While Shadow is waiting for his flight at the airport, a man walks up to the counter, requesting a first class ticket. He seems confused and senile, causing the Airline Attendant to hurry him to first class anyway. Shadow boards the flight and discovers his seat is already taken by someone with the same seat assignment. The only seat left available is in first class, next to the old man who is now coherent and clear-headed, having scammed his way to a first class ticket. He greets Shadow with a Jack and Coke.
They strike up a conversation and the man knows that Shadow had just gotten out of prison. He introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday and asks what was Shadow's downfall. Shadow reveals to him it was small-time casinos and does a coin trick for him. Wednesday tells him he uses people's faith to con them. He passes Shadow a first class toiletries bag and offers Shadow a job. Shadow declines because Robbie is holding a job for him at his gym.
Shadow has arrived at Jack's Crocodile Bar and heads to the bathroom where Mr. Wednesday appears from a bathroom stall. He is still offering him a job and he passes Shadow a newspaper with an article on the car crash. He tells Shadow that Robbie had also died in the accident that killed Laura.
Shadow admits to Wednesday that he is broke and jobless but he'll only work for Wednesday based on the flip of a coin. Wednesday calls Heads and Shadow is surprised to discover it is Heads when he rigged the toss. Wednesday goes to the bar for drinks and Mad Sweeney approaches Shadow to warn him about Wednesday.
Wednesday returns with three shots of mead for Shadow to drink. Shadow takes the first shot and Wednesday tells him the mead seals their bargain. Shadow will be his driver and bodyguard and will hold his vigil upon Wednesday's death. Shadow agrees to $2000 a week on the condition that he won't hurt anyone for fun or profit and that he will quit if Wednesday pisses him off. Shadow drinks the second shot to seal the deal and the third shot as the "charm." Wednesday spits on his hand and they shake.
Sweeney starts pulling real gold coins out from everywhere and Shadow asks how he does the trick. Sweeney tells him it's the easiest trick in the world to just pluck them out of the air. Shadow asks again and Sweeney challenges him to a fight for the answer. Shadow declines, yet Sweeney keeps egging him on. He starts to insult Laura and Shadow punches him in the face. While Wednesday watches, they begin brawling, tearing up Jack's bar and fighting until Shadow blacks out.
Shadow wakes up in the back of Mr. Wednesday's car on their way to Eagle Point. He finds Mad Sweeney's gold coin and Wednesday says Sweeney taught him the coin trick. He cleans up in a gas station bathroom before dropping Wednesday off at a motel and taking Betty, Wednesday's car, to the church for Laura's funeral.
Shadow returns to the motel and pounds on Wednesday's door, disrupting him with a young, blonde woman. He tells Wednesday how Technical Boy hijacked him and tried to kill him. Wednesday offers him occupational hazard pay and doubles his salary. Wednesday promises that he is angry about Technical Boy and has a plan.
The next day, Wednesday arrives at Laura's house after Shadow has finished packing up all their belongings. He asks Shadow if he'll miss Eagle Point. Shadow says no because it was Laura's town. Wednesday tells Shadow that he only gets to be upset for so long because Laura was cheating on him.
They take off in Wednesday's car, Betty, and start driving. Wednesday informs Shadow they won't ever take the highway and will take back roads to recruit various people to attend a meeting in one of the most sacred places in America. Their first stop is Chicago to get Wednesday's hammer.
They stop at a diner where Wednesday is meeting someone. He gives Shadow a list and sends him shopping. After Shadow is finished shopping, he returns to the diner, passing by the man Wednesday was meeting with. Shadow tells Wednesday that Lucy was talking to him from the TV and he thinks he's going insane. Wednesday gives Shadow the choice of either fighting the strangeness or accepting it; either the world is crazy or Shadow is. Shadow asks if this is part of them "reprogramming reality" and Wednesday says that going mad is not the biggest sacrifice to make.
