American Gods: Episode 3 – “Head Full of Snow”


Welcome back, Dragons. We open “somewhere in America,” watching an old woman cook for her grandchildren and talk to her cat. She has an unexpected visitor – Death, who informs her that she has died and she has to come with him. She refers to him as Anubis and asks why he would visit her Muslim home. He tells her that he knows she once had a relative who taught her the ways of old Egypt. Anubis escorts Mrs. Fadil out of her home and into another plane of existence. He takes her to the Scales, where he weighs her heart against a feather. In Egyptian mythology, only those with a heart lighter than a feather ascend to heaven – the others are consumed by Ammit. Mrs. Fadil, we learn, lived a good life, and gets to choose the door she wishes to enter Du’at. Who knew that Death was such a nice guy?

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Shadow is drawn to the roof of the apartment building. We finally meet Zorya Polunochnaya, the Midnight Star. She tells him that she is looking at Odin’s Wain, otherwise known as the Big Dipper – a thing exists there that she describes as a “bad thing,” that must remain chained up in the sky or it will “eat the whole of everything.” So, they watch the sky all night and all day, the three sisters, to make sure it stays where it is. (Fun fact! This is a true story from Slavic mythology, and the thing they are guarding is the Simargl.) She offers to read his fortune and tells him that “you believe in nothing, so you have nothing.” She knows that he sold his head to Czernobog and offers to help him if he will do something for her. First, she says, he has to kiss her, because she’s never been kissed. “Kissing is disgusting,” she says afterward. Next, she tells him to take the moon and appears to pull it out of the sky and turn it into a coin, pressing it into his hand. But the next thing he knows, Shadow wakes up in his bed. He proposes a second game with Czernobog, who eventually agrees after Shadow plays to his insecurities. Shadow wins, and Czernobog reluctantly agrees to help them with their cause.

Wednesday visits with Zorya Vechernyaya in an obvious attempt to woo her. “This thing you want to do. You will fail. And they will win.” Wednesday isn’t concerned. “That’s only my fortune today.” He convinces her to go on a walk and kisses her, prompting rain to pour from the skies and for her to ask, “What have you done?”

When Shadow awakes the next day, he still has the coin from Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday comes into his room, and Shadow comments that the storm is gone. It’s not, Wednesday says. “We’re going to rob a bank.”

Mad Sweeney is passed out in the bathroom at the bar where we last saw him, and after a rude awakening by the bartender wielding a shotgun, he’s on the road, hitchhiking to Wisconsin. A good Samaritan picks him up, but unfortunately for him, this isn’t his day, and a truck with pipes cuts in front of them – one of the pipes falls off the truck and flies directly into the windshield of the car, killing the driver. When the cops get there, someone comments how that’s pretty bad luck. Mad Sweeney searches through his pockets and realizes his lucky coin is gone.

Elsewhere in America, a Middle Eastern man, Salim, waits in a lobby for an appointment. His appointment was at 11, but Mr. Blanding isn’t there – he’s at lunch – and at the end of the business day, the receptionist informs him that Mr. Blanding just isn’t coming back. Salim isn’t deterred – he says he’ll call tomorrow to set up another appointment. But as he leaves, you can tell that he’s dejected. He gets into a cab with a familiar face – the man from Wednesday’s diner meeting with glowing flames for eyes. Salim tells the driver he’s from Oman, and the driver asks him if he is familiar with Ubar, the lost city of towers. Salim says the city fell a thousand, two years years ago – how does the driver know it? Was he with the group that excavated it? Something like that, the driver says. Salim catches a glimpse of the driver’s eyes and is surprisingly totally cool about this whole thing, relaying a story about his grandmother seeing an ifrit. We learn that the driver is a Jinn, and that he does not grant wishes, so don’t even think about asking, okay?! Salim and the Jinn go back to Salim’s room together and have sex, and because this is the show we’re watching, they’re seemingly transported to another realm during the encounter. In the morning, the Jinn is gone, but he’s left his clothes and his taxi license behind, which Salim happily takes to start anew.

Back to the bank robbery. Shadow is, understandably, concerned about this plan of action. Wednesday takes a bunch of deposit slips, and as they leave, he tries to reassure Shadow. “Do not bleed before you are wounded.” Wednesday goes into a store to buy Shadow a hot chocolate and tells Shadow to remember the number of a nearby pay phone. He then tells Shadow that they need snow – he needs Shadow to think about snow. They go to a little print shop where Wednesday is getting business cards and maybe some posters. Shadow focuses his mind on one thing – snow. Wednesday brings him out of his trance and says, “I think that’s enough.” Shadow turns around to see Chicago in the middle of a snowstorm.

They stop for food, and Mad Sweeney shows up. He wants his coin back – it’s his lucky coin. Shadow tells him that he doesn’t have – he threw it onto Laura’s grave in Eagle Point, Indiana. Mad Sweeney ventures back to Indiana, but there’s no coin in sight. Not only is there no coin – there’s no dead Laura in the coffin.

Time to execute the robbery. Wednesday puts an out of order sign up on the ATM and the deposit book and sits by the two, passing himself off as accepting deposits while the bank is closed. A cop rolls up, but Wednesday hands him his business card. The pay phone rings, and Shadow picks it up, answering the phone as “A. Haddock” from a security firm. The cop is calling to confirm that he has a man on the street by this ATM – of course, Shadow says. They get away with it,  and on the drive out of the city, Wednesday asks if Shadow believes in him yet. He says he doesn’t. “You are pretending that you can’t believe in impossible things,” Wednesday says. A wolf appears out of nowhere, causing Shadow to slam on the brakes and also a moment to reflect. “Did I make snow?” he asks. “Did you make snow?” Wednesday repeats. “Well, if you choose to believe you made snow, you get to live the rest of your life believing that you can do things that are impossible. Or you can believe it’s a delusion.”  Shadow insists that none of this feels real – it feels like a dream. “What a beautiful, beautiful thing, to be able to dream when you’re not asleep,” Wednesday responds. He compares faith to love – Shadow admits he didn’t believe in love until he met Laura, and Wednesday tells him that the world changed when he started to believe. “Belief is only a product of the company we keep and how easily we scare.”

Shadow and Wednesday stop at a motel for the night. Waiting for Shadow in his room is Laura – his dead, or perhaps now undead, wife.

Dragons, what did you think of Episode 3 of American Gods? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


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