‘American Gods’ Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: “The Beguiling Man”

American Gods Season 2 Episode 2
Emily Browning and Pablo Schreiber in ‘American Gods’ season 2 episode 2 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Season two episode one of Starz’s American Gods ended with Shadow Moon sucked up in a beam of light after he stopped the attack on the Old Gods gathered in the diner. Season two episode two airing March 17, 2019 begins with Shadow (Ricky Whittle) hooked up to electrodes. He struggles to open his eyes, reacting in pain after receiving an injection.

Restrained and unaware of what’s happening, Mr. Town (Dean Winters) assures him the question he should be asking is not where he is but why he’s there. The electrodes activate and Shadow writhes in pain.

Meanwhile, Laura (Emily Browning) keeps an eye on Shadow’s light far off in the distance from inside the diner. Outside, Czernobog (Peter Stormare) informs Wednesday (Ian McShane) they need to perform the expected rituals to acknowledge Zorya Vechernyaya’s death. He believes there won’t be a replacement Zorya following her death because no one worships her anymore. However, he knows a new star will rise in her place, and they need to pray this new star will be worthy of worship.

Wednesday assures Czernobog he’ll have his vengeance. He then asks Mama-ji (Sakina Jaffrey) if she’ll fight, and she doesn’t believe she has a choice. She’ll join him if she can swap her weekend shift as a maid.

Inside the diner, Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), Salim (Omid Abtahi), and The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) eat breakfast as Laura demands to know the plan to rescue Shadow. Mama-ji interrupts to tell them to hit the road to retrieve Gungnir, Wednesday/Odin’s spear, from the Corn Palace.

The Jinn will head off on a road trip to fetch Gungnir while Wednesday and Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) have a different destination in mind. Mr. Nancy calls shotgun, which pisses off Mad Sweeney who’s tired of having someone usurp his position with Wednesday. Wednesday isn’t fazed and tells Mad Sweeney to accompany Laura on her quest to find Shadow, since she’s certain he can’t find his own way home.

The American Gods writers acknowledge the fan response to the team of Mad Sweeney and Laura with Wednesday’s comment: “You two make such a great pair. It seems a shame to split you up.”

Salim, of course, refuses to leave The Jinn’s side. He wants/needs to accompany him on the mission to retrieve Odin’s spear. The Jinn warns him it’s a dangerous mission, but Salim believes in The Jinn and wants to help. Salim smiles as he takes a seat in The Jinn’s sidecar and puts on the offered helmet.

Laura definitely doesn’t want to take another road trip with Mad Sweeney, but he’s not about to let his coin leave his sight. She warns him to stay out of her way or else the gods will be planning his funeral.

Shadow’s still restrained and still cringing in pain when Mr. Town informs him they couldn’t locate any records of his family, other than his mother and wife. Calling him a bastard and a nobody, he grudgingly admits Shadow’s tough. Mr. Town wonders if that’s what Wednesday sees in him, asking what it is that Wednesday wants from him.

Shadow claims he’s just a bodyguard and doesn’t know anything. Mr. Town demands to know why Shadow always just goes with the flow and why he didn’t say no to robbing a bank or going with Wednesday. Shadow says it’s just his curious spirit.

Mr. Town laughs and meows. He then sends another surge of electricity through Shadow’s body.

Shadow’s mind flashes back to when he was a teenager. He and his mother (Olunike Adeliyi) pass the Statue of Liberty on their arrival in America, discussing its origin. Shadow doesn’t know America, even though this should be his home. She reminds him his light is strong, and he confesses he doesn’t believe he’s going to like it in America. She promises it’ll just be one summer and then they’ll “be back on the world tour.”

Laura and Mad Sweeney continue to bicker on the road, and she reveals she doesn’t believe in luck. Plus, she’s an atheist who thinks God is a fairy tale for grown-ups. Mad Sweeney responds to that admission with, “You’re in the fairy tale now, aren’t you?”