They start driving again and Wednesday discovers a cell phone in the bag of stuff Shadow bought. He tosses Shadow's cell phone and the one Shadow bought for him out the car window, saying, "no cell phones." He tells Shadow his secret to attracting the young blonde women is with "charm." He taps his fingers along the dashboard and the radio turns on.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at an apartment in Chicago. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Wednesday that Czernobog, who is currently in a field killing a cow with a bolt pistol, will not be happy to see them. She brings them into the apartment and Wednesday presents her with the vodka, romance novels, and binoculars that Shadow picked up from the store. Zorya Vechernyaya downs the entire bottle of vodka before calling for Zorya Utrennyaya to come to the kitchen. She explains that their other sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, is asleep. Wednesday passes Zorya Utrennyaya the books and sets the binoculars down in front of Zorya Polunochnaya's door.
Zorya Utrennyaya makes coffee for Wednesday and Shadow and Zorya Vechernyaya offers to read Shadow's fortune. Shadow heads for the bathroom just as Czernobog returns home. He is not pleased to see Wednesday and throws a lamp at him. Wednesday offers him the cigarettes and herb Havarti but Czernobog still wants him to leave. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Czernobog she already invited them to dinner.
From the living room, Czernobog becomes upset with Wednesday and raising his voice. Zorya Utrennyaya hurries in to shush him so he doesn't wake up Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday is trying to get Czernobog to come to the meeting because everyone else will be there and will think Czernobog is weak if he doesn't show. Czernobog tells Wednesday he wants his brother, Bielebog, not him.
They sit down to a terrible dinner of tough meat and soft potatoes, which Wednesday enthusiastically enjoys. Czernobog asks Shadow if he is Black. Where he is from, everyone is the same color so everyone fights over shades. Bielebog has light hair where Czernobog has black hair so everyone thought Bielebog was the good one and it turned Czernobog into the bad one. They are both gray now so there is no longer a way to tell who is light and who is dark.
Czernobog shares how they first arrived in New York and it wasn't so bad but then they came to Chicago and it's not so great. He had to get a job in the slaughterhouse and became a "knocker" on the killing floor. Zorya Vechernyaya opposes him telling cow killing stories at dinner but he continues anyway. He explains how it takes strength and skill to artfully kill a cow properly with a sledgehammer. If not done properly, the cow becomes angry and angry meat tastes bad. He complains about the ease of the bolt gun that makes it so anyone can kill cows now. He asks Shadow if he plays checkers and invites him to a checkers game after dinner and Shadow agrees.
After dinner, Czernobog sets up the checkers board, playing black and they begin their game. Czernobog asks if Shadow wants to see his killing hammer and retrieves it from over the mantle. He explains how blood feeds the hammer, giving it shine, with sunrise blood being the best. Now, his hammer is red with rust but Shadow sees blood pouring off it from the 10,000 kills Czernobog made. They continue playing checkers and Czernobog offers to make a wager. If he loses, then he will go with Shadow and Wednesday to meet with the others. If he wins, then he gets to hit Shadow in the middle of the forehead with his hammer.
Wednesday tells Shadow it's his decision if he wants to make the wager. Shadow considers all the crazy things he has seen in the last few days and what is real and what is not. He agrees to Czernobog's wager and they keep playing checkers. Czernobog starts singing an old song about bitter coffee and a spoon that makes it sweet as he gets more and more of Shadow's pieces off the board. Shadow loses the game and Czernobog declares that at sunrise, Shadow will willingly go down on his knees for him to knock his brains out.
Mr. Wednesday enters Zorya Vechernyaya's bedroom where she is getting ready for bed. He comments on how she has learned to live with less but she is deserving of better. He pours his coffee grounds onto his saucer and asks her to read his fortune. She tells him that whatever he is trying to do, he will lose. They go outside for a walk in the night and Zorya Vechernyaya warns Wednesday that what he is doing will kill him this time. He gives her a kiss to remind her of when they were young. Zorya Vechernyaya pulls away just as it starts raining and asks him angrily what he has done. Wednesday responds with "war."
