‘American Gods’ Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: “Donar the Great”

American Gods Season 2 Episode 6
Derek Theler as Donar the Great in ‘American Gods’ season 2 episode 6. (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’s American Gods season two episode six focuses on Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) search for the dwarf capable of carving runes and mending Gungnir. But first, episode six begins with a flashback to the 1930s with Mr. Wednesday on stage at the Regius Theater. He breaks out in song as gorgeous women dance behind him.

Going by the name Al Grimnir (Grimnir is one of Odin’s many names), he welcomes the audience to the burlesque show and introduces the crowd to Donar the Great (Derek Theler) and Miss Columbia (Laura Bell Bundy). After the show, he sends a bottle of champagne to table #3 on the house as he spots Nazis walking through the club.

Wednesday’s memories of the club are interrupted when Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) startles him awake. Wednesday’s been asleep in the passenger seat but now they’ve arrived at their destination. Wednesday shocks Shadow by telling him he reminds him of his son.

Their search for the dwarves has led them to a mall which was inadvertently built by men over the dwarves’ home base. As they walk through the place with its scattered handful of customers, Wednesday acknowledges the death of malls everywhere.

Meanwhile, Mr. World (Crispin Glover) believes war has started without anyone noticing. His assistant ticks off the list of single attacks that have been launched but Mr. World thinks victory will only happen if New Media’s worshipers harness their power. New Media (Kahyun Kim) agrees and promises to up her game.

Once more we return to Mr. Wednesday’s memories of the club. Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) wanders through it, pointing out shoes to be picked up and costume tape that needs to applied. He screams at a performer who he calls “my queen” to get on stage; his mood’s dark and foul.

Performers Donar the Great and Columbia are a long-term couple and she wants to head to California. Columbia helps oil up Donar’s body until it glistens as he reminds her he can’t abandon Grimnir. Columbia’s frustrated with the monotony of it all and determined to break free. They’ve both signed contracts with Grimnir, but Columbia reminds Domar they’ve been under Grimnir’s thumb for 10 years and that’s long enough.

The customer treated to a bottle of champagne turns out to be Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) and he’s not impressed with Grimnir’s joint. He insults Grimnir’s champagne and showgirls as he prepares to leave. Grimnir insists he stick around, telling Tech Boy he’ll miss the club’s best act. Grimnir adds, “We’re the ancient ones. You know, the ones who paved the way so you kids could do your thing.”

A rotary dial telephone rings on the table and Tech Boy talks to an associate. Wednesday wonders what will happen when this tech is obsolete and a shiny new thing comes along, which it will. Tech Boy doesn’t seem worried even as Wednesday warns him that at some point in the future he’ll need real power on his side.

The audience cheers as Donar performs, showing off his phenomenal strength and ability to wield a might hammer. One of the men wearing a Nazi arm band introduces himself to Grimnir as Manfred, a member of the Friends of New Germany. (Grimnir makes a comment about the “flanged thwarts” symbol which the Nazis appropriated.) Manfred wants to talk about Donar.

Returning to current events, Shadow Moon window-shops while Wednesday tries to contact Dvalin, the dwarf who can fix Gungnir. Wednesday insists what was broken must be fixed, but he’s told the strength to etch runes of war requires an artifact of great power. The artifact needed? A leather jacket worn by Lou Reed being sold at the rock and roll collectibles shop in the mall.

Wednesday chuckles and says, “F**king dwarves.” Shadow can’t believe this all comes down to a leather jacket they can simply buy. Wednesday refuses to buy anything for the dwarves. He leaves Gungnir and promises he’ll return.

Returning to Wednesday’s memories, Grimnir introduces Manfred to Donar. Manfred wants to sponsor Donar in the World Weightlifting Championship, claiming he sees the “American” values in Donar: strength, confidence, and good breeding. Wednesday’s wholeheartedly into this proposition, and Manfred says all Donar needs to do is shave off his beard, cut his long hair, and lift heavy things. Donar accepts with Wednesday’s encouragement.

After Manfred leaves, Wednesday’s ecstatic about this opportunity. He’s convinced it will elevate Donar to his former glory. Donar wonders why the Friends of New Germany were wearing the flanged thwarts and Columbia realizes Donar’s been talking to a Nazi. Wednesday brushes that off, calling them sheep in search of a shepherd.

When Wednesday leaves, Columbia confesses she’s afraid of Nazis, even ones in America. Donar attempts to calm her fears, promising people will cheer his name as he wins. He also promises they can even travel to California.

Miss Columbia performs her routine, a song and dance number featuring fake guns that ends with a striptease. Even Tech Boy stands and applauds.

Wednesday and Shadow make it to the rock and roll collectibles store. Wednesday impresses Carl the clerk with his knowledge of the jacket, introducing himself as Bishop Hammersmith. Carl unlocks the display cabinet containing the jacket and Wednesday hands him an envelope of cash to cover the hefty $7,500 price tag. Wednesday interrupts the clerk’s marking of the bills to determine if they’re counterfeit by handing him a tip.

