‘American Gods’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: “House on the Rock”

American Gods Season 2 Episode 1
Ricky Whittle in ‘American Gods’ season 2 episode 1 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’s American Gods season one finale aired on June 18, 2017 and ended with Mr. Wednesday attempting to gather the Old Gods for a war against the New Gods. The action in season two episode one begins on a West Virginia golf course where a man about to tee off is run over by Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) who seems a bit irritated at his navigation system trying to lead him to his destination. Tech Boy’s driving a limo with an injured Mr. World (Crispin Glover) in the back. Mr. World appears to have pulled himself back together by the time they’re escorted into the Black Briar Country Club.

Technical Boy’s anxious to wipe out their enemies, but Mr. World warns they need to first gather their forces and prepare for war. He also can’t move forward without his best salesman, demanding Tech Boy immediately find Media.

The action then traces the path of Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), Wednesday (Ian McShane), Laura Moon (Emily Browning), and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) from Kentucky through Illinois to Wisconsin. The foursome travel mostly in uncomfortable silence. At one point Laura reaches for Shadow’s hand, and he jumps in response to her touch.

Laura asks Wednesday how he could possibly have so many enemies, and he claims it’s because everyone is jealous of what he has. He also explains their destination – the House on the Rock – is where people come to “look, play, and wonder.”

The talk turns to mermaids and Laura wonders if her hubby believes in them now. Shadow Moon confesses he’s not sure what he believes in anymore.

We’re provided a little history of the House on the Rock as the roadtrip companions near their destination. Alex Jordan built the House on the Rock 50 years ago, although he wasn’t sure why he felt compelled to create such a building. It became an instant tourist attraction. However, the tourists also were confused as to why they felt the desire to visit the House on the Rock.

As we’re informed by the narrator, Alex Jordan began charging people money to visit his creation. He then used that money to continue building and expanding the place. Tourists were drawn to Jordan’s House on the Rock and he filled the area under the house with bizarre items that were irresistible to visitors.

The House on the Rock drew millions of visitors each year. It also drew the Old Gods.

Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) is one of the first to arrive for Wednesday’s meeting, although she wasn’t actually invited. The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) is there to greet the attendees and to his surprise, Salim (Omid Abtahi) shows up – also uninvited.

Meanwhile at Black Briar, Mr. World demands to see through the eyes of ARGUS. He’s informed only the President can use ARGUS, but he’s dismissive of that restriction. Mr. World claims he’s the man behind everything including the president, the Moon landing, and Roswell. Everyone works for him.

The news alerts us to the fact Easter’s destruction of the land surrounding her estate in Kentucky has wreaked havoc on farmers’ crops. The news is on television as a maid cleans room 208 at Motel America in Danville, Illinois. Finished with her cleaning, the maid (Mama-ji) scans the parking lot, on alert.

Wednesday and his group arrive outside the House, but Shadow has a difficult time opening the gate. He mutters, “You’re a god but you can’t open the f**king gate,” under his breath when Wednesday wants to know what’s the hold-up.

Shadow’s problem is solved when Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) arrives and opens the gate, sniffing the air in disgust. The smell, of course, is Laura who Mad Sweeney refers to as Roadkill Rhonda. Wednesday and Mr. Nancy immediately begin discussing which of the Old Gods will be attending this meeting. Easter’s out because Wednesday mowed over her rabbits. John Henry’s also not coming and neither is Whiskey Jack.

As Mr. Nancy, Shadow, and Mad Sweeney walk toward the House, Wednesday lags behind to make sure Laura knows she’s not invited. She explains she’s just there to keep an eye on Shadow, but Wednesday assures her Shadow’s doing just fine. He even has a new spring in his step.

Laura, of course, brings up her murder and Wednesday reveals she doesn’t have to be roadkill forever. “I’m sure we can come to an arrangement,” he teases. Laura replies, “F**k you and your glass eye.”

Inside the House on the Rock, Salim explains he’s simply following his heart. The Jinn reminds him what he is – just a mortal man. Salim knows The Jinn desires him, but The Jinn denies it. He claims to be solely focused on the task at hand. He then, in a much kinder tone, warns Salim it’s not safe and he should leave this place.

