American Gods: Thanks to Vulcan, America Loves a Hot Piece of Lead

Title: “American Gods Season 1 Episode 6: A Murder of Gods 
Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Platform: TV – Starz
Director: Adam Kane
Writer: Seamus Kevin Fahey and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller
Rating: TV-MA
Release: June 4, 2017
Cast: Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning
Feature image: Source



Coming to America

The Coming to America sections have usually been set in the past. This week’s episode is set in the present day. Mariachi type music plays as a band of undocumented workers prepare to sneak across the border into America. The Coyote (Marilyn Camacho) tells her charges that the river they are going to cross is swift and deep, if you can’t swim, don’t attempt to cross it. The families pray and prepare to cross. A tattooed man (David Labiosa) with a large tattoo of a cross doesn’t take her advice and nearly drowns. A mysterious man, Mexican Jesus (Ernesto Reyes) saves him and walks on the water. Tattooed Man: “You saved me. Thank you. Who are you?” Mexican Jesus: “You already know my name.” A light shines over his head like a halo. Before the group can celebrate making it to America, some vehicles pull up. Armed men get out of the vehicles and open fire. One of the guns has Thy Kingdom Come written on it. The man firing the weapon holds a crucifix in his hand. His gunsight looks like a cross. They are firing Vulcan bullets at the immigrant men, women, and children. Mexican Jesus jumps in the middle of the carnage and holds up his hands to stop it. They shoot him in one hand, then in the other hand, and finally in his heart. He lays on the ground in the pose of hanging on the cross. A tumbleweed goes by him giving him a crown of thorns.


What’s a god? Can we even know they exist? People believe things, which means they’re real. That means we know they exist. So what came first? Gods or the people who believed in them?” Mr. Wednesday —American Gods

Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) are walking back to the Starbrite motel after narrowly escaping the massacre at the police station. Shadow: “What the hell was that in there? Marilyn Monroe just floats into a fucking room! They massacred a station full of cops and just left us in the middle of it! And then I get stabbed by Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree!” Wednesday thinks it was a warning to him and a sacrifice to themselves. Shadow asks who is Wednesday. He tells him he wouldn’t believe him. Who were those other people? Are they gods? Wednesday: “What’s a god? Can we even know they exist? People believe things, which means they’re real. That means we know they exist. So what came first? Gods or the people who believed in them?” Shadow asks why can’t people see and know what is going on. Wednesday says it is in the periphery of our vision, we are afraid to look at things outside the ordinary. Shadow finally tells Wednesday that he saw Laura (Emily Browning). Wednesday actually looks surprised. (I thought the ravens told him last episode.) They are back at the motel and see the damage Laura made beating up Mad Sweeny (Pablo Schreiber). Shadow is wondering why she came back, what was her purpose. Wednesday wants to get out of there in a hurry, so he suggests she came by to let Shadow go. As they drive away in Wednesday’s Cadillac, Laura runs behind them calling Shadow’s name. Wednesday sees her, turns the radio up higher, and speeds away.

“Did you just name drop Jesus Christ like you know a guy who knows a guy?” Laura Moon —American Gods

Laura goes up to the motel clerk and asks him about her car. He tells her the cops impounded the car because it belonged to a dead woman. Laura: “I am the dead woman. Where is my fucking car?” Mad Sweeny walks up and tells Laura the police are dead. She asks him what does that mean. He tells her there are things worse than her out there. Laura asks him does he have a car. He says he does and proceeds to try to steal a taxi. He isn’t going to let her out of his sight while she has his coin in her. Mad tells her what she needs is to be resurrected. That way she won’t need the coin to be alive. He mentions his ‘friend’ Jesus. Laura: “Did you just name drop Jesus Christ like you know a guy who knows a guy?” Mad: “I do know a guy who knows a guy, and the guy sitting next to that guy is your guy.” Laura: “And who is this guy your guy knows?” Mad: “Someone who can perform a resurrection without the use of a charmed coin.” Laura: “You’re just going to convince this guy to bring me back to life?” Mad: “I can be very convincing.” Laura asks Mad what he is. Mad tells her he is a leprechaun. Salim (Omid Abtahi) steps out with a gun and tells them not to steal his cab. He asks Mad if he is a leprechaun, and has he met the jinn before. Mad tells Salim he can take him to his jinn and he can help Laura with her resurrection, but they need to go to Kentucky. The three board Salim’s cab and hit the open road.

