Season three episode one of Starz’s American Gods left off with Shadow Moon in a precarious position following his reluctant arrival in Lakeside. Although episode one ended with a gun pointed at Shadow’s head, episode two opens with a narration by Whiskey Jack (Graham Greene).
Whiskey Jack recalls the tale of his people battling the Great Horned Snake in the Wisconsin Territory circa 1690. They prayed to Inaemenhkiwok to protect them but to no avail. Those who conducted the slaughter dedicated their kills to Hodekin, The Dark One as they begged for shelter from the threatening storm.
Tale told, we now pick up the story of Shadow Moon’s scary encounter outside his apartment. Shadow (Ricky Whittle) quickly explains his apartment key broke off in the lock and it turns out the woman – property manager/newspaper reporter Marguerite Olsen (Lela Loren) – holding him at gunpoint has been expecting him to show up. She lets Shadow (who’s going by the name Mike) in but warns him to knock next time rather than attempt a break-in.
Once inside and alone, Shadow can’t get the heater to work and a note on the fireplace says not to use it. He drifts off to sleep and has a dream about walking through a store with his mom when he was just a kid. In the dream, he hears a voice attempting to get his attention. A woman on the cover of a magazine informs him they’ve been waiting for him to show up. She advises Shadow much will be required of him, just as the white buffalo with the fiery eyes begins to chase him through the store.
The white buffalo stares him in the eyes and then fades away.
Elsewhere, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) is having a difficult time with her computer. She slaps Bill Sanders (Gil Bellows), the owner of the largest IT company in the world, when he touches her, warning him he’s not allowed to lay hands on her. When he compares her to the others, she immediately corrects him. “There are no ‘others’ like me,” says Bilquis.
Bilquis, quite rightfully, calls herself a goddess but Bill believes she’s actually all smoke and mirrors. She beckons for his hand and they head into her bedroom for sex. She revels in her powers as she pulls Bill inside her, swallowing him whole. How’s that for “smoke and mirrors,” Bill?
Back in Lakeside, Shadow’s still chilly when he wakes. After tossing all his unopened mail in the trash, he realizes his fridge is empty. Something about the mail beckons him back to the trashcan, and he retrieves an invitation to a remembrance festival in honor of Zorya Vechernyaya. The Festival of Koliada will take place on December 29th in Chicago. He’s reminded that if he attends, he should bring his coin.
Shadow’s walking into town when Ann-Marie Hinzelmann (Julia Sweeney) pulls up and offers him a ride. She points out he’s going to freeze to death if he doesn’t get warmer clothing. As they drive off, a tow truck passes by and Ann-Marie describes the car on its bed as a beautiful clunker. Apparently, Lakeside has an annual event where they place an old car on the lake and take guesses as to when it will break through the ice. The winner gets half the money collected; the high school gets the other.
Ann-Marie keeps up a running commentary on the friendly spirit of the townsfolk. Lakeside’s founder left his fortune to this magical little town and each year they hold an ice festival in his name. Ann-Marie accompanies him to the store to buy a jacket and Shadow introduces himself as Mike Ainsley to the shop’s owner, Lou Hennings (Dan Willmott). Alison McGovern (Andi Hubick), the sales clerk, helps him and it turns out she’s one of the girls who flirted with him as he exited the bus. She points out the sale items and helps him pick out a warm coat while still being super flirtatious.
Shadow joins in the clunker fun, selecting between 7-8pm on March 23rd as the time it will fall off the ice. Ann-Marie’s amused he’s only choosing one day; most people pick multiple timeslots.
Meanwhile, Wednesday (Ian McShane) shows up at Tyr’s dentist office and they reminisce about old times and wars they’ve been involved in throughout history. Tyr the War Lord (Denis O’Hare) is now Tyr the dentist and Wednesday cuts to the chase to ask for a donation. Tyr wonders why Wednesday didn’t wait to hit him up when they get together in Chicago for the Koliada. Wednesday explains he’s not sure, given his busy schedule organizing a war, that he’ll make it to Zorya’s memorial. Tyr hands over a very generous check and then pledges to fight at Odin’s side.
Ann-Marie continues to play tour guide for Shadow, showing him the best places to eat and other local landmarks. They run into Chad the cop (Eric Johnson) who’s on the case of missing days-of-the-week underwear and Ann-Marie passes Shadow off to him to get lunch.
They grab a booth at Mabel’s and Chad continues his interrogation from the previous evening. After they’re done, they head over to the newspaper office and Shadow’s gun-toting property manager is just as stiff as she was during their initial meeting. Chad’s shocked to hear Marguerite pulled a gun on him and reminds her she should have just called him and not taken the law into her own hands.
Chad’s brought Shadow to the newspaper to ask about using Sandy’s old car since it’s been parked out back for two years, just sitting there. She’s initially reluctant (Sandy’s her oldest son who went missing) but eventually gives in and suggests he wait a couple of days because of the weather. That’s not possible since he needs to be there tonight, and she allows him to rent her son’s car for two days. She remains cold and stand-offish while tossing him the keys.