Salim doesn’t leave. In fact, he even introduces himself to Wednesday by saying he’s with The Jinn.

The Jinn informs Wednesday only a dozen have shown up for the meeting. And he points out that Bilquis is also in attendance although she wasn’t on the invitation list. Apparently Mad Sweeney and Laura are also not on The Jinn’s list, and he refuses to allow them entry because they don’t have the required coin.

Mad Sweeney, angry to be left out of the action, doesn’t understand why Wednesday would specifically leave him off the list. Wednesday just shrugs as Mad Sweeney’s forced to wait on the sidelines with Salim and Laura.

Bilquis reminds Wednesday she’s one of the Old Gods and should be allowed a seat at the table. “The wit and wisdom of Queen Bilquis defeated King Solomon,” says Wednesday, inviting her to consult the fortune teller about her destiny. Bilquis retrieves the card from the fortune telling machine, keeping its contents to herself. Wednesday does likewise, chuckling at what he reads but not disclosing its contents when Shadow asks what it says.

Shadow’s next. His card reads:

“Selina’s Prophecies

Every ending is a new beginning
Your lucky number is none
Your lucky color is dead
Motto: Like father, like son”

Wednesday confirms Shadow’s fortune is like all fortunes: opaque on arrival; inevitable in retrospect.

Mr. Nancy leads Bilquis and Shadow Moon through the House while Wednesday lags behind. He meets up with Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman), the Evening Star. He flirts and she reminds them they’re both old. As they speak, Czernobog (Peter Stormare) arrives and Wednesday’s happy to see him. Czernobog says he’s only there because he lost a game of checkers to Shadow Moon.

Mr. Nancy and Bilquis admire Shadow’s physique. Mr. Nancy, however, doesn’t approve of Shadow’s posture. He hunches over too much, making himself small and less a man. When Mr. Nancy says Shadow reminds him of his own slow son, Shadow takes it as a compliment which puzzles Mr. Nancy. Shadow explains he took it as a compliment to be compared to a member of Mr. Nancy’s family.

Laura demands a coin from The Jinn but he refuses. Salim warns The Jinn he’s seen what Laura can do when she’s angry, but Laura advises Salim he hasn’t seen everything. Mad Sweeney also tells The Jinn to give the corpse a coin. He finally gives in.

Laura uses her coin and retrieves her fortune. But, it’s empty. Mad Sweeney decides to fill it in for her. “In the very near future you give the f**king leprechaun his coin back and lie down and rot.”

Laura asks Mad Sweeney if he wants to try his luck, but he refuses because he doesn’t have any luck. She has all his.

Wednesday reunites with Shadow Moon, Bilquis, and Mr. Nancy and takes them to the carousel room. The door slams behind them as Mr. Wednesday says, “Time to ride.”

Shadow sees Mr. Nancy has already taken a seat on the carousel. He then notices a sign that warns no one is allowed to ride it. “You follow the signs, you never have any motherf**king fun,” says Mr. Nancy, laughing.

Wednesday and Bilquis invite him to join them on the carousel and finally Shadow hops on board. The carousel speeds up until it’s going so fast it’s impossible to make out any individual horse.

In the special effects equivalent of an LSD hallucination, the foursome fly through the universe. Wednesday cackles like a mad man.

The scene switches to Shadow Moon washed up on a beach at the feet of Bilquis. She reveals they’re “backstage,” which is actually Wednesday’s memories. When Shadow asks if they’re in Wednesday’s head, Bilquis replies, “More or less.”

American Gods Season 2 Episode 1
Orlando Jones in ‘American Gods’ season 2 episode 1 (Photo Credit: Starz)

They arrive inside a building where the Old Gods have gathered. Shadow Moon is astounded by the sight as he sees Mr. Nancy, Wednesday, and the others in their God forms. Wednesday/Odin reminds his friends that when the people came to America, they brought the Old Gods with them. Eventually the people abandoned the Old Gods and moved on. He speaks of the New Gods in America who’ve replaced them and who want to destroy Odin and the rest of his kind. Czernobog promises his hammer will swing when the time is right. Mama-ji does not believe war is coming and believes the New Gods will go away, as others have before them.

