Wednesday why she came back. Wednesday acts as if he did not previously know that Laura returned from the dead.
Back at the motel, they find that Shadow’s room has been trashed and Laura is nowhere to be found. Wednesday tells Shadow that Laura has left and he suggests that they leave as well. Wednesday pushes for them to leave as quickly as possible, while Shadow continues to question everything that has happened. The ravens tell Wednesday that Laura is still there. He tells Shadow that they need to leave quickly because the people from the jail are still after them. As they speed away from the motel, Laura comes running after them. Wednesday sees her in the rear-view mirror and turns up the radio to drown out her cries for them to stop.
Laura goes looking for her car to chase them. At the motel office, she discovers that her car has been towed. She asks the attendant where the police are, since the motel is an active crime scene. Mad Sweeney enters and tells her that the police are dead. Laura asks how is it possible that all the police are dead. Sweeney tells her that there are worse things out tonight than she. Laura asks Sweeney if he has a car. He says that he does and they go to the parking lot.
Actually, Sweeney does not have a car. They have to steal one but the only car that Sweeney can steal is a cab. As Sweeney is in the process of stealing the taxi, he tells Laura that the only way to recover his coin is to resurrect Laura. He plans to ask his good friend Jesus Christ for help.
While in the process of stealing the cab, the owner, Salim, appears with a gun and points it at Mad Sweeney. Salim has been searching for the Jinn and apparently fate has contrived for him to stop at the same motel as Shadow, Wednesday, Laura, and Mad Sweeney.
Salim has overheard the conversation between Laura and Sweeney. He knows that Sweeney is a leprechaun and so he asks Sweeney if he knows a Jinn. Sweeney tells Salim that if he gets Sweeney to Kentucky that he will help Salim find his Jinn.
Meanwhile, on the road, Wednesday and Shadow are travelling to their next destination. Unbeknownst to Wednesday, Shadow is bleeding out from his wound. Wednesday pulls to the side of the road and examines the wound. While he is examining it, something in the cut starts to move. Wednesday has Shadow move in front of the headlight so he can examine the wound better.
Wednesday places his hand over the cut as he tells Shadow that Mr. Wood (the tree that impaled Shadow) was one of the first gods of humanity. Mr. Wood filled that space in humanity’s brain that called for a god. But, Mr. Wood sacrificed his trees to become something else. With this revelation, Wednesday pulls out the roots that had been growing in Shadow.
In the cab, Salim relates to Laura that he had been afraid of almost every ethnic group in New York, but now he is not scared of anything anymore. Sweeney is tired of hearing Salim endlessly describe his previous life in New York. Laura closes the window to the backseat as she questions Salim. He tells her his name was Salim but he no longer knows what his name is now. They continue to talk and agree to forget those people who made their lives difficult.
As they drive, Salim asks Laura if she is dead. She admits that this is her afterlife. Salim is curious about her vision of the afterlife. She tells him about how in church she prayed that her family would disappear. Well, her prayers have been answered. Salim wants to find the Jinn so his prayers will be answered. Sweeney, of course, belittles Salim’s feelings for the Jinn before he goes to sleep. Laura quietly directs Salim to take the road to Indiana, instead of Kentucky, as revenge on Sweeney.
Meanwhile, Shadow and Wednesday are headed to a town in Virginia called Vulcan. In this town, there is a factory where the workers are extremely happy as they go about their tasks. The background music is the theme from the television show, The Partridge Family. One supervisor is seen going about his duties as he smiles and waves at the workers. As he is crossing a catwalk, the railing gives way and he falls into a vat of molten metal, where he is consumed. The metal is made into bullets with the Vulcan insignia stamped on them. This is the same make of bullet that killed Jesus in the opening scene.
As Wednesday and Shadow arrive in town, it appears to be deserted. Everyone is attending the funeral of the man who died in the “accident.” Shadow is visibly uncomfortable as he looks around the town where all of the people, including the children, are armed and they are wearing armbands reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Additionally, there appear to be only white people in this factory town. Wednesday explains to Shadow that everyone in this town will defend their feeling of a safe America with bullets. Wednesday further explains that the deserted streets mean one of two things: radiation or a funeral. Wednesday says that if he knows his old friend, the crowd walking towards them means a funeral and someone was sacrificed to the volcano.
Vulcan (played by Corbin Bernsen) gives an animated speech to the funeral crowd before they fire their weapons in the air and leave. Wednesday and Vulcan hug each other like old friends as bullets rain down around them. Wednesday introduces Shadow to Vulcan. Vulcan looks at Shadow and reveals to Wednesday that he heard in the wind that Wednesday wanted to start a war between the old gods and the new gods. He invites them to his home for food.
