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American Gods – Season 1, Episode 5: Lemon Scented You Review

Image for American Gods – Season 1, Episode 5: Lemon Scented You
★★★★

Warning! This review is full of spoilers.

If you’ve never read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or have chosen to wipe your mind of all its plot details, then Lemon Scented You offers what might be a much-needed glimpse at the big-picture hand.

In a cheeky narrative twist, we witness Ian McShane’s wily Mr. Wednesday confessing to a cop in an interrogation room exactly what he’s been up to the previous few episodes — though it’s intended to make the cop think he’s a crazy ol’ kook. But, more importantly, we finally get to see the New Gods — Media (Gillian Anderson), Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) and the mysterious Mr. World (Crispin Glover, appearing at last, as primly sinister as ever) — in full force, during a tense and wonderfully surreal parley.

It’s been seeded in previous episodes, but taken together with the gorgeous, animated prologue in which we’re told that gods are born “in people’s hearts” and die without their faith, it’s now clear that Mr. Wednesday — an incarnation of Norse boss-deity Odin — is rallying dwindling old gods to take back power from the things modern culture now ‘worships’. “We occupy their time,” boasts Media. “That’s all you do, is occupy their time. We gave back. We gave them meaning,” retorts Wednesday. Fair point.

Yet for each thing revealed, it feels like another question is raised (see below). And the pay off to Shadow and Laura’s big reunion is limp and disappointing; not so much in terms of Shadow’s reaction, but in the way it turned into yet another recap of recent events.

Still, the show’s skewed humour (“I’m sorry for lynching you… it was in poor taste”) and distorted-reality atmosphere remain alluringly potent.

Anderson’s pop-culture incarnations are a particular joy to behold. In Episode 2 we saw her as Lucille Ball; here we get both her David Bowie and a Marilyn Monroe who can knock teeth out with a blown kiss. Plus, when you get a scene where a petite revenant sends a hulking leprechaun across a motel room with a flick of the solar plexus, you can only complain so much…

Big questions

Who is Mr. World?

Now that is a big question. One to which we can’t really give a straightforward answer. In Gaiman’s novel, he was more of an enforcer of the New Gods — leader of a group of ‘Men In Black’ types, rather like the agents in The Matrix. But judging by his introduction here, he's been reconceptualised as more of a god himself: Commerce, if you like, or Big Business. But we’ll see… Eventually.

What was that wood monster thing?

Yeah, that stumped us, too. We thought we might twig by the end of that scene, and figured it might be something to do with Yggdrassil from Norse mythology, but we may have been barking up the wrong tree. (Sorry.)

Is Mad Sweeney really a leprechaun?

Well, he is very keen on getting his lucky charm back… But in medieval Celtic literature, Mad Sweeney is another name for Buile Shuibhne, a mythical Irish king who was driven mad by a curse and became a wanderer. Though that gold-conjuring trick does make us wonder…

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