The Secret of Spoons, the second episode of American Gods, introduces us to a number of key characters. While it may have pulled back on the mind-bending visuals of the premiere, the second episode intensifies the story and takes us further into the world of the Gods.
The Secret of Spoons kicks off with another ‘Coming to America’ sequence. This time, we encounter an African slaving ship on its way to America in 1697. The Africans, desperate and terrified, pray to Anansi, a deity of knowledge and wisdom, who usually takes the form of a spider. And boy, did he have some wise words to say.
In a disturbingly true speech about the centuries to come for these Africans and their descendants, Anansi (Orlando Jones) does not paint a pretty picture – to put it mildly. He makes their blood boil (because anger “Gets. Shit. Done.”) So much so that the men rise up and burn the ship that was forcibly taking them to a terrible fate.
Meanwhile, Shadow, seeking medical attention from the brutal attack at the hands of Technical Boy and his faceless minions, is quickly realizing that the world is nothing like what he previously thought it was. He’s pissed and demanding answers from Wednesday, who was slightly distracted by a beautiful blonde woman in his bed.
Wednesday assures Shadow that he has a plan, and doubles his pay. Still, he talks around the details of his plans.
Shadow returns to the home he shared with his dead wife, to pack it up and move on from the town. There he finds a box from the coroner’s office. Among other items, he finds Laura’s cell phone. Let’s just say he is not happy with what he sees.
After his things are packed up and shipped off, Wednesday, in not the most sentimental of words, tells him he’s only allowed to feel bad about his situation for so long. It’s time to get back to business.
Ricky Whittle continues to be fantastic as Shadow Moon. His voice and eyes and posture perfectly illustrate the weight of uncertainty he is experiencing. Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday is delightful, as always. Every word that comes out of his mouth feels completely natural. The episode takes the time to build upon their relationship as they continue their trek across America to Chicago for Wednesday’s next recruitment.
But first, Wednesday requests Shadow to pick up some gifts for the next Gods on his list. This is where we, and Shadow, are introduced to the new God Media (played brilliantly by Gillian Anderson), taking the form of Lucille Ball on TV. Media attempts to lure Shadow with an offer of better-paid work than Mr. Wednesday. Though Shadow refuses, he finds himself even more rattled by this world he is falling into.
Let’s not forget about Bilquis, who continues to regain her power from her sexual worshipers.
Wednesday and Shadow make their way to Chicago, where they encounter the Zorya sisters (led by Cloris Leachman) and Czernobog (Peter Stormare), one of Wednesday’s former closest allies, who does not welcome him and Shadow with open arms. What follows is a dinner sequence and a game of checkers that is literally a matter of life and death. Czernobog delivers a chilling monologue, which viewers can expect from each God throughout the season. Shadow, overwhelmed with grief, topped with this deranged situation he finds himself in, bets on his own life. The odds were not in his favor, yet again.
The pacing in The Secret of Spoons is slightly better than The Bone Orchard, moving the story forward without too much stuffed in an hour, giving viewers time to catch their breath between the absurdity. Thus far, American Gods is proving to be one of the most visually dazzling, audacious, compelling shows on television. And we are just two episodes in.
Check out the Monkeys Fighting Robots review for American Gods episode 1, The Bone Orchard, here. And here is a preview of next week’s episode, Head Full of Snow: