American Gods: The Greatest Story Ever Told   Books Included 
March 31, 2019 2:56 AM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Wednesday and Shadow go in search of Money (The God), while some of the Old Gods discuss the coming war in Cairo.

Nancy Bilquis, and Ibis discuss the war and various sides. Shadow has an encounter with Bast. Mr World And Wednesday both court Money. New Media warns Tech Boy.
posted by miss-lapin (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A vast improvement over the last 3 episodes. The discussion between Bilquis, Nancy, and Ibis was wonderful. There was no Laura or Sweeney this ep and I do think this helped quite a bit as they've been relying too much on their schtick this season.

The encounter between Shadow and Bast is much more powerful in the book. It totally felt like it could have been cut out of the episode.

At this point I do wonder how they will make Wednesday into the villain even with his little speech to Shadow.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:01 AM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Did Shadow's interaction with Bast carry forward? Did she have more to tell him, or show him, in the book? This felt like the first interaction of many, or at least more (similar to Sam Blackcrow in the last episode). I hope they don't feel like they need to check off characters from the book to be "based on the novel".
posted by filthy light thief at 12:24 PM on April 1, 2019

Yes Bast shows up later in the book and is quite important, but in the book this dream sequence is pivotal. Shadow is suicidal and the cat miraculous shows up twice in his room. When he falls asleep, Bast appears in human form and they have sex that results in him finally being able to rest. Bast is the first entity to offer Shadow true comfort. And that's what gives him the energy to go on. Instead it's just reduced to a wet dream with some scratches.

It's hard to guess what the hell they are going to do with all these characters etc because now they have deviated so far from the book. For example, Mad Sweeney should be dead by this point.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:35 AM on April 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

my wife and I also felt this was the strongest episode of the season so far and that the summit meeting in the funeral home was absolutely riveting.
posted by mwhybark at 2:58 AM on April 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Watched this last night, have been simmering on it a bit.

This is probably true in the book as well, but I'm noticing that the gods are treated somewhat unevenly. Old gods are drawn more like full fledged people, just with added eccentricity and powers, etc. New gods are portrayed more like "what if ____ came to life?" There's an imbalance there.

I noticed that because this was the first episode I had any empathy for or didn't just loathe Technical Boy. Crispin Glover just gets creepier and creepier. But I can't picture him doing anything but skulking around being creepy or having any existence that's not doing something nefarious. Like, I can picture Wednesday or Bilquis just... sitting at home when they're not in the middle of an upheaval between old and new.

That is to say, if the gods are manifestations of our wants and hopes and prayers, what does it say - or what is the show trying to say - if the new gods are one-dimensional and unlikable but the old gods are more fully formed personalities?

It's pretty clear the showrunners have put Shadow Moon in the back seat and put the focus on Wednesday.

Felt bogged down in parts and not like we moved the story forward much. But no embarrassing tentacle porn in this episode, so that's nice... I'm hoping the next episode will pick up momentum.
posted by jzb at 1:09 PM on April 4, 2019

It terms of old gods v new ones. In the book we see far less of what the new gods are doing because we are following Shadow's journey so while they may be one dimensional, it's not as noticeable.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:08 PM on April 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Perhaps because when the old gods were created (?), we were led to believe that they were always there, that they created us.

No matter how much power we give to the new gods, we know that we created them.
posted by elr at 4:57 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I wonder if the show will address (although probably not portray) what the book did not... the very much still believed in Gods of the Torah and Koran, who would each be exponentially stronger than Wotan.
posted by elr at 5:02 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

>I wonder if the show

I guess the show kind of addressed this with all of the different versions of Jesus. It was a clever scene and a little funny.

How many people truly believe in the uncorrupted original Old Testament God? Operative term is uncorrupted because the corrupted belief would create a variant of OTG and reduce belief in OTG. With enough belief of a particular variant above a certain threshold, that variant would have enough power to coalesce.

