American Gods Season 3 Episode 2-Serious Moonlight- Recap and Review- More Shadows Than Light
Whiskey Jack’s hatred of Odin shines in the serious moonlight of American Gods Season 3 Episode 2 where racism hides in the shadows.
It’s tough to capture lightning in a bottle. American Gods Season 1 was just that. It was thematically ambitious, visually stunning, spectacularly acted, and the world-building was like nothing we have ever seen. The familiar mixed with the alien seamlessly as if all of these things have been hiding just outside our purview forever. Indictments and resentments earned and perceived felt like a thousand tiny excruciating cuts. You never could really tell if the pain was pleasure or vice versa. Each episode was brilliant and tore at the fabric of what we know and what we think. American Gods Season 3 Episode 2 made another attempt at capturing that serious moonlight with mixed results. At least some of the episode reflected the mysterious beauty of Neil Gaiman’s work, even if all of it didn’t.
Instead of the scathing commentary of Mr. Nancy’s famous slave ship opener, we have Whiskey Jack’s account of a brutal attack on Native Americans. They are being slaughtered and praying to the Gods for help with no one answering. The anger is still there, the pain is palpable, but where Mr. Nancy spit at viewers through their collective screens, Whiskey Jack only lectures. It is the problem American Gods has had since Season 2.
Much of the fire is missing. Maybe Orlando Jones is right? The show certainly seems to be dimming the light of its most important messages. Bathing the show in moonlight, serious moonlight sometimes, but not exact;y the harsh light of day that it deserves. When Mr. Nancy orated to the slaves, he was talking to them and directly at us. You felt the indignation. As great as Graham Greene(Whiskey Jack) is, everything feels a little removed because of the cinematic approach to the scene. It’s like reading a history book instead of seeing first hand the aftermath of an event.
The only person who doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo to dial back the rage is standout Bilquis(Yetide Badaki), who skewers everyone with the heat of her feminine power before consuming an annoying and toxic techno male type with her carnivorous vagina. We’ve seen her act before, but it is a guilty pleasure that I will happily visit again if I’m honest.
Her benefactor has been a surprising IT head William Hunting Sanders(Gil Bellows). It’s a little shocking that he would get literally and figuratively sucked in by an Old God as opposed to a more obvious alliance with Techno Boy or New Media, who were silent this week. It seemed a fitting end for the uberdouche who thought his money should buy him anything. Note to the crowd. Money can’t buy you love, respect, and power. At least not forever. Not all women will roll over so quickly.
Shadow, or Mike as he’s calling himself now, is stuck in a frozen hell called Lakeside. Not only is it ridiculously frigid and not getting warmer with no heat from the furnace and forbidden fireplace use, but the people by and large suck too. No one seems to know how to behave around a person of color. I realize there are parts of the country that aren’t as diverse as others, but Odin help me, this is insane. A few moments feel as if American Gods will remember who it is and rub our noses in all our uncomfortable indiscretions. Still, just when hard truths are about to be addressed, a well-meaning but woefully inappropriate fist bump gets in the way.
If the casual and not so casual racism isn’t enough to scare him off, the fact that everyone in town is hinting broadly that they are down with the All-Father should. He receives an invitation to a funeral in Chicago before he can make any big decisions. Even winter in Chicago would be better than another night in Lakeside.
A funeral for The Evening Star and Odin’s former love, Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman), compels most of our Old Gods to road trip to Chicago. Tyr the War God turned Dentist perennially perfect Dennis O’Hare(American Horror Story) and Odin travel together despite Odin not being invited. Salim is traveling with Mr. Ibis, hoping to see Jinn, who does not make an appearance. Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar), the Midnight Star, invites Shadow and pointedly reminds him to bring the silver moon coin she gave him for luck. The funeral serves to highlight just how deeply entrenched Shadow is regardless of how hard he fights to be free.
Odin not only talks his way into the party but manages to convince Czernobog (Peter Stormare) to join his ranks. Poor Shadow only got more subterfuge. These gods seem to revel in their ability to jerk him around. Shadow is always several steps behind. At least he gets one moment of peace when he tells Zorya watching her put the moon back was worth it. He means it too. Shadow has been through a lot and has more trials to come. He is at his heart a simple man, with simple desires and simple needs in a demi-god’s body. The journey to and from Lakeside has been hard and only getting harder.
I hope he enjoyed his time away because the town evidently held a meeting to discuss his desertion in his absence. A teen girl goes missing, and Marguerite, who Shadow borrowed the purple bomber from going to the funeral, is only too willing to point her finger at Shadow. Mostly that is all just noise. By the end of American Gods Season 3 Episode 2, everything is back as it should be. The town has accepted Shadow once again, even if that means uncomfortable handshakes, side-eyes, and an occasional slang usage to prove their inclusivity.
I’m not so sure American Gods Season 3 Episode 2 was serious moonlight as much as moonshine. It was fun for a minute until everything got a little hazy, and then we cried for the good old days. Hopefully, Emily Browning’s Laura Moon’s return next week will help us find the magic again. Follow all our American Gods coverage here.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.