American Gods (S02E02) – “Beguiling Man”

SHADOW’S JOURNEY

The ‘Beguiling Man’ kicks off right where episode 1 left. Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is awoken in a highly advanced interrogation room. His arms and legs pinned, sensors on either temple and upper body. Sensors used to invoke deep tissue shocking. Shadow is being tortured by Mr Town (Dean Winters) for Mr World (Crispin Glover) because Mr World wants to know why Shadow is so important to Wednesday (Ian McShane). Yet in some sense also, Shadow wonders too. In a world of Gods and Demi-Gods all-round, why would Wednesday need him… I wonder this too. I yearn for the day we find out what Shadow real identity because he is definitely not completely human.

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Throughout Mr Town’s interrogation, we see Shadow’s origin story

Back at the diner, Czernobog (Peter Stormare), Nancy (Orlando Jones), Wednesday and Mama-Ji (Sakina Jaffrey) mourn Zorya’s death. Czernobog rants about going into a time out mourning for Zorya, but Mama-Ji interrupts him and said they’ll summon the new Zorya. But Czernobog says she has no believers left. Calls to Wednesday, calling him Votan, and blames him for letting her slip through his fingers “You let the dust of the old star slip right through your fingers”. During this, the skies behind him start to darken. Back inside, Mama-Ji tells Jinn that Wednesday needs him to go to the Corn Palace and to ask for Old Inktomi. Jinn (Mousa Kraish) asks to what end and Mama-Ji responds “Gungnir” and Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) looks shocked. He storms out of the diner to confront Wednesday about giving away all of his seats – missions with Shadow and now Nancy, Jinn fetching Gungnir – “Have you forgotten about our arrangement”. But Wednesday says he works so well with Laura (Emily Browning), why split them up. Laura also accuses him of not caring about Shadow, but Wednesday says to have some faith in her man.

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Sweeney and Laura stuck together again

Laura and Sweeney steal a car and are off after Shadow’s light. Back in the train, Shadow is continually interrogated by Mr Town, who wants to know more about Wednesday. During the torture, his mind peels off and we see a flashback to his first time in America. He and his mom are on a ferry on the Hudson talking about the French and America. And now we know that Shadow came from France when he was in his early teens, and only had his mother in his life. Back in the present, Sweeney and Laura go back and forth on religion and love and luck. And the conversation ends with Sweeney swerving to dodge a cow and then the tire bursts. Sweeney’s luck is in short supply these days. At Black-Briar, Mr World and Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) talk – confirming that she is supposedly playing both sides. After having no luck with convincing the Gods to evolve and join World, his attack on the Old Gods may have rilled them up even more. After some sweet talk, Bilquis said she will not join his side. But World mentioned that to be a traitor to the one and not join the other, “If you don’t choose a side, will you be trampled by both…”

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“If you do not choose a side, will you be trampled by both…”

Back on the train, Shadow has another flashback to his past. His mom goes out with a friend and warns him if he goes outside to remember that there’re factions and territories, this must’ve been late 80s/early 90s. He goes outside and in trying to make friends, gets beat up by a group of guys. While the guy is talking to him, he quickly takes his walkman and runs away while they chase him. All of them end up getting apprehended by the cops. Back home, his mom talks to him about this incident. That every single one of those guys wants the same, to be valued and feel important, she continues and tells him that they all want what he has. His mom talks about the light inside him that people wish they had. To lighten the mood, his mom puts on some music and start dancing. The bond Shadow has with his mom is unshakeable. He means so much to her, this is the first time we get a glimpse into his past and see what happened.

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The bond Shadow has with his mother is unbreakable

Back on the highway, Laura and Sweeney are fixing the vehicle. Struggling to lift the car, we see that Laura’s body is deteriorating quickly. Sweeney says he knows a way, he knows a devil in the French Quarter, but the price will be steep. But she says she’ll do anything after that find Shadow. Nancy and Wednesday are still driving to wherever (Side note, Nancy really doesn’t like fried chicken). In a bustling city centre, Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) is searching for the new Media. He sees her glitching across the screens and after interactions with technology, they meet in some techno plane. He sees some form of media, as basic as her form can be. And after conversing with her and saying that World needs her and bragging about himself being the ‘compass rose’ and that she’s nothing without him, she disappears.