The next morning, Wednesday asks Shadow if he wants some coffee before they go rob a bank. Shadow and Mr. Wednesday arrive at the bank they're going to rob. Shadow is incredulous and doesn't want to enter but Wednesday drags him along, promising him he won't get in trouble. Shadow notices all the cameras in the building as Wednesday tries to avoid having his face captured. Wednesday grabs a pile of deposit slips and they leave the bank. They walk across the street and Wednesday has Shadow write down the number of a payphone. He brings Shadow a hot chocolate and tells him to "think snow" to concentrate his mind. They head to a photocopy shop as Shadow thinks about snow. While they wait for service, they chat about the many versions of Jesus. Wednesday tells Shadow to keep thinking snow while he makes business cards and posters. Shadow zones out again while thinking about snow before Wednesday startles him, telling him to stop because it's snowing enough now and they don't want to immobilize the city.
They sit down for some lunch as Shadow questions Wednesday about the snow, wanting to know how it happened when the weather was supposed to be clear. Mad Sweeney abruptly shows up, demanding his gold coin back from Shadow because he gave him the wrong coin. Shadow asks him how he did the coin trick before he'll tell him what he did with the coin. Sweeney once again claims that he plucked the coin out of thin air. Shadow says Sweeney can find the coin on Laura's grave back in Eagle Point. Sweeney leaves, telling Wednesday he'll see him in Wisconsin.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at the bank with Wednesday dressed in a security uniform. He passes a business card to Shadow, reading "A1 Securities" with the name A. Haddock on the card. Wednesday will pretend to be Jimmy O'Gorman. He tells Shadow to do a bit of shopping at the grocery store and wait by the pay phone before he heads across the street to the bank. He places out of order signs on the ATM and night deposit slot and begins collecting night deposits and providing fake receipts to unsuspecting bank customers. The cops pull up and question Wednesday who hands them a business card. The pay phone rings and Shadow answers it as Andy Haddock, Jimmy O'Gorman's boss. They are calling to check up on Jimmy and Shadow reassures them he is supposed to be there, going so far as offering them a job with his security company. The police leave Wednesday to continue with his business.
Shadow is driving while Wednesday counts out the money from the bank scam, paying Shadow his salary. They continue driving back-roads out of Chicago as Wednesday presses Shadow about him pretending that he "cannot believe in impossible things." A wolf crosses the road in front of them, causing Shadow to slam on his breaks. Shadow asks Wednesday directly if he made it snow. Wednesday offers him the choice of either believing he did or acknowledging he is delusional. They go on to discuss Shadow's belief in love and Wednesday's fear of being forgotten.
A raven taps on Mr. Wednesday's motel room door. He relays a message to Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday goes to Shadow's room and invites him out for drinks. Shadow refuses just as police drive up and arrest them both for the bank robbery in Chicago.
Wednesday is being questioned in an interrogation room and plays off as a confused man reciting poetry. He rambles on about being in Chicago to recruit Czernobog and how Mad Sweeney and Mr. Nancy are also on his side for different reasons while the police officer looks on dubiously.
Officer Buffer takes Shadow into the same interrogation room as Wednesday and handcuffs him across from Wednesday. She lays out the pictures of them from the bank robbery and leaves them to talk with each other. Wednesday explains that the photographs belong to a particular "god's eye view" of the world just as a spider unlocks his handcuffs. Shadow stops Wednesday, realizing Wednesday is afraid of whoever is after him and demands to know who it is.
The lights dim, the door opens, and Marilyn Monroe (from The Seven Year Itch) floats into the room. Wednesday tells her they don't have any business with her. Shadow begs for it to not be real as footsteps sound down the hallway. Mr. World enters and apologizes to Wednesday for not seeing him. Wednesday warns Shadow to not speak to Mr. World. Mr. World frees Shadow from his handcuffs and tells him he already knows all about him from his blood type to his nightmares. Everything about Shadow is stored and recorded in the Book of Life.