Laura keeps her eye on Shadow’s light, instructing Mad Sweeney where to turn. She’s not ready to let go of the god conversation, telling him his group aren’t gods – they’re made by people looking for answers. “You’re monsters under the bed just f**king with human lives,” says an angry Laura. They’re so busy arguing about gods, death, and infidelity that Mad Sweeney almost runs into a cow in the middle of the road. He swerves to avoid it, only to run over a nail.

Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), who left the diner prior to the attack that killed Zorya, meets with Mr. World (Crispin Glover) at the Black Briar Golf Club. He’s sympathetic that she was unable to convince any of the Old Gods at the meeting to join forces with the New Gods. Bilquis assures Mr. World the attack will only serve to sway Old Gods who weren’t committed to Odin’s plan to join him in the upcoming war.

Mr. World is, likewise, sure the Old Gods will scatter. He plans to attack the Old Gods, but Bilquis warns him if he fails with his plan the Old Gods will come back stronger. He’s believes Bilquis should join the New Gods as love is the most powerful weapon. Bilquis refuses, reminding him love and war should never meet.

Bilquis stands firm in her decision not to join the New Gods in the war, but Mr. World thinks the Old Gods will know she betrayed them. He warns that if she doesn’t choose a side, she’ll be trampled by both.

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

Mr. Town continues his torture of Shadow, acknowledging he’s doing so at the direction of Mr. World. Mr. World needs to know why Wednesday would bring a nobody into his group, but Shadow can only say that Wednesday doesn’t tell him anything.

Another flashback shows Shadow’s mom going out on a date but not before she warns him to be careful outside. She gives him a kiss and says, “Love your light, my beautiful son.”

Shadow heads out wearing headphones, walking through a nearby park that’s filled with people. It’s not long before three guys attack him, asking why he talks weird. He explains he’s from France, and they deliver a beating because he’s a stranger and sounds white. They take his tape deck, warning him they’ll need more if he doesn’t want to continue to be jumped.

Shadow sees an opening, grabs the tape deck, and makes a run for it. He runs straight into cops who cuff him without finding out his story.

Later at home, Shadow’s mother explains the boys and the cops just want to feel valued and loved. Shadow’s confused because these people don’t even know him, and his mother assures him he’s always viewed as the enemy in their stories – one who will take what they have and keep them from getting what they want. Shadow knows that’s not the truth of who he is, but he’s not sure of his whole truth.

Shadow’s mom tells him his father is dead and gone, and he’s “nothing to miss.” The mood lightens as she turns on some music and invites him to dance.

Laura lifts the car as Mad Sweeney changes the tire. Unfortunately, Laura drops it right on his foot. It’s apparent she’s losing strength as he reminds her she could easily have lifted double that amount just a few days ago.

Tire changed, Laura vomits. She’s pissed Mad Sweeney’s hovering over her, and she tells him either she’ll rot and he’ll get his coin back or she’ll get her life back and she’ll give it to him. If she truly wants her life back, Mad Sweeney knows a devil in New Orleans who might help. However, the price will be steep. Laura swears she’ll do anything to get her life back…after they get Shadow.

Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) continues his search for Media at the request of Mr. World. Media attempts to hide and evade Tech Boy, but he’s far too powerful to be ghosted. He does, however, give Media a minute to collect itself out of respect.

Back to Shadow and he’s continuing to be zapped. A flashback shows he’s at the hospital in the waiting room waiting for test results. He notices a man maneuvering a gold coin in and around his fingers. Shadow thinks it looks like magic, and the stranger tells him magic takes years of practice for most people. He hands the coin to Shadow who drops it on his first try. By the time he’s picked it up, the stranger’s disappeared.

Shadow’s mom emerges from the doctor’s office and the expression on her face indicates the news isn’t good. Mother and son hug.

