In 1938, a family listens to the radio in the living room of their farmhouse in Trenton, New Jersey. The daughter plays while the mother does cross-stitch and the father reads the paper. The radio announcer reports on a Martian invasion
of Grover's Mill, NJ. The family stops their evening activities and begins listening intently to the radio while the scene of the invasion is described. As the father takes his family and flees their farm, Mr. World
explains that even though people like the idea of "Love" making the world go round, it is actually "Fear." People don't love their neighbors; they fear them.
Mr. World continues explaining how prior to the War of the Worlds broadcast, alien invasions were not something people feared. Once people began to fear aliens, they brought their fears to life. Mr. World walks down a small scale street of a model town on a sound stage as he talks of fear being the product of imagination. He sits in a director's chair as the cameras start rolling on the sound stage and they begin filming an alien invasion. Mr. World talks about how fear feeds on itself and makes you believe things you would not normally.
Mr. World states, "If it's real in your mind, it's real in the world," as a young boy finishes watching an alien invasion movie before going to bed. Once in bed, he hears his dog, Sandy, barking frantically outside. He goes outside and follows his dog into the corn fields where Mr. World hangs as a scarecrow, warning, "the more you believe, the more you believe." A bright light from above sucks the boy up in an alien abduction.
Shadow Moon sits on a tomb outside Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor while inside, Mr. Ibis cleans off Mad Sweeney's body. Shadow lies down on the tomb and relives Sweeney's death at the end of Mr. Wednesday's spear. He falls asleep, dreaming of a rocky shore with a bed. He remembers the warnings from Sweeney about who Wednesday is and sees the matching runes on Yggdrasil and Wednesday's bracelet. Laura Moon tells him he is having a bad dream as Mr. Wednesday sneaks out of the funeral home and drives off in Betty. The next morning, Shadow awakens on the tomb to see Laura lying on a tomb opposite him.
The CEO struggles as he works on developing his new technology. He stops the metronome that appears on his desk before walking over to a metronome that appears on the floor. Each time he stops the metronome it appears in a different place. As the metronome keeps playing, classical music joins in and reminds him of when he first composed software long ago. He is spurred on into completing his programming to invent New Technical Boy.
As Laura and Shadow lie on opposite tombs, Laura excuses her previous actions, saying that she is not her mistakes and she wants good things for the both of them. She finally apologizes but Shadow does not believe her. He tells her that Sweeney died because Shadow got in the way between Sweeney and Wednesday last night. Laura confronts Shadow about Wednesday and how he had Laura killed and is orchestrating everything. She promises to always have Shadow's back and calls him "Puppy." Shadow remembers when they were dating and Laura sees a puppy in the park, begging Shadow for a puppy even though she is allergic. He promises to be her puppy instead. Shadow climbs off the tomb, which reads, "she hath done what she could," and tells Laura to not call him puppy. She agrees and warns him that she is going to kill Wednesday.
The CEO marvels at New Technical Boy's perfection and simplicity while Technical Boy finds the CEO messy with too many systems "animating meat." The CEO uses the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel as an analogy to science wrestling with God. Technical Boy questions why anyone wants to wrestle God. The CEO recites the verse where Jacob says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Shadow gets off the tomb and heads back inside the funeral parlor.
Laura enters the greenhouse where Sweeney was killed the night before. She sees the pool of blood and overturns the table in anger. Bilquis enters, holding an apple. Laura asks if Bilquis will kiss her again. Bilquis responds that her kisses have been known to improve a day and tells her Sweeney is in the mortuary. Since he is dead, Laura claims she does not want to see him. Bilquis warns her about going after Wednesday in revenge. Laura asks if she might help against Wednesday. Bilquis thanks her for the tempting offer and tells her she knows where to find her.
The CEO speaks of human progress and the need to create order out of chaos. He talks about choosing to make sacrifices in order to work and how he cannot be in two places at once. He wonders what it might be like to touch a god, akin to Michelangelo's fresco of Adam reaching out to God in the Sistine Chapel. His computer starts blaring a warning that there has been a remote breech into his system. As he goes over to inspect it, New Technical Boy tells him, "You are not made in God's image. We are made in yours." Technical Boy finishes the story of Jacob and the angel, telling how the angel touched Jacob's hip to incapacitate him, and touches the CEO's hip, freezing him in a flash of light. He asks if it is everything the CEO imagined since Technical Boy's only limit is the CEO's imagination and fear fuels imagination. As Technical Boy transfers "everything," he reveals he is able to be in two places at once, the other place being the Black Briar bunker.
Technical Boy joins Mr. World and the Caretaker in the bunker as New Media receives the transfer from the CEO's computers. She spots Salim on a CCTV at a convenience store, purchasing alcohol for Sweeney.
Salim makes the purchase in cash, asking if it is normal to not take credit. The cashier points to the TV where a newscaster reports on data dumps, attacks on financial institutions, and cash runs causing widespread panic. On his way back to the funeral parlor, Salim hurries past long gas lines and people getting into fights.
