American Gods (S02E05) – “The Ways of the Dead”

the dead are sometimes not dead

Episode 5, The Ways of the Dead, 3 episodes till the finale. Wednesday (Ian McShane) goes to see if Gungnir can be fixed, and then we shall see what else is needed. The episode is in 2 main places – the funeral parlour and New Orleans. The funeral parlour follows the Old Gods, specifically Ibis (Demore Barnes), Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) and Nancy (Orlando Jones), and Will James’ (Warren Belle) ghost haunting Shadow (Ricky Whittle). And in New Orleans, Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura (Emily Browning) visit the Baron (Mustafa Shakir) to turn back Laura’s clock.

The episode begins back in the 1800s in America where a woman is found dead and a black man is blamed for it. Will James, the black man in question, is lynched before being shot countless times and dragged through the streets of the town. All this while bystanders watch and laugh at the public execution. I am confused by the fact that we are going further into the past for an unknown reason. All the past stories of the dead have been mostly about mostly forgotten Gods who made their way to America. Wednesday decides to leave Shadow with Ibis for the day to learn more about the dead, in particular, Will James, the man Shadow saw in the bathroom mirror the morning. Before Wednesday leaves, Shadow sees him peeing on a plant, but we find out that this is the World Tree. Its significance will be explored further down the line.

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Will James makes himself known to Shadow and makes him see his death through his eyes

The point of this episode is seen to be more about taking one important point and adding stuff around it. Wednesday goes on his own to meet Jinn and Salim and make their way to Alviss, son of Vindalf, supposedly the man who can fix Gungnir. But even after convincing he can’t fix Gungnir because it is the runes which require attention. Rune carving is Dvalin’s domain and Alviss tells Wednesday where to find him. They all leave.

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“It is the runes which require attention, All-Father”

In New Orleans, Laura meets a very drunk Sweeney and they visit the Baron. The whole experience is slightly uneasy for Sweeney, even though he knows him, but uncomfortable for Laura. The visit the bar where the Baron is and wait till everyone leaves. The Baron and his wife, Birgette,  toy with Laura’s emotions, since they hold the power to give her her senses back. Sweeney tries to remind them why they are here. Baron begins to work and Brigette takes Sweeney and goes their own way. Baron begins to talk to Laura, and like Wednesday, tell her the truth about herself. Truths she doesn’t like. All Baron wants is the truth from Laura. But he can also sense a hinted undertone of affection between Laura and Sweeney. Baron gives her the potion except for 1 ingredient, 2 drops of blood infused with love, she has to find that. Temporarily with her senses back, Baron questions her what she will do with this potion once she has it. She has a second chance, what will she do with it. The tempo of the background music speeds up faster and faster. And soon Baron and Laura, and Brigette and Sweeney are having sex. A somewhat out-of-body experience they are having. Laura wakes up mostly naked and puts on her clothes and leaves with the potion, but not before giving Sweeney a piece of her mind.

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This potion lacks 1 ingredient, 2 drops of blood infused with love

Back in Cairo, the journey continues. A journey which is to, in some respects, compared to that in today’s world. After seeing a body in the morgue with the same wound he saw in the mirror, Ibis explains the story of Will James. 1909, Will James was lynched, shot, dragged through the streets and beheaded, all because someone saw him smiling a the white lady who was found dead that evening. But Will James’ issue was not centred in his execution, but in his fellow brothers and sister who stood on and watched as they killed him. Will James’ issue surrounded ‘memento mori’ – remember you must die. Shadow questions Will’s reasoning for cursing his own people. Nancy appears and begins to mock Shadow again to the point he leaves. Nancy doesn’t stop, he accuses Ibis of cursing the people through that of Will James. Always causing bodies to come through the doors, but Nancy threatens Ibis killing his worshippers. But Ibis reminds Nancy that he does not answer to him. Back with Shadow, Shadow is stopped by Mr Jacquel who sits in the middle of the road. Which leads Shadow to communicate with Will James, in which Will James ‘possess’ his body but only so that he can speak to his people.

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Will James wants Shadow to feel what he felt

Back in the church part of the funeral parlour, the preacher begins to openly question his faith and the world we live in. Ibis opens the floor and Will James speaks to his people through Shadow. He basically preaches about Momento Mori, death. With all 3 Gods sitting and drinking, Ibis, Wednesday and Nancy, mock Shadow when he comes in asking for answers. And Shadow just leaves them.

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“Memento Mori”

Honestly, this episode could have been as long as a sitcom. Main points: They need to find Dvalin and have the runes redone, Laura need 2 drops of blood infused with love, the Gods are always at each other’s throats. They are starting to lose their touch and dragging episodes out unnecessarily. The content is there, but the delivery is severely lacking. Hopefully, episode 6 shall serve more excitement as we move closer to the finale. Catch episode 6’s promo below. Thanks and Enjoy!