At home, Shadow’s mother’s on the phone telling whoever is on the other end that she doesn’t want Shadow to stay in the States. She also reveals she doesn’t know how long she has left. Shadow’s been sitting outside on the steps listening to his mother when he hears someone yelling in the alley. Without thinking, he reacts and runs to to help. He delivers a solid beating on the three young men, dodging blows as he lands punches. Blood flies and he refuses to allow them to rise, continuing to punch while in a rage.

Knuckles bloodied, Shadow returns home, ashamed that he was out of control. His mother reminds him about his light, but he doesn’t feel it. She’s positive it’s there because she gave it to him and continues to five it to him every day.

Back on the road, Laura’s frustrated Mad Sweeney drives like an old person. She steps on his foot, flooring the accelerator concerned because Shadow’s light is moving further away. Mad Sweeney warns her he’ll survive a crash but she’ll wind up in pieces at this speed.

Mad Sweeney sits down for a smoke as Laura lies down and closes her eyes. She believes the worms are calling her and Mad Sweeney tries to motivate her by telling her she can’t give up just because the road ends. Mad Sweeney mentions a short cut, and Laura’s angry he held out on her. He knows it’ll be a tight squeeze, but it’s similar to backstage. He hugs Laura to him, demanding she close her eyes and think of Shadow. “We’re going through the horde,” explains Mad Sweeney.

They spin through space and wind up on a bridge over train tracks. Laura sees Shadow’s light and realizes he’s on a train; that’s why the light’s been moving faster than their car.

Laura thanks Mad Sweeney by removing his broken handcuffs. She then jumps down onto the moving train, and Mad Sweeney once again reluctantly follows.

Inside the train, Mr. Town extols the New Gods’ work while saying the Old Gods don’t deserve Shadow Moon. He wonders how a boy went to bed dreaming of the snow and woke up to find it did. Shadow said that didn’t happen, and Mr. Town reacts by kicking the bucket out from under Shadow’s feet, leaving him dangling by his arms which are held fast straight out from his body.

Shadow has a vision of his mother, extremely sick and in bed. He doesn’t know how to live in America without her, and she reminds him to be polite and respectful. He needs to let the hate and pain make him stronger. His light will always shine. She asks about his coin and he retrieves it from his pocket. He works it through is fingers as his mother watches.

The coin spiraling to the ground and shattering symbolizes Shadow’s mother’s death.

Shadow, alone, walks down the aisle of the church toward the altar. He takes a seat in a pew and cries. A short while later he leaves, face hardened and fist clinched.

Wednesday talks to his car which is parked across the railroad tracks. The car was forged from blue collar sweat and isn’t what it came into this world as. He calls it a Berserker worthy of a Berserker’s honor.

Mr. Nancy wakes up in the backseat and realizes what Wednesday has planned. Wednesday’s going to honor his car in a holy manner by having the train run through it, like a heavy arrow that soars from the bow of a Viking king. The train will send his car off, lighting its path to Valhalla.

Mr. Nancy finally emerges from the car, swearing no one is going to Valhalla. Wednesday assure his car they will meet in its reincarnation.

As Wednesday’s saying goodbye to his car, Laura and Mad Sweeney are making their way into the train. Laura immediately dispatches the first person she sees. More men arrive and no matter how hard they punch, Laura doesn’t react. Mad Sweeney dodges some blows and then uses his head as a weapon before knocking out his attacker. He then dispatches him with a screwdriver.

The fight continues and Laura is tazed, which doesn’t affect her – much to her attacker’s surprise.

Mr. Town holds up a coin, telling Shadow it’s a token of a relic who’s unworthy. He wants Shadow to come over to the winning side, tossing the coin in the air.

Laura makes her way into the cabin where Shadow’s held, knocking out Mr. Town and then squishing the head of another attacker. Blood-soaked, she stands in front of Shadow and says, “I had to save you.”

Outside, Wednesday stands by as the train approaches his car. We see a reflection of the moment of impact in Wednesday’s glass eye.