The Starz series American Gods has returned for its third season! A lot happens in this show and it can be easy to miss something. So join us as we break down American Gods Season 3 Episode 1
American Gods Season 3 Episode 1 Breakdown
As the episode opens, we see what looks like a very cultured ballet, only to realize the dancers are zombie cannibals performing in a death metal show.
Blood Death and Johan Wengren
The band performing is Blood Death, a Viking metal band, and the lead singer is Johan Wengren (Marilyn Manson). While researching, we read he is a Viking berserker, but we’ll see if that’s true in upcoming episodes.
Johan invites the All-Father aka Odin aka Wednesday, up on stage and he is really soaking up all the worship he is receiving from the fans at the show. This gives Wednesday the strength he needs for the next part of his journey.
Laura Moon and Mad Sweeney
We check in on Laura Moon, who has returned to New Orleans for advice from Maman Brigitte, who like her husband Baron Samedi, is a voodoo. Brigitte says Baron Samedi is away in Hialeah, Florida for a family reunion. Laura still doesn’t know how to use Samedi’s potion, which Brigitte explains is a grigri, a kind of spell or talisman in the voodoo religion.
Brigitte has been storing Mad Sweeney in an alley that doesn’t seem very safe. Laura takes Sweeney and places him inside a tomb, writes “Get Spear, Kill Odin” on his forehead, and gives him back his coin, presumably to resurrect him. But without the coin, Laura dies instantly, and we even see that the coin falls out of Mad Sweeney’s hand.
Shadow Moon aka Mike Ainsel in Hiding
Meanwhile, Shadow has been working in Milwaukee under the alias Mike Ainsel, but Wednesday decides to intervene. He first appears to Shadow by speaking to him through an elderly woman Shadow is helping to cross the street. Wednesday makes it clear that he needs Shadow to go to Lakeside, where he told Shadow to go to in the first place. But Shadow is hesitant.
After what appears to be the FBI comes knocking at his door, Shadow has no other choice than to leave Milwaukee. He finally gets an opportunity to ask Wednesday, who he now knows is his father, some questions about his upbringing.
It’s hard to tell if anything Wednesday says is true, but one interesting detail he adds is he cannot leave America because he’s an American God and his worshipers are there. This concept is touched upon in the book, which is that different countries have different versions of the same God.
This means Scandinavian countries have their version of Odin as does the US. Wednesday also makes it clear he needs Shadow for the upcoming war because without the loyalty of his own son, how can he expect others to follow him into battle.
Ms. World Makes Her Debut
We also get our first look at Mr. World in his Ms. World form, played by actress Dominique Jackson. She is surrounded by assistants, known as spooks in the book. These are the blank beings that Mr. World or Ms. World controls and transforms into something. In this case, they all appear to be millennials who are in touch with Social Media.
So, this may be Mr. World in his Social Media form, but we’ll have to wait and see. Ms. World’s assistants are helping her with a project called “SHARD,” which she refers to as a church of the mind. Each assistant specializes in a different aspect of social media or the internet in general. The assistant’s names are Viral, Trending, Meme, and Dr, Fapp.
Technical Boy shows up and Ms. World is not happy with him. Just to correct any possible dissent in her ranks, Ms. World kills one of the social media experts Viral like Robert De Niro in The Untouchables, baseball bat and all.
Ms. World is frustrated that Wednesday managed to garner worship at the metal show. She wants to curb the social media perception that the Old Gods are rising against them. Technical Boy reveals that SHARD is basically the matrix, a digital pipeline directly into every cerebral cortex on the planet.
Wednesday and Shadow’s Search for Whiskey Jack
As Wednesday and Shadow begin their journey, Wednesday explains their Winnebago, which is named after the Native American people of lake Winnebago, is another incarnation of his 1966 Cadillac Betty, which itself is an incarnation of Odin’s eight-legged steed Sleipnir.
Ms. World sets a roadblock for Wednesday and Shadow but using some rune magic Wednesday transports the Winnebago into the backstage, the area that exists in people’s subconscious. From there, they walk to another motorhome, which appears to act as portals, and into a forest where they find Native American Culture Hero Whiskey Jack, or Wisakedjak.
Wisakedjak is a trickster figure of the Algonquin, Cree, and Denae nations among others in the book. They find him in South Dakota in Lakota lands because he’s posing as the spider trickster spirit Iktomi. It looks like Iktomi is a separate character because he was played by Julian Richings last season. In this season, however, we finally meet Whiskey Jack, who is played by Canadian icon Graham Green.
