This week's episode of American Gods quite literally shoved a shiny gold clarification coin down our gullets. After five episodes, we now know Mr. Wednesday's true identity is Odin, the God of the Gallows, and that he's waging a war — almost single handedly — against the New Gods: Mr. World (the embodiment of Globalization), Media and Technical Boy. Sure, we kind of had an inkling this is what was going on, but "Lemon Scented You" spelled it out for us.
Yet on either side of the rainbow-filled pitch meeting that laid this convolution bare were many cool little Easter Eggs that give a much greater depth to the story. So, if you can tear your eyes away from watching Ian McShane arguing with a raven on loop for five minutes, join us as we venture through the coolest tidbits in this week's installment of #AmericanGods.
SPOILERS: The rest of this article will be filled with big old spoilers for American Gods Episode 5 (and the book), so please keep that in mind before you start screaming "YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE, DEAD WIFE" at me. Thanks.
1. Now There Are Starmen Waiting In The Sky
I'm usually all about leaving the best until last, but Gillian Anderson's embodiment of the late, great David Bowie was too perfect and must be talked about immediately. Her outfit — turquoise satin suit, monochrome brogue-style boots, spotted tie, red wig and electric blue eyeshadow — was plucked straight out of the "Life on Mars" video, and would have been enough to steal the show entirely on its own, to be quite honest. But then she goes on to not only mimic the icon's mannerisms and his accent, but to effortlessly slip in a minimum of seven song references in less than three minutes. Here are the ones we caught:
- Line: "Why you pretty thing, you." Song: "Oh! You Pretty Things"
- Line: "You've got your transmission and your live wire." Song: "Rebel Rebel"
- Line: "...but your circuit's dead." Song: "Space Oddity"
- Line: "Take a look at you, beating up the wrong guy." Song: "Life on Mars"
- Line: "There is a terror in knowing what Mr. World is about." Song: "Under Pressure."
- Line: "Putting out fire with gasoline." Song: "Cat People"
- Line: "Now there are Starmen waiting in the sky." Song: "Starman"
Pretty impressive, huh? What's also really cool about this scene is that the entire conversation revolves around Technical Boy having to address his public image. And who's better suited to school someone on reinvention and personal brand than Bowie?
2. What In The World Was That Tree?
It's not every day you see an eyeball blink in the back of a wooden chair, transform into a huge branch, stab a person and then chase them down a hallway, but then, American Gods does not deal with everyday things. And while it might have felt a little like you were watching some demented re-run of Ash vs. Evil Dead, this tree you were running away from is actually rooted in Norse mythology. Maybe.
You've probably noticed that the tree is becoming somewhat of a symbol in American Gods; it's constantly in Shadow's dreams among the bones in that creepy orchard; he was hung from one before — to paraphrase Mad Sweeney — his "ASSHOLE DEAD WIFE" turned up, butchered his assassins and set him free; and now this. And unfortunately for Shadow, it's probably not going to stop. This symbol is foreshadowing his fate. The tree is called Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology and means Odin's horse a.k.a. the gallows or World Tree, and it is where Shadow will eventually hold a vigil, hanging for nine days, naked, over (SPOILERS) Mr. Wednesday's dead body.
3. Who Is Mr. World?
As you may have clocked in Crispin Glover's awesome intro speech in which he grinned like a sociopath before telling Shadow how many men his mother had fucked during her lifetime (86 — get it, gurl), Mr. World is not a god to be messed with. He knows literally everything: your dreams, your fears, your movements, your sexual history, the sounds you hate, and the food you love. He is the leader of the New Gods, the top of the chain, and is the living incarnation of capitalism and globalization. He is the overlord of the media and the internet, and he is certainly not to be trusted.
Readers of the book will already know his true identity, but for those curious, Mr. World is also Shadow's former cellmate, Low Key Lyesmith a.k.a. Loki, the Norse God of Trickery, who happens to be a shapeshifter.
4. A Missile In His Name
The Coming to America introduction set a theme for the entire episode: Here we would be learning about what it means to be a God, and how a lack of a following and belief results in their demise. It happened to Nunyunnini, and now it's happening to Mr. Wednesday. And what do gods need in order to save them from destruction? A sacrifice.
That's exactly what Mr. World is offering Wednesday in his rainbow-fueled speech about dropping a nuke on North Korea. World claims that he would name the missile "Odin" — there, they said his name out loud — and use it to kill off 24.9 million people, which would be quite the sacrifice to the God of the Gallows, and quite the way to get his name back into circulation. They would, as Technical Boy said, be helping him re-find his audience.
Of course, nothing in this world is done from the good of a person's heart; North Korea is not a random choice to obliterate. As the country is separated from the rest of the globe, they do not play into Mr. World's ideal of a "single global market," and thus obliterating them via an Odin nuke would not only mean a mass sacrifice for Wednesday, but universal domination for World.
5. Incy Wincy Spider
It's not the first time Anansi has appeared to free a man from chains in the five episodes of American Gods we've had so far, and I really hope it won't be the last. Rounding up with a hint more obvious than the others — but equally as fun — the little spider that unlocks Wednesday and Shadow's handcuffs in the Police Department is, of course, Mr. Nancy — the spider god we met on the slave ship in Episode 2!
Did you catch any cool Easter Eggs in this week's episode of American Gods?