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The Ways of the Dead Recap

A man walking his dogs comes to an alleyway and finds a woman lying dead in it.

Later, a black man, beaten, is hung and the sheriff looks on as the people watch. The rope breaks and the man, Will James, falls to the ground. The sheriff shoots him repeatedly in the chest, killing him. Afterward, the crowd kick the corpse.

Shadow wakes up when the cat meows. It runs off and Shadow looks at himself in the mirror. He gets a sudden flash of another face and jumps in shock, and then picks up a straight razor and puts it to his throat. In the mirror, Shadow's head burns. He manages to drop the razor into the sink and Will appears behind him, whispering in his ear. Shadow spins around but there's no one there.

Once he has the sprig that he sought, Wednesday plants it and urinates on it to help it grow. He tells it to grow and turns, and Shadow points out that he's pissing on a plant. Wednesday says that it's the World Tree and tells Shadow not to be disgusting. He tells Shadow that he's going off on his own and says that Ibis can teach him the way of the dead. Ibis notes that humans are dead more than they are alive. Once Wednesday leaves, Ibis asks Shadow if he's comfortable sleeping beneath the same roof as the dead as long as they stay dead.

Sweeney walks through the streets of New Orleans, drunk, and laughs at a statue of Christ. He finally passes out and Laura kicks him awake. Sweeney curses when he sees her, and says that her improved condition is temporarily. He gets up and explains that he had an adventure getting there, and that the further he gets from his coin inside of her, the worse his luck gets.

Sweeney tips a street drummer and compliments his shirt, and then goes into a club. Brigitte, working as a waitress, tells him to get Laura out. Baron Samedi comes over and greets Sweeney as an old friend, and Sweeney says that he's there for a parley. He asks if Brigitte can help Laura, and Samedi says that they can enjoy the chef's table.

Salim and the Djinn wait by a roadside produce stand, and Salim thanks Allah for his meal. The Djinn finds it amusing and explains that he was born before Islam, and the Djinn were given a choice to convert to Islam or lose their lives as heretic demons. He chose "heretic demon", and Salim insists that his God is the One True God. Wednesday arrives and the Djinn complains that he's late. He says that the King of Dwarves awaits them and their motorcycle will be fine. As they get in the car, the Djinn says that he's beholden to Wednesday because Wednesday released him from an amulet, but Wednesday isn't his god.

A man, Jamarr Goodchild, walks down the street and passes Nancy. Nancy turns and watches him go, and then follows him. Jamarr goes to a house and knocks on the door, and exchanges money for drugs. As he walks off, a policeman calls him over. Jamarr swallows the drug packet and runs, and the policeman chases after him. Jamarr comes to a burning head on a post in an alley and stares at it in surprise, and the policeman tackles him, handcuffs him, and drags him away as the head's eyes turn to follow them.

Later, Jamarr's body is delivered to the funeral home. Ibis tells Shadow that Jamarr died of an opiate overdose and his other wounds are posthumous, and men of color have been dying in Cairo the same way for centuries. Shadow says that Jamarr has the same wounds as the man in the mirror, and Ibis tells him that the man's name is Will and that he's haunted the funeral home for centuries. The god explains that Will's death brought things in Cairo to a boil.

The Past

Will walks down the streets of Cairo and cross paths with a white man. The woman turned up dead and a mob lynched Will. As he hung, Will cursed the crowd.


Laura sits and watches Sweeney drink and flirt with women.,

Wednesday drives Salim and the Djinn to Alviss, the King of Dwarves. He tells Salim that that he knows all about love, and Salim talks about how the love he gets isn't something he could get from another god. Wednesday says that monotheists have too big a piece of the "pie", and offers himself if Salim wants to expand his pantheon.

At the funeral home's chapel, Reverend Hutchins says that Ruby shouldn't rush to a hasty decision. Bilquis comes in and agrees with him, but Ruby says that the streets will come after her and God didn't help. She explains that Cairo is hell to her, not home. Hutchins talks about the freedom movement and how people came to funerals to organize.

Wednesday, the Djinn, and Salim meet with Alviss in an old factory, who says that he's not helping Wednesday no matter what he wants. Alviss insist that he's the tallest god in America and complains that now he only manages himself. Wednesday takes out Gungnir, and Alviss stares at it enviously for a moment and then says that he's not part of Wednesday's war. The older god flatters Alviss, saying that he thought he should show one of the greatest craftsmen Gungnir. He says that Alviss needs maintenance but only at the hands of the greatest craftsman. Alviss tells him that he's the one Wednesday seeks but the runes are necessary and the runes are Dvalin's domain. Wednesday wonders if Alviss has seen Dvalin recently.