An Unknown Destiny
Graham Green is a fantastic choice for this role! Especially since he’s played Wisakedjak before, sort of, in the 1991 film “Clear Cut.” It’s hinted that his character in that film is the trickster figure Wisakedjak, making this the second time Graham has played him. Whiskey Jack tells Shadow the twilight of the Gods, Ragnarök in Norse mythology, is at hand and Shadow has a destiny to fulfill.
Whiskey Jack doesn’t quite know what that destiny is, but he says there are those that can guide Shadow. In the campfire smoke, Shadow sees these figures which may be The Orishas, the Gods of Shadows Black ancestors. To find them, Whiskey Jack says to follow the Enaemaehkiw, another name for the thunderbird of Native American mythology. Thunderbirds are also a guide for Shadow in the book as well.
Wednesday then interrupts them and refers to an old conflict he had with Whiskey Jack. He may be referring to the settlement of North America, which happened around the year 1000. The Norse did travel to North America as we saw in Season 1, Episode 1 of American Gods. That might be the old conflict that Wednesday is referring to. Wednesday demands Whiskey Jack join his war, but he refuses, and suddenly has what looks like snakeskin on his face. Snakes are featured in several Native American Myths, and Whiskey Jack is a shapeshifter. This may explain why he chose such a form.
Technical Boy Recruits Bilquis for War
While this is happening, Bilquis is in a new home featuring images of worship dedicated to her over the ages. She’s doing very well financially because of the Sheba app, because she’s the Queen of Sheba, Technical Boy gave her. Technical Boy comes to collect and tries to enlist Bilquis in the New Gods war against the Old Gods. Bilquis refuses and intends to stay neutral. To convince Technical Boy to leave her alone, she gives him a vision of war which leaves him shaken up.
After going through another motorhome portal, Shadow and Wednesday end up in North Dakota on the land of the Spirit Lake Nation. Here we meet Wednesday’s new assistant Cordelia, although Wednesday says she’s his fiancée. It’s unclear if she’s a human or a God, since she isn’t a character in the book it’s anyone’s guess. She arrives in a Volkswagen bus, another vehicle used in the book as well as another incarnation of Betty.
Wednesday takes a quick jab at Christmas, calling it a made-up holiday. This is a reference to Christmas replacing the old Germanic festival called Yule, which would have sent some worship his way. Though to be clear Odin is not Santa Clause. Cordelia and Wednesday are off to Utah to enlist the help of another Native American Deity, the Night Carrier in Navajo legend. This is a real deity of the Navajo and his main role is to carry the moon on his back.
Wednesday and Cordelia are off to Navajo territory in Utah, and it’s uncertain if we will actually see the Night Carrier in the series. Shadow tries going his own way, but quickly realizes Wednesday is interfering again. He realizes this because every bus going anywhere but Lakeside, Wisconsin is canceled due to weather.
Shadows Arrival in Lakeside
Shadow ends up doing what Wednesday wants him to do and he makes his way over a very cool animated map. We can see Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn flying over the map because they are following Shadow and monitoring him. He drives by a drunken Santa Clause and even Big Ollie the Viking statue in Alexandria, Minnesota before making it to Lakeside.
Upon arriving at Lakeside, Shadow meets Sophie and Allison McGovern. Both are characters in the book and will come into play later on. Shadow enters a store and meets Hinzelmann, who is also a character in the book. In the book, Hinzelmann is a man. In the series however, Hinzelmann is a woman named Ann-Marie Hinzelmann. She calls local police chief Chad Mulligan to give Shadow a ride to the apartment Wednesday has rented for him.
Once he arrives, the key to his apartment breaks off in the door. He tries breaking in through the window, but someone sneaks up behind him and puts a rifle to his head. This is most likely his neighbor Marguerite Olsen, who Chad Mulligan mentioned earlier as the local journalist for the paper. Not to give too much away, but Marguerite ends up being Shadow’s love interest later in the story. In the background, you can hear The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter. “War is just a shot away,” is one lyric, which hints at the upcoming war of the Gods.
That’s the end of our breakdown of American Gods Season 3 Episode 1. Did you notice anything that we forgot to mention? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think! New episodes of American Gods air on Sundays only on Starz. Don’t miss our breakdown of American Gods Season 3 Episode 2, coming soon! Click HERE to get caught up on American Gods Season 1, and click HERE for Season 2! To get started with the American Gods novels, click HERE! Click HERE to get started on the American Gods graphic novels!
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