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American Gods has been a confusing and exhilarating ride. The season 2 finale, Moon Shadow, has held true to that roller-coaster. I’ve made it to the end of this episode on my first watch and I have no clue what just happened. Let’s try this again, from the beginning on watch number two.
The episode opens with an old news radio broadcast and a family sitting in their country home on a farm. The news broadcast announces that there had been an alien invasion in the very town the family live. They become hysterical, pack up and flee their home. Mr. World is facilitating the broadcast and it is a demonstration his power over the media to spread fear and creating a threat. Even if the supposed threat is imagined, the fear it elicits is real in those who believe it exists. By the end of the opener, Mr. World is shown directing a movie about an alien invasion and there is a little boy watching. Mr. World talks about fear and you can see that the little boy is developing the same fear about aliens. In the next scene, the little boy, hears his dog barking and gets out of bed, dressed in Star Trek pajamas and runs outside, past a scarecrow to check on his dog Sandy, and is abducted by a spaceship.
The radio broadcast was to mimic the real-life event of The War of the Worlds, by Orsen Welles, being read on the radio and perhaps causing the same type of panic in the 1930s. The TV movie was also set up to mimic Sci-Fi movies of the 1950s. Mr. World does an excellent job in his monologue during this segment of the show embodying The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling. You also get the set up for the New Gods to display a show of strength this episode.
In the present day, we see the moon and then the camera moves down to Shadow standing in a grave yard at Ibis’ as Ibis is inside preparing Mad Sweeney’s body. He recalls the moment of Sweeney’s death and has visions of the World Tree aka Yggdrasil, Wednesday, and a body of water leading to a bed on the beach. The tree has runes carved into it and Wednesday is wearing a bracelet with the same runes as well.
One of the runes shown is interlocking triangles which according to google are also known as Odin’s Triangles. According to Wikipedia, Odin’s Triangles is also known as “The valknut (coined from Old Norse valr, “slain warriors” and knut, “knot”) is a symbol consisting of three interlocked triangles. It appears on a variety of objects from the archaeological record of the ancient Germanic peoples.” I’ve come to learn that one of the other runes is called the Othala rune which symbolizes ancestry and inheritance.
The images of Wednesday are from several encounters, including when he had the coin in the waiting room when Shadow’s mom was ill. The beach looks similar to where the group went after the carousel ride for the great counsel. They seem to be memories as well as visions of things that have not happened and we see and hear Laura say to him that he is just having a bad dream. In the early morning hours, Wednesday sneaks out of the house. Shadow wakes in the cemetery with three snails crawling up the side and Laura laying on the tomb across from him.
The CEO is sitting at his desk seemingly having trouble focusing and there are metronomes everywhere distracting him. He realizes the images are in his head, recalls memories of him as a boy and a young adult and has an epiphany and redesigns and upgraded Tech Boy.
Back at the cemetery, Laura is still trying to make things right with Shadow and he says he doesn’t believe her and sorry isn’t good enough. He tells her that Sweeney died last night. Laura tries to warn Shadow against Wednesday and calls him puppy triggering a memory of a time when they were in the park and Laura saw a puppy she liked and wanted him to steal the puppy and he responds that he would be her puppy thus earning the nickname puppy. When he gets up we see the tomb he was laying on says “She hath done what she could” and he reminds her not to call him puppy. Laura says that she will kill Wednesday and asks if he’s going to stop her and he doesn’t respond.
The CEO tells New Tech Boy that he is perfect to which he responds by telling The CEO that he is messy. New Tech Boy is calmer than his previous version. The two discuss wrestling god as New Tech Boy wants to know why The CEO created him and the CEO doesn’t seem to really know.
Meanwhile, Shadow leaves the cemetery and we see the snails again. I could not figure out any symbolism that could be associated with the snail other than their pace. Perhaps it refers to Shadow’s journey to realization thus far as it changes pace this episode. Laura goes into the greenhouse where Sweeney died and becomes upset at the blood on the ground and Bilquis is waiting for her in the garden with an apple in her hand. She tells Laura where Sweeney is, insinuating Laura would want to see him. Laura plays with the blood on the ground with her boot as they discuss Wednesday, is she going to use this blood for the voodoo potion Bridget and the Baran told her about? Bilquis talks about temptation and there is clear Garden of Eden symbolism. Laura points out that Bilquis doesn’t like Wednesday and Bilquis asks if Laura’s intuition tells her that and seems genuinely concerned about Laura’s intuition. I’d thought at one point that maybe Laura was the devil so perhaps there is a role reversal in this scene or maybe Laura is Lilith rather than Eve in this scene.
