Starz’ American Gods episode two titled ‘The Secret of Spoon’ begins with a flashback to 1697. A closeup of a spider fades into a scene of slaves huddled below deck on a ship. A man cries out to Anansi, pledging gifts and songs of praise if he frees him from these strange Dutch men who’ve bound his hands. He wonders where his mother is and a man in a wild suit enters the area below deck, informing the pleading slave his mother’s been thrown off the boat. The stranger, Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), also advises them to take swimming lessons and then tells them the story of black people in America. He provides them with a lesson in prejudice and what their future holds.
Mr. Nancy informs these men that even 300 years in the future they’ll be discriminated against by white men. Mr. Nancy’s happy when the pleading man becomes angry, saying “angry gets sh*t done.” When Mr. Nancy suggests they rise up, slay their captures and burn the ship, a man speaks up and says they’ll die too if the ship burns. “You’re already dead, a**hole. At least die a sacrifice for something worthwhile,” replies Mr. Nancy. He rips the pleading man’s chains off (the pleading man sees Mr. Nancy in the form of a giant spider talking to them) and he frees the rest of the slaves. They race upstairs as fire spreads below deck, destroying the slave ship and killing all those on board. The spider survives, walking off a piece of wood and onto the beach.
Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is stitched up after his encounter with Technical Boy’s minions. He then makes his way to Mr. Wednesday’s motel room where he finds him eating pizza with a naked young woman. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) claims not to know about the attack on Shadow until Shadow describes Technical Boy and his limo, delivering the message that Technical Boy’s reprogrammed reality. Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow to chalk the lynching up to an “occupational hazard,” and he’ll double his salary. Shadow accepts and heads off to get some sleep. Mr. Wednesday stops Shadow to let him know that despite not reacting angrily, he is insulted by Technical Boy and his attack and has a plan.
Shadow makes a bath and gently lowers himself into the tub. He moans in pain and removes his wedding ring. After the bath, Shadow falls asleep in bed and dreams he’s visited by Laura (Emily Browning). He wakes up and cries, overcome with emotion.
Shadow, wearing a Motel America T-shirt with a buffalo, visits his home for one final time. Mail is piled up inside the door and a Welcome Home Shadow banner hangs in the living room. He has a vision of Laura standing by the sink in the kitchen and then one of her lying on their bed. He packs up his personal items, glancing occasionally at the evidence box on the bed. He finally opens it and goes through the possessions taken from Laura after she died. Her cell phone grabs his attention and he checks her text messages which include a picture of Robbie’s penis.
He scrubs the house until his knuckles bleed and then finally has the moving company haul everything away. Mr. Wednesday leans against his car outside and Shadow says he won’t miss this town, calling it Laura’s town. Mr. Wednesday warns Shadow he’s going to want to hurt him when he says what needs to be said. He says word on the street says Laura died giving Robbie head, and tells Shadow he only should feel bad about that for so long.
They hit the road and Mr. Wednesday informs his driver they are never supposed to take the highways. Mr. Wednesday explains if you’ve seen one highway, you’ve seen them all, asking Shadow to keep it under 70 mph. He also shares that they’ll be meeting with people respected in their fields and then they’ll rendezvous at one of America’s most important places. But first, a stop in Chicago.
They stop at a diner where Mr. Wednesday has a meeting and he gives Shadow $1000 to do some shopping for him. Among the items he needs are maps, clipboards, five romance novels, Vodka, ear muffs, and highlighters. As Shadow passes rows of televisions, Lucille Ball talks to him and calls him by name. She talks about technology and how people worship in front of their screens, big and small, and apologizes for the beating he took from Technical Boy’s minions. She offers Shadow a job, saying “we” are now and tomorrow while he’s on the side of the road selling oranges that aren’t even organic. She also reveals she was impressed with how he dealt with Technical Boy and says she’ll give him anything he wants to work for her, even offering him a peek at Lucy’s tits. She warns him she’s trying to help him and that guys like him wind up committing suicide.
