This is Odin’s “Coming to America” story. There is an excessive amount of blood and violence. I like to believe this is the hyper-reality that the gods see in a sacrifice, or how the faithful, in their state of thrall, see the sacrifice, which then becomes legend and myth.
We then join Shadow in prison with Low Key Lyesmith, a few days before Shadow’s released. Low Key gives us a foreshadowing with “This country went to hell when it stopped hanging people. No gallows. No gallows’ humor.” Later we do have gallows, and tons of gallows’ humor.
Laura counsels Shadow on his feeling of dread before his release, “Waiting for the sky to fall is gonna cause more bother than the sky actually falling.” Ironically, the sky actually falling, ends up being FAR worse for poor Shadow.
In Shadow’s dream that night, the tree of life is surrounded by the bones of the long since dead, and it doesn’t seem to like Shadow very much- it slaps him. Shadow is released from prison early the next day, because of his wife’s death. At the airport his frustration of having to travel early, reminds him of his conversations with Low Key about dealing with airport personnel. “Do not piss off those bitches in airports.” Shadow manages to keep a calm demeanor but don’t have the finesse to get a same day flight.
He’s put on a flight the next day, but fate pushes him into First Class with Mr. Wednesday, who showed off his talent by getting one of “those bitches” to give him First Class seat. Shadow’s talent is coin tricks. (Shadow isn’t nearly as adept at coin tricks as I imagined him to be from the book.) Wednesday explains that his talent is getting what he wants, by making people believe in him. And what he really wants is for Shadow to work for him. Shadow declines, saying he has a job waiting for him. A storm forces the plane to land and Shadow switches forms of transportation, probably to avoid Wednesday on the next flight.
On his drive home, Wednesday cons Shadow into working for him. Wednesday wins a coin toss that Shadow had rigged. “Rigged games are the easiest to beat,” says Wednesday. While Shadow is still trying to figure that one out, he’s introduced to Mad Sweeney, a rather tall Leprechaun. Sweeney has lots of gold coins to play with and is much better than Shadow at coin tricks. He gives Shadow a gold coin for fighting him.
At his wife’s funeral, Shadow bumps into Audrey who lets him know his wife died while giving her husband, Shadow’s best friend, a blow job in the car. When Shadow says his angry goodbye at Laura’s gravesite, he throws Sweeney’s gold coin onto the fresh soil of her grave.
A very drunk Audrey shows up with her gallows humor, and tries to mount Shadow to get revenge on her husband. She is such a great character! When Shadow says Laura’s in a better place now, Audrey states without apology, “She’s in Parkview Cemetery – Target would be more interesting than here. If there isn’t an afterlife, I’m gonna be sooo pissed.” Then, “I hated you as a couple, because of how you looked at her. Get used to the “boo” puppy. There is no closure from the dead.” She then sincerely feels his pain, as only the emotional swings of a ranting drunk can, ”I’m sorry for your loss, Shadow. I really am.”
If all this wasn’t enough for poor Shadow to deal with, a set of robotic vr goggles on the side of the road, attacks him and he’s introduced to Technical Boy and his goons. Technical Boy is a skinny, overconfident, Zuckerberg, a synthetic-toad-skin-smoking, little shit, who artificially alters Shadow’s reality.
He wants Shadow to stop working for Wednesday. The faceless goons lynch our hero. As Shadow swings from the gallows, he is suddenly cut down from an unknown source. We end with the same imagery where we began – a blood soaked field.
Stay tune for next week’s “American Gods” on Starz.