American Gods: Episode 2 “The Secret of Spoons” Review

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By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

The plot thickens in American Gods this week! The Starz show delves deeper into the world under the world as we follow Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon to Chicago.

In the show’s second episode, “The Secret of Spoons,” the Americana road trip the original book lovers remember begins, and Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane) head off to Chicago to begin recruitment. Wednesday is still careful to keep the purpose of his recruitment under wraps, only telling Shadow he is gathering people for a “rendezvous in one of the most important places in the country.” We are reminded, once more, how little we actually know about Mr. Wednesday and his purpose for Shadow. Will we learn more?

The road trip isn’t all sunshine and fun, however. After being beaten and hung in the previous episode, the danger of the escapade is increasingly clear to Shadow. But the rest of the adventure is an unknown for him. This episode beautifully showcased Shadow’s realization that he is in deep water. After some odd encounters with gods of both old and new, like any normal human, Shadow begins to question his own sanity. (If Lucille Ball started talking to me on a television at a store, I would probably wonder about my mental health too!) Wednesday merely challenges Shadow to accept either that he is crazy or that the world is crazy after the “sudden onset of strange.” Shadow becomes the “every man” in the situation, as he deals with absurdity in much the same way as the rest of us likely would. The placement of such a character amidst the crazy allows the audience to have some grounding and someone to relate to. And that connection leads to investment, which then finds us firmly entrenched in the story only two episodes in!

One of the interesting things about the episode was a lack of dialogue in many instances, particularly when watching scenes with Shadow or other scenes with the goddess, Bilquis. “The Secret of Spoons” proved to be heavily reliant on imagery to tell the story. The concept “less is more” comes to mind, with director David Slade, writers, and showrunners illustrating their understanding of art through visual effects. Verbal exposition is overdone in many of today’s movies and television show, and is often unnecessary, especially if the actors on-screen are capable of conveying meaning through body language (which Whittle is especially wonderful in accomplishing with his brooding countenance). This week’s episode of American Gods placed trust in the audience to understand and appreciate the meaning behind actions, without the need for over-explaining. This method, therefore, allowed Bryan Fuller’s particular style to shine.

However, when words are used in “The Secret of Spoons,” they are used to great effect. The episode’s opening (once again starting with Mr. Ibis [Demore Barnes] telling a story of immigrants coming to America) brings us the speech everyone has been anticipating and talking about. The African trickster god, Anansi (Orlando Jones), speaks to slaves being transported to American on a ship, and it is incredibly moving and powerful, packed with meaning and hauntingly accurate truths. The episode is amazing for the speech alone, and is absolutely worth the watch.

Also noteworthy in the second episode of American Gods is the team behind hair, make-up, and costuming. Gillian Anderson as Lucille Ball was almost unrecognizable thanks to the expert talents of those working behind the scenes! Every character is distinct, and while set in modern day, there are flashes of the past (either literally or in homage to a character’s background) that are made apparent through their particular look. Even Czernobog (Peter Stormare) and the sisters have a unique look specific to the cultures they hail from and the life they have turned to since. Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), too, has her own signature look and atmosphere. Not enough can be said in praise of those working behind the scenes to bring the fictional characters to life in a memorable manner.

“The Secret of Spoons” was just as solid as the premiere episode of American Gods. It once again showcases the feel of a Bryan Fuller production while sucking us into the mystery of Wednesday. Seriously, if you’re not watching, this is a bandwagon you’ll want to be on! The episode ended on another cliffhanger, with Shadow once again in danger. To tune in to what happens to Shadow next week, watch Starz on Sunday night at 9pm.


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