'American Gods' season 2 episode 2 review: Mr Town unravels Shadow Moon's past, reveals truth about Wednesday
In the second episode, Wednesday has a plan for the future and it involves war, just not as soon as we expected.
'American Gods' season 2 has already grabbed us by the throats with its brilliant visual translation of Neil Gaiman's world. Case in point is the carousel scene in the first episode. In the second episode, we get more involved with the plot line. After a loss on their side, the Old Gods are angry but not aggrieved enough to start a war without planning. Especially when they are led by Odin aka Wednesday.
We last saw Shadow Moon being abducted by Mr Town's men to get any information about what Wednesday is planning. And if you were expecting to see a fraught Wednesday planning a rescue operation in teh second episode, then you don't know the Norse god well enough.
It feels like he will use this opportunity to let the New Gods complete a task for him - test Shadow's loyalty. This becomes apparent when he tells Laura, "Great battles require great preparation." This could only mean that he is okay with Shadow Moon being a captive. He probably sees this as an added incentive, considering the information he will have once Shadow is back. Mind you, he has no doubt that his bodyguard will return. He just doesn't expect it to be anytime soon. Of course, this irks the dead wife, but then again, everything about Wednesday annoys her.
Shadow, on the other hand, is being tortured by Mr Town. He is repeatedly asked why an ex-con would be invited to the inner circle of the Old Gods and that too by Wednesday himself. What is so special about Shadow Moon that Mr Town is not aware of? There is a lot of curiosity here, and if not for Shadow's struggles, this would have looked like a conversation between old friends.
Mr Town decides to mention Shadow's past, triggering a train of memories from his past from just when he had moved to America with his mother. This is a fascinating glimpse into who Shadow really is. As Mr Town tries to unearth Wednesday's plans, he ends up unravelling Shadow's memories of his mother.
This series of flashbacks are the most poignant moments of the second episode. Shadow, who came to the US from France, speaks like a "white boy", according to the local black people, and he is bullied and beaten for it. When he tries to escape from them, he is cuffed by white policemen for no fault of his -- and the shot of the US flag fluttering in the air for all of a few seconds symbolises so much and all in absence of words.
The feeling of not belonging, of being judged for something that you are not by your own people comes across beautifully. Such scenes are the reason why the first season was called one of the most political shows of 2017.
We also see that just before Shadow's mother is diagnosed with cancer, he meets a man with a coin who performs a magic trick. The voice of this man is very similar to someone we all know, but Shadow is not able see his face. This could only mean that Wednesday has been plotting to involve Shadow in his plans right from the beginning, and his isolation began with his mother's disease.
Will Shadow realise what Wednesday has done to his life?
While Shadow Moon is tortured and manipulated, Wednesday is off to do what he does best, only this time he travels with Mr Nancy. This, of course, angers Mad Sweeney who is stuck with the dead wife following his luck. Ironic enough, the dead wife is an atheist and she reiterates the same by telling Mad Sweeny, "You things are not Gods by the way. You are made by people, people who need answers but are too fu***** lazy to look for it themselves." She also says they are the monsters under the bed who only know to take from the people, but not give anything in return. This monologue is hilarious, considering it is addressed to a leprechaun.
Laura and Mad Sweeney manage to track Shadow Moon down in a train. Laura manages to find him, fights off Mr Town's men and the episode ends with us wondering: Is the light that Shadow's mother passed on to him that keeps Wednesday hooked? Shadow's anger and the conflict within himself about who is he vs who he is portrayed to be, stems from the fact that he doesn't know the entire truth about himself, including who his father is. Will upcoming episodes answer this question?