Shadow ups his game and Wednesday runs a con, and there's surprisingly little blood this week, although I can't honestly say that no-one gets hurt.
We open with a Somewhere in America, as a Muslim woman who once loved stories of Ancient Egypt is escorted to her final rest by Anubis, who is lovely(1).
Shadow encounters the youngest and least pronounceable of the Zorya sisters on the roof, while Wednesday turns on the charm with the oldest and least bullshitable. Zorya Polunochnaya asks Shadow for a kiss, something she has not had before, in exchange for a coin plucked from the moon. Wednesday kissed Zorya Vechernyaya, provoking a massive and portentous storm. During this storm, Shadow challenges Czernobog to another game of checkers on the same terms, offering a second blow in case the first isn't enough. He wins, because Czernobog plays the same game as before, forcing Czernobog to accompany Wednesday to Wisconsin, although the first blow of the hammer still stands, to be delivered after Wednesday's business is concluded.
|"You're going to start off in that suit and I'm going to start off in this sweater|
and it's still going to be sexy as all hell."
There is another run in with Mad Sweeny the Leprechaun, whose luck has turned bad after accidentally giving Shadow his lucky coin. No Bilquis this week, so the sex quota is met by the Djinn's story, in which a mild-mannered salesman has a passionate encounter with a djinn who drives a taxi, and the two end up swapping places(2). Props to the series for not skimping on the book's m/m sex scene having gone all in with Bilquis, with the resulting x-ray fire transference being hailed as one of the most powerful and graphic non-porno gay sex scenes of all time.
Wednesday then takes Shadow to rob a bank, which he does by swiping a load of deposit slips and pretending to be a security guard taking night deposits in lieu of a broken ATM. Shadow reluctantly helps out by visualising a snowstorm, which promptly appears in defiance of all meteorological predictions, and by answering a payphone when the police call to check Wednesday's less-than-bona fides. Despite his reticence, he shows a bit of a flair for the game.
|Zorya Polunochnaya brings the ethereal floatiness this series was missing.|
Mad Sweeny digs up Laura's grave to find his coin, but there is only an empty coffin with a coin-sized hole burned in the lid. Elsewhere, Shadow enters his motel room to find his dead wife waiting for him.
'Head Full of Snow' is an important episode, because a) this is not a series that deals in filler, and b) it represents Shadow's first conscious steps into the weird. Up to now he's been dragged into the divine realm a time or two, but when he steps up with a second challenge for Czernobog and later accepts that he might have made it snow, that is when he accepts that perhaps the world is mad, rather than him. Odin shows his dark side as he puts his moves on Zorya Vechernyaya, which is starkly at odds with the smiling conman image he works hard in the latter half of the episode.
American Gods continues a strong run, with not a god miscast so far (which is no small thing with an ensemble this big.) I can't help comparing it to the book, and I think it compares well. So far it's running very close to the original text, and in as much as I picture characters at all (for whatever reason, I rarely have strong images of book characters, which is a huge help when watching adaptations,) they all seem to fit.
(1) I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman has ever met a personification of death he didn't think was a sweetums.
(2) The Djinn appeared briefly in the last episode, wearing the salesman's suit for a meeting with Wednesday, so presumably this is a bit of a flashback.