American Gods: Muninn   Books Included 
March 28, 2019 6:11 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

As he is tracked by Mr. World, Shadow makes his way to Cairo, thanks to a ride from Sam Black Crow. Mr. Wednesday slyly gains Laura's help in forging an alliance with a powerful god.

Emily L. Stephens for AV/TV Club: "The vision of Argus (Christian Lloyd) is impressively conceived and crafted. It’s a shame to squander it on this grimy quick-hit scene. Part man, part tendrils of potential connectivity and surveillance, Argus gleams palely in his dim chamber, seeing everything and nothing as Technical Boy spits insults at him. Then New Media steps in, standing astride the loops and piles of cables emerging from Argus’ current incarnation, and Argus’ many eyes open; one of his members slithers up her skirt as she moans about synergy."

Brian Tallerico for Vulture, "One of the problems with season two of American Gods becomes incredibly resonant in the third episode. This is a book and show about a journey more than a destination. Think of the number of scenes set in moving cars speeding through the heart of America. When a drama is more about what takes place between plot points than the actual plot points themselves, it requires a stylish, nuanced hand to make that work. And that’s what’s missing from season two. Again, we have characters in cars talking about deep things on the way from Point A to Point B, but the more conventional approach visually and in terms of dialogue doesn’t work for a narrative that simply needs to be unconventionally told."
posted by jzb (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I found this episode to be a bit of a letdown, and even lengthy scenes with Ian McShane couldn't put it over the top. The Argus scene was, well, gross and unnecessary for many reasons. Pity about the handling of it, because the overall vision of Argus (no pun intended) was well done.
posted by jzb at 6:13 AM on March 28, 2019

I'm glad I am not the only person who found the Argus scene painfully awful. I'm also not sold on New Media as a character. She seems kinda....meh to me. Strangely understated compared to her previous incarnation.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:10 AM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Me three. Also not keen on the strip club scene which felt like it existed purely to get some nudity on-screen.

The AVClub article sums it up very well for me, but I'd add to it that I also found this episode very mechanically structured: separating the characters means it has to cut between them, but the regularity with which it did so felt like it was dictated by an egg-timer. *ding* time to cut to Shadow. *ding* time for Sweeney.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:47 AM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Whatever the other problems with this episode, I enjoyed New Media. I was skeptical about how they'd be able to handle Media given the absence of Gillian Anderson, but it turns out the solution was to go off in a totally different direction with the character, yet one which still felt true to this universe. Of course New Media is one of the new gods.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:24 AM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh it's a great idea, but to me, like with Argos, it just falls flat. The marked lack of interest this season is pretty clear
posted by miss-lapin at 8:41 AM on March 28, 2019

Imagine the American Gods anthology series that's just short stories about gods and death framed and told by Ibis and Jacquel.

(I want to turn everything I like into an anthology series)
posted by elr at 10:49 AM on March 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I think I'm done with this show. I'm going to put the book on my re-read list, after my re-read of the Expanse cycle.
posted by Pendragon at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2019

Since this is a books included thread-Mad Sweeney should be dead by now, but I'm glad he isn't because he's ne of the few things keeping me in it.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

The extended life (and the series of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days) of Mad Sweeney is charming. I hope he gets a different ending in this "version" of the story, but I realize that would probably be out of character at this point.

I'm also hoping for more of Sam Blackcrow, though it feels like her part was truncated (she had more of a role in the book, right?).

Final musing: I dig the idea that the gods are reborn to fit with the times, but shouldn't technology also have a pretty long history? (See: Wikipedia article on technology, which argues that stone tools were the first technology, but if you want to get more modern, there's a big shift around 200 years ago.) Was this covered in the book? (Maybe time for another re-read.)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:22 PM on April 1, 2019

This whole episode was unneeded and gratuitous. The trip to the strip club felt tacked on as a way of avoiding the fact the two main characters in that arc are a pair of gay men (including an observant gay Muslim), and I fucking hated the whole Argus everything. Everything. The weird nested alternate sacrifice realities, the absolutely pointless murdering a memory of Europa, Wednesday and Laura's back and forth was charmless and ugly and did not advance them as characters or the story, Laura's murder of Argus was just really anti-climactic and felt like it had been crammed in there to try and give Laura a reason to go and do a lot more violence away from Shadow. Sam was a fragment of who she is in the book - she has some great lines, great depth - and they skipped the useful bits and used the most ham fisted buzzwordy tactics to get across that she's native. Lesbians and two-spirit aren't the same thing. They even had the wrong Egyptian eating bits of Laura, for fucks sake.