Bilquis addresses the group, advising her peers that the New Gods have more power than others have had. She reveals the New Gods have shown her their ways and how it can assist her in growing in power. “The choice is yours: evolve or die,” says Bilquis.

Shadow Moon speaks up, telling the Old Gods he believes in them. He lost everything, including his light, but Odin’s helping him regain who he was and be worthy of the unwavering faith his mother once had in him. He wonders why the Old Gods won’t help Odin remind the people who they are. He thinks they need to take the chance to be worthy of the people’s belief.

When Shadow concludes his speech, Wednesday returns the group to the real world. They’re now hanging out in a regular diner. Wine is poured, food is eaten, and the Old Gods – back in human form – enjoy each other’s company. Shadow spots Laura off to the side but doesn’t go to her. Instead he sits near Mr. Nancy as Wednesday tells Shadow he believes the Old Gods are coming around to his way of thinking.

Shadow’s confused as to what’s real and what’s not, and Mr. Nancy doesn’t help when he laughs at the idea that they rode a carousel. Czernobog pulls up a seat and Shadow asks him if everyone in the diner’s a god. Czernobog and Mr. Nancy respond by laughing at the suggestion, with Czernobog referring to the assembled group as idiots.

Bilquis asks Laura for her story, flattering her by saying she’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen. She wonders if Laura’s the Goddess of Death, but Laura says she’s just from Indiana. Bilquis is surprised Laura’s the bodyguard’s wife, and Laura warns her if she hurts Shadow she’ll kill her.

Bilquis smiles and leans in for a kiss as Mad Sweeney watches from close by.

Mr. World and Technical Boy watch a live feed of Bilquis leaving the diner. Mr. World instructs someone on the other end of the phone to recover the package.

Shadow and Laura finally talk, and they acknowledge this is beyond weird. Shadow confesses he never expected to see Laura again. Laura says she always knows where he is and then asks about backstage. Shadow tells her these people don’t want to fight the war that Wednesday believes needs to be fought. Their conversation is interrupted when Wednesday calls out to Shadow to come meet Mama-ji, introducing her as a badass demon killer.

When Shadow walks away, Laura and Mad Sweeney debate whether Shadow’s still Laura’s or if he’s all Wednesday’s man now.

Mr. World sends in Mr. Town to strike the target, admitting the old ways are sometimes the best. “There’s nothing like a knife in the back,” says Mr. World, adding, “I need to put the fear of me into some Old Gods. Let them feel shock and awe. Pain and grief. Let them know what real sacrifice feels like.”

As Mr. World’s speaking, the diner is simultaneously being shot up. Bullets with “Deus Mortuorum” (god is dead) engraved on their sides fly as gods are hit. Blood flows as Shadow runs across the room and tackles Laura, removing her from danger. Mad Sweeney’s huddled under the counter, drink in hand. Wednesday stands in the middle of the carnage, a look of utter shock and despair on his face.

After making sure Laura’s safe, Shadow makes his way outside. He crosses the parking lot, eye on where the shooter’s positioned.

Mad Sweeney stands up but slips in some blood and falls just as a bullet whizzes by and hits Laura who’s now standing behind him. She doesn’t winch but appears exasperated to have yet another wound to sew up.

Shadow finds the shooter, grabs him away from his weapon, and the fists fly. The fight’s short-lived as a spotlight beams down and Shadow flies up into the light source.

Inside the café, the Old Gods assess the situation. Zorya has been hit and dies in Wednesday’s arms, with Czernobog clasping her hand. He curses whoever did this, saying whoever’s responsible will not be killed by anyone alive or in battle. “She will find you and you will die with a sweet kiss on your lips and eternal darkness in your soul,” promises Czernobog.

Wednesday, still holding Zorya, asks, “Is this what it takes?”

Laura races out of the diner looking for Shadow. She looks to the sky as she traces his light traveling across the heavens.