Just then Shadow arrives, impersonating a cop and accompanied by two mall security guards. He tells Carl that the “Bishop” is wanted for counterfeiting, but Carl claims he checked the bills. Shadow asks to examine them and compliments the fake Bishop’s improved counterfeiting methods. He then claims they need to take the jacket as evidence, but Carl can retrieve it later at the police station.

This scam’s so elaborate that Shadow even has business cards he hands over to Carl while instructing him to call the station and mention his name.

American Gods Season 2 Episode 6
Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in ‘American Gods’ season 2 episode 6 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Shadow and Wednesday find a quiet, out of the way spot in the mall to hide until the mall closes. Wednesday’s pleased with how well the scam went down, but Shadow won’t uncuff him until he tells him about his son. Wednesday confesses he’s dead and Shadow reveals he knows Odin’s son was Thor. Wednesday confirms that and that Thor was also known as Donar. Although Thor was many shades lighter, Wednesday believes Shadow and Thor share a number of characteristics.

Shadow doesn’t understand how Thor could be dead since everyone knows who he is. “There are certain deaths our kind cannot come back from,” says Wednesday. He refuses to say anything else.

Back to the ’30s where newspapers are declaring Donar Odinson is the new “Golden Boy.” Donar evolves into Donnie as the headlines report his domination.

Manfred warns Donar he needs to lose against his German opponent or else something bad will happen to his friends. Nancy turns up as Donar’s fuming from the proposal and confused as to why his sponsors would demand he lose to a German. Nancy reveals his own story of being born in a woman’s world. Male gods were forbidden from ruling and despite being treated well, he left the world and traveled through time to a world run by men so that he could rule. Nancy made a deal with men to steal fire lances from the gods, and then men took that fire and journeyed to the world of women. There, they raped and murdered the world and tried to destroy it. Nancy’s homeland still exists but he cannot return.

Nancy reminds Donar he didn’t even want to carry his hammer on stage, so he shouldn’t want to be the champion of a rigged game. Nancy warns him not to give away his honor.

Wednesday returns to the booth at the mall with the jacket. He places it on Dvalin and says, “Let this give you strength.” Dvalin waves his hands over Gungnir and the runes appear. He then sinks to his knees and crosses his arms over his chest.

Wednesday whispers to Gungnir, “You started the first war. You will finish the last.” He gives it a kiss as he says, “With you I will not fail.”

As Gungnir is reborn, an alarm goes off at Black Briar Golf Club. Mr. World opens a box exposing a red button. He presses it and the alarm stops. He acknowledges to New Media things are happening ahead of schedule because the runes have been etched. She needs more tech support for her live stream, and he promises she’ll have it. “The storm is coming,” says Mr. World, menacingly.

Backstage at the club, Donar pumps iron and when Columbia walks in reminding him he missed her act, he makes a spur of the moment decision that they’ll head off to California that very night. They make plans to meet after the show, pledging themselves to each other.

As Columbia’s packing, Wednesday arrives with Tech Boy. Tech Boy introduces himself as the future and explains they’re on the brink of another war and his associates need the goddess of substance to take them into the fight. He assures her the people will eventually forget her, but she can save the American way of life. She’ll need to be less Buffalo Bill and more “our lady of the war effort.” Columbia asks for time to think over Tech Boy’s request.

Columbia wants to talk it over with Donar, but Wednesday claims he left with the Germans. Wednesday suggest she manifest her own destiny.

Wednesday catches Donar outside with his bags and hammer, waiting for Columbia. Donar isn’t going to fight the German and instead he’ll forge his own path with Columbia. Wednesday says Columbia won’t be coming, suggesting Donar should just throw the match to secure his destiny. Donar refuses and Wednesday warns that if he doesn’t, he can’t come back to the theatre. The two square off with Wednesday now in full Odin mode, complete with Gungnir, and demanding respect from Donar. Donar in turn warns Wednesday to remove the charm he placed on Columbia. Wednesday continues to lie and claim Columbia made the decision to leave on her own.

Odin raises Gungnir against his son, Thor. Thor’s Mjöllnir meets Gungnir in mid-thrust. Mjöllnir slams into the side of Gungnir, severing the spear in two. Odin sinks to his knees and picks up the pieces, saying, “Oh my boy, power like this you cannot walk away from.”

Donar can and does walk away from his father.

The scene jumps forward to Shadow and Wednesday back on the road. Shadow apologizes if he upset him with questions about Thor, but Wednesday brushes the apology aside. “It wasn’t you. Ghosts from the past,” says Wednesday facing away from Shadow and looking out the car’s passenger window into the dark night.

Shadow asks what happened to Donar and Wednesday says sacrifice is the only noble act and the sustenance and currency of gods. “I regret nothing,” says Wednesday, emotionless.

We see Donar, looking disheveled and alone, placing a double barrel shotgun to his chest and firing. Blood splatters on the wall behind him. “1942, somewhere outside of Philadelphia, so I heard. Suicide,” reveals Wednesday.

Suicide is the kind of death gods cannot come back from.

A flashback shows Wednesday sitting alone on the edge of the stage in the empty theatre. He sings, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” in a mournful tone.