Shadow was in jail, where he got advice from his cellmate Low Key Lyesmith, for robbing a casino, and those were the good old days. After surviving a lynching from Technical Boy’s faceless henchmen, learning his dead wife (who cheated on him while he was in prison) has returned and is trying to win him back, and thinking he was going insane after seeing a lot of crazy things (including possibly making it snow with his own mind), Shadow finally went from believing nothing to believing “everything” after Wednesday told him he’s really Odin. Shadow keeps having recurring visions of a bone orchard with a giant tree and a buffalo with flaming eyes who tells him to “believe.”
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Shadow was also given two coins. The first was a gold coin from Mad Sweeney that Shadow won after Sweeney picked a fight with him on Wednesday’s orders. Shadow threw that in Laura’s grave, and it sunk down into her coffin. The second was a coin (which was the moon) from one of the Zorya sisters (three Slavic gods of the Morning, Evening, and Midnight Stars), and she told him not to lose or give it away. He lost his first (of two) checkers game to their housemate Czernobog, which means Shadow owes the Slavic god of death one blow to the head from Czernobog’s hammer, but he did win the second game so Czernobog will come to Wednesday’s big meeting.
Mad Sweeney’s lucky gold coin, the kind of thing you’d give to “the king of America” but that he accidentally gave to Shadow, is what is keeping her alive. The leprechaun wants it back but he can’t take it. And ye, out of guilt, he put it back in her chest following a second car crash. The goddess Ostara of the Dawn (Easter) was unable to restore her life because she died at the hands of a god, a kind of pseudo sacrifice.
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Laura smells terrible, can’t taste anything (except when she kissed Shadow and her heart beat once), but she has superhuman strength and can kill men by punching or kicking them. She always sees a massive light emanating from Shadow, no matter how far away he is.
Mad Sweeney keeps warning Laura and Shadow not to trust him, but Shadow won’t listen and keeps working as Wednesday’s “man.” Wednesday is trying to arrange a meeting of the old gods in Wisconsin at the House on the Rock because he is prepping for a war with the new gods, a fight he says they are already losing.
The only thing that scares Wednesday is being forgotten, which is how gods die. He wasn’t even worried when Zorya Vechernyaya told him his fortune is to lose. Mr. World, Media, and Tech Boy offered Wednesday a merger opportunity, much like the one they gave Vulcan, where people would indirectly worship him, but Wednesday said no. He also killed Vulcan after the god of the volcano made Wednesday a great sword but sold him out to the new gods.
Wednesday needs a great sacrifice and seems to know something no one else does.
The Old Gods
Early Vikings brought their god of war (Wednesday) to America in 831 A.D. in brutal fashion, but only so they could flee home, leaving him behind. Mr. Nancy (Anansi) came to America on a slave ship, and he told the story of how Bilquis was once a great and powerful queen of love, but her strength was taken from men who feared a powerful women. Technical Boy gave her a phone and a spot on a dating app so she could gain “followers.” She sacrifices her dates by consuming them with her vagina, making her beautiful again (we’re gonna bet you remember that). She often goes to the museum to see her statue and former jewels, and that’s where Tech Boy calls in the favor she owes him for helping her, but he didn’t say what that favor is. Bilquis arrived at the House on the Rock at season’s end, where Wednesday’s meeting will take place.
Mad Sweeney, who was once a king himself, came to America thanks to Essie McGowan, an Irish woman who never stopped believing. He was once kind and gentle, but now he’s angry, vulgar, and desperate to make right by Laura while also getting back his lucky coin. By saving her he is crossing Wednesday, but he and Laura revealed themselves to Odin and Shadow in the season finale. Mad Sweeney also said he once ran from a war in which he would have died, and that’s why he believes he still “owes” a battle.
The Egyptian gods Anubis and Ibis work together in a funeral home. Ibis records stories of gods in America, and Anubis ferries the dead to the afterlife where he weighs their hearts against a feather. Light hearts get good eternities, heavy ones do not. Anubis remembered Laura who escaped her judgement when he and Ibis found her traveling with Mad Sweeney.
Despite having a pretty nice arrangement with the new gods (similar to the one Bilquis and Vulcan had), Ostara brought famine to the world by robbing it of spring, a huge problem for the new gods who want things to run smoothly under them.
Also, there are roughly 14 different Jesuses (Jesii?) and they are all pretty nice, so it’s doubtful they’ll be involved in any kind of war.
Salim and The Jinn
Miserable and ignored in New York City, Salim got in the Jinn’s cab and the two made a personal connection when Salim realized what the Jinn is. While the Jinn, who we saw in a previous episode leaving a meeting with Wednesday, said he does not grant wishes, after the two had sex the Jinn left Salim his cab, a new identity, and a new life. Salim hit the road with Laura and Mad Sweeney after he caught them trying to steal his cab because he is looking for the Jinn and Mad Sweeney knows where he is. Mad Sweeney said he wouldn’t tell him where the Jinn is until Salim drove them to Kentucky, but when Laura found out it’s the House on the Rock she freed Salim so he could go immediately.
Technical Boy wants to kill Wednesday and Shadow, but Mr. World and Old Media kept telling him they don’t want to do that. Mr. World says Wednesday has knowledge and wisdom and deserves respect and he wants to merge with the old gods. Media, who appeared as famous pop culture figures, also tried to recruit Wednesday to work for her, promising she’d never underestimate or mistreat him, but he turned her down.
With the exception of Tech Boy, the new gods seem to understand that the old gods are superior to them in some vital ways. While they might not be worshiped the way the new gods are, and aren’t as powerful or menacing, the old gods offered people more than a distraction. They offered them purpose and meaning, which is how they’ve endured. The new gods lives are fleeting and they are easily replaced.
But Ostara’s famine, which could force people to actually pray to the old gods, means that the new gods will give Wednesday the war he so desperately wants.
After this refresher we have faith you’re good to go for American Gods long-awaited second season.