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You know, maybe a day with Ibis can put you back on track. He can teach you the ways of the dead. I mean, you're dressed for it and, considering your domestic situation . . . .

Wednesday to Shadow

"The Ways of the Dead" is the fifth episode of the second season of American Gods and the thirteenth of the overall series. It debuts on April 7, 2019.


Shadow learns the ways of the dead with the help of Mr. Ibis and Mr. Nancy. In New Orleans, Mad Sweeney introduces Laura to old friends who share their world of voodoo healing. Mr. Wednesday embarks on a road trip with Salim and The Jinn.


At some point in US history, a woman lies dead beside a cobblestone building on a dirt road. A bloodhound discovers the body and the accused killer is lynched, being hung by the neck, beaten, and shot as a crowd of white people look on, laughing and cheering.

In the present, Shadow Moon wakes to the sound of Bast's meows and while inspecting his wounds in the bathroom mirror, sees the flashing image of himself in a historical outfit with a top hat in black and white. He picks up a straight razor and holds it to his throat, seemingly against his will. Back in his reflection, his head is aflame and his body bears the same wounds as the man who had been lynched. After some struggle, Shadow manages to drop the razor. As he looks back up into the mirror, the lynched man stands behind him and whispers, "Memento Mori" (Latin for "remember you will die,") then disappears.

Elsewhere in the funeral home, Wednesday plants the sprout given to the Ifrit by Old Iktomi and proceeds to urinate on it while speaking an incantation. Shadow enters the room and accuses him of "pissing on a plant," which Wednesday denies, referring to the plant as "the world tree." Wednesday tells Shadow he has things to do and people to see alone, leaving Shadow with Ibis to teach him "the ways of the dead," telling Shadow not to wait up.

In New Orleans, Mad Sweeny stumbles through Mardi Gras revelry, drunkenly hanging on a statue of Jesus and cursing his comparative popularity before passing out in the street. He is awoken shortly thereafter by Laura Moon who he admits looks, "less decomposed," though she tells him it is only temporary, and she still requires his help because Wednesday lied to her once again.

Laura and Sweeney arrive at the Coq Noir, where they find Brigitte and The Ghede Loa, who agrees to help Laura at Sweeney's request after hours.

Elsewhere, the Ifrit ridicules Salim for his continued faith in Allah as the "one true god" after all he's seen. Wednesday arrives late and collects Gungnir. When Salim asks the Ifrit if he believes in Wednesday, he explains that he has been hanging in an amulet around Wednesday's neck for years, only being released on Wednesday's whim. The three head to meet with the "King of the Dwarves."

Back in Cairo, Mr. Nancy passes a young black man wearing a hoodie on the street. The young man approaches a house from which loud trap music can be hear. He exchanges money from bags of white substance and as he walks away, a police siren rings out. As the officer instructs him not to move, he swallows the bag of drugs and takes off running with the officer in pursuit. He gives chase throughout the city before turning a corner and seeing the head of the lynched man, burning on a stick. The head watches, emotionless as the young man is tackled to the ground by the officer, cuffed, and taken away.

Back in the funeral parlor, Ibis unzips a body bag containing the corpse of the young man who died from an "opiate overdose," although Shadow notes he has wounds on his face and torso which Ibis explains occurred posthumously, a common occurrence with young men of color. Ibis also notes this is the grandson of Lila Goodchild, the woman who had been embalmed in a previous episode.

Shadow mentions the man he saw in the mirror that morning bearing the same wounds whom Ibis recognizes as Froggy James.


Main Cast[]

Guest Starring[]





American Gods 'The Ways of the Dead' Ep. 5 Preview Season 2

Notes and trivia[]

  • William "Froggie" James is a real historical figure who was lynched in Cairo, IL on November 11, 1909.
  • Mr. Nancy refers to Mr. Ibis (Thoth) as "thrice the great magician." This is likely a reference to the real-world allegorical figure of Hermes Trismegistus, or "Thrice-Great Hermes," an amalgamation of the Egyptian god Thoth, the Greek god Hermes, and the Roman god Mercury. Hermes Trismegistus is the purported author of the Corpus Hermeticum and the Asclepius, two books that form the foundation of much of Western mysticism, including many elements of the modern New Age movement. Given Mr. Ibis' mystical writing throughout the series, this connection seems even more likely.