The growth of America as a country has moments of inspiration, brilliance, and ingenuity; it’s often glorified with stories of miraculous opportunities. Those stories have played out. They one hundred percent exist. But for some, the evolution of America is also a tale of being pushed aside and silenced. It’s a narrative playing out in American Gods, from a certain point of view. Mr. Nancy, a.k.a. Anansi, put the spotlight on Bilquis–a character who has stood proudly back up after being beat down by the world–in the season one finale of the show. Bilquis, Orlando Jones told Nerdist, shouldn’t be overlooked.
Anansi tapped into his storytelling roots and tried to teach a lesson to Mr. Wednesday. In talking about his performance in presenting Bilquis‘ journey, Jones said, “It was important for me to remember, and I think for Nancy, to impart that there has never been a war in human history that has ever been won without the support of women.”
And Bilquis, their Queen, has survived and evolved after being let down again and again. The Old Gods didn’t protect their queen; they haven’t looked out for their own and allowed her to fall. It’s not an issue Wednesday necessarily recognizes as he recruits allies. With his story, Nancy told Wednesday there needs to be compromise but also that Wednesday should open his damn eyes. “He’s pointing out to Wednesday that there is compromise, but there’s also this role of these people who are often diminished, and that’s as important as these other people that we celebrate,” Jones said about Nancy’s tale.
Nancy is using his stories to speak up. “He’s attempting to always be the voice of the disenfranchised, because frankly, you meet him on a slave ship amongst the other disenfranchised,” Jones said, “When you’re talking about American history you talk about gender roles, and ageism, and race, and sex–all of these things come together to create a truly powerful force of people and individuals who have a lot of information to impart, but we consistently say that isn’t important as we watch bodies of men make decisions on behalf of everyone, as if they don’t have an opinion or that they don’t have anything to bring to the table because they couldn’t possibly understand how intricate things are. I think he’s saying that, really, to Wednesday.”
Jones pointed out how Wednesday’s not been looking outside his own narrow view. Wednesday’s been trying to stack his deck with as many Old Gods as possible, but he hasn’t gone to likes of Bilquis. “He didn’t go to Bilquis that way. He’s actively been trying to put Laura Moon back into her grave. He’s consistently seeing the world in a very specific way that is quite male-centric,” Jones explained, “Nancy’s trying to point out, ‘That’s not the way we’re gonna win this war, and also that there has to be some level of compromise in what we do moving forward.’ For him, if that doesn’t exist for those parties then it’s not going to exist for him either.”
Nancy appears to be on Wednesday’s side for now, but the Old God looks out for himself, too. As a keeper of tales, words are his gift. He wields them the way he must to keep going. He needs worship; he has to have believers in order to exist. That drives his agenda and keeps him playing the game. “I think Nancy’s always playing both ends against the middle a bit, but he often uses the truth of his words to make his point and to get people on his side,” Jones said.
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More of Nancy and his stories will be ahead in the second season of American Gods. Jones shared the character will have a bigger role to play: “I’m super excited about season two where Nancy will be very, very heavy.”