American Gods: “A Murder of Gods” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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It’s back to the road this week on American Gods, which means mostly good things for the show as it heads toward the end of its inaugural season. That said, the show still has a Shadow problem, one that was closer to being fixed last week than in its aftermath.

At the end of “A Murder of Gods,” when Wednesday kills Vulcan, Shadow reacts as if he hasn’t seen any of the things he saw in the previous five episodes. It’s a frustrating step backwards in this character’s point of view on the show. He’s seen Media float. He’s seen his dead wife walking the Earth again. Something is going on that he’s not fully aware of, and clearly Wednesday has been behind some of it, or at least his involvement.

Yet, still, this is a great moment for Wednesday, and the show at large. An old god who’s been won over by the new gods helps show how alluring Wednesday’s enemies can be. It also gives the show’s most prominent great character a badass moment, of which the timing is perfect, following his difficult encounter with Mr. World last week. To add to it, there’s Wednesday literally pissing on a gun factory, supposedly cursing it. Cursing American industry and one of our most violent ideals. The show has never more lived up to its title than in this moment.

But before the pair get to Virginia, “A Murder of Gods” is a little too run-of-the-mill after the visually arresting plot developments at the end of “Lemon Scented You.” Wednesday still answers Shadow’s questions with riddles, but he’s not really even asking that many questions to begin with. At this moment, their dynamic feels oddly static for all the weird shit going on around them. American Gods has never tried to be realistic, even in the emotions the characters feel, but without any grounding the show is starting to come across as too detached for its own good.

Laura and Mad Sweeney’s road trip this week fared better. Putting Salim in their company starts a very necessary reigning in of all the show’s “non sequitur” characters. There are some solid developments here, particularly with Laura, who is finally given some pathos when we see he visit her family. We learn that no one can see her in the living world (and also that she smells very dead). Her quest to find Shadow, and life itself, might be ill-fated, so Jesus himself—an expert in resurrection—seems to be a better option.

With just two episodes left though, American Gods still feels like it’s just doing a bunch of table setting. The character moves are getting slightly more interesting, but the show hasn’t found its footing quite yet. It’s a task hopefully Bryan Fuller can work out when making season two, if the show continues down the path its on right now for the next two weeks. This series can be great, but it needs to fill in the gaps both narratively and creatively to do so. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty


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