Marilyn coughs politely to remind Mr. World to stay on track. He whistles for Technical Boy. Technical Boy enters and apologizes for lynching Shadow. Mr. World slams Technical Boy onto the table and offers to let Shadow hit him and knock out his front teeth. Shadow refuses. Mr. World absolves Technical Boy for his crime against Shadow and has him sit next to Wednesday to offer his sales pitch. Technical Boy explains how the New Gods want to offer Wednesday the opportunity to evolve with them and they will help him find his own audience. Mr. World is offering a merger with the Old Gods and to upgrade Wednesday.
Marilyn clicks a remote and the walls light up with images of the ODIN guidance satellite to be launched over North Korea. Wednesday will be re-branded and 24.9 million people will know his name, giving him a lasting place in tomorrow. Wednesday pounds his hand on the table and refuses, saying they offer him exile, not a merger. The New Gods simply occupy time while the Old Gods gave people meaning. Mr. World tells Wednesday to give them meaning again before he leaves with Marilyn following after.
Technical Boy stops them, asking why Mr. World is letting Wednesday go when he has him right there. Mr. World explains that Wednesday is older than Technical Boy will ever be and has wisdom and knowledge that Technical Boy does not have. He is giving Wednesday an opportunity and respect. Technical Boy says, "fuck respect." Marilyn blows a kiss to Technical Boy and knocks out his two front teeth. As the New Gods leave, Mr. World tells them he is not their enemy.
Shadow asks Wednesday if that really happened and Wednesday replies it's still happening. They leave the interrogation room and make their way through the destroyed police station. Everyone is dead and horribly mangled. Shadow wonders what story is going to be told for what happened.
A tree is growing up from within the station, consuming the bodies. One of the branches stabs Shadow in his side. As the tree continues to grow, Shadow and Wednesday make it out of the precinct.
Shadow and Wednesday walk along a desolate road as Shadow grills Wednesday about Marilyn Monroe massacring everyone in the precinct and how a tree stabbed him. He wants to know what the New Gods are. Wednesday explains that the massacre was a warning to Wednesday and a sacrifice to them. Shadow asks if they are gods and Wednesday gives him the run-around, asking whether gods came first or the people who believe in them. Shadow is now getting a glimpse of it through the window. Shadow admits to him that Laura is alive and was in his motel room.
They return to the motel and Shadow's room is in shambles. Shadow finds Laura's wedding ring on the bathroom floor. Wednesday tells him they should leave and they pack up Betty. He explains to Shadow that when the dead come back, they usually have a reason. Ravens begin to caw and Wednesday starts the car as Shadow jumps in. Wednesday peels out and turns up the radio, blocking out the sound of Laura calling for Shadow as she arrives at the motel just in time to see them drive away.
As Wednesday drives, he pesters Shadow about Laura's death and his grief, offering to lift Shadow's pain with a charm. He starts discussing the various charms he knows as he looks over to see Shadow's side bleeding profusely. He pulls over to the side of the road and inspects Shadow's wound. The branch has infected Shadow as something wiggles beneath the surface. They crouch in front of the headlights as Wednesday takes a pull of vodka before getting behind Shadow and wrapping his arms around him. He holds tight to Shadow as he feels along Shadow's wound for the splinter left behind by Mr. Wood. He tells Shadow how Mr. Wood used to be an Old God of the trees and the forest before sacrificing his trees and forest to industrialization and becoming something else. He pulls a writhing root out of Shadow's side, tossing it to the side of the road. Shadow is panicked about all that has happened as Wednesday explains that in order to instill a fear of the gods, there needs to be a fearful element.