New Tech Boy and The CEO continue to discuss his recreation and sacrifices The CEO has made such as a family and notes that he can’t be in two places at once. New Tech Boy asks what happens when you touch a God and they refer to the Sistine Chapel painting of Michelangelo touching God’s finger tips. The CEO’s computer seems to have a virus or has been hacked. New Tech Boy tells him that he is not made in God’s image, God is made in Man’s image. New Tech Boy touches him and accesses all the CEO’s information seemingly taking back the tech that was taken from him and given to The CEO by Mr. World. He transfers all the data to Mr. World and teleports to his bunker.
Salim is in a store buying liquor and paying with cash because the New Gods have infiltrated the financial systems. People are buying water and fighting over gas as the hysteria sets in. Salim returns to Ibis’ and we see Laura standing alone with Sweeney. Shadow finds several of Sweeney’s coins on the ground as Salim keeps continues to panic and finds a TV. On the news we see Wednesday and Shadow are wanted men as New Media has embedded herself in the world wide web manipulating the media, banks, and surveillance. Salim is utterly confused, and Ibis says, “all writers have bias”. Anansi and Ibis appear aware of what the New Gods are up to as they discuss Shadow’s awareness over a game of chess. Anansi says that Shadow’s ignorance gives him power and says that he is under the knife. Shadow is eavesdropping, and it seems they are aware, and becoming rather nervous.
Wednesday is unbothered in a restaurant somewhere grinding pepper on his food as the news plays in the background. Back at Ibis’ Salim is still panicking at the news reports while Anansi and Ibis discuss the coming revolution. Anansi says that Ibis has lost his edge, but Ibis doesn’t agree a revolution is necessary. If I’m not mistaken at this moment the beat for Gil Scott Herron’s poem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is playing in the background as they talk. Shadow goes to get money from under his mattress. As Shadow attempts to make a run for it, Bilquis is in his room. She gets naked and tells him that their fortunes are linked. When he asks how, she kisses him, tells him that he tastes of love lost, then marks his forehead with blood as she says find out who you are. She disappears, and Shadow continues to try to leave.
Jinn enters the room with Anansi and Ibis. Anansi and Jinn have a banter and Jinn moves Ibis’ board pieces and checks Anansi. New Media adds Salim to the wanted list and Salim is really freaking out now. Shadow tells Salim he needs to get out of here and leave the crazy Gods behind Salim says he is making his own choices. The news is still playing in the background and New Media is increasingly upping the ante with locations and additional charges. As Shadow walks by a TV, she speaks directly using her face and the faces of multiple news anchors to him reminded him that they spoke before when she was old Media. Shadow knows that he is in a lot of trouble and is searching for a way out as we see the police and FBI are on the way to Ibis’. Salim is also panicking as he sees the home is surrounded by law enforcement vehicles. Ibis appears unbothered and amidst the chaos, Salim and Jinn share a tender moment.
Shadow tries to leave through the greenhouse and the World Tree drags him into the tree and to that beach we saw earlier. We see several images of his mother, Wednesday and Sweeney. He recalls things his mother said including “don’t let him find you” warning him about his father. He has visions of the buffalo and Wednesday. As all the images and memories flood to him, Shadow pieces things together. Shadow has an axe and begins chopping the World Tree as he realizes that he is Wednesday’s son. The World Tree opens, and we see the beach again from the beginning. There is a montage of Shadow as a child playing with a house and action figures set up in the same model as the present-day raid occurring. Little Shadow uses his arm and swipes all the action figure police from in front of the toy home. In the present day, Salim opens the front door and the home is no longer surrounded. The FBI are soliciting the CEO’s help with fixing a terrorist hack that produced fake news over the last day. The Jinn leaves after some Ibis refers to his relationship with Salim as his burden by calling him Sisyphus who was a king in Greek mythology who had to push a bolder up a hill that would roll back down when he got to the top. Laura is walking down the street with Sweeney’s body. Mr. World sips his drink and smiles at the thought of Chaos and Mr. Wednesday drinks wine saying that his boy is going to be just fine.
Shadow is on a bus leaving town and the buss is stopped by the police who check everyone’s ID. Shadow is free to go as the police says you’re free to go Mr. Ainsel. He looks at his ID and notices that his name is listed as Michael Ainsel, I’ve learned is Shadow’s alias in the books when he is hiding from the Gods. I suppose the Season 3 will have that plot-line. See you in Season 3!