Title: “American Gods Season 1 Episode 3: Head Full of Snow”
Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Platform: TV – Starz
Director: David Slade
Writer: Bryan Fuller & Michael Green
Release: May 14, 2017
Cast: Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning
Feature image: Source
Somewhere in America
Mrs. Fadil (Jacqueline Antaramian) is in the kitchen preparing dinner for her visiting grandchildren. Her sphinx cat watches her get on a rickety chair to get an ingredient for her sauce. The audience thinks she is going to fall but instead she gets the ingredient and is all right. There is a knock at her door. A black man is standing in the doorway; Mrs. Fadil tells him the black family is upstairs. He isn’t there to see them. She tells him if he is there to rob her, the TV is over there. Unfortunately, for her, he isn’t there for that either. He is Anubis (Chris Obi) and he is there for her because she is dead. An unbelieving Mrs. Fadil watches as he points to her dead body on the floor. She did fall off the rickety chair and died after all! She is confused why Anubis would be in her apartment since this is a Muslim home. When she was a girl, her Tita (Grandmother) told her of the gods of ancient Egypt. Those myths are still part of her. They along with the hairless sphinx cat start walking up the fire escape to other fire escapes until they are in a celestial desert. Mrs. Fadil, “This is not Queens!”
They walk over to a blanket spread over the sand. A scale is on the blanket. Anubis takes the beating heart out of Mrs. Fadil’s chest. Mrs. Fadil: “I was using that.” Anubis: “We’ll see if you used it well.” He places a feather on one side of the scale and places her heart on the other. If the bad deeds of her life outweigh the feather, ugh-ugh. Mrs. Fadil is apprehensive and she mentions some minor misdeeds. She pleads that she tried to do her best. Anubis finally smiles at her, “Your best is good.” He takes her to four doors that lead to Du’at and tells her to pick which door to enter a realm of the afterlife. She asks him to pick a door. He picks a middle one and she stands near the entrance. “Are you sure I do this with you? Follow the wrong god; I do not see my Tita again.” Her cat pushes her through the door.
“You believe in nothing, so you have nothing. You are on a path, from nothing to everything.” Zorya Polunochnaya —American Gods
Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is laying on a too small couch. Someone passes by him and awakens him. He goes to the window, sees a fire escape, and climbs the stairs to the rooftop. The rooftop seems to tower over the city with a direct view of the constellations. Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar), the youngest of the three celestial sisters, looks through a telescope with a stuffed bear perched atop of it. She spots Shadow and knows who he is. Zorya P. asks to read his fortune. Looking at his palm, she sees these things about him: “You believe in nothing, so you have nothing. You are on a path, from nothing to everything.” She sees that he has bet his life with Czernobog and she observes he doesn’t much care if he lives or dies. “You’d rather die, than live in a world with bears in the sky.” She wants to give him something, but he’ll have to give her a kiss first. She has never been kissed before, and she would like to try it. After they share a kiss she observes, “Kissing is disgusting, but in a nice way, like bleu cheese or brandy.” She reaches for the moon, plucks it from the night sky, and gives it to Shadow. It is a large coin. It will protect him. She tells him not to lose it like the coin Mad Sweeney had given him. She tells him to wake up now.
Czernobog (Peter Stormare) is lying in bed, with his crusty feet sticking out. Shadow wakes him up and asks for a rematch. “Do you want me to kill you twice,” Czernobog cackles. Shadow taunts him; he doesn’t think the old man can kill him with one swing. He has gotten use to using the bolt gun; he’s grown soft. If Shadow wins the checkers rematch, Czernobog will go to Wisconsin for Wednesday’s big event. If Czernobog wins, he’ll get two swings to kill Shadow. The perturbed Czernobog agrees to the rematch.
Wednesday (Ian McShane) drinks a cup of coffee and watches Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) brush her hair. “You deserve better than this,” he flirts. They discuss better times when she had servants and was worshiped. He asks Zorya V. to read his fortune. She indicates he will fail at what he wants to do. He asks her if she’d like to go for a walk. It looks like it is going to rain. He jokes with her asking, “When were you ever afraid of getting a little wet?” They go outside and he asks her for more fortunes. “Knowledge over comfort.” Zorya V. informs him, “They will kill you this time.” They kiss in the rain. Zorya V.: “What have you done? I can taste you on the rain, what else can I taste?” Wednesday: “War!” They stand under an umbrella and watch the rain looking powerful and triumphant.
Czernobog and Shadow begin their rematch. Shadow gets under his skin; Czernobog uses the same strategy from the first game. Shadow wins; Czernobog agrees to go to Wisconsin with Wednesday. After the event, he will kill Shadow with his one swing. Shadow agrees. He wakes up later. There isn’t a fire escape outside the window, but he has the coin Zorya P. gave him. Wednesday happily tells him, “We’re going to rob a bank. Want some coffee?”
