Signal Horizon

See Beyond

American Gods Season 3 Episode 5: Sister Rising-Review- Get It, Girls!

American Gods Season 3 Episode 5 unleased all our inner goddesses as a stuffed episode included truths, capers, and lies. Oh, my!

The vanilla blandness of a betrayed little white man and the righteous rage of a woman of color who developed out of a need to protect herself was employed brilliantly in American Gods Season 3 Episode 5. Sometimes the openers for American Gods are scathing and powerful indictments of what the world has become. Sometimes they are pathetic shells of the venom only Mr. Nancy or Oshun can deliver. This two-part sequence was honest above all else.

Tonight the opener was devoted to Mr. Wednesday and Technical Boy. It was as bland and hollow as you would expect. These two warring factions both had every advantage. Both are intelligent white men. They both want more. Wednesday is an opportunistic dick, and Tech Boy is a petulant wannabe whose only real problem is time. Almost a split opener followed, and Sister Rising really got started. Their not so meet/cute in 1893 Chicago at the Colombian Expedition told us nothing we didn’t already know about these two. Wednesday is petty and manipulative, and Technical Boy is a sad little troll who is easily duped by someone promising a quick jolt of fame and fortune. He has always taken the easy way out, but there will be no quick fix for once. Some people just never learn.

In sharp contrast, Bilquis’ reclaiming of herself was rhythmic, symbolic, and deeply profound. Bilquis’ journey to be reborn is complete. She has taken back her power and her voice. Shadow and Tech Boy went to save her and fix his glitches, but this Goddess doesn’t need saving, especially not from two men.

American Gods Season 3 Episode 5 explored the tricks we play on ourselves and others. Our identity is often what others think instead of what is. An exotic beauty, a brainy nerd, a dangerous black man, the virgin, or a whore. We all play the roles we were given. This is especially true for women who have never had the same agency as our male counterparts. In part because we are strong enough to carry children and give birth, and in part because many still think there is a weaker sex.

For a woman of color, things become even more complicated. Bilquis thought she displayed power as she consumed men. She finally understands she is more than just a sexual predator or a concubine. For the first time, she knows who she is and what she should do. It’s liberating and powerful. The epiphany sends Technical Boy running. Back to his first invention and a hole to hide in. Back to a simpler time when he was just on the edge of glory. I might feel sorry for him if he wasn’t so pathetically entitled.

Shadow has a savior complex. He always has. He wanted to save Laura’s lost little girl, he tried to save Bilquis from whatever trouble she was in, and when he was young, he wanted to save his mother from illness. Shadow couldn’t help any of them before and can’t now. Bilquis tells him it’s time to think about himself first. She also drops probably the smartest line I’ve ever heard on television. “The journey to spiritual awakening is better with french fries.” Amen sister.

Wednesday’s gambit to get himself committed worked. Now he is closer to Demeter, and he convinced Shadow to come to him. He is a charlatan, a trickster, the snake in the garden who whispers and places pawns without remorse. Hopefully, Demeter will continue to push back on Wednesday and won’t be fooled by his act.

American Gods Season 3 Episode 5
Official Trailer Screengrab

As tired as I am by Wednesday’s games, this week, it allowed Shadow and Cordelia to team up in a caper. Caper episodes are always good and Shadow and Cordelia, the lovely Ashley Reyes, are great together. As much as Shadow wants to resist helping Wednesday, he is swayed by his desire to rescue people. When Wednesday threatens everyone at the institution, Shadow has no choice but to help. His innate goodness is a weakness that Wednesday has no trouble exploiting. Wednesday suggests the #37 as a way to gain power over Demeter’s conservator.

The #37 turns out to be nothing but a bump and run with a little phone trickery thrown in, but it was fun to watch and lucrative as Corelia is now 100K richer. Cordelia is a rapidly growing into an interesting character. She has murky morals, some hazy past dealings, and veritable founts of pain hidden in her eyes. Reyes has nuanced a character that is more than the sum of her parts, and it will be fascinating to watch how she unravels or develops as the season continues.

Just because Shadow and Cordelia were successful doesn’t mean Demeter will want to leave, though. An electric encounter with Demeter, who Blythe Danner plays with such gentle sadness, and Shadow gives more backstory to Wednesday and Demeter’s history. Like everyone else in Wednesday’s life, he used Demeter. Sure, he loves her, but he loves himself more. His betrayal of Demeter broke her. As she puts it, even a God’s heart can grow smaller and colder.

American Gods Season 3 Episode 5
Official Trailer Screengrab

Salim is still hurting from the Jinn’s abandonment. He doesn’t know who or what he can believe in anymore. He agrees to go with Laura, but spending extended periods with her rocked his faith even more as she described Purgatory. It also highlights the differences between these two mortals. Laura, despite being dead, zombified, and now human again, is still full of fight. She has lost everyone multiple times. She knows she squandered an opportunity with both Shadow and, more recently, Mad Sweeney and feels immense guilt over his death. Laura doesn’t give in, however. Emily Browning(Laura) may be bent, but she isn’t broken, and she sagely tells Salim to do whatever he has to do to pull himself together.

Lastly, for the love of God(s), what do we have to do to get more of the honey-voiced Mr. Ibis(Demore Barnes)? He has been relegated to what amounts to the obligatory barkeep you run to when playing a game and you are stuck. Mr. Ibis has so much more to say; he should be given time to explore his motivations and beliefs. He shouldn’t be stuck playing Salim’s sounding board.

Not much of town is seen this week. Brief conversations overheard reveal there have been even more break-ins, some panty stealing, and Allison has still not been found. I enjoy the road trips American Gods does so well. If I’m honest, Lakeside has been hit and miss. It’s been vanilla except for an exuberantly quirky episode filled with photo development and strange indifference; Figuratively and literally, Shadow was the only flavor in town. Now that Laura has blown in, I wonder what that will mean for all parties involved. She’s on a mission to destroy Wednesday, and I can’t say Shadow won’t entirely disagree.

It’s all about the ladies in American Gods Season 3, Episode 5. Could you keep it going, girls? The writers are cluing in, the show may feature Shadow, Wednesday, and Mr. World, but the women are killing it. Find all our American Gods coverage here.