Salim locks the door behind him and calls out through the house asking if anyone is there. Laura approaches Sweeney's body on the slab in the mortuary while Shadow spots some of Sweeney's gold coins lying on the floor in a hallway and picks them up. Salim finds Ibis in his study and asks if the television works. He turns it on as Shadow listens from the other room to a news report about a massacre at a police station in Belfontaine, Indiana, ten days prior. New Media feeds video to the news stations, showing images of Shadow and Wednesday fleeing the scene.
Special Agent Russell Bennet at the FBI rushes over to Special Agent Stefany Koutroumpis's office as they receive information on the whereabouts of Shadow and Wednesday.
Salim asks if the news is true while Mr. Nancy tells Ibis to hurry up. Ibis reassures Salim that "all writers have a bias." As Nancy and Ibis sit down to a game of chess, Shadow overhears them discussing his ignorance and how Wednesday is gone and has left Shadow alone to fend for himself. Shadow rushes upstairs.
Wednesday sits alone in a restaurant enjoying a meal as patrons rush out in a panic. He asks for ketchup.
Salim continues watching the news as New Media feeds the newscasters information about Shadow and Wednesday also being suspects in a chemical attack in Kentucky. Ibis and Nancy continue playing while Nancy confronts Ibis on his complacency from living in Cairo. As Nancy and Ibis argue over whether it will take a revolution or careful planning, Shadow discovers Wednesday has gone. He begins gathering his belongings and cash when Bilquis asks if he is going to run. She is in his room, covered by a red bed sheet. She stands, allowing it to fall to the ground and approaches him naked. She tells him he will survive and that their fortunes are linked before she kisses him, tasting "love lost." She dips her thumb into a red liquid and presses her thumb to his forehead, anointing him as she tells him to find out who he is. Shadow opens his eyes to find her gone.
The Jinn enters the room where Nancy and Ibis are playing chess and informs them Wednesday has gone and he will be in touch later. Nancy tells him he should have never brought Salim while Ibis questions whether the Jinn can go against Wednesday. The Jinn tells them he can kill whomever he wants before moving a piece on the board and declaring, "Check, motherfucker."
New Media continues searching the CCTV feeds as TV stations broadcast the "nationwide attacks." Along with Wednesday and Shadow, Salim is now incriminated for stealing a taxi cab in New York. Shadow heads down the stairs to leave the funeral home and Salim confronts him, asking if he killed the police. Shadow replies that he did not and they both need to leave because they are not like the gods and are not safe. Salim refuses to leave and Shadow wishes him good luck. A newscaster announces they have been tracked to Cairo.
At the Illinois State Police headquarters, New Media sends the location of the funeral parlor and officers mobilize.
Shadow grabs a set of keys as the newscasters on the television behind him begin speaking to him directly. They re-introduce themselves as New Media as they begin reciting from the War of the Worlds. Shadow flees through the house as the state police converge on the funeral parlor. The Jinn chases after Salim, who arrives at the front door as the police surround the house. Salim tells the Jinn he doesn't know what might happen but has no regrets. They kiss passionately as FBI and police get into position.
Shadow ends up in the greenhouse and tries to escape out a back door when one of Yggdrasil's branches grabs him by the ankle and drags him back. He grabs an ax as he is yanked up by the branch through the leaves and into his memories. He remembers his mother and meeting Wednesday as he tries to free himself from the within the tree. His mother warns him about his father while Wednesday drops hints throughout their relationship as to who he really is to Shadow: his father. The police outside the funeral home approach the house as Shadow chops at the tree, breaking through to his own version of Backstage, to a beach with a rocky shore and a bed. He is transported to a bedroom where he is a young boy playing with a toy house and police vehicles. Boy Shadow moves the vehicles and people closer to the house as the police begin to move on the funeral home. His mother interrupts his play and tells him, "Don't let them find you." Boy Shadow knocks all of the toy police away from his house.
A newscaster announces the trail on the suspects has been lost. Salim opens the front door and all of the police and FBI are no longer out front. The newscaster reports on a hack at XieComm to gain control of the Argus drones. At XieComm, the FBI are cleaning out Mr. Xie's office, questioning him about how to stop the hack. He tells them to pray.
Nancy enters the greenhouse to find Yggdrasil gone with only an ax in its place. Mr. Ibis walks Salim and Jinn out the front door. He wonders if Jinn has told Salim what happens if Jinn breaks the rules of his bond to Wednesday. They bid each other goodbye and Jinn and Salim leave in their sidecar.
Laura has taken Sweeney's body from the funeral home and carries it down a road.
An Emergency Broadcast warning displays a message that all of the information from the data dumps is a hoax and for everyone to restart their electronic devices. Mr. World sips whiskey in the bunker, having succeeded in breaking windows and introducing a new fear into the populace that will now take hold and be brought to life.
As a server pours wine for Wednesday, he declares that his boy will be fine.
Shadow is on a bus leaving Cairo when it is pulled over and everyone is made to get off. Their IDs are inspected as Shadow stands uncomfortably waiting for his turn. He hands his license over and the officer inspects it and Shadow before telling "Mr. Ainsel" to have a nice night. Shadow looks at his license to see he is now "Michael Ainsel" of Lakeside, Wisconsin. He gets back on the Midwest Express bus and falls asleep as it takes off down the road.