Once Wednesday has his answer, he takes Salim and the Djinn back to the car. Their motorcycle is there, and Wednesday says that it's Freya's battle boar and sometime lover. Samir insists that Wednesday isn't his god, and Samir insists that his truth his own. Wednesday tells the Djinn that he did, and invites Samir to join him in Cairo before driving off. The Djinn tells Samil that he's blind to the truth and then gestures to him to join him on the motorcycle.

At the club, Sweeney and Laura sit down to eat with Samedi. Brigitte says that Laura smell rank and gets her a drink, and Laura chokes up maggots. She feels better afterward, and then eats and discovers that she can taste again. Brigitte blows smoke from her cigar into Laura's face and restores her to near-human state. Sweeney tells her to knock it off, then says that she needs to turn Laura's clock back so he can retrieve his coin and send her back to her husband. Brigitte examines Laura and then says that she's chasing after what she cannot have. Sweeney notes that Samedi's favor is to him, not Laura, and asks if they have a compact. Samedi agree, figuring that they can make a trade. Laura gives him truth and he gives her what she wants. He asks if they have a compact and Laura agrees. Brigitte leads Sweeney away, saying that they're not needed, and Sweeney goes with her.

Shadow wonders why Will curses his own people, and Ibis says that when things are stacked someone then their worst fears are real rather than imagined. He describes how Will felt he was abandoned by his own people, and asks Shadow who has taught black people to hate themselves. Nancy arrives and tells Shadow that he's asking the wrong questions. Shadow walks out and Nancy dismisses him as a puppet.

Driving through the night in a funeral home's hearse, Shadow punches the steering wheel in frustration.

Nancy says that Ibis has responsibility for what happened to James. He figures that Ibis already has a way for fresh bodies to come through the door.

Shadow comes to a black dog sitting in the street. He stops and the dog walks off.

Nancy tells Ibis that if he's taking brown people, then he's taking his worshippers and it cannot be.

Shadow follows the dog to an older Cairo street. The black people are standing and staring, and the dog walks into an alleyway filled with sparks. Shadow follows it and sees Will's head on a post, burning and giving off the sparks. Will says that what he was, was from taken from him. He releases those who have no hope to a life of peace, and tells Shadow that the way of the dead is to know nothing of the living. Will says that Shadow should understand his anger, and killing him was the release they yearned for. Shadow retches, and Will tells him to walk with his burden. When Shadow shares it with the world, Will will release him.

Samedi creates a potion while Laura talks about how Shadow used to look at her until she screwed it up. The god tells her that she lived her truth, but she betrayed him when she told Shadow that she loved him. Samedi explains that he worships Brigitte as the most powerful and sexy woman he's ever met, prepares the potion, and says that it still needs two drops of blood infused with love. He says that she's as close to being alive as she can be while being dead, and asks what she will do when she becomes human. Samedi demands the truth and Laura kisses him.

Brigitte dances for Sweeney as he drinks. He imagines other women joining in, caressing Brigitte. She tells Sweeney that she and Samedi do what they want and she wants Sweeney, and kisses him. He hesitates and Brigitte figures that he's too much into Laura. Sweeney denies it then grabs her and they kiss.

Laura and Samedi have sex.

Brigitte and Sweeney have sex.

In the chapel, Hutchins conducts a ceremony for Jamarr. Nancy and Bilquis sit in the back and look on, and Ibis sits with Ruby. Hutchins tells Ruby that he's lied to Cairo, telling them that it was going to be okay. Shadow comes in as Hutchins says that he can't look away from the cruelty inflicted on them, and the world makes no sense to hm. Nancy mutters "amen"< and Hutchins tells the mourners to leave Cairo and find somewhere that their people aren't catching hell and come back to tell him.

Ibis goes to the lectern and asks if anyone else would like to speak. Shadow walks up and Will speaks through him, talking about how they worshipped Death in the Middle Ages. He learned Death's power from Laura and now he welcomes death, and Will leaves him.

Afterward, Wednesday, Nancy, and Ibis sit in the back. Ibis tells them that America is the only country in the world that measures its food in feet. Shadow joins them and Nancy and Wednesday share a toast. When Shadow asks what happened to him earlier and what Will wants. Ibis suggests that he might want what they all want: a drink of beer brewed in Cairo. The three gods drink to the idea, and Shadow walks out. In the other room, the World Tree continues growing.

Come the dawn, Laura wakes up and dresses, and finds the bottle with the potion on the counter but no sign of Samedi. Sweeney enters the club and confirms that Samedi isn't there, and Laura says that she's going away from him. He reminds her that they have a deal--her life for his coin--and Laura says that she didn't get her life back. Laura explains that it's all Wednesday, and Sweeney says that Samedi and Brigitte are death loa and he only serves Wednesday because he owes him. The woman says that Sweeney is too much of a coward to find his own war to die in and leaves, and Sweeney curses her.

Written by Gadfly on Apr 7, 2019

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