REVIEW: American Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented You

American Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented You

The lines are drawn in the war between the old and new gods in this week’s episode of American Gods.

Shadow has an uncomfortable conversation with his not-exactly-dead wife, he and Mr. Wednesday get arrested, and they narrowly escape an attack and deadly negotiation with the new gods, led by the menacing Mr. World. After the relatively slow pace of the first few episodes, this one moved at seemingly breakneck speed. It even gave enough time for Laura and Mad Sweeney to have a violent altercation, and for a beautifully animated “Coming to America” vignette featuring Nunyunnini, an ancient Native American deity.

American Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented YouThere are very few occasions for humor on American Gods and whatever we do get is usually rather morbid. In this episode, most of the humor came from Laura’s nonchalant manner despite her peculiar circumstances. Just watching how unfazed she was by everything that was happening around her was amusing, though one did feel for her when Shadow (understandably) could not bring himself to forgive her infidelity. The other source of humor was watching Shadow’s incredulous expressions as he witnessed what seemed to be an endless parade of weird stuff. (His appalled expression at seeing Media float into the room as Marilyn Monroe was just priceless). The man’s putting up with a lot but he is coping admirably.

The highlight of the episode was the big confrontation with Mr. World, the leader of the new gods and someone whose menacing presence pretty much identifies him as the villain of this piece. Mr. World first tries to woo Mr. Wednesday into joining their ranks, offering him an “upgrade.” He is joined by Media (as Marilyn Monroe) and a reluctant Technical Boy. For all his bluster and arrogance in the season premiere, Technical Boy is subdued and forced to apologize to Shadow for lynching him.

American Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented YouAmerican Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented YouEarlier in the episode, Media appears to him in the fashionable guise of Ziggy Stardust in order to warn him against antagonizing Mr. World, and it’s clear that the young god fears Mr. World enough to comply.

Gillian Anderson is clearly having a lot of fun playing these different media and style icons and she’s able to portray them all so effectively. I’m looking forward to whomever she will be playing next. She also proves to be more dangerous than she looks, as evidenced by her deadly “kiss” to the belligerent Technical Boy.

Mr. Wednesday turns down the new gods’ offer and everything becomes more sinister. There’s death all around as the two manage to escape the destroyed police station. Even Mad Sweeney recognizes the risk and he makes a run for it (despite an unfortunate injury). Laura’s also going to be following Shadow’s footsteps, seeking the light of her (after)life.

The scenes in the morgue were so reminiscent of Hannibal. So much of American Gods, despite the difference in source material, reminds me of Hannibal, from the camera angles and the music and the stylized way scenes are presented. While not a bad thing, I sometimes get distracted by the similarities, but this is a very minor complaint about a well-executed series.

American Gods, S1 Ep 5 – Lemon Scented YouWe’re beyond the half-way point of the first season of American Gods and the war is on. But with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday on the run and with very few reliable allies, there is still a long way to go before they can match the forces that the new gods have gathered. But Mr. Wednesday is old and wise, and a deity who even the new gods recognize is a force to be reckoned with. He has a few more tricks up his sleeve and I’m looking forward to watching Shadow react to what comes next.