American Gods (S02E04) – “The Greatest Story Ever Told”

the fall of tech boy

We are now halfway through the season, but he still needs a lot more. The battle between the New and Old Gods is imminent. And given that season 3 has already been renewed, I am somewhat expecting the season to end on a massive cliffhanger. We also still need to see the Gods show off their power, namely Mama-Ji (Sakina Jaffrey) and New Media (Kahyun Kim) that’s been new additions to each team.

The episode begins in the late 1900s, a child is sitting in front of the TV playing pong. His father walks in snaps his fingers and the kid walks over to the piano and plays a piece while his father listens with his eyes closed, to enjoy the music more deeply. When he’s done, he returns to play Pong again. Fast forward a couple of years, the kid is playing Tetris and listening to rock. His father comes in and turns off the radio and plays his Bach’s Chaconne. His father explains how this is grief, but also the rising notes of joy, he is breaking his own rules. And this is how men like him pray. Fast forward more years and the boy is in college and busy coding. He hears Bach being played faintly in the background and follows the sounds. He finds the source and asks the girl to play it again and understand what his father meant. From this, he develops a program that composes music. He plays this for his father and his father loves it. But is sad to hear that this was written by a computer. The journey comes to an end when we see the boy sitting in a church at his father’s funeral. Computer-Composed music continually plays in the background. The tempo increases and then a techno sound is added in beat, everyone taps according to the beat and Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) materializes in front of the piano.

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He wrote a program which allows the computer to break the rules and compose its own music

Back at the funeral parlour, a cat meows before a woman, Bast (Sana Asad), appears in Shadow’s room. They begin to kiss, but Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is hesitant saying that Laura will kill her. She continues nonetheless and tells Shadow that Laura can’t kill her, so this means that she is also a God. After a deeply sexual experience, during which she licks his wounds,  Shadow wakes up the next morning with Bast sitting at the foot of the bed. He checks in the mirror and sees the cat-like scratches on his chest and back and his wounds are healed. Shadow realizes that this sexual experience wasn’t a dream but very real. Shadow meets Mr Ibis (Demore Barnes) downstairs while preparing a body, Lila Goodchild. Mr Ibis asks how Shadow slept, most likely knowing what happened, Shadow very much struggles to answer before just saying yeah. Mr Ibis explains how he is not a coroner but a prosector who works with the county medical examiner. And they’re also a funeral parlour, mainly for the coloured folks in the area. Shadow asks about Laura and her whereabouts, while Wednesday signals no to Ibis from behind Shadow, he says no. And explains how she is not the same women he fell in love with years ago. Shadow and Wednesday then make their way to St Louis, to meet the God of Money.

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This is the first time Bulquis is back with the Old Gods after the selling them out

Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) arrives at the funeral parlour and speaks to Ruby Goodchild (Mouna Traore), granddaughter of Lila Goodchild. She asks whether Bilquis is a friend of her moms, but she responds saying that she is looking for Shadow. Ruby talks about the reverend’s idea of God and Bilquis corrects her by saying that he is quoting Beneatha, A Raisin in The Sun. After talking about not hiding oneself in God, Nancy (Orlando Jones) emerges and quotes Maya Angelou which contradicts Bilquis. Nancy critiques Bilquis for not picking a side in the war, jumping sides without a care in the world. She responds by saying that she would have joined Mr World (Crispin Glover) if he had not killed Zorya. Back at Black-Briar, Tech Boy and New Media talk about Media and how she can feel her. Tech Boy mentions that Media was a God and she did not die but became her, New Media. Mr World arrives and admonished them for what happened at Argus. The Caretaker strokes the flames, so to speak, of Mr World’s speech of how losing Argus has made them blind. World grabs Tech Boy by the head and begins to press into eyes with his thumbs. Tech Boy says he has a way to upgrade their infrastructure, he knows a guy in Silicon Valley who owes him a favour. Mr World lets go and leaves.

