Spoiler Warning: Of course this article is filled with spoilers for Episode 2 of American Gods, so if you want your viewing to remain sacred, scurry back inside Bilquis, stat!
Tires hit tarmac in this week's installment of #AmericanGods, and as you would expect for a #TV show about deities waltzing around the States pretending to be regular men, things stayed weird, wonderful and captivating AF. But in between the staple-gunned wounds, space erections and Gillian Anderson offering to flash her tits, there were many subtle moments that give huge hints not only to the narrative to come, but to the overarching themes of #NeilGaiman's novel.
So join us as we dissect the five biggest winks hidden in the corners of American Gods' Episode 2 "The Secret Of Spoons."
1. The Color Purple
Though last week's "Coming to America" episode introduction — complete with eye gauging and severed arm launching — caught our attention, I think I speak for us all when I say that it didn't have us inching toward the edge of our seats quite like this second installment. On a slave ship headed toward America we're introduced to Anansi, a wise, tricksy Spider-Man god hailing from African folklore. He descends into their quarters accompanied by jazz music; he's dressed to the nines and speaks to them in English of how the next three centuries — we're in 1697 — are built up of White people fucking over the Black community in America. And while his speech is certainly goose-bump-inducing, there are a few small and powerful details that may have been overlooked by viewers enthralled with Orlando Jones's performance.
The incarnation of Anansi we see before us is one who embodies modern-day "Black" culture in the US, and clearly this is done on purpose. From the jazz backing track, to the way he switches between Ebonics and a Southern accent, to the purple suit on his back — the color of which is a particularly clever nod to the systematic racism in the west. Considering that the cultivation of Indigo was a massive driver of the slave industry in America in the 1700s, Anansi turning up in such a suit — and tugging it as he says the word "indigo" — would not only be a symbol of wealth, stature and holiness to the slaves aboard the ship, but it's an acknowledgement of how African history continues to permeate through American culture, and how relatively few people acknowledge that.
2. Would A Mr. Wednesday By Any Other Name Smell As Sweet?
It was a simple greeting, but one that has the potential to be overlooked if you weren't listening out for it. When Czernobog — the Slavic "black god" — returns home from a hard day of snuffing cattle, saying he's pleased to see Mr. Wednesday in his apartment is an understatement to say the least; in fact, he launches a lamp right at Wednesday's head. But did you catch the name he used to address him with as he entered the room?
It was Wōtan. And guess who shares that name? Odin, the Norse God of the gallows.
3. Hanging Around Major Character Clues
We're staying in Czernobog's apartment for this one, however we shan't be focusing on the Slav and his hammer but rather the three ladies with whom he shares his home: the Zoryas. While their backstory is not mentioned, there's a glaring clue in relation to who they are and what their deal is hiding in plain sight — or should I say, hanging in plain sight.
Before Shadow and Czerno' sit down to play checkers together, Shadow is shown standing before an old map depicting a star constellation — this constellation is Ursa Major, the "Great Bear." In Slavic mythology, a winged hound, known as the Doomsday Hound, is chained to Polaris, a star within this constellation and, should it escape, it would devour the entire constellation and thus end the universe. The job of the three Zorya sisters is to keep watch of the hound and make sure it doesn't escape; and they take this task in shifts, morning, evening and night, hence why the third sister is asleep during the day.
4. An Upcoming Bank Robbery
It flitted on screen for a second or less, so if you blinked as Shadow Moon whipped out the shopping list Mr. Wednesday handed him — above — then you definitely missed the clues it contained; clues that hint to an event that takes place pretty early on in Neil Gaiman's novel.
In what (I would argue) is one of the most memorable scenes from early on in the book, we're shown another side to Mr. Wednesday; one that is less mysterious, convoluted boss and more just plain hustler. It involves a bank robbery, and if Shadow's shopping list is anything to go by, it looks like it'll be coming up in the next episode. Note the two items beneath "State Maps," and then take a read of this excerpt from the novel:
Wednesday parked the car in the supermarket lot across the street from the bank. From the trunk of the car Wednesday brought out the metal case, a clipboard, and a pair of handcuffs. He handcuffed the case to his left wrist. The snow continued to fall. Then he put a peaked blue cap on, and Velcroed a patch to the breast pocket of his jacket. A1 SECURITY was written on the cap and the patch. He put the deposit slips on his clipboard. Then he slouched. He looked like a retired beat cop, and appeared somehow to have gained himself a paunch. ... Wednesday put on a pair of faded pink earmuffs. He closed the trunk. Snowflakes settled on his dark blue cap, and on his earmuffs ... The earmuffs made him appear, at the same time, reassuring, amusing, and, ultimately, lovable. He strode across the street and walked along the block to the bank building, while Shadow walked into the supermarket hall and watched.
Wednesday taped a large red out-of-order notice to the ATM. He put a red ribbon across the night deposit slot, and he taped a photocopied sign up above it. Shadow read it with amusement.
'FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, it said, WE ARE WORKING TO MAKE ONGOING IMPROVEMENTS. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE TEMPORARY INCONVENIENCE.'
Then Wednesday turned around and faced the street. He looked cold and put-upon. A young woman came over to use the ATM. Wednesday shook his head, explained that it was out of order. She cursed, apologized for cursing, and ran off.
A car drew up, and a man got out holding a small gray sack and a key. Shadow watched as Wednesday apologized to the man, then made him sign the clipboard, checked his deposit slip, painstakingly wrote him out a receipt and puzzled over which copy to keep, and, finally, opened his big black metal case and put the man’s sack inside.
Tbqh, I don't know what I'm more excited about, the robbery itself, or seeing Ian McShane in a pair of pink fluffy ear muffs.
5. The Secret Of Spoons: What Does The Episode Title Actually Mean?
The title of Episode 2 is somewhat of a head-scratcher — "The Secret of Spoons" is nowhere near as obvious as "The Bone Orchard," which was last week's title — but that just makes it all the more fun to dissect. And while this may not be the definite meaning, here's what I think the title refers too:
Let's go back to hanging out with the Zorya sisters for a minute, we're in the kitchen with Wednesday and Shadow, and we're drinking coffee. When Wednesday is handed his cup, he stirs the coffee with a spoon — Shadow, however, doesn't touch his, meaning the sisters are able to read his coffee grinds untouched and thus his fortune. Perhaps, stirring his coffee with a spoon was an intentional move by Wednesday to avoid having his fortune read — keeping it "secret," if you will — unlike Shadow whose future is read by the sisters who then choose to shield the truth from him.
Then, later on while playing checkers, Czernobog sings a song containing the following lyrics, which pertain to the stirring of coffee:
"My love made the sweetest coffee with no sugar at all
She only stirred with her spoon and it was done
Now my drink is bitter, the secret of spoons forgotten
When my voice breaks on this song, remember all love gone
And drink the bitter coffee
And drink the bitter coffee."
Which indicates, as did the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, that Shadow's fate — and the fate of the "forgotten" — lies in the hands of those currently residing in this household filled with Slavic deities.
What do you think "The Secret of Spoons" means?