REVIEW: American Gods, S1 Ep 3 – Head Full of Snow

American Gods, S1 Ep 3 – Head Full of Snow

This week on American Gods more ancient gods are introduced, and we see their struggle to survive in a world determined to forget them. Meanwhile, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday continue their road trip and the former reluctantly begins to broaden his mind.

American Gods isn’t very easy to appreciate if one has not read the book, but one cannot deny that it is beautifully executed. The stylized visuals, intriguing music, engaging performances, and relevant themes continue to set it apart from many shows on television. The many gods in this expanding and diverse mythology are more relatable because they are suffering, just as ordinary mortals are doing, starving for the belief that they need to survive.

American Gods, S1 Ep 3 – Head Full of SnowAnd the theme of immigrants trying to find their place in a harsh and unforgiving new land is more relevant than ever in today’s current socio-political climate. One cannot help but draw certain parallels, and even if this is a fantasy show, it is able to effectively illustrate the kind of displacement and despair experienced by those rejected by their adopted homeland.

In this episode there are two more vignettes. The first introduces Anubis, the Egyptian god of death, who visits an elderly lady, weighs her heart against a feather, and leads her to a happier afterlife. It’s a touching series of scenes and one that allows a glimpse into the vast deserts of the ancient world.

American Gods, S1 Ep 3 – Head Full of SnowThe other vignette shows the encounter between a lost and lonely Arab salesman from Oman and a cab driver with fire in his eyes. The latter is a Jin, a mystical being who does not grant wishes, and whose days of glory are behind him. There is another explicit sex scene to rival that of the American Gods premiere, and that may shock the more conservative viewers. But what is so great about it is the way it portrays a touching story, one of two isolated beings finding a genuine connection in the midst of an indifferent world. And the intensity of an encounter with a being not from the mortal world.

Back with the main cast, Mr. Wednesday takes one of the Zorya sisters on a stroll while Shadow meets the Midnight sister and is given the moon. He also challenges Czernobog to another deadly game of checkers, and he wins this time. Mr. Wednesday ropes him into doing what is probably the most harmless bank robbery ever. He is appalled, and then he plays along and he even seems to enjoy it.

American Gods, S1 Ep 3 – Head Full of SnowDespite Shadow’s skepticism of all the extraordinary things around him, he faces every experience with a certain resigned calmness, not too shocked but also still fascinated. He is on a journey of transformation from a man who doesn’t believe in anything to a man who becomes aware of an amazing world. The limits of his imagination are being stretched and he might soon believe that even the dead can come back, just like his wife Laura showing up at his hotel room, fresh out of her grave.

American Gods is ultimately about the power of belief, and how this can shape what people become. The pieces are gradually falling into place for a great conflict between old gods and the values they represent and the new gods, representing the shifting paradigms of today’s society. It’s an exciting prospect but one may suspect that the results will not be as clear-cut as any regular battle. And that’s what makes it all the more intriguing.