In Virginia, the company town of Vulcan ammo is starting its morning. The supervisor greets employees as they go about their jobs. He heads upstairs to a catwalk over vats of molten metal. He leans against a railing that gives way and sends him plummeting into one of the vats, dissolving him into bullets. Shadow and Wednesday arrive to deserted streets. Shadow spots several white townspeople dressed in uniforms with red armbands and carting around rifles. They come across the funeral parade where the rest of the townspeople are marching behind Vulcan. Wednesday explains how a couple of people a year die in sacrifice at the factory because it's cheaper for the company to settle than to update the safety of the plant.
The crowd gathers in front of Vulcan as he gives a speech. Wednesday parks the car and gets out with a bottle of Soma to convince Vulcan to join him in his war. Vulcan finishes his speech and the crowd shoots their guns and rifles up into the air, causing Shadow to flinch. Vulcan tells the crowd to go in peace and Wednesday suggests for Shadow to take cover. Shadow gets back into the car as it starts raining bullets down, denting Betty yet falling harmlessly around Vulcan and Wednesday. After the bullets stop falling, Shadow joins Wednesday and Vulcan, confirming what Vulcan heard about Wednesday's plans to start a war. Vulcan offers to get them something to eat.
Shadow stares at a noose hanging from a tree as Vulcan tells him it was an "old hanging tree." Shadow turns around and when he turns back, the noose is gone. Vulcan offers for them to stay as long as they like while Betty is getting fixed up but Shadow wants to leave. Instead, they head inside Vulcan's house, gratuitously littered with preserved animal carcasses and rifle racks. Vulcan pours a drink for himself and Wednesday, outright denying Shadow anything to drink. He discusses how sacrifices have built up his mini empire and suggests Wednesday could have the same by sacrificing himself as he had done before. Shadows looks uneasily out the window at the hanging tree as Vulcan asks him if he has ever seen anyone hanged before and that it's a terrible way to find faith. Vulcan has "franchised" his worship and he pulls out a gun as he explains that the people believe and worship him through firepower. He aims and shoots at a mounted deer head. Wednesday invites him to join them in Wisconsin but asks him to forge a sword for him first. Vulcan agrees and leaves them alone.
Shadow asks Wednesday if Vulcan is trustworthy and confronts him about how Vulcan knew Shadow had been lynched by Technical Boy. Wednesday claims he said nothing but the New Gods also knew about the lynching. He is going to have Vulcan make a weapon to deal with it. He notices Shadow is still distracted by Laura's death and return and tells him to close his eyes and think of Laura. Shadow's eyelids glow and he is able to view Laura in Eagle Point, spying on her mom and family. Wednesday asks Shadow if he can let her fade away. Back in Eagle Point, Laura gets into the cab and tells Salim to drive.
Deep within the factory and over vats of liquid metal, Vulcan forges Wednesday's sword. Wednesday compliments Vulcan on his craftsmanship, favoring it over the manufactured guns Vulcan now makes. Vulcan tells him that he gets more blood spilled in sacrifice with bullets than with blades and Wednesday could use a blood sacrifice of his own. He questions why Wednesday is starting this war and says it sounds like Wednesday is the only one benefiting. Wednesday asks if Vulcan told the New Gods they were in town and Vulcan confirms they are coming. They put power back into Vulcan's hand when he was just a forgotten story and now he is prayed to with bullets. He calls Wednesday a martyr but Wednesday denies it, saying it is actually Vulcan's role. Vulcan pledged allegiance to Wednesday and forged him a blade and the New Gods killed him for it. Wednesday swings the blade and slices Vulcan's head off. He kicks Vulcan into the vat below and watches as he dissolves. Shadow is freaking out as Wednesday hands him the blade and unzips his pants. He urinates into the vat to curse the bullets made.
Shadow and Mr. Wednesday sit in bathrobes while Mr. Nancy sews them suits. Nancy wants to tell them a story but Wednesday doesn't think they have time. Nancy insists and relates the story of Bilquis' journey from queen to destitution to joining forces with the New Gods. He asks Wednesday and Shadow if they understand the moral of the story. Shadow guesses wrong but Wednesday says he needs to get himself a queen because the New Gods now have a queen. Shadow threatens to walk because Wednesday killed Vulcan and he still doesn't even know who Wednesday really is. Wednesday disagrees and explains that Shadow is not pissed-off enough to leave; he's just confused and intrigued.
