In a bid to further their own cause both sides vie to gain support from the God of Money in St Louis, and Shadow has a distracting dalliance with Bast in the home of her brother Ibis. Meanwhile in order to keep a firm grasp on his superiority, Technical Boy attempts to call in a favor from a human devotee. But he soon discovers the now CEO of a successful company has been subverted by Mr World and his hold has weakened. As Technical Boy beats a hasty retreat he is consumed and possessed by something similarly technical and fiercely virulent. But Mr World’s sacrifice is all for naught as Money denies both Wednesday and Mr World. Money loves profit, but not so much prophet it seems.
I eased right into the episode from the start as the future CEO is shown playing Pong. And of course the wonderful strains of ‘Chaconne’ by Bach helped, as used for the subplot involving Technical Boy’s acolyte. Sidebar I: Gameboy as seen in the montage was a little inaccurate for 1987, as it only came into being in 1989. But upon hearing ‘We Care a Lot’ I was enthralled, so I forgave that chronological blip. The story of the life and introduction of the CEO was intriguing, despite being relatively inconsequential. As such there was a distinct binary feel to this episode. First we have the ‘musical’ interlude plot. Dealing in a bittersweet way with the sons failure to understand his father and also the fathers sadness at his joy and worship of music being totally usurped and diminished by his son, with tragic consequences. Generational gaps are always so hard to circumvent.
And running parallel there is the main plot and the conclusion that, as much power as old money has, it has no need for allegiance. It can work in tandem with modern day currency without one overpowering the other. This shows money is the true god of the present, resulting in neither side being able to win in their attempts to woo the God of Money. So the two main themes were clearly tied together as they both dealt with modernity and the role of art and money in society. Anecdotally I also liked the way Crispin and Ian have completely different ways of pronouncing the name Zorya. Nice touch and feeding into the way the two are opposed to each other. Sadly Blade Runner’s ineffable tinkerer, the dynamic William Sanderson, was too short in his presence as God of Money. And although the Girl Scouts were a quirky representation of the modern equivalent of commerce, they were no match for the legendary sci-fi presence of J.F.Sebastian.
Also with no Mad Sweeney and Laura to continue the underlying quirky humor of last episode I soon began to feel set adrift. All throughout in the back of my distracted little mind there echoed one question. “Where ARE they?” Their mutual dilemma and continued distress made for some avid viewing last week and so to now have them so absent became a glaringly obvious omission. Similarly the lack of Black Crow by Shadow’s side ensured that I became even less interested in him and this also cemented in my mind the lack of the ‘My Ainsel’ segment of the story from the novel. Despite the arrival the sultry Sana Asad as Bast in his bed, confirming at least some consistency with the novel. Sadly even Shadow and his saucy feline fraternisation did little to keep me as spellbound.
To begin with the whole set up at the home of Ibis was of limited interest, despite it being the first face off with Bilquis since her betrayal. Initially it seemed of little consequence and the discussion with the devotee in the church fell on deaf ears, as Bilquis and Nancy stand posturing and bristling at each other. The lack of emotion conveyed by the two was obvious, even as both throw meaningful looks and delivered lines falling dead to the floor. The only real highpoint for me here came with the expanded role of Ibis. First explaining to Shadow about his status and the transition of African Americans from ‘exotic’ to ‘colored’ and his waxing lyrical about the human condition. All of which gave his role some gravitas and was music to my ears. Demore Barnes ate up what little screen time he has here and was severely underutilised.
Then as he is later joined by the bright spark of righteous indignation that is Orlando Jones, the setting finally began to express some raw emotion from all three. From the understated and centred indifference of Ibis showing his impartiality to war, Nancy burning with rage and fury about their lot in the ongoing plot and Bilquis fanning the flames. Particularity Nancy and his speech about oppression and indifference of the white man, as well as the hypocrisy of justice and it’s sheer colorblindness. Something tells me that as exec producer Orlando had a hand in all that, particularly the alt right statement, which was forthright and relevant to the current climate.
Conversely both Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle are the weak points this episode and were outshone by so many others. Ricky is a ‘shadow’ of his character and he has so far failed to grab my attention. And all I’ve seen Ian do is walk around being coarse and abstract, especially with his foul descriptive to Shadow about monogamy and sex. Aside from denigrate women he does little else, other than looking for all the world like Columbo. Though maybe a little more dishevelled. Sidebar II: So uninvested was I in the pair that even I picked up on the inconsistent geography. When the map shows them travelling from Cairo Illinois to St. Louis Missouri we see the car going south-west. But St. Louis is actually north-west of Cairo. Sakina Jaffrey also showed them both up and yet again made her limited time count, as Mama-Ji had a crucial line to deliver to Shadow about Wednesday. And even with so little time she actually got to the crux of the whole thing, despite Wednesday’s later assertion that Shadow means so little to his mission. Though it did plant the seed of doubt and causes Shadow to have an epiphany. This plot point being about the only thing the pair contributed this episode.
Comparatively far too much airtime was given to those who had far less to express, despite them having so much more script to divulge. As a consequence, by the end I didn’t know or even much care what had happened to Technical Boy and whether Mr World had sold him down the river for the chance of one-upmanship and gaining the support of the God of Money. The only slight interesting thing about that scenario was Technical Boy’s blindness to his fate while discussing death with New Media. She seemed to know what was in store for him all along.
Gaffs: Gameboy and Geography.
While keeping true to the novel and doing it justice by recreating scenes which only lived in my mind until now, there was a tendency to lag this episode. Some major scene stealing from the main cast by the sidereal characters, who far outshone the actual plot.
American Gods S2 E4: What’s The Color of Money?
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 8/108/10
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