AMERICAN GODS Review 1.03 “Head Full of Snow”

Because even ex-cons like marshmallows in their hot chocolate.

You can catch American Gods on STARZ.
Check the previous review

“You didn’t believe until you did, and then the world changed.”

Shadow Moon’s complicated life continues its theme of twists and turns in “Head Full of Snow”. If you haven’t read since the initial pilot review, here’s your spoiler warning. If you’ve been following along for the whole ride, guess what? Shadow didn’t get brained. Here’s your buffer sentence while you gather your thoughts over that shocking revelation.

After meeting with the third Zorya sister and acquiring the moon, Shadow challenges Czernobog to a round two of checkers. With a little bit of goading from Shadow, he agrees. And this time he loses. That loss means that he will now join Mr. Wednesday on his crusade, but he still gets to kill Shadow after. While the two are having their rematch, Mr. Wednesday takes the eldest Zorya sister for a walk. All the charm in the world can’t save him from the notion that he’s going to die, but he doesn’t put enough stock in fortunes to be too rattled.

Finishing up with Czernobog and the sisters three, Mr. Wednesday reveals the next step in their little plan. They’s gonna rob a bank! The robbery goes off without a hitch despite Shadow’s many hang-ups. Oh, and our boy makes it snow. No big, right? Well, it’s a big deal to Shadow. Boy doesn’t believe in anything and he’s out here makin’ it snow. He’s very clearly shaken by the experience, but, as always, Mr. Wednesday remains unsurprised.

While the two are off robbing banks, Mad Sweeney is having some very unfortunate luck. R.I.P nice AA man who tried to get him where he was going. You never stood a chance. Turns out ol’ Sweeney gave Shadow his lucky coin by mistake. His bad luck doesn’t end there, either, because Shadow only held on to that coin long enough to throw it onto Laura’s grave. Small detail—that grave is now empty. Mostly because she’s waiting for Shadow in his hotel room after their little heist.

American Gods switched up their flashback trend this week by putting it in the middle of the episode. There are also less obvious immediate tie-ins to the present-day story, but we’ll see more parallels to the message of this particular moment in future episodes. Before “Head Full of Snow” aired, there was a lot of talk of the sex scene in this sub-arc being crazy graphic. As the resident prude, I made sure to prepare myself. But honestly it’s not all that risqué. In fact, the scene between the two lost souls was quite sweet. Sure, you see more than you may be accustomed to on television, but this is STARZ we’re talking about.

“Head Full of Snow” brought the biggest theme of American Gods into the present day story: belief, and the power that goes with it. It’s still difficult to go into too much detail without going into future spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, but we will be seeing more and more discussion about it, and where it is placed. It may be frustrating at this point to not know exactly what’s going on, but Fuller and company are allowing the viewer to learn things as Shadow does. Just know that there will be a payoff eventually, and be mindful of basically everything that comes out of Mr. Wednesday’s mouth.

The gods have finally started to come up by name as well, though mostly in passing. We meet Anubis in the very beginning, and learn of the many iterations of Jesus while Wednesday and Shadow are waiting to rob the bank. Only one of the Jesus’ are listed on the cast sheet, so don’t get too excited for a Jesus party. As for Anubis, like so many other things in the show currently, his introduction will make sense in time. There are obviously other gods that we’ve already met, but those have yet to be acknowledged. Hint, hint.

As the story progresses, we’re finally seeing Shadow show some personality. It’s not that he didn’t have it prior, it’s more that he doesn’t show it to people he’s not comfortable with. So far it’s been little moments like the marshmallows, or the charisma he suddenly turned on when the cop called the payphone. He’s the quiet friend that observes until he knows how to best interact with each individual, as made evident by the goading of Czernobog, and the casual “it’s gone, bro” conversation with Mad Sweeney. This behavior isn’t rooted in fear, but in the introverted sense of having a basic understanding of the people around before engaging. This can be a dangerous direction, resulting in characters being written off as boring in most cases, but the team behind American Gods seems to have found a way to master it.

The effects remain a thing of beauty in episode three. They may be over the top for some, but as a sucker for night skies, I’m into it. The black overlay during the flashback was a bit much, but fleeting enough that it doesn’t cause too many negative points. It also made the Jyn’s eyes pop more, so there’s a payoff there. The spectacle of these moments seem to act as a balance to the moments that may not be as interesting to some folks. The novel remains a favorite to many, but there are some who found it boring. Fuller and Co. appear to be taking as many opinions to heart as they can by providing something pretty to look at in moments that may not have taken in the book audience.

American Gods hasn’t given us a bad episode yet. While “Head Full of Snow” had less action than its two predecessors, it brought all of the themes together in a big way. The discussion of belief and America being the only country that wonders what it is will continue to be important throughout the series, and there’s no better time to discuss them than in the country’s current climate. The show’s already scored a surprisingly early renewal, so don’t get any ideas about the story wrapping up in one quick season.

“Head Full of Snow” was also devoid of any mention of Technology Boy, Media, or any of their other messengers to make room for Laura. We see her grave empty while Mad Sweeney is looking for his lucky coin, so it doesn’t feel like a spoiler to tell you that she’s not a dream this time. Considering the manner in which she died, she may have wanted to stay in that grave, but like so many other things in the show, she has a bigger role to play. Next week we’ll delve more into her life, death, and everything in between in “Git Gone”. Until then, the comments section remains for your wild speculations on where the series has and will go!