Shadow wakes up in the passenger seat of Betty with Wednesday driving them to Kentucky. Bunnies follow along behind their car and line up in front, blocking the road. Wednesday drives over them.
They arrive at a mansion and Wednesday leads Shadow inside where a banquet is laid out for Easter Sunday. The guests are decked out in holiday costumes and Shadow sees a Madonna nursing a baby Jesus. Wednesday points out Ostara to Shadow, the queen they've come to enlist.
Wednesday tells Shadow that "believing is seeing. Gods are real if you believe in them." Shadow looks around and sees another Jesus figure bleeding jelly beans from his stigmata and halos around the Madonna and child. Wednesday explains there is a Jesus Christ for every belief, branch, and denomination. Shadow asks again who Wednesday is as Easter approaches.
Shadow is in awe of Ostara and escorts her around the grounds of her estate. Wednesday tries swaying her to his side but she insists she's doing fine without his help. Wednesday argues that millions might observe some of the rituals of Easter but not many actually speak her name in worship. Ostara does all the work of bringing spring, yet Jesus gets all the prayers. Jesus feels bad for stealing Ostara's day and Ostara tries to comfort him before she drags Wednesday and Shadow inside to speak in private.
She is angry that Wednesday has insulted Jesus, especially on their shared day. Wednesday insists that it is her day, not theirs. He lies to her that the New Gods killed Vulcan and presents to her the sword Vulcan crafted for him. He promises her she will be worshiped if she makes them worship her.
Wednesday suggests to Ostara that she should take away the spring to make the people pray to her. A rabbit whispers into Ostara's ear and she hurriedly leaves Wednesday alone.
Shadow rejoins Wednesday as Wednesday spots Hannah and Easter strolling the grounds outside. Hannah asks about Wednesday and Easter admits he was trying to recruit her. The faceless Don begins to split into multiple Dons as Hannah questions Easter. The New Gods make Old Gods new again and she wants to know why Easter would listen to Wednesday. Easter replies that it is because she is feeling "misrepresented in the media." Hannah explains that the Old Gods have to evolve in order to survive in an atheist world.
Mr. Wednesday arrives as the Children circle protectively around Easter and Hannah. He argues with Hannah about the distribution methods of worship. Technical Boy takes over one of the Children and enters the conversation, warning Wednesday that he can't fight progress. Wednesday points out the New Gods wouldn't be there if he wasn't a threat. Hannah claims they are there for Easter because Wednesday doesn't matter anymore. Wednesday insists he still matters because gods make things happen to cause belief.
Mr. World takes over another one of the Children. As Mr. World speaks, storm clouds gather above. He tells Wednesday that he only matters when it comes to war and there isn't going to be a war. The New Gods have all the advanced technology while the Old Gods are left with swords and hammers. Whether they fight or not makes no difference because the Old Gods will die out either way. Wednesday responds by dedicating deaths to Ostara just as lightning strikes the circle of Children, killing them all.
Wednesday turns to Shadow and asks if he has faith. Shadow asks for a third time for Wednesday to tell him who he is. Wednesday recites some of his many names to Shadow before finally revealing himself to be Odin. He commands Ostara to show the New Gods who she really is. Easter steps forward and lifts her arms to the air, bringing a change in the wind and clearing the thunderclouds. She takes away the spring, causing life to retreat underground throughout the country as it returns to its winter state.
Mr. World tells Wednesday he has his war. Wednesday announces the believers and non-believers can have their spring back when they pray for it. He asks Shadow if he believes and Shadow answers that he believes "everything." Laura clears her throat to announce her presence and asks to speak with her husband.