‘American Gods’ Season 1 Episode 3 Recap: Head Full of Snow

American Gods episode 3
Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane in ‘American Gods’ season 1 episode 3 (Photo Courtesy of Starz)

Season one episode three of Starz’ American Gods features Mr. Wednesday’s complicated plan to rob a bank, a surprise snow storm, and Mad Sweeney searching for his lucky coin. The episode titled ‘Head Full of Snow’ picks up the action somewhere in America with a woman and her cat cooking dinner. As she cooks, the woman speaks disparagingly of all the family members she has to feed. She’s interrupted by a visit from Anubis (Chris Obi) who informs her she’s dead and must come with him. She protests, convinced she’s still alive but then she sees her body sprawled out lifeless on the floor. She wonders why, since she is a Muslim, it is Anubis who’s fetching her and he reminds her of her childhood and her grandmother who taught her stories of Bastet. Because of that, Anubis will take her to the weighing scales to determine if she can enter the realm of the dead.

They climb what appears to be hundreds of flights of stairs until they reach another realm. There, Anubis takes her heart and places it on the scales to see if she has used it well. She begins reciting her faults, but she’s deemed a good person. Holding her hand, Anubis asks her stand before five doors. She doesn’t want to go wherever her father ended up, and she asks Anubis to choose for her. He opens one door and when she’s reluctant to step through because she might be following the wrong god, her cat nudges her through the door.

Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) sleeps on the couch of the apartment where Czernobog beat him at checkers and sentenced him to death. He believes he’s awake as he climbs stairs to the roof where he meets Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar), the sister who was sleeping. She points out a formation in the sky, explaining the story behind the Great Bear (Ursa Major). It’s not a god but if it escapes, it will eat everything. She says it’s up to the three sisters to watch the skies all day and all night. If the Great Bear escapes, the world will end. She asks about his birthday and then reads his palm. “You believe in nothing so you have nothing. You are on a path from nothing to everything,” says Zorya. She also notes he doesn’t care if he lives or dies, which is why he made the deal with Czernobog.

Zorya wants to help Shadow but he must kiss her first. It will be her first kiss and she rushes in before he says yes. Zorya compares kissing to blue cheese and brandy, and then tells Shadow to take the moon. She plucks it from the sky and it becomes a coin in his hand. She warns him not to give it away and instructs him to wake up.

Shadow enters Czernobog’s room and challenges him to another game. Czernobog (Peter Stormare) says he doesn’t need to make a new wager, but Shadow suggests it’s possible he’s grown weak and won’t kill him in just one blow. If Shadow wins, Czernobog comes with them. If he loses, Czernobog can have two swings at his head if he needs it. Czernobog agrees.

Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) visits Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) in her room and she tells him to go to bed. He suggests she deserves better than her current circumstances, but she claims to be fine with her accommodations. Mr. Wednesday recalls how in the old country Zorya was waited upon and adored, promising things will be better soon. He asks for her to tell his fortune and she reveals he will lose. Mr. Wednesday suggests that’s just his fortune today.

Zorya and Mr. Wednesday head outside for a walk and they kiss. Lightning flashes across the sky, rain begins to pour down, and she asks, concerned, “What have you done?” He tells her war is coming as back in the apartment Shadow and Czernobog are deep into their game of checkers. Shadow wins and Czernobog agrees to go with them to Wisconsin.

The next morning Shadow looks out the window and discovers there aren’t any stairs leading to the roof. He then looks at the coin in his palm as Mr. Wednesday walks in and announces they’re going to rob a bank.

Back at the dive bar, Jack (Beth Grant) puts a shotgun to Mad Sweeney’s (Pablo Schreiber) head as he slumbers on the toilet. She warns him to move on but he believes if she pulls the trigger, nothing will happen. She does, and shoots the beer bottle he’s drinking out of, surprising Mad Sweeney and shattering the bottle.

Mad Sweeney heads down the road on foot when a man pulls up and asks where he’s headed. When he says Wisconsin, the man offers a ride to Madison. Mad Sweeney gets in, warns the man not to touch his penis, and puts the seat back to sleep. They’ve only traveled a few yards when the truck ahead of them blows a tire, swerves, and a metal pipe pierces their windshield and the man’s mouth. An ambulance and the police arrive, with one man commenting on the driver’s death as “crazy bad luck.” Mad Sweeney overhears and pulls coins from his pocket and then panics when he can’t find one in particular.

And now the story transitions to somewhere else in America and follows a salesman (Omid Abtahi) to his appointment. He waits … and waits … and waits, and the secretary is absolutely no help. Hours go by and she finally announces the man he’s waiting for won’t be coming back. The salesman asks to make an appointment for the following day, and she reminds him appointments are only made by telephone. He smiles and she can’t believe he’s happy so he explains, “A salesman is naked in America without a smile.”

The salesman climbs into the back of a cab and he and the cabbie (Mousa Kraish) exchange stories in Arabic. They discuss Muscat in Oman and the city of Ubar, the Lost City of Towers. It was recently found in the desert after disappearing thousands of years ago. Neither are happy with their current jobs (or lives), and the salesman describes what he sells as shit. The cabbie falls asleep while they’re waiting in traffic and the salesman leans through the window between the front and back seats and gently touches his shoulder. As he does, the cab driver’s eyes blaze with fire.

