American Gods (Episode 2)

Episode 2 again begins with a look back at the past and the coming of gods to America. This time we start on a slave-ship with a captured man pleading to the spider-god Anansi to help them. As if my magic, Anansi appears, dressed in a modern suit and telling them they should set fire to the ship. While this will kill them, at least they will die making a statement, he tells them. We then return to the story of Shadow and Wotan (finally named as such in this episode) as they continue their unusual road-trip across country. A lot is still left unexplained about what exactly is going on. Shadow is again contacted by the mysterious technological forces, this time in a brilliant scene of Lucille Ball (an incredible performance by Gillian Anderson) talking to him through various televisions in a shopping mall. They then travel on to meet Czernobog, a genuinely chilling being, whose help they are seeking. Also there are more scenes of Bilquis devouring mortals in her inimitable style.

One of the best things about this show is that it doesn't patronise its audience. They rarely waste time explaining who the various gods are. The most you are likely to get is a name and perhaps a hint at what their powers are. This is especially true in this episode of Czernobog, whose cryptic discussion of himself still requires a certain amount of foreknowledge, or research to understand who he is. Peter Stomare is terrifying, helped by his description of his former job at a slaughter-house. His stomach-churning explanation of crushing cow skulls and pulping brains with his hammer is one of those effective pieces of storytelling which this show excels at. Also noteworthy is Orlando Jones, who I hope makes further appearances later on. His anger at the treatment of Africans and his charismatic presence make his scene especially entertaining.

Another great thing about the show is the number of themes that they seem to be tackling. This episode covers slavery, obsessions with sex (with Bilquis), television (Lucille Ball), and fate (the slavic godesses), as well as one of the best anti-meat commercials I've seen (courtesy of Czernobog and his bloody hammer). There is also creativity a plenty on show, some fun cuts and the whole thing looks beautiful. It is also a show that delights in being shocking. Whether its nudity, blood, violence, or just the outright craziness of it, it all makes for an entertaining blend.