Warning! This review is full of spoilers.
A leprechaun, a taxi driver and a dead woman walk into a bar… Sounds like beginning of a bad joke, but really it’s just weirdo-business as usual for American Gods.
Episode 6 settles us into a parallel road-trip structure, with the fly-attracting Laura, Mad Sweeney and genie-lover Salim teaming up for their own version of Wednesday and Shadow’s meandering misadventure. Though thanks to their conflicting, vague and apparently malleable motivations, it’s unclear what’s really driving any of them.
On the one hand Laura is desperate to reach her shining light Shadow, but on the other she takes a huge diversion to spy, Scrooge-like, on her family. Mad Sweeney’s insistent on getting to Kentucky, though it’s utterly unclear as to why (perhaps that’s where his mate Jesus lives?). And Salim is chasing after the Jinn who already gave him a new life and vanished… perhaps to ask for another which doesn’t involve driving a shit-stained taxi-cab? That, at least, is understandable.
The show is beginning to feel like it’s just wandering about rather than heading anywhere certain (despite all this talk of Wisconsin), and it’s in danger of becoming as frustrating as composer Brian Reitzell’s jazz trumpets are grating.
Just as well Mad Sweeney continues to be such an entertaining quote machine (at one point calling Laura a “leprecunt”), and showrunners Fuller and Green smartly, if briefly, bring in an interesting new Old God (as in one who doesn’t appear in the book) in the shape of blacksmith deity Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen), who’s based in the town of Vulcan, Virginia, and rather savvily reinvented himself as a kind of NRA-nut arms manufacturer fed by industrial accident ‘sacrifices’.
You do begin to worry how sustainable this super slow-burn structure is. We’re two episodes from the season finale, and by our count Wednesday’s still only successfully recruited one other Old God for his ‘war’ (two, if you count the Jinn, which you probably can). The old goat’s gonna have to really turn on the charm, otherwise we’ll be waiting an eternity to see it all finally kick off.
Q. Seriously, what WAS that tree thing?
Wednesday gave us some clues this episode, while extracting Shadow’s twiggy parasite. Mr. World, it seems, was once a forest god, but sacrificed all that to embrace industry. So the monster was his creation. Despite him no longer being a forest god, which is confusing…
Q. Can the gods die?
We’ve seen they can die when people stop believing in them. But can these immortals actually kill each other, Highlander-style? When he dissolved into that vat of molten steel, Vulcan looked to us like he was merely annoyed, and was ready to return for more. But then again, why would Wednesday bother trying to stage a war if there was no chance of destroying his foes?
Q. Is there really a town called Vulcan in Virginia?
Yes there is. It’s in Mingo County in West Virginia, and is actually close to Kentucky (where Mad Sweeney wants to get to). Interestingly, back in 1977 its mayor requested foreign aid from the Soviet Union to replace the town bridge, after the state wouldn’t replace it. True fact.