The salesman recalls his grandmother describing a man she saw years ago who also had burning eyes. The salesman asks if there are many Jinn in New York, and the cab driver says no. The Jinn says the people in America know nothing about his people and think all his type do is grant wishes. They touch hands and instantly they see the beautiful sands of the desert. The salesman settles back into his seat until they arrive at his destination.

The salesman tells the cabbie he’s in Room 318 and together they ride the elevator, gently holding hands. In his room, the Jinn is free to show his eyes and the salesman says, “I wish you could see what I see,” as the Jinn removes his towel and is naked. They kiss and make love and then the room melts into the desert as the Jinn’s true form is revealed.

The salesman wakes the next morning and the Jinn is gone, but he’s left his clothing and ID. The salesman steps outside and now he’s the cab driver and a Jinn.

Mr. Wednesday and Shadow pull up in front of a bank and after Mr. Wednesday declares it’s the one they’re robbing, Shadow asks, “Are you out of your goddamn mind?” Shadow can’t believe they’re doing this and refuses to be involved in anything criminal. Mr. Wednesday says Shadow will only be aiding and abetting and will ultimately come out smelling like a rose.

They’re both caught on the security cameras and after they leave the bank following a quick look around inside, Shadow reminds Mr. Wednesday he doesn’t want to return to prison. Mr. Wednesday tries to solve Shadow’s problem by buying him a hot cocoa from a store across from the bank, instructing Shadow to jot down the number from a nearby pay phone.

American Gods episode 3
Ricky Whittle in ‘American Gods’ season 1 episode 3 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow to “think snow” and to concentrate on making the clouds bigger and darker. Mr. Wednesday keeps repeating snow as they drive away from the bank. Shadow looks into his cocoa and falls into a trance, finally coming to at a copy shop. Inside the shop Mr. Wednesday points out a woman and tells Shadow she believes Jesus suffered for her sins. They then engage in a conversation about the many different colors Jesus comes in including white, brown, and black. When Shadow points out that’s a lot of Jesuses, Mr. Wednesday replies, “There’s a lot of need for Jesus so there’s a lot of Jesuses.” He then whispers that the Mexican Jesus came here the same way a lot of illegal Mexicans enter America, wading illegally across the Rio Grande. Shadow can’t believe it and Mr. Wednesday tells him to ask him himself.

Shadow returns to concentrating on snow while Mr. Wednesday puts in his order for business cards and posters. After the print job is complete, they step outside and snow is falling.

Next up, they sit down for a meal at a nearby restaurant but Shadow can’t get over the fact he made it snow. As they’re eating and discussing reality versus fantasy, a very angry Mad Sweeney arrives to get his coin back from Shadow. Mad Sweeney says it was his lucky coin but Shadow refuses to give it back until Mad Sweeney reveals how he plucked it out of thin air. He won’t and Shadow confesses he threw the coin away in Eagle Point, Indiana. He says it’s on his wife’s grave. Mad Sweeney insults Shadow’s dead wife and then storms off, flipping them off as he leaves.

Mr. Wednesday has changed into an A1 repair uniform and tells Shadow to head to the grocery store and pass time at the phone booth. He hands Shadow a business card, telling him if anyone asks what he’s doing to say he’s waiting for a call from his girlfriend because her car broke down. The business card is to A1 Security Services and it has a fake name listed.

Before Mr. Wednesday walks across the snowy street to the bank, he asks Shadow if he’ll believe in him if he doesn’t end up in jail at the end of the evening.

Mr. Wednesday hangs an “out of order” sign on the First River Bank of Chicago’s night deposit slot and on the ATM. He sets up a chair and waits for a customer, looking very official. He has a clipboard and he begins collecting night deposit bags while making each person sign in on the clipboard as a receipt.

Shadow watches from across the street, amused, until a cop pulls up. Shadow answers the pay phone as “A1 Security Services” and assures the cop the man stationed at the bank is legitimate. He even tells the cop to give him a call if he ever needs any weekend work. It works and the scam’s a success.

Day over, they drive off through the snow. Mr. Wednesday tells his bodyguard, “This is the only country in the world that wonders what it is.” No other country has people who wonder about the country’s heart or search for its soul. Americans only pretend to know what they are, and he knows Shadow can’t believe in impossible things. Distracted, Shadow barely manages to stop as a wolf walks out in front of their car.

Shadow asks if he actually made the snow, saying all of this feels like a dream. “What a beautiful, beautiful thing to be able to dream when you’re not asleep,” replies Mr. Wednesday. Shadow thinks one out of every four people are stupid, and even the smart ones believe in gods or ghosts. Mr. Wednesday follows that up by asking if he believes in love. Of course Shadow does, but he didn’t before Laura. Mr. Wednesday points out Shadow doesn’t scare easily and confesses the only thing that scares him is being forgotten. “We remember what’s important to us,” says Mr. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mad Sweeney makes it to Laura’s grave and starts to dig it up. He makes it down to the coffin and pries off the lid which has a coin-sized hole in it. Laura’s body is gone and the coin is also missing.

Mr. Wednesday and Shadow check into a motel and when Shadow makes it to his room, Laura (Emily Browning) is there to greet him looking very much alive.

More on American Gods:
American Gods Season 1 Episode 1 The Bone Orchard Recap
American Gods Season 1 Episode 2 The Secret of Spoon Recap
American Gods Season 1 Episode 4 Git Gone Recap