The second episode of American Gods Season 2 ended with a bang—and Episode 3, “Muninn,” starts by shifting through the wreckage and literally picking up the pieces, or in this case, Mr. Wednesday and Mad Sweeney picking up the scattered parts of Laura’s undead body and plopping it in the trunk of Mr. Wednesday’s resurrected car Betty. (Although, should we be calling her Christine?) The old gods leave Shadow on his own. Why? Mr. Wednesday continues with his riddles:
“The quickest way for him to get where he’s going is sometimes the longest.”
Injured and alone, Shadow roams through the forest until he finds a well. One of Wednesday’s ravens, Muninn, watches and then reports back to Mr. Wednesday.
The old gods have headed to Cairo, Illinois, to pay Mr. Ibis a visit and get Laura back into one piece. Laura is disgusted that Ibis takes a bit of her flesh. He explains the dead don’t always see their rituals and that something has changed since the last time he stitched her back up. Both Wednesday and Sweeney argue over who can help her more, but she defaults to Wednesday’s offer either because Shadow works for him or just to fuck with Sweeney (it’s probably both). Wednesday believes Argus can recharge Laura’s coin and buy her some more time.
Shadow continues on his way and finds a gas station, where he tries to get one over on the teller. He’s caught in his lie by a customer needing gas. Intrigued, Shadow follows the girl back to her vehicle and asks her how far that’ll take him and that he needs a lift to Cairo. She takes a Polaroid photo as insurance in case things go south.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ibis amuses his cat (and the audience) with the history of Argus and how he has now become the god of surveillance in America. This cuts to Argus’ new incarnation (in drone form) tracking Shadow, only to be intercepted by Muninn.
This leads up back to the new gods, with Mr. World demanding that Technical Boy go pay homage to Argus. Meanwhile, Media’s upgrade is complete, and she emerges from an emoji-filled screen in an Asian schoolgirl outfit. She’s all about hooking up with Argus, even if it’s for the fiber optics. “How the fuck is that an upgrade?” Technical Boy wonders aloud.
Wednesday and Laura arrive at Argus’ headquarters and let her know they’re taking the scenic route to find Argus’ latest incarnation, showcasing past sacrifices and allowing Wednesday time to convince Laura to do his dirty work.
Left to his own devices, Mad Sweeney tries to find a way to get to New Orleans. But with his lucky coin stuck in Laura’s undead guts, his bad luck seems endless. Before the episode is out, he ends up on a Christian rock band’s bus, heading south. Somewhere in America, the Jinn and Salim find the weapon they’re looking for at a strip club/drug operation, and are given a seedling as well by Iktomi.
Shadow learns more about his getaway driver, Sam Black Crow, who calls herself two spirited (processing both masculine and feminine qualities). Shadow jokes that she isn’t a god of some sort. Later on, when Shadow is sleeping, Sam snaps yet another Polaroid. Later the two stop for food and determine what Shadow’s after (in this case, finding Laura).
Tech Boy and New Media head to Argus’ lair and while Tech Boy tries to call the shots, New Media points out that now they are redundant. Wednesday and Laura walk in on Tech Boy arguing with Argus, and Wednesday asks Laura to kill Argus since he’s been playing both sides. Laura refuses but Wednesday cuts her down to size, saying she’s not here for Shadow; she’s out for herself and that he wants her to do what’s right for herself.
Tiring of Tech Boy playing bad cop, New Media sweet-talks Argus into believing she’ll break her alliance with Mr. World to merge with him (literally and figuratively). While the two gods are otherwise detained in “connecting” (So. Many. Emojis!?), Laura takes the chance to stab Argus in the neck and recharge. Tech Boy lets it happen, too, so New Media looks bad and he’s back on the playing field. The new gods leave and Wednesday greets Argus with a “no hard feelings” line and Laura is rewarded with a slightly less rotting body. Wednesday says they’re square and leaves her on her own, intoning that she’s not the same Laura that Shadow once loved.
Darkness falls and Shadow recalls his odd dreams to Sam and how he wants peace. Sam discusses how she had no peace growing up between two worlds (her Christian mother and her Native American father) and she encourages him to keep searching. The two finally arrive in Cairo and part ways. Shadow demands answers from Wednesday, who effectively tells him to sleep on it and if he doesn’t feel good in the morning, he can leave.
Muninn is old Norse for “memory” or “mind.” This episode certainly spent a lot of time on walking through Argus’ memories while Shadow and Laura separately struggle with who they were and who they might be becoming. It looks like Sam Black Crow is out to make her own memories, by way of stolen Polaroid pictures.
This episode felt at times slow going but also jam-packed. The introduction of Sam Black Crow thrilled me (due to the famous, oft-quoted “I believe” speech in the novel) and I felt the casting of Devery Jacobs was spot-on. Her quiet moments of reflection add a spiritual edge the last couple of episodes have lacked, despite being surrounded by, well, gods.
We’re also finally re-introduced to the latest incarnation of Media. Instead of backfilling Gillian Anderson’s shoes, Kahyun Kim gets her own emoji and Snap Chat filter influenced look. She serves as a perky and biting foil for Tech Boy to loathe more than before. Before she was boring to him; now she’s legit competition. Mad Sweeney and the Jinn’s subplots were short and sweet but will hopefully play out down the (figurative) road.
The added back story for Laura is beginning to endear itself to me even though Laura can’t figure out who she is, even in death. Mr. Ibis mentioned earlier in the episode that Laura has moved from believing in nothing to considering faith. Laura implies she believes in Shadow. Wednesday also believes in his man, even if we’re taking the scenic route to get to revelations.