Jack’s Crocodile Bar
Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) is on the toilet at Jack’s Crocodile Bar sleeping one off. Jack’s bartender (Beth Grant) stands outside the stall with a loaded shotgun right between his eyes. She tells him it is time for him to go. The hung-over leprechaun tells her the gun will jam or she will lose two fingers, “Don’t push your luck.” She shoots the beer bottle he had raised to his lips; he pulls a piece of glass out of his cheek and decides he’d better go.
Mad is walking down the highway when an old car pulls up playing “I’m Into Something Good,” by Herman’s Hermits on the radio. The kindly driver (Scott Thompson) offers him a lift. Mad asks if he is a rapist, or murderer. He good-naturedly says he is neither. He gives Mad the ride because he’d like to discuss the AA program with him. He is 11 years sober himself. Mad pushes back the seat to get some sleep. A truck with long pipes in the back blows a tire and one of the pipes runs right through the driver’s head. His blood flows out of the other end of the pipe. The EMT who arrived at the scene remarks that was crazy bad luck. Mad gets a panicked look on this face and starts patting himself down. Gold coins fall out of his pockets. He realizes he gave his lucky coin to Shadow.
Somewhere in America: Part ٢ (2)
“A salesman is naked in America without a smile.”Salim —American Gods
A Middle Eastern salesman, Salim (Omid Abtahi) has an appointment with a Mr. Blanding for 11:35 a.m. Mr. Blanding’s unfriendly receptionist (Lisa Merchant) takes out her lunch and says he has gone to lunch. Hours pass and Salim waits patiently. At 6:00, the receptionist tells Salim that Mr. Blanding is gone for the day. He asks her if he can make another appointment for tomorrow. She informs him appointments can only be made over the phone. Salim smiles at her and says he will call her for an appointment. She rudely asks him why he is smiling. He replies, “A salesman is naked in America without a smile.”
“If I could grant a wish, do you think I would be driving a cab? The Jinn —American Gods
Standing in a raging rainstorm, Salim hails a taxi. The taxi driver (Mousa Kraish) speaks in Arabic. The screen shows Arabic and English subtitles for their conversation which is in Arabic. Salim is from Oman. The taxi driver has been to Oman in a city called Ubar. Salim points out that it is an ancient city. It had been lost for over 2,000 years and it was dug up about ten years ago. He thinks the taxi driver must have been to the archaeologist site. The taxi driver curses at other drivers in English, so their conversation switches to English. The taxi driver has been driving for 30 straight hours. Salim is in America trying to sell worthless trinkets for his brother-in-law who hates him. He is not making any sales. The taxi driver is surprised; they sell nothing but shit in the stores here. The taxi driver falls asleep in traffic; Salim gently touches his shoulder. The driver awakens. His shades slide down and reveal his eyes are burning flames. Salim is startled but tells the taxi driver his grandmother told him about meeting an Ifrit in the desert once. The taxi driver complains that Americans don’t know anything about the Jinn. They think they grant wishes, “If I could grant a wish, do you think I would be driving a cab?” Salim touches his shoulder again and the Jinn touches his hand.
The taxi pulls in front of Salim’s hotel. He gives the Jinn his hotel room number. Another passenger gets in the cab. She is out of luck because we later see Salim and the Jinn in the elevator holding hands. A little later, the Jinn walks out of the bathroom after taking a shower only wearing a towel. With his eyes a blaze, he drops the towel. Dirk Diggler would be impressed with what he is packing. The Jinn: “I do not grant wishes.” Salim: “Yes you do!” He and Salim have hot sex. It is so hot that they are transported to the desert and the Jinn shoots hot flames into Salim’s body. (Consult a physician if that happens to you.) Salim wakes up the next morning. The Jinn has taken Salim’s clothes, but leaves his clothes and identification. The I.D. is for another Middle Eastern man. Salim takes the clothes and I.D. The Jinn’s cab is in the hotel parking lot. Salim gets in the cab, puts on the shades and says to himself, “I do not grant wishes.” It looks like he gets his wish to start a new life.
The Great Bank Robbery
“How many colors does Jesus come in? Why you’ve got your white Jesuit-style Jesus. You’ve got your black African Jesus. You’ve got your brown Mexican Jesus. You’ve got your swarthy Greek Jesus.” Mr. Wednesday —American Gods
Wednesday and Shadow go to the bank Wednesday plans to rob. They case it and pick up some deposit slips. Shadow worries about going back to prison. Wednesday offers to buy Shadow some hot chocolate with marshmallows to shut him up. He then orders Shadow to write the phone number of the pay phone across the bank. After he writes down the number he mutters, “Why are you talking to me about marshmallows? Like I’m worried about marshmallows!” [Takes the hot cocoa] “Yeah, I like marshmallows.” Now Wednesday wants Shadow to think of snow, a heavy snowfall. Shadow thinks it’s crazy, but he starts doing it. He even dozes off and dreams of the Cadillac driving over marshmallows while it’s snows. He wakes up and they are at a copy shop. While waiting on some business cards to print, Shadow and Wednesday discuss a woman they see wearing a shirt with Jesus on it. Wednesday: “That woman thinks Jesus suffered for her sins. They’re her sins, why should Jesus do all the suffering?” Shadow: “Because his dad sacrificed his ass.” Wednesday: “Don’t blame the parent. Plenty of suffering and sacrifice to go around.” They continue discussing Wednesday’s belief that the white Jesus is doing quite well for himself. Shadow: “How many colors does Jesus come in?” Wednesday: “Why you’ve got your white Jesuit-style Jesus. You’ve got your black African Jesus. You’ve got your brown Mexican Jesus. You’ve got your swarthy Greek Jesus. You’ve…” Shadow: “That’s a lot of Jesus.” Wednesday: “There’s a lotta need for Jesus…so there’s a lotta Jesus.” Shadow dozes off again and dreams more about snow, ice crystals form and fall on the copy machine. When he wakes up, Wednesday points out the window; it is snowing.