Shadow is bleeding from the attack by the tree. Frenzied jazz music plays in the background. Wednesday has to pull over to use his car’s headlights to see the wound. The wood in Shadow is moving.  Wednesday explains what is happening. Mr. Wednesday: “There’s always been a god-shaped hole in man’s head. Trees were the first to fill it. Mr. Wood was the trees. Mr. Wood was the forest. Well, he was a very old god who saw something very new. He saw a god-fearing society turn towards complete industrialization. So what did he do? He sacrificed his trees. He sacrificed his forest. And he became something else.” He pulls the wood out of Shadow and kisses his forehead.

“Fuck those assholes.” Laura Moon and Salim  —American Gods

Salim is talking non-stop and Mad angrily begs him to stop. Both he and Laura see the driver identification badge and realize this isn’t Salim’s cab. Laura asks him if he killed the original driver. He assures her he didn’t and tells her he has a new life and identity and he isn’t going back to his old one. She agrees with his life choice and says, “Fuck those assholes.” She doesn’t think she will ever see her family again, and she is glad. Salim says, “Fuck those assholes,” and she agrees with him. Mad calls her a ‘cunt’ and she grabs him by the lips and tells him not to say that word to her again. Salim pleasantly asks Laura if she is dead, because she smells like it. She tells him this is her afterlife. He tells them that he is looking for the jinn, because he knows him, and that the jinn is his afterlife. Mad chuckles and says, “Did you have a genie in your bottle? Did you rub one out of him, darling?” Salim looks bashful. After he falls asleep, Laura signals to Salim to make a turn. On a map, we see them heading to Indiana instead of Kentucky. On the same map, we see that Mr. Wednesday and Shadow are heading towards Virginia.

“There aren’t just two Americas. Everybody looks at Lady Liberty and sees a different face. Mr. Wednesday”  —American Gods

In the background, the Partridge Family sings “C’mon Get Happy”. The plant manager walks through the plant with his World Greatest Boss mug greeting his workers. He bumps into a faulty railing and falls into a molten vat, he and his mug melt away. Welcome to Vulcan, Virginia, the proud manufacturing home of Vulcan bullets. Wednesday and Shadow drive through empty streets and where shop owners look at them suspiciously. Mr. Wednesday: “There aren’t just two Americas. Everybody looks at Lady Liberty and sees a different face. Even if it crumbles under question. People will defend the warm, safe feeling their America gives them. They will defend it with bullets.” The song “I Put a Spell on You” plays as a funeral possession led by Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen) walks down Main Street. Everyone is armed. Wednesday tells Shadow that there must have been sacrifice. Shadow looks confused. He explains that it is cheaper to let someone die than making the plant safer. At the end of the possession, Vulcan speaks to the ‘mourners’ and they shoot up into the sky. Wednesday gets out of the car and advises Shadow to take cover. The bullets they just shot into the sky all fall down. Vulcan and Wednesday warmly greet each other. Vulcan looks suspiciously at Shadow. Wednesday is there to recruit him for his war against the new gods.

Image source

Mad Sweeny wakes up and realizes they aren’t in Kentucky. They are back at Jack’s Crocodile Bar. The three get a booth. Mad tells Laura that Shadow has moved on and that she should to. Shadow has pledged his allegiance to Wednesday. She mentions they kissed. Mad tells her Shadow could taste death on her when they kissed. She had said earlier about her family ‘fuck’em all’, but here they are back in Indiana. He again advises her to move on. She tells him that Shadow made her heart beat. Mad turns to Salim and asks him why men like anal sex. He says that women don’t like it. He tells Laura that her love for Shadow is like anal. Mad: “That’s some profound knowledge for you right there. Wrapped up in a quaint sexual metaphor.” Laura responds that she likes anal.

