Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Gods gets the plot rolling again in “The Unseen”

Ricky Whittle and Bruce Langley star in American Gods
Ricky Whittle and Bruce Langley star in American Gods
Photo: Starz

“That’s for lynching me, peckerwood.”

This week’s American Gods opens with the arrival of the Orishas in America, the gods and goddesses of Yorubaland, the ancient deities worshipped by many of those who were brought over in slavery, and who they prayed to in their terrible new surroundings. We’ve seen them before, in Shadow’s visions mostly, but this is the first time this season we’ve been given a proper introduction to Oshun (Herizen Guardiola), Yamoja (Bridget Ogundipe), and Aye (Karen Glave). Also, your ears do not deceive you, that is Wale as Chango, leading the chants over “Wade In The Water.”

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Bilquis’ apartment is covered with blood, but it turns out it’s not hers; nor did Technology Boy kill her. Like Shadow, he arrived too late. He’s also suffering a few crossed wires and digital scrambling from that mind-whooping she gave him back in the premiere. Rewinding security footage reveals Bilquis took down several of her attackers before being hauled away by Bill Sanders’ people. To be specific about it, his eldest daughter, Alexandra’s, people. After hinting around all season, viewers also finally learn that Bill Sanders wasn’t any wealthy tech guru but the billionaire philanthropist who founded Levitech computing systems.

Technology Boy won’t let Shadow head off to rescue Bilquis without him, since he needs de-scrambling. He’s useful, too, even if he absorbed Sanders’ phone by accident. The two of them capture one of Alexandra’s security detail, who sings like a canary once he sees the New God in all his digitized glory. Bilquis is locked away in Hoboken, where she’s praying she is not alone.

Bilquis needs the support because Shadow and Technology Boy aren’t going to make it before the episode’s end. Instead, she’s visited by World. The white man skin is back on since hearing Bilquis accidentally upended the entire “virtual church of the mind” plan by throwing Levitech (who is building it) into crisis because the founder is missing. (Let’s hope this is a short stint, I want Dominique Jackson back.) Crispin Glover’s had a few weeks off, but his argument to Bilquis for joining with the New Gods hasn’t changed one iota, and she, for one, is tired of hearing it. He leaves her to rot, but not before giving orders she be killed if she doesn’t break under torture.

But Oshun isn’t going to let her sister down. Whatever this country has become, however hard it is to find a single person to bend in worship, some of the Old Gods still have each other’s backs. Bilquis indeed is not alone.

If only Odin were so lucky. It seems Demeter’s conservator Hutchenson may be the fraud and user Odin is projecting, but to prove it, Cordelia needs his hard drive. Shadow rejects helping his dad steal it in favor of saving Bilquis, so Odin heads to Valhalla East, a bar filled with those who he’s convinced to believe in the Nordic gods again. They’re down to help, but only if he deals with Johan, who is out of control in his grief over his bandmates’ death. But Johan doesn’t take it well when Odin orders him to move on and form a new band—instead, he blows up the bar. All Odin’s hard-won worshipers, dead. It sends the old god into a freakout, running naked in front of cars, while Cordelia attempts to wrangle him, ultimately taking him to the psychiatric ward. Perhaps this is a new way to get Demeter involved, though not the way Odin meant.

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Emily Browning as Laura Moon in American Gods season three
Emily Browning as Laura Moon in American Gods season three
Photo: Starz

Meanwhile, some poor child found Sweeney’s remains, Laura’s pile of dust, and the bitter end of the best season-one storyline. The graveyard’s maintenance man, Gilbert (Martin Roach), is charged with cleaning up Sweeney’s blood, the graffiti that’s developed around it, and whatever the ashes are in the corner. But a kink in the hose distracts him from washing away the blood and Laura’s dust. As he goes to fix it, he steps on the potion she was given in season two, which she’d hoped to use on Sweeney. Blood and magic meet in the middle of Laura’s dust pile and... POOF.

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After all the whining, Laura is pulled from Purgatory just as she gets useful information out of the A/V Guy. As it is, he tells her she has a powerful destiny, and the earworm stuck in her head from last week’s video is called “Schweiger’s Requiem of Baldr.”

Laura’s return finally does the trick to bring her back to life, even though she’s stark naked when she pops up in the tomb. As she learns Sweeney’s been taken to the crematorium, she sees his lucky coin lying in the blood, half-hidden by the grave. Gilbert gives her Sweeney’s ashes to take with her, which, to be honest, is far more practical when hitching a ride to Illinois. We’ll see if she can finally bring him back to life.

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Stray observations

  • For those wondering about the pamphlet, it reads: “Purgatory: A Newcomer’s Guide”: Arriving in Purgatory can be difficult. Leaving friends and family can be a challenge. This document will help you find the right information and point you in the right direction. Below is a list of this you will need to do during your first few moments in Purgatory. You can do them in any order.
  • Odin doesn’t spell it out, but it seems Johan was one of his werewolves (Geri or Freki) and murdered his fellow band on the full moon.
  • I don’t know why Laura didn’t just cremate Sweeney from the outset. A box of ashes is far more portable and a lot more subtle than 5'2" Emily Browning carrying around all 6'5" of Pablo Schreiber.
  • Odin going off the deep end and running around naked is a direct link to Demeter. According to last week’s episode, she was put away for the same behavior.
  • Technology Boy And Shadow is an excellent title for an American Gods spinoff.
  • I know a lot of fans ship Laura and Sweeney, so I’m remaining open-minded for now—but I loved them so much as not-quite-enemies, that it feels off.
  • R.I.P. Cloris Leachman. The show buried the Evening Star, Zorya Vechernyaya, only two weeks before the actress herself passed away. She may always be Phyllis Lindstrom to me, but now I’ll think of her when I look at the sky at dusk too.
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