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Tech Boy’s journey to find the new Media continues

Back in  Shadow’s past, he’s in the waiting room of the Oncology Department of a hospital. Waiting, he sees an old guy behind him doing coin tricks. Shadow says that he makes it look like magic, and the man responds “That’s the funny thing about magic. It takes years of practice. For most people.” The voice, the coin trick, the mythical looking band on his arm – I honestly suspect that this is Wednesday visiting Shadow years before Shadow knew him. His mother comes out of the testing and they just share an embrace, both knowing that it wasn’t good. Sitting on the porch trying to do ‘magic’ with the coin, he overhears some guys picking on a kid. He decides to check it out and gets involved. All this emotion and anger inside him came out, he ended up beating the guys up. One could see the rage and anger coming through with every punch. Washing his knuckles off in the sink, his mom comes to him and they talk. After talking about the fight and belonging and the light inside him, they hug and the emotion just fills the room. She just wants the best for him, she believes in him, she truly loves him and it seems like she was the last one to do so.

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Shadow truly misses his mother in every way

Following his light, it leads Laura and Sweeney to a field. With Laura lying in the field and Sweeney smoking a blunt, during the conversation, some mystical music plays and Sweeney talks about knowing a shortcut. He grabs her tight and the petals being to swirl, Sweeney says “We’re going through the Horde.” After moving through wherever they moved through, they end on the ledge of a bridge with a train flying by below them. And there Laura can see Shadow’s light in the train in front of them. They both jump off the ledge and onto the train and go to find Shadow.

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Sweeney takes Laura through the Horde to save Shadow, something he also wants to do

Back on the train, Mr Town brings up a story of a man who one day went to bed dreaming of snow and when he woke up there was snow. Shadow says this never happened, but he knows it did. Mr Town kicks the bucket Shadow was standing on and sends him into immense torture. Shadow flashes back to being beside his mom’s deathbed. Breaking down he talks about not being able to live without her and that he’s not ready to leave her. But she encourages him how to live on after she has passed. The memory moves to the church, Shadow sitting in one of the pews of an empty church, drunk on rage and loss, the amalgamation of anger and sadness is evident on his face and he walks out the church. And Shadow’s eyes open in the train as he realizes something. I wonder what that was. This torture evoked his past memories in some way to show us or maybe him something, about his present.

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A painful goodbye for Shadow as he sits next to his mother on her deathbed

Wednesday parks Betty right on a railway track, proving that he does care about Shadow. The skies darken, thunder can be heard and Wednesday begins a monologue about Betty. He mentions her being a berzerker and worthy of a berzerker’s honour, which Nancy, lying on the backseat, quickly sits up and responds “Oh, Hell no.” He continues talking about Betty and all that she is and what she is to him and honouring her in the holiest way he knows. That the locomotive may strike you true and light your path all the way to Valhalla. Nancy wants no part of this and gets out the car and says he’ll meet him in Kairo. During this Sweeney and Laura were making their way atop the train and then hopped in. They fought their way through the guards to Shadow. Mr Town shows Shadow a coin, which serves as a relic of someone unworthy of his unbelief. Further tells him to join their side and flicks the coin towards him. This coin is very similar to the one Zorya Polunochnaya gave him on the roof to protect him. Laura kicks the door down and knocks Mr Town down under it. She then gets into a fight with one of the guards and crushes his head under her foot. The look on his face is pure disgust. And just then we see train crash into petty and a huge blaze of fire occurs, all seen through Wednesday’s eye. And before the scene cuts out we see a horse emerge from the flames. Which reigns to the point that Betty is the modern version of Odin’s horses.

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“The looming locomotive is the flaming arrow that soars through the heavy air from the bow of a Viking king. Let it strike you true and light your path to Valhalla.”

Thanks for reading. American Gods season 2 is really starting to heat up, getting everyone together for the battle. The stories the epic monologues, every episode always has some crazy monologue or line. Every episode has a reason behind it. Episode 1 was to get the Old Gods on board with war. Episode 2 was to rescue Shadow and give us a glimpse into his past and who he could be. The fact that Mr Town was trying to recruit him shows that Shadow is a lot more important/powerful that he knows. So I wonder, this light inside of him, what is it? And what is he really. Thanks again catch Episode 3’s, Muninn, promo below. Enjoy!