Meanwhile, Salim, Laura, and Sweeney have arrived at the bar in Indiana where Wednesday first struck the deal with Shadow. Laura and Sweeney continue to bicker as they order drinks and sit down. Sweeney wants to know why Laura came back to Indiana. Sweeney unrelentingly beats at Laura’s jaded facade with the truth that she is dead and that Shadow has moved past her. Laura refuses to believe him. Sweeney finally tells her that Shadow is Wednesday’s man now, not her man. Sweeney gives his final dig at Laura and Salim by talking about a certain sexual act and how women do not like it. Laura destroys his argument when she says that she likes that particular form of sexual encounter.
Outside of Vulcan’s home, Shadow is uncomfortable as he looks at a noose in the tree in Vulcan’s yard. Inside, the house is full of mounted and stuffed animals. Wednesday asks Vulcan how he came to be god of this universe he created. Vulcan answers, “sacrifice.” Vulcan pours a drink but tells Shadow the drink is not for him.
Wednesday asks if all of the wealth and mounted beasts are from faulty railings. This comment refers back to the death of the supervisor. His death was a sacrifice to Vulcan. Vulcan points out to Wednesday that he is no stranger to sacrifice. Vulcan reminds Wednesday (Odin) that he had sacrificed himself and Wednesday could always do it again.
As Shadow looks at the tree out the window, he notices that the noose is gone. Vulcan asks Shadow if he has ever seen a man hung. Shadow answers yes. Vulcan does not dwell on Shadow’s response but goes on to explain that he has franchised his faith. He says that those who worship the volcano can now hold one in their hand with their firearms. He says that firearms are filled with prayers in his name. He opens a revolver that is loaded with his Vulcan bullets, examines them, closes the revolver, and fires it at a mounted buck. Wednesday stands and asks Vulcan to join him in Wisconsin. Vulcan answers that he was on the bus before it was painted yellow.
Wednesday asks Vulcan to forge a sword for him to take to the fight. Vulcan agrees to make him a blade fit for a god. After Vulcan leaves to forge the blade, Shadow asks Wednesday if he trusts Vulcan. Wednesday answers cryptically that he knows who Vulcan was and who he is. Shadow asks Wednesday if he told Vulcan that Shadow was lynched. Wednesday says no, although those who lynched him could have told Vulcan. Wednesday notices that Shadow is distracted. He asks Shadow if this is because he does not know where Laura is. Shadow answers yes. Wednesday puts Shadow into a trance and tells him to find her.
In the trance induced by Wednesday, Shadow’s closed eyes begin to glow with the radiance that Laura sees surrounding him. Shadow sees Laura in Indiana outside of her mother’s house. He knows that she does not feel the cold as she walks toward the window. At the window, he notes that her breath does not fog the window at all. She watches the family for a minute before she leaves. Wednesday asks Shadow if he can let her fade away.
Laura walks back to the taxi, where she tells Salim to drive. Salim asks in a profane way if she wants to forget those people. Laura answers in the affirmative, in the same profane fashion, as they drive away from her childhood home.
In his forge, Vulcan has completed making the sword. It is beautiful piece of work with ancient runes and images on the hilt. Vulcan tells Wednesday that he should have a gun on his hip, as a gun could kill so many more that a sword. The talk between Wednesday and Vulcan turns to blood sacrifices as Vulcan polishes the blade.
Suddenly, Wednesday asks Vulcan if he told the new gods that he and Shadow were there. Vulcan answers yes and that the new gods are coming. Vulcan defends his decision by saying that the new gods are gravity. They gave him power by putting a gun in his hand. This statement by Vulcan in some ways exemplifies how some people feel with a gun. It gives them power where they had none or feel they had lost it. It’s a remarkable but short speech. Wednesday grabs the blade, cuts Vulcan’s throat, and kicks him into a vat of molten metal.
Wednesday smiles as Vulcan is consumed by the molten metal. Shadow is horrified by what he sees. Wednesday hands the sword to Shadow before he unzips his pants and urinates into the vat. Wednesday tells Shadow that he is cursing the entire thing. These bullets will be made from the cursed metal.
In the final scene, Salim is saying his prayers as Laura and Sweeney watch. Salim tells Laura that God is great and she responds that life is great. Salim agrees with her.
This episode and the entire series is absolutely phenomenal. It tackles the key issues in contemporary American life such as religion, gun control, racial injustice, and sexual identity. Unfortunately, it does not give us answers but it provides a beautiful canvas for us to view and possibly change our attitudes.
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