American Gods Season 3 Episode 9 The Lake Effect Review- Crows, Constellations, And Sacrifices
American Gods Season 3 Episode 9 laid down the literal gauntlet in an episode that held back nothing and set up everything.
The first half of the penultimate episode of American Gods was deceptive. It seemed like the obligatory expo-dump that put all the narrative pieces in their place right before the massive finale battle. The last half of American Gods Season 3 Episode 9 put all the cards on the table and left us breathless. The Starz hit is always visually stunning, mixing the surreal with fantasy. Laura’s final stand against Wednesday was no exception. I half expected her to begin dancing in a mental institution like her underappreciated film Sucker Punch.
Shadow is putting the pieces together in Lakeside. There is something terrible happening in this idyllic town. Those who read the book know exactly what that is. The old Gods are still whispering to Shadow, trying to help him solve the mystery of missing kids and a town frozen in tradition. Before he can help these kids, he must expose a dark secret that threatens everyone.
Lakeside has claimed another victim. Sherrif Chad has to investigate Derek’s death. It appears he hung himself. Allison’s coat was found in his closet, and the assumption is he killed himself, feeling guilty over her death. Chad is a good man and has a hard time believing it, though. Shadow also doesn’t believe it and questions all of the kids’ disappearances, including Marguerite’s child Sandy. Ignorance is bliss, though, and everyone would rather believe something terrible than face a truth even worse.
Befoe the end of the American Gods Season 3 Episode 9, Shadow has discovered the town’s disturbing past. Ann-Marie(Julia Sweeney) is an Old God. The quirky but friendly Ann-Marie Hinzelmann is a North Germanic Kobold. The Kobold is a household spirit that performed tasks and provided luck to the residents unless displeased. If unhappy, the spirit could cause all kinds of havoc and turn malicious. In Neil Gaiman’s novel, he is followed by a tribe of nomadic settlers in the Black Forest. Heinzelman protected the town from economic collapse and crime and took a child every couple of years in exchange. The residents were unaware because they didn’t want to face what was right in front of them.
When Shadow finds Allison in the lake, he also sees the spirits of all of the children. Heinzelman saved him from hypothermia and warmed him up. It is too late for niceties, though, and Shadow accuses her of all of the children’s deaths. Before she can react, Sheriff Chad shows up and points a gun at her. In the middle of the ensuing fight, Shadow grabbed a dagger from the wall and stabbed Ann-Marie. She immediately caught fire. Chad and Shadow managed to escape the house, but neither of them can escape their past.
One final scene between Shadow and Marguerite proves Whittle can act. Shadow is almost always the last to know what is going on, and thus his character is often the flattest thematically. Finally, he was allowed to shine. His heartbroken acceptance of Marguerite’s rejection felt authentic in a way that he hasn’t in the past. Both Shadow and Whittle feel like they are both coming into their own.
There is no denying Emily Browning is brilliant. She has instant chemistry with anyone she pairs with. Browing’s Laura and Pablo Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney were electric. She and Omid Abtahi’s Salim were grounded and emotional, and back with another Leprachaun, she is surprisingly soulful. Doyle, Iwan Rheon, who played the sadistic villain, Ramsay Bolton in Game Of Thrones, is believably altruistic. He is the good luck charm Laura needs to find Wednesday and fulfill her mission. There is no turning back for her. Salim and Shadow’s lives depend on it. Sweeney’s coin continues to help her even from beyond death.
Doyle lent her the coin so the spear would fly straight. It couldn’t protect her and Doyle from Czernobog and his sledgehammer. That requires Doyle’s luck. Laura has come a long way. When we first met her, she was a selfish, self-destructive mess, incapable of loving anyone, including herself. Her refusal to engage in sex with Doyle and later her tossing her lucky coin to Doyle during the fight with Czernobog solidify that she has had a significant shift in thinking. She is ready to have faith in herself and those around her. No longer is she caged by dependence on religion and denial. She has faced her inner demons and is ready to reclaim her life.
Wednesday looked tired in American Gods Season 3 Episode 9. It’s as if the ancient God can’t bear to lose anymore. He has seen his love choose to die instead of live with him and had to kill his best friend. Czernobog accuses him of losing his will to fight, and he may be right. It’s also very possible that this is a long game that only Wednesday saw coming. The only way to unlock Shadow’s powers was for Odin to die.
The episode featured fantastic performances that showcased the incredible talent American Gods has been able to reel in. They have lost some to attrition, and a few were sacrificed along the way, but you couldn’t deny the unbelievable talent that remained. Ian McShane, Crispin Glover, and Peter Stormare are powerhouses. This week all three shared a scene that was ripe with underlying finality. Odin knows his time is running out. As usual, Czernobog wants to fight, and Glover’s Mr. World was especially dramatic. Crispin Glover was clearly enjoying himself. His Mr. World has a manic panache none of the other actors can match. In any other series, it would have been the quintessential plot beat. The weighty scene would have been a closer if not for Rickey Whittle’s emotional awareness in front of Marguerite.
Everything has been leading to this. American Gods surprised us by killing Wednesday(seemingly) so soon. I think we all thought Laura’s collision course with him wouldn’t happen until the finale. The final showdown will be between the New Gods and Shadow’s emerging Godlike powers. Will he be enough to stand against them, and who may switch sides? There will be no peace between the Old and New Gods. Perhaps that’s what Wednesday wanted all along? His sacrifice was the spark. Follow all our American Gods coverage here.
- I continue to struggle with Tech Boy’s storyline. Bruce Langley is more talented than his one-dimensional character. Every time it feels like he is heading in the right direction he has to take a back seat to bigger players. The Artifact 1 pay off better be worth all his sidelining.
- It appears Cordelia has been cut loose. Ashley Reyes provided something warm and very human for Wednesday to play off of and she will be missed.
- Odin’s two crows Thought and Memory came to Shadow even before Laura struck Wednesday with the spear. They are his guides now.
- The Big Dipper is also called Odin’s Wain and is found in the constellation Ursa Major. It is not to be confused with the constellation, however. The Big Dipper is the seven most visible stars of the much larger bear constellation.
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.