'American Gods' season 2, episode 1 review: Wednesday invites the Old Gods to the 'Backstage', calls for war
In American Gods season 2 premiere, we see Wednesday invite the Old Gods to the House on the Rock, where he takes them 'Backstage'.
The season premiere of 'American Gods' started with a bang, literally, when the New Gods attack the Old Gods. After a brief recap of what occurred in the first season of the show, we see the jump right into the present as Wednesday, Shadow Moon and his dead wife, Laura Moon, and Mad Sweeney - the leprechaun, drive from Kentucky to Wisconsin. They are headed to the 'House on the Rock' where Wednesday has invited a few Old Gods to convince them for war. He wants the New Gods to learn a lesson and reclaim their places as the powerful deities among other people. Of course, everyone in the car refuses to address the elephant in the room - dead Laura who has come back alive, but not completely.
She knows the truth about how Wednesday manipulated Shadow's situation to get him on his side. She, however, refuses to acknowledge it. Shadow is still reeling from Laura's return as the episode picks up right after the showdown between New Gods and the Old Gods at Easter's.
On the other hand, we have the New Gods recoup from the showdown and Mr World is not very happy. He wants to do something, and he wants to do something now - but it is definitely not war. Even when Technical Boy suggests it, Mr World silences him, saying that they need to be more prepared. He, however, has something sinister planned - the Paperclip operation - which he wishes to execute with the help of Mr Town. In the meantime, Technical boy is sent on an errand to find Media, who disappeared after the showdown. Mr World tells Technical Boy, "Can't sell war without my best salesman" and this is what makes the show relevant to today's time and age.
The Old Gods meet at the Backstage (Wednesday's thoughts) in their true forms. Odin, Mr Nancy, Mamaji, the uninvited Bilquis and Shadow Moon among others discuss why they need War, and right now. Not everyone is, however, convinced. Mamaji for one doesn't want to start a war when she is happy where she is, and where she is - there is no bloodshed. It is Shadow Moon who stands for Odin and speaks for him. He wonders why the Old Gods do not want to reclaim power and position, why they wouldn't even try to make a change and remind their people of their true power. At this point, we know why Wednesday went to the extent that he did to get Shadow Moon on his side. It is not just about finding the right side kick, but about finding an element that would change the odds in their favor when the war does come.
Mad Sweeney and the dead wife, who are not invited backstage, discuss their fates and Laura even tries to get her fortune from the doll in the House on the Rock as Jinn and Salim watch her. Not shockingly, her fortune card is empty! The nickle and dime that forecasts destiny leaves her exasperated, as she impatiently waits for her husband.
The episode ends when the Old Gods gathered at Mamaji's restaurant are attacked, and lose one of them in the unexpected shootout. Shadow, who tries to stop the gunman, gets abducted and leaves Laura to fend for herself with the one person who planned her death. Did Mr World just steal Wednesday's good fortunes? The second episode will give us details!
Interestingly, what has remained the same throughout the first season and the second is the visual treatment of the subject. It is splendid, and creative in the most unexpected places. Visual metaphors, the episode is full of them - from when Shadow Moon enters a dime to get his fortune to when he wakes up in Wednesday's thoughts, Bilquis' peck on Laura's lips - all of it is more thought out and layered. In some places, it even indicates the direction that the show will take. For instance, the bullets used to attack the Old Gods are inscribed with Latin phrase 'Deus mortuorum' which roughly translates to 'God is dead'.
One thing that has changed, and for the good, is the pace of the show. Without compromising on the visual brilliance, they have picked up the pace, and that leaves us wanting more. When the Old Gods get on the carousel in the House on the Rock, or when Shadow Moon comes face to face with the power that the carousel holds, things do slow down, but that is necessary for effective narration. Cutting off at just the right spot, the first episode of the second season of 'American Gods' leaves one wondering, what will Wednesday do now?