Salim (Omid Abtahi) shows up back in Cairo to ask for Mr. Ibis’ help in translating a good-bye letter from The Jinn. Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes) does, and the letter reveals The Jinn is off on a mission for Wednesday. The Jinn also declares their relationship is over and warns Salim not to look for him. Salim’s confused and wants to hear this from The Jinn himself, not from some note he wrote before taking off.
Mr. Ibis believes it’s possible The Jinn will be at the Festival of Koliada in Chicago.
Shadow’s on the road to Chicago at night and gets distracted listening to a CD left in the car. He hits a deer, shattering the windshield. Shadow stops to check on the animal but it runs off and appears to be okay, despite the accident and the blood it left on the windshield.
The Festival of Koliada is underway and Czernobog (Peter Stormare) becomes emotional when he talks about how much he loved Zorya Vechernyaya, even though he hated her cooking. He kisses her photo and then offers a toast in her memory.
Those gathered drink and reminisce, but the celebration comes to an abrupt halt with the appearance of Shadow Moon. Czernobog’s shocked Shadow would dare show his face, and even more surprised when Wednesday enters seconds behind him.
Ultimately they’re allowed to stay and Czernobog admits he doesn’t understand why Zorya ever liked Wednesday. Czernobog reminds Shadow they have unfinished business and that his hammer will soon meet his head. Shadow shows his invitation which temporarily quiets Czernobog. His attention returns to Wednesday and they engage in barbs, all while Wednesday claims he’s just there to mourn Zorya and to recruit others to their cause.
An at least temporary truce is struck and they drink to their beloved Evening Star.
Shadow heads up to the roof to see Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar) at Czernobog’s urging. She immediately asks for the coin and he hands it over. Zorya explains he’ll soon face two paths and will have to choose which way his destiny unfolds. Zorya recognizes half of him wants the Allfather’s power and half wants a normal life. Shadow confesses he just wants real answers and Zorya explains the night sky will guide him when he can’t see his way. As she says this, she places his coin in the sky. It stays there and beams like a brilliant star. Shadow believes that alone was worth the drive to Chicago.
Downstairs, the crowd cheers as Czernobog and Wednesday beat the living daylights out of each other. The combatants collapse to the floor, chuckling. They rise and Czernobog proclaims if the New Gods want a war, they’ll have one.
Wednesday swears to avenge Zorya’s death and invites them all to join the fight.
Things have settled down a bit as Salim and Mr. Ibis arrive, with Wednesday noting he was in fact the only one left off the invitation list.
Tyr speaks with Wednesday about a postcard he stole from his office during his visit. Tyr suggests before he visit the sender, he should ask himself if he has anything to offer her.
Salim scans the crowd and doesn’t see The Jinn, but he does spot Wednesday. He confronts Wednesday about sending The Jinn away, and Wednesday claims he had nothing to do with it. As he walks away, he tells Shadow he should have let Mad Sweeney kill Wednesday.
Salim leaves and Shadow exits the party soon after. Wednesday warns him he’ll be in touch.
Shadow and Wednesday’s driver, Cordelia (Ashley Reyes), have a chat in the parking lot and she explains how she came to be Wednesday’s driver. She also gives him her number in case he needs to talk. The chat ends on a friendly note, with Shadow telling her she can reach out to him if she ever needs anything.
Shadow returns to Lakeside and the mood of the townsfolk’s noticeably dampened. All the folks at Mabel’s are eating without chatting, and Mabel herself is surprisingly cold and doesn’t respond when Shadow asks what’s wrong.
He glances out the window and sees Marguerite has stopped at the car he borrowed and is looking at the windshield. Officer Chad also checks it out and then spots Shadow in the diner. Apparently, while Shadow was gone a girl from the community disappeared.
Chad brings Shadow in for questioning and reveals Alison, the flirty clerk from the clothing store, is the one who’s gone missing. Chad claims it’s nothing personal but he needs to know Shadow’s whereabouts for the past 72 hours.
Shadow explains he drove for seven hours to Chicago for the memorial service. He stayed at a hotel in east Ohio and then drove back today. Chad asks about the windshield and Shadow says he hit a deer and stopped at a mechanic in Stevens Point to fix it. Chad warns Shadow he’s going to have to test the car for blood.
Shadow returns to his rented apartment and the heater still isn’t working. He decides to use the fireplace, despite the note not to do so, and heads outside to gather wood. While picking up pieces he spots a very out-of-place peacock standing nearby. The bird stares at him and squawks as it unfurls its feathers in a glorious display. The bird advances slightly and then suddenly disappears when Shadow’s briefly distracted by a light.
Marguerite spots him carrying wood for a fireplace he’s not supposed to use, and Shadow’s had enough. “You know what? Just shoot me,” he says. He’s tired of freezing to death and she apologizes for getting off on the wrong foot. She’s heard from Chad that his story checked out, and she’s sorry for treating him so badly.
Shadow asks about Alison and learns no one has heard a thing. She apologizes again for pointing a shotgun at him and then confesses she turned off the breaker for the furnace since no one was there.
Shadow explains he had the body shop cut out the emblem from the windshield in case her son wants it when he gets back. Marguerite doesn’t offer much information on her son and Shadow mistakenly believes he’s away at school.
After she leaves Shadow notices a shadow pass between the moon and his apartment. A large bird appears to be flying overhead, casting a shadow over the entire town.
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