“You are what you worship.” Vulcan  —American Gods

Shadow looks at an old hanging tree. He is ready to leave. Vulcan’s house is full of mounted animal heads. He asks Shadow if he has even seen a man hanged. (We of course know that he knows about the experience firsthand.) Vulcan mentions Mr. Wednesday hanging himself. (This is part of Norse mythology of Odin hanging himself for knowledge.)  He tells them faith doesn’t have to leave the faithful dangling. He has franchised his faith. Vulcan: “You are what you worship. God of the volcano. Those who worship hold a volcano in the palm of their hand. It’s filled with prayers in my name. The power of fire is firepower. Not god, but godlike. And they believe. It fills their spirits every time they pull the trigger. They feel my heat on their hip and it keeps them warm at night. He finishes by shooting at one of his mounted animal heads. Wednesday asks him to come to Wisconsin with him and stand with him. He asks Vulcan to forge him a blade in his ‘volcano’. Vulcan promises to make him a blade worthy of a god. Shadow asks Wednesday if he trusts Vulcan. He tells Shadow he knows who Vulcan is and he can depend on it. He is going to use him to send a message. He won’t elaborate further, because he knows Shadow’s mind is on Laura. He tells him to close his eyes. Mr. Wednesday places his hands above Shadow’s eyes and Shadow can see her. She is outside her mother’s home watching her family. They don’t see her. Wednesday says Shadow can see her, but asks can he let her fade away. Laura walks back to the cab and tells Salim, “Fuck those assholes.”

“Every bullet fired in a crowded movie theater is a prayer in my name. And that prayer makes them want to pray even harder.” Vulcan —American Gods

Vulcan makes Wednesday a cool looking sword. Vulcan tells him he should have made him a gun. Wednesday tells him the gun makes a blood sacrifice for him. Vulcan tells Wednesday that he could use a blood sacrifice. Wednesday asks him did he tell the new gods they were there. Vulcan explains his betrayal to Wednesday; he was a story people stopped telling. The new gods made him relevant again. Vulcan: “Every bullet fired in a crowded movie theater is a prayer in my name. And that prayer makes them want to pray even harder.” Vulcan calls Wednesday a martyr. Wednesday tells him that actually they will think Vulcan is a martyr. The old gods will think the new gods killed him for pledging his allegiance to Wednesday and making him a blade. Wednesday chops Vulcan’s head off and kicks his body into the molten vat. “Holy shit.” Shadow screams out with his hands on his knees, “What did you do? Oh, fuck, what did you do?” Wednesday unzips his pants and pees in the vat to curse Vulcan’s enterprise. The vat makes bullets out of him the same way it did with the plant manager.

Salim pulls over for evening prayer. He kneels on his prayer rug and starts praying. He smiles at Laura and says, “God is great.” Laura smiles back at him and says, “Life is great.” Salim looks serenely into the distance.



“They used a sledgehammer to swat a fly.”

Racist Americans gun down unarmed undocumented workers trying to get to America. Shadow and Mr. Wednesday drive into a small industrial town in the south that manufactures bullets and where everyone carries a weapon and views strangers (especially dark ones) suspiciously. I’m going to take a wild guess that the episode is saying that America loves its guns and hates strangers who don’t look like the majority of the country. I didn’t have a problem with what they were saying, but they could have used a little more subtlety to get their point made. They used a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Vulcan, Virginia seemed like a symbol of Trump’s America, with Vulcan being a stand in for Trump. A group of gun toting, small-minded people, worshiping a violent narcissist. It was a little too on the nose. It made things too predictable, something I haven’t said about the show before. When the undocumented workers crossed the river, I knew an American militia group were going to shoot them. Even the way they killed Mexican Jesus was predictable. The Coming to America scene and the scenes in Vulcan were good, but not up to the standards, the show has set in the previous episodes.

I enjoyed the road trip between Laura, Salim, and Mad much better. It was darkly funny. Laura smacking around Mad will always be funny. I liked the chemistry among the three. Salim’s sunniness was a nice counterpoint to the darkness and negativity Laura and Mad radiate. Mad actually said some interesting things to Laura about moving on. I hope the road trip with these three continue. I wouldn’t want to be a passenger in the cab with them; Laura must be ripe.

Grade: B









Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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