​"Muninn" - American Gods S02E03 Review

Things happen on American Gods this week. Strange and weird things, but things nonetheless. Which is better than the near-reset the last two episodes have been.

Pablo Schreiber, American Gods S02E03

"Muninn" puts the pedal to the metal and lets it roar. Sort of. Mr. Nancy disappears after walking out, but Odin's new car is ready to roll. He takes Laura to Ibis and has her repaired, and tells her he knows of a way to recharge her coin. Sweeney is having none of it, and when Laura chooses Wednesday's way over Sweeney's, Sweeney leaves in disgust, heading for New Orleans.


Wednesday abandons Shadow, figuring the long trek will do him good. Injured after the train crash, Shadow ends up hitching a ride with Sam Blackcrow (Devery Jacobs), who I guess is both male and female. Or so she says, and because it's 2019 TV. She's heading for Cairo, which is where Shadow is heading, and Sam gives him a lift. They have a few enigmatic conversations, and eventually they get to Cairo and Sam leaves Shadow off at the gate to Ibis' funeral home.

World has the Caretaker reprogram Media with a new avatar (Kahyun Kim). And then sends her and Technical Boy to Argus. Wednesday and Laura are also heading there. They have to go through several virtual realities, making sacrifices of a cow and the Great Library. While Technical Boy and Media stroll right in, or at least, we don't see them doing any sacrificing. Wednesday convinces Laura to kill Argus, and that recharges her coin so she stops rotting. Throughout, Wednesday plays mind games with her saying she's acting out of self-interest, not love of Shadow, and Shadow doesn't love the revenant she's become.

Christian Lloyd, American Gods S02E03

Media tries to cut her own deal with Argus: his spy network in return for her having electronic data-sex with him. Laura kills Argus in the middle of it, and Technical Boy doesn't warn Media since she's betraying World to get more power for herself. Argus is working both sides--World and Wednesday--so Wednesday has him killed as an object lesson.

Sweeney heads to New Orleans, gets attacked by a dog, sets a boat on fire, and--worst of all!--gets picked up by a Christian rock band.

The Djinn and Salim go to the Corn Palace, which is a strip club run by Iktomi (Julian Richings). Iktomi is a Lakotan spider-trickster god, but he's play by Richings, who was born in England. Why he has Gungnir, Wednesday's spear, is never made clear. It's Julian Richings, so he looks like a reanimated corpse no matter what he plays. So Lakotan is as good a look for him as any. They get Gungnir and leave.

Ibis (Demore Barnes) shows up for the first time since Barnes was promoted to main star, and we find out he likes snacking on the corpses he fixes up for his funeral home. Despite the title, Wednesday's raven, Muninn, doesn't do much in the episode. It finds Shadow, reports on his location to Wednesday, and brings down one of World's drones that is following Shadow. And that's it.

Ricky Whittle, American Gods S02E03

At the end, Wednesday returns to the funeral home and greets Shadow as he arrives. Wednesday remains enigmatic with Shadow about what's going on, and makes another deal: Shadow will feel better in the morning, and in return, will continue working for Wednesday.

What Mr. Nancy and Bilquis are doing, I have no idea.

As I noted, "Muninn" is a bit of a hodgepodge. There are four separate quests going on: Shadow & Sam, Wednesday & Laura, Salim & the Djinn, and Sweeney. The creative team tosses Ibis into the pot and makes sure the strands sometimes touch but never interact. People do things for no apparent reason: Wednesday makes Shadow find his way to Cairo because... Wednesday is a sadistic jerk. He taunts Laura to... keep her from drawing Shadow away from Wednesday. But Shadow doesn't seem interested in going off with Laura anyway. Forcing Laura to leave when he could get her on his side--and helping Shadow, who is helping Wednesday--seems like a poor tactical decision. it seems more like something Loki would do. And Ian McShane's Wednesday still comes across more as Loki than Odin. Maybe his version of Odin is more mythologically accurate.

But having Odin instead of Loki is both accurate to Neil Gaiman's original novel, and gives Ian McShane a chance to flaunt his acting skills. And that's the best part of American Gods these days. New Media is bright, chipper, and scheming, and asks a question I've wondered about: aren't her and Technical Boy to some degree redundant? I'm still not sure why they've given up looking for Old Media and "digitalized" a new one. Last week's indirect Media refusal didn't seem that direct.

Julian Richings, American Gods S02E03

Julian Richings is good as always. Crispin Glover is still creepy and threatening. Bruce Langley still curses and struts. Pablo Schreiber gets some scenes of slapstick humor and plays them to the hilt.

The two least interesting characters are still Shadow and Laura. Ricky Whittle has pretty much nothing to do this week but nod and listen to Sam talk. Emily Browning does more as Wednesday's sidekick this episode, and watching her interact with McShane, is as good as watching her with Schreiber in the last two episodes. I'm not sure if we're supposed to sympathize with her because she's losing Shadow, or we're supposed to think Shadow is better off without her. Which leaves him with... Wednesday, who isn't great to him, either.

We have three "human" characters, and Salim is the most interesting of the three. Which is why I wish they'd spend more time with him. He has some self-effacing humor--watch him sniff his clothes when Iktomi's bodyguard Gnaskinyan (Stephen R. Hart) says he can smell human sex on the Djinn--and you'd think the viewpoint of a mortal who both worships his god and sleeps with him would be entertaining. But, so far the most interesting bit of Salim's story is in the rearview mirror of last season. Omid Abtahi got promoted to a series regular for this?

Omid Abtahi, American Gods S02E03

Yes, there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes fighting for "control" of the show. But we're three episodes in: time to move on and watch the creative team make its mark. So far it feels like they're treading water and reeducating their audience. We get new main stars like Abtahi, Mousa Kraish, Orlando Jones, Yetide Badaki, and Demore Barnes. But they're doing the same stuff they were doing last year, and not much of that. They seem to have no personality--other than what the actors bring--outside of being Wednesday's allies and--in Bilquis's case--sort-of allies. I'd rather see more of them than Shadow nodding and chuckling as he talks to an Indian warrior.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Mar 24, 2019

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