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Mr World grabs Tech Boy by the head and demands him to restore his sight

Back on the journey to St Louis, Shadow and Wednesday stop at a diner along the way and discuss the value of money. That money is physically worthless, but still, the “greatest story ever told”. Mama-Ji shows up and tops Wednesday’s cup with coffee. Shadow, confused, asks how she’s here, then Wednesday explains how Mama-Ji and her followers own half of the motels in America. And reminisce about their days in battle, when she, Kali, slayed Raktabīja in battle. Girl Scouts come in which distract Wednesday, and Mama-Ji tells Shadow that Wednesday will be the death of him. Tech Boy is walking through a Xie Comm to meet the CEO, the friend who owes him a favour. Along the way, New Media taunts him with messages on the LED screens and his phone. When he walks into his office, it turns out to be the guy at the funeral whose father died. He asks if Tech Boy has anything for him, which he slyly smiles and says that it’s time for him to get back in the game. Tech Boy tells him how Argus’ death has left a void he can fill. People will give up their information for free and he, Tech Boy, has eyes everywhere and his friend agrees.

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Tech Boy convinces his friend to fill the void which Argus has left

Back at the parlour, Ibis and Bilquis meet for the first time in a long time. Bilquis also greets Bast, knowing her true identity. At which Nancy arrives and begins his bickering. Nancy questions Thoth’s decision for peace for not riding the carousel, which I would have loved to see Thoth in his God form, and Bilquis for switching sides. Nancy then goes on a monologue of how his followers understand the reality of the world we live in today – human trafficking, slavery, oppression. Ibis acknowledges this and says he hears every cry and writes every name, for he has a bird’s eye view of it all. Bilquis does too, but they have all lived long enough to know that such matters are timeless. Nancy moves the conversation along to race. There are 3 African Gods in this room and that it’s upon them to fight for themselves. That if Zorya Verchernyaya was black, Czernobog’s hammer would not swing and Wednesday would not seek vengeance. Bilquis kisses him deeply as being moved by his speech, Ibis appears uncomfortable by this and proposes a drink for them all.

In front of the coffin, Ruby prays to God as it provides her with comfort.  They continue to talk about God and Ruby talks about how she was content with the life they lived here with Lila. Bilquis tells her that Jesus lived not a content life, he was a troublemaker, he pushed back against those in power. And in doing so, he was killed by them. He refused to bow to the power and oppression and now wields greater power than of those that tried to oppress him. Ruby extends her in introducing herself to Bilquis. Back at the diner, Wednesday asks to buy cookies from the scouts on credit. They ask for Shadow’s name and he gives, but access is denied as he has no account to his name, and they step into the mind of Money. This angers Wednesday. Shadow tries to buy from the scouts but they ignore him. Shadow asks Wednesday why he chose him. Wednesday says it is because he had nothing, no one and no value. He brushes off these comments and says that he does need him and he does have value to him.

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Shadow just wants to know the truth about why Wednesday chose him

At Xii Comm, Tech Boy’s friend asks him for proof. He becomes still and Mr World shows up. “I’ve never seen a God effectively argue his own obsolescence.” Mr World says about Tech Boy. When Tech Boy can’t show his friend Mr World does this through New Media, showing a visual design on the screen which captivates him. Tech Boy is now irrelevant to him, forgotten. Tech Boy races out of the office and tries to exit the building but he’s trapped inside. He sees a virtual reality box and realizes what is about to happen. The box leaps on his face and transports him inside, before switching off. Walking out of the building, Mr World is met by the same Girl Scouts selling candy. He says that he has retired a God today and doesn’t need to buy and is transported to the diner where Money, Wednesday and Shadow are.

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“There’s no need to purchase candy, I retired a God today”

Now at the diner, Wednesday and Mr World exchange words and threats regarding the death of Zorya and Argus. They are interrupted by Money who wants to pay. Mr World argues money is being digitized, but Wednesday argues that Money loves profit and war is profitable. Both sit down at argue their side to get money to join their respective side. As honoured as he is to both Mr World and Wednesday at his table, Money doesn’t make emotional investments, too much risk. Money has decided to withdraw himself from the war, he pays for his meal and leaves. Mr World says he prefers to be feared and adds that he is not his enemy, and leaves also. As Mr World leaves, the diner goes back to normal and Wednesday and Shadow are left staring at each other.

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“Money does not make emotional investments or invest in emotional entities, too much risk”

The Greatest Story Ever Told, the story of money. This was an interesting episode, Mr World retired one of his own, Money chose not to join their war and Shadow understand that Wednesday needs him but not why. I enjoyed the episode, Anansi’s speeches rang true to the reality of life for people of colour. Anansi’s speeches are always so very passionate. I still wonder why Bilquis is looking for Shadow. Now, without Money, how will Wednesday fund his efforts in this war. Thanks for reading, Episode 5 “The Ways of the Dead” airs next Sunday. Catch the promo below. Enjoy!