American Gods: “Head Full of Snow” Season 1 Episode 3 Review

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As American Gods settles into its groove, it’s going to need to do something about Shadow Moon soon. Ricky Whittle has very little material thus far to attach us to his hero, aside from the complicated tragedy he was met with upon getting out of prison. But who is Shadow Moon? “Head Full of Snow” starts to answer the mystery, but it doesn’t delve into the character and how we’re supposed to feel about him.

After a wonderful opening shared between a Muslim woman who just died and the Egyptian god Anubis, where the show briefly addressed its version of the afterlife and who gets in and why, the cliffhanger from last week’s episode is rather quickly resolved. The sister who was asleep last week comes to Shadow in a dream and gives him the moon (a sly reference to It’s a Wonderful Life, perhaps?) to keep him safe. It’s not long before Shadow convinces Czernobog to another game of checkers that’ll let him go free, temporarily. Sadly, this is a major anticlimax to what was truly a rouding cliffhanger. But it did give way to the fun sprinkled throughout the rest of the episode.

We get a beautifully filmed encounter between two Arabic men, one of which is a genie that claims he can’t really grant wishes. Their interaction is followed by perhaps the most gorgeously filmed gay sex scene in television history, even if it ends in some sort of possession (naturally).

But afterward, Mr. Wednesday has called on Shadow to help him rob a bank. Of course, Shadow’s employer is skimpy on the details, allowing Mr. Wednesday, and the show itself, to reveal his clever plan at a moment that earns its intended amusement. But the true trick of this portion of the episode is Wednesday’s confidence in Shadow’s abilities, which are finally put on display here as he makes it snow in Chicago merely be concentrating really hard on the idea of snow. It’s the first legitimate proof that Shadow isn’t just a bystander to Wednesday, as if we didn’t know that already.

Sadly, “Head Full of Snow” is an episode that doesn’t improve the show’s pacing, only slowly rolling out answers to questions that audiences likely already predicted. It doesn’t help that Bryan Fuller is still introducing his cast through disconnected vignettes. As beautiful as they may be, they’re part of the reason American Gods hasn’t quite found the stability its starting to need. Another reason is Shadow himself, who, despite having powers, remains an enigma. Can his resurrected wife fix that? Time will tell, but for now, I have to disappointingly report my own skepticism for the future of this series. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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