Shadow returns to the diner and Mr. Wednesday says his meeting went as well as could be expected. Shadow confesses he might be losing his mind and Mr. Wednesday believes he’s trying to wiggle his way out of the job. He tells Mr. Wednesday Lucille Ball talked to him and Mr. Wednesday says the universe does seem to have singled him out for abuse. He should ask himself if he’d rather be ignored, and Shadow immediately answers yes. “Always better dead than forgotten, and no one is ever going to forget you,” says Mr. Wednesday. Shadow has a choice: he didn’t see what he saw or he did. Either the world or Shadow are crazy, and Mr. Wednesday tells him to take his time to consider that. “There are bigger sacrifices one might be asked to make than going a little mad,” warns Mr. Wednesday.
They hit the road and Mr. Wednesday’s impressed with Shadow’s shopping skills except for his purchase of a cell phone. He doesn’t want one and he also doesn’t think Shadow needs one, tossing their phones out the car window.
We pause our Shadow story now to return to Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) in bed engaged in multiple sexual encounters, each ending with her partner pulled into her through her vagina. Later, she walks up to a statue of herself – the Queen of Sheba and goddess of love. In front of the statue is a case containing jewelry laid out full length. She watches as a human form is revealed under the jewelry.
Back to Shadow and Mr. Wednesday. They’ve made it to Chicago where Zorya Vechemyaya (Cloris Leachman) greets them at her front door and tells them “he” won’t happy to see Mr. Wednesday. He assures her he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t vital, handing her a bottle of Vodka. She calls her sister in and Mr. Wednesday gives her the romance novels. Zorya offers to read Shadow’s fortune but he doesn’t believe in it. She sends him off to sit down, instructing him to go down the hall to the second door, warning him not to go in the third door where her sister is sleeping. Once he’s gone, she tells Mr. Wednesday Shadow doesn’t know their world. Mr. Wednesday claims to be easing him in.
Slavic god Czernobog (Peter Stormare) walks out of one of the rooms and throws a lamp at Mr. Wednesday, complaining to Zorya that he should not be in his home. Mr. Wednesday offers him gifts and Czernobog reluctantly allows them to stay for dinner. Shadow offers to help cook, and Zorya schools him on family. She then reads the grounds from his coffee and lies, saying he’ll have a long, happy life with many children. Shadow replies, “That bad, huh? Any good news?” She says that although his mother died of cancer, he won’t die of cancer.
Czernobog threatens Mr. Wednesday telling him he and Shadow need to leave. Mr. Wednesday wants him to go with them to the rendezvous, but Czernobog doesn’t want anything to do with it. Mr. Wednesday says everyone will be there and they all respect him. Mr. Wednesday says without him they’ll die, and as they argue the third sister wakes up. They tell her nothing’s wrong and to go back to sleep.
Dinner is served and Czernobog discusses his brother and the presumption that his sibling was the good one. He talks about arriving in New York and then making his way to Chicago, and about his work as a meat killer taking sledgehammers to cows. He says it’s a craft and you used to need strength to crush the brain inside the skull. That’s a good death, and the cow is not angry. That’s not how it’s done now. He then challenges Shadow to a game of checkers. They both believe it’s an honorable game and will play once they finish eating.
They begin to play and Czernobog retrieves his cow-killing hammer from the mantle. He claims it’s responsible for 10,000 deaths as Shadow has a vision of blood dripping from the tool. They continue playing and Czernobog suggests they make a wager. If he loses, he’ll go with Mr. Wednesday and do what he asks. If he wins, he will knock Shadow’s brains out with his hammer. Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow it’s his decision, and Shadow agrees. If this is all real, if there’s a world under a world, it’s all good says Shadow. Game on, they continue playing. Czernobog wins and Shadow will get down on his knees at sunrise and have his brains knocked out.
More on American Gods:
– American Gods Season 1 Episode 1 The Bone Orchard Recap
– American Gods Season 1 Episode 3 Head Full of Snow Recap