“Suppose I’ll be one more in a long line of men to climb on top of your dead wife.” Mad Sweeney —American Gods
They go to a café. Wednesday believes you can’t rob a bank on an empty stomach. They discuss the snow. Shadow can’t accept he made it snow. Something is either real or a fantasy. Shadow: “I’ve crossed enough paths to know that one in four people are rock stupid. Even the smart ones believe in delusions, whether it’s gods or ghosts.” Wednesday: “Shadow, at best you suffer from a failure of imagination. We’re gonna have to fix that.” Mad Sweeney walks into the café. He demands Shadow give him back his lucky coin. He tells Mad he threw it on top of his wife’s grave. Mad: “Suppose I’ll be one more in a long line of men to climb on top of your dead wife.” They nearly exchange blows but Mad has a long trek back to Indiana.
Wednesday is dressed as a security guard. He gives Shadow a business card with an alias. He is the head of security at their fictional security firm. He is to wait by the pay phone. If anyone calls, he’s to pretend as if he’s Wednesday’s supervisor. Wednesday puts an ‘out of order’ sign on the ATM and sits next to it. Wednesday takes the money the bank customers were going to deposit and gives them the bank’s deposit slips. Since it is snowing hard outside, people don’t want to wait in a line. All is going well, but a police car pulls up. Wednesday gives the police officer his business card. The police officer calls the pay phone and Shadow answers it. Shadow pretends like he is Wednesday’s supervisor and finds himself having fun conning the police officer. The police officer is satisfied everything is legit and goes on his way. Wednesday’s bank robbery is successful.
“The only thing that scares me is being forgotten. I can survive most things, but not that.” Mr, Wednesday —American Gods
Back in the Cadillac, Wednesday asks if Shadow believes in him now. He believes that Wednesday exists. They nearly run into a wolf. Wednesday smiles as the wolf runs by. (I wonder if the wolf is another old god.) Wednesday says, “This is the only country in the world that wonders what it is.” Shadow disagrees. Wednesday thinks this country lies to itself about what it is the same way Shadow lies about not believing in anything. He asks Shadow if he believes in love. Shadow says yes. Wednesday asks what brought that about. For Shadow, it was meeting Laura. As they continue talking, Wednesday confesses, “The only thing that scares me is being forgotten. I can survive most things, but not that.” While they are driving back to their motel, Mad is busy digging up Laura’s grave. When he gets to the casket, he finds a hole the size of a coin through it. He opens it and the casket is empty. Shadow opens his motel room door and finds an alive Laura Moon (Emily Browning) sitting on his bed. “Hi puppy.”
Anubis is the god of mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion. He is depicted as having the head of a jackal on a human body. The actor Chris Obi wasn’t wearing the head of a jackal, but he was wearing the color black, the color Anubis is associated with. In the show he weighed Mrs. Fadil’s heart against a feather, the same as Anubis did in Egyptian folklore. Later we met Zorya Polunochnaya, the midnight star. Zorya P. is not part of Slavic mythology. Neil Gaiman created the character for his novel, American Gods. The Jinn is also known as ‘djinn’ and as ‘genies’ by us in the west. They are supernatural creatures of Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. They were created from a smokeless and scorching fire. As the Jinn told Salim in his cab, Americans think they only grant wishes. From watching years of I Dream of Jeanie, I have to agree with him.
A running theme through this episode (and the series) has been belief. The gods of this show need it from humans to survive. If we believe in them, we will also worship them. They desperately need our attention. Once we quit believing in them, the worship stops and soon we forget them —the thing Wednesday fears the most. Shadow is a non-believer, he sees the world as either reality or fantasy. That view is changing since he got into the orbit of Wednesday. As Zorya P. tells him, “You believe in nothing, so you have nothing. You are on a path, from nothing to everything.” He is becoming a believer, a believer powerful enough to make it snow. Did he make it snow on his own, or does his blossoming belief give Wednesday the power to make it snow for him? Maybe what is attracting so many gods to Shadow is his power of his belief.
This is my favorite episode of the young season. All the stories the show covered were equally great. The cinematography was exquisite, starting with the celestial deserts of Egypt, the rain scene with Wednesday and Zorya V., to Shadow dreaming of snow. The acting was top notch, especially from all the guest stars.