Interesting comment about "old gods created us" giving power to those gods - we attribute a lot of creation to the new gods, too. We blame, say, television, or comic books, or rock and roll, or dungeons and dragons for creating bad attributes in us. That a 'god created us' granting special power to a god is violated by positing that cults (like Scientology or something) exist that believe that aliens made us or something - aren't around with any special qualities.

But, either way, this is what I like about what this book/ show tries to explore.
posted by porpoise at 7:07 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

My interpretation of old v new gods in terms of development with the novel was claims (I forget who says it) the new gods in america being created and discarded quickly. So you ave gods who evolved and developed over hundreds and some thousands of years vs some gods who last a decade or two. Its natural that the older gods would be far more developed as a character than a god who was barely born before being discarded.

And I hate to wee in your cheerios porpoise, but I think the book explores a lot more of those issues more.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:13 AM on April 6, 2019

natural that the older gods would be far more developed as a character than a god who was barely born before being discarded.

That's a good point. They haven't really touched on that in the show, but that does make sense.

One thing I did enjoy a bit was New Media talking about her rebirth from Media. As a longtime fan of Gaiman's Sandman series, I've long loved the concept of The Endless as concepts that are eternal, but have personas that can die. Maybe it's just me, but felt like a tiny nod to that other universe. (If, in fact, American Gods and Sandman are separate universes... for legal purposes, surely.)
posted by jzb at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

In the book, they keep saying "America is a bad place for Gods" but the new gods being discarded quickly only comes up close to the end. It's not something that really needs much addressing because the only new gods we get to see that much are Media, Tech Boy, and Mr Town.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:27 PM on April 6, 2019

I always figured Easter pretty much explains why the god of the Bible, Torah and Koran had no presence at all in the story - she declines originally to get involved because she has all the worship she needs, is well loved, and doesn't see herself threatened by the upwelling of the new gods.

The Rock of Ages isn't involved in the war the same way IBM doesn't field teams in high school science fairs. The stakes may be high for the old and new gods, but they don't even register to the Big Guy.
posted by Jilder at 4:32 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Another strong episode tonight, I thought. The show is deliberately turning focus to things Neil elided in the book, if my recall of the book is correct.

Also, I am starting to see this season’s take on gods, religion, and spirituality as actually more nuanced than that of the book. I think this season is likely to be better than the first.
posted by mwhybark at 10:09 PM on April 7, 2019

I feel like the summit at the funeral home seemed more designed to address criticism of the first season (wrt African Gods not seeming invested in the fate of their worshippers) than as part of its own well thought out thing. As I recall, Neil Gaiman didn’t really address racism in his book at all, and so this part seems really racked on and also weird - like, the Old Gods don’t care about Zorya because she’s white, they don’t even really have concepts of whiteness. It’s true for people in America but not for the Old Gods so it’s a weird critique to make.
posted by corb at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2019

I took something else from the summit. Nancy makes the point about Wednesday letting the hammer go because of Zorya's death and asks the others if they believe if they would get the same treatment if they had been killed instead. He seems to be explicitly pointing out Wednesday's racism or at the very least tribalism. And Nancy's accusation suggests that American racism is mirrored in the Gods.

Also in terms of "not having a concept of whiteness" Ibis is the one who makes that claim (and there is a lot to unpack there). Nancy clearly has a different sense of racial identity. This is probably tied into 1 where these gods are originally from 2 the role of these gods in their relative mythologies.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:54 PM on April 21, 2019

I feel like the summit at the funeral home seemed more designed to address criticism of the first season (wrt African Gods not seeming invested in the fate of their worshippers)

That's actually something that's been bugging me about the new season - the Old Gods really don't give a damn about their followers in the book. Nancy certainly didn't, beyond ole high titty women. making him a social justice deity rubs me the wrong way, even though I can see how it would make sense to make that change.
posted by Jilder at 6:17 AM on April 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

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