No, I won’t stop watching the show. It’s just that I have don’t have enough thoughts and questions to make an entire “review” of each episodes, or at least an interesting one.
“The ways of the dead” was the first episode of all American Gods that disappointed me. None in the first season disappointed me, and all the previous one of the second season had something to satisfy me. Not this one.
The subplot with Sweeney, Laura, the Baron and Brigitte was a good point for this episode, really, nothing to say. The confrontation between a monotheistic Salim and the Jinn was also a very good point. But the rest of the episode felt… just like dead ends, and emptiness. This was definitively a filler episode, where nothing goes nowhere. Wednesday goes to repair his spear? Goes nowhere. The encounter with the death Loas? Goes nowhere. Flashback to a previous life Shadow and Laura? Goes nowhere. Shadow is possessed by the spirit of a dead man? Goes nowhere. Nancy accuses Ibis and Anubis of organizing the death of the black people in Cairo. Goes nowhere.
This show also gave me the feeling it lingered too long and dragged itself on themes that aren’t at the heart of American Gods. This episode kept talking of monotheism, of what is the true religion, of what is false what is true, of racism, of racial tensions, etc… One one side, the show already talked about these questions before, and in more subtle or entertaining or efficient ways. Now you just keep hammering a nail that is already deep in the wood. You can stop, or change a bit the things to not get stuck on the same stuff over and over again. (Also I’m starting to get annoyed at Anansi in this show. Especially in episode 7, he seems to become the embodiment of the “angry black man” tropes and just keeps shouting everywhere and very loud, and… I don’t know, I miss the funny story-telling, joke-cracking, passive-agressive little old man that was Anansi in the books. This one just keeps swearing and shouting and annoying everyone on purpose and it becomes tiring.)
On the other side, all these questions are not what’s the heart of American Gods. American Gods is before anything else a story about how things evolve and change. About what American society is, how it became like that, and what it will become. It was about religion, what it was, what was a god or faith, about what’s our relationship with gods and what replaced them. It was about what replaced religion and gods in our lives, it was about how the old was forgotten, ditched or assimilated, how the new came, it was about evolution, change, faith, religion.
And I feel like there was something missing in this episode. It was a bit too political for me.
I got so disappointed that when I learned that episodes 6 and 7 were leaked, I decided to watch episode 6. Because I felt disappointed, hungry, a bit scared about the direction the show took.
And I have to say I’m glad I did, because episode 6 is a good episode, much better than this one. It still has its flaws and is not perfect, but it was much more satisfying and hope-inducing than “The ways of the dead”.
And now I just realized I ended up making an episode “review”. Damn myself for being unable to break the patterns…
I have to correct myself here.
You must know about this Youtuber that makes breakdown of the American Gods episodes. His video are interesting, sometimes he misses obvious stuff, but other times he finds things and details I couldn’t have found in a thousand years, so it’s worth a shot.
I watched his breakdown of “The ways of the dead” and I have to admit, it made me reconsider this episode. I may have been too harsh and quick of judgement on it.
Because I liked a lot of stuff. The Jinn and Salim talks. The New Orleans subplot. I disliked that the dwarfs of the Nordic mythology were actually played by dwarfs - because, well you know, they weren’t really “small people” in Nordic mythology, that’s an image that came latter. But then I think “Well, that’s the same deal that Czernobog. Czernobog wasn’t the god of evil in real Slavic mythology, but here he is, because that’s the latest, christianized version and that’s the one that came to America. The same must go for the dwarfs, they are a latter, already changed version of the mythological dwarfs.”
And I have a confession to make. About racism towards black people in the United-States. It’s a subject that makes me tired. Not because it doesn’t touch me or because I think it’s nothing, I know all of its horror. But it’s because I lived with this subject for the entirety of my high school years. That was part of our English program, and that’s the only thing we learned about the United States. Slavery. Segregation. Racism. Discrimination. Modern day police violence against black people.
For three years I saw documentaries about it, I read texts about it, I wrote essais and had tests about it, did presentations, exposés, etc… That was one of the thing I had to prepare for my “bac”, my graduation exam. So nothing you can show me now will feel new to me. The lynching parties, the Little Rock Nine, the Black Panthers, I know everything about it.
So now that I have the opportunity to learn other stuff about American culture, society, civilization, I’m always a bit bugged to see this subject take over the show. Not that I’m against it. I loved Anansi’s speech in season one. The play on the hanging symbolism with Shadow? Brilliant. The talk about different shades of black with Czernobog in season 1, and then Nancy-Bilquis-Ibis in season 2? Wonderful! Nancy monologue about slavery as a cult? Highly interesting!
But in this episode I expected something else, and it ended up as an episode entirely centered about it. So, that’s probably what clouded a bit my judgement and may have make me less enthusiast about this episode.
All sort of shitty reasons and shitty things… that’s also why I wasn’t willing to make a review about it. It’s just… I guess I’m not in the best state of mind to consider this episode.