And the whole Argus fucking New Media five seconds after she shows up in her cutesy poo K-Pop outfit? It was just the grossest damn thing. Of course the only woman in the New Gods'team immediately tries to fuck an old god over to their side. Why wouldn't she?

Fucking gross. I felt gross watching the whole episode. It was a het boy male gaze pie of grossness.

Sweeney was the only thing going for this episode. The rest can burn in hell.
posted by Jilder at 11:09 PM on April 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

FLT: The Technical Boy in the book is not so much technology as development of Man but the whole whoosh that was the 90s Cyberpunk kind of thing - that optimistic thing where so many of us had faith that all these new ways of communicating and processing information would give us access to the best parts of ourselves, and the tools to rip down the worse parts.

There's mentions of other types of technology gods - I think the Iron Horse of the railways is mentioned in the book somewhere as a New God that died - so I've understood that the Technical Boy is just that specific male coded hackerish vision.

The Technical Boy's fate in the book is a good sort of allegory of how that hope was starting to burn out in the 2000s. Now, it's obvious that the vision was flawed and those new tools have given us means to spread the worst of ourselves around as much as the best of ourselves.

I honestly think he's overstayed his welcome as a narrative device, but the way the series has deviated so strongly from the book I have no idea what he's meant to be doing, as much as anything else. It's really fucked up a lot of the structure of the book, and while the criticism from the Vulture re. road movie is pretty valid there's a mythic element to the book that is completely fucked now. Like, Wednesday should be gone. His death in the books is really important - it's a callback to his self-death on the tree in search of knowledge, and it pissed me off that they opted to fridge a Zorya instead. I'm hoping they put a bullet in him later, but I wouldn't put money on it happening. Like the Technical Boy his place in the story is no longer clear and is too inconsistent with that death taken away.
posted by Jilder at 11:18 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

And I'm fucking annoyed that Iktomi (Lakota trickster god) is in it at all, given the book is pretty explicit that the American First Nation Gods opt out of the war hard. Whiskey Jack says something about it being a white man's war in the book (it's been a while) and I hate that they just shrug and go "sure, that's a cool enough god, let's use him" without paying much attention to that bit of racial politics.

I'm gunna go have a nap or something and mull whether I can be fucked subjecting myself to the next episode.
posted by Jilder at 11:25 PM on April 1, 2019

I'm in the midst of a re-read right now, and in the part of the book they're at Wednesday isn't dead yet, so they may not have just substituted Zorya for him, if that makes you feel any better Jilder.

I was disappointed at how much Sam Blackcrow was changed - she is such a sharp, funny and insightful character in the book, why wouldn't you use that? Also, when she shows up later in the plot it's pretty important that she and shadow have made friends - they had such a fun conversation in the book and here they just are surly at each other?

It's a pet peeve of mine when books are adapted, that the writers are trying too hard for drama and cut out all the funny parts of the book - Jane Austen adaptations are terrible for this (except that one written by Emma Thompson of course she is the best)

posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:07 AM on April 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think the point of Laura's murdering Argos is so that she no longer needs Shadow. Wednesday is pretty clear that now he is unnec for her resurrection and their relationship is completely dead. I'm guessing this is for the same reason he had her killed in the first place, which is to keep her from luring Shadow away.

I'm not entirely unhappy with her resurrection because her entire relationship with Shadow has been about using him. This continues into wanting him to resurrect her. I don't at all get the feeling she cares for him, he's just a means to an end, which is how she viewed people when she was alive.

Hopefully now we can get an actual character arc out of her.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:54 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Add me to the people not loving the Blackcrow changes. Also, the weird New Media sex thing with Argus. I think this show just doesn’t know how to treat its women well.
posted by corb at 1:20 AM on April 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel like the show did a bait and switch on me sometime and I'm not sure how/when - but this, this is unpleasant and empty to watch. Also the misogynistic strand is now a wide seam.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:35 PM on May 5, 2019

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