Title: A Murder of Gods
Director: Adam Kane
Writers: based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, created by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, written by Maria Melnik
Starring: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Schreiber, Jonathan Tucker, Demore Barnes, Betty Gilpin, Siobhan Fallon Mogan, Beth Grant
Episode length: 60 minutes
The series focus on the themes of faith and belief continues in a story of betrayal and swift vengeance.
The road trip continues and another joins in pursuit of the first with Laura, Mad Sweeney, and Salim. An ironic, tragic preamble served up like an appetizer to the episode seems to be there just to emphasize the themes of faith and belief, along with some social commentary on guns and bullets, without any other connection to the series narrative.
This time around the series seems to have conjured more of a stand alone straightforward fable about experiences encountered on the way to Wisconsin, as Mr. Wednesday continues to attempt to recruit more of the old gods to join him in the coming war with the New Gods.
There are fewer of the fantastical surreal events, but the series remains surreal in the manner of reminding us the commonplace is capable of being just as surreal, fantastic, and bizarre. This time around also seemed to be more interested in making social commentary while telling its story.
Here’s a recap with some comments (*Warning, spoilers follow*)
The episode begins with a preface about some Mexicans sneaking across the Rio Grande into America. They are shown waiting and engaging in some religious rituals before completing the final leg of their journey across the river. Their leader, a strong figure of a woman, tells them if they cannot swim they should not continue across, but one man who can’t swim continues anyway.
Just short of the opposite shore, it appears he is about to drown when he is suddenly rescued by a hand that reaches down and saves him. The hand belongs to a mysterious Christ-like figure who appears to walk on water. He appears to be Mexican Jesus, Just as they make it across and while some are giving thanks they are suddenly illuminated by the lights of a group of vehicles gathered nearby. The guide responds first as gunfire erupts hitting several of the small crowd, including the Christ-like character who gets shot in the hand and is shown lying dead on the ground in a manner resembling having been crucified.
This segment seems to have no connection to the rest of the story, but seemed more like just a tragic social commentary thrown in as a sad event that might have been about the state of the world today and the idea that if Jesus did actually return at this point in history, he might not survive the experience, ironically mowed down by people intolerant of others that differ from them that consider themselves the best examples of being Christians.
On the run after their encounter with the New Gods Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) are on the run with Laura (Emily Browning) in pursuit. Laura is still accompanied by Mad Sweeney, and when they attempt to steal a cab they find parked, they are busted by the owner who turns out to be Salim (Omid Abtahi). Instead of calling the cops on them he takes them on as passengers. he agrees to take them to Kentucky where Sweeney suggests he can find the answers they both seek once they arrive.
Sweeney is a most disagreeable fellow who complains a lot and is outspoken in his hostility towards the others. Laura keeps him in line with threats of physical violence, but only barely. While he dozes she takes charge of their direction and they end up back in Indiana. It seems she feels the need for something familiar in her new existence as the dead wife, as Sweeney calls her. She even visits her old family home, peering through the window to catch a glimpse of them.
They are all in search of something, Sweeney wants his coin which is why he’s hanging around Laura, even though he wants nothing to do with her, Salim is searching for a Jinn and Laura wants to reunite with Shadow because she’s convinced she loves him and they should be together, and what she felt when they kissed. Mr. Wednesday seems determined to keep them from reuniting, I suspect because he thinks it will lessen his power over Shadow.
Using a nice visual aid of a map showing their diverging courses we find Shadow and Mr. Wednesday arriving in the small town of Vulcan, Virginia, seemingly built on top of a volcano. It’s the home of another of Wednesday’s old companions Vulcan the god of the forge. According to ancient myths, he made weapons for the gods, and Mr. Wednesday requests he makes him one.
The town is quite a sight, filled with people all wearing armbands and armed to the teeth. It resembles a town occupied by an army of Nazis, or something strongly similar to that. Shadow and Wednesday are glared at by a machine gun toting, sour-faced little old lady in a wheelchair when they drive through town. It’s a thoroughly creepy place set against the backdrop of the town’ immense factory which manufactures bullets an enormous quantity of bullets. depicted in a collage of their endless creation from molten metal to finished product. Immense smokestacks pour a relentless stream of smoke that darkens the sky above the town.
The townspeople are seen holding some kind of public ceremony over a factory worker killed in an accident, followed by everyone firing their guns into the air. Shadow takes cover in the car to escape the inevitable rain of falling bullets that follows.
Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen) appears happy to see Wednesday, but his manner towards Shadow seems to be subtly hostile. He even has a tree complete with noose, that looks a great deal like the one Tech Boy’s clone drones lynched him from. It, along with all the bullets, are clues of what is to soon follow.
It was pretty amazing seeing Corbin Bernsen, who I first saw it seems like a hundred years ago when the series LA Law first premiered on tv.
As soon as he finishes making Wednesday an enormous rune-covered sword. Vulcan admits he has already spoken with the New Gods who helped restore a part of his power. he has traded in making the old weapons and now makes bullets in their place. He describes himself as a story that everyone forgot to tell, but getting on board with the New Gods and making the bullets helped him be partly resurrected in this new version of his old self. After promising to join Wednesday in Wisconsin he now admits he will not be joining him after all.
Without hesitation, Wednesday beheads him with the newly forged weapon and pushes him into the molten metal below. He then finishes up by pissing in the same batch of metal he just pushed his old friend into, stating he was cursing it all by doing that. Shadow is freaking out a bit, he still hasn’t fully adjusted to that what passes as normal around Wednesday and his associates are hardly considered normal in the world he is used to.
The town filled with gun-toting citizens along with the Mexican segment seems like the show’s first foray into social commentary and I am left wondering if this is something we should expect more of going forward. It was a pretty cut and dry story this time around and seemed more like a stand-alone episode than any of the others we have seen in this series so far. It was an enjoyable hour of television but it did seem a little more simple-minded than what we have been used to from this show.