TV Review: American Gods – Season 1 Episode 2 “The Secret of Spoons”

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

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EPISODE 2: "The Secret of Spoons"

SYNOPSIS: As Mr. Wednesday begins recruitment for the coming battle, Shadow Moon travels with him to Chicago, and agrees to a very high stakes game of checkers with the old Slavic god, Czernobog.

American Gods, TV Review, TV, Drama, Fantasy, Neil Gaiman, Bryan Fuller, Starz, Ian McShane, Peter Stormare, Gillian Anderson

REVIEW: By now, you have watched the premiere episode of American Gods and you know what I meant when I raved about this show. The first episode sets up the labyrinthine cast of characters, many of whom are given no introduction or backstory. But, where the first episode opened with a tale of ancient vikings discovering America, the second hour opens with a much different tale of the New World. Centering on a ship of African slaves en route to North America, we find them met by the trickster god Anansi. Played by comedian Orlando Jones, Mr. Nancy is dapper and dressed in a tailored suit who regales these black men about their doomed future and urges them to rise up and kill the slavers. This sequence may seem unconnected to the narrative of the rest of this episode, but it sets the format for the show which will tease each chapter with a different look at the titular gods of this universe, old and new.

Picking up immediately after the pilot, "The Secret of Spoons" finds Shadow Moon recovering from the attack by Technology and his goons. We still do not know who his savior was but it certainly was not Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday has been enjoying some carnal delights with a thick babe and a box of pizza, but he does enlist Shadow as his employee and the two head out for their first stop: Chicago. Before they can depart, Shadow visits home and looks through his late wife's belongings to find a clue regarding her affair with Robbie. Instead, he finds a dick pic and makes the choice to clean up his former home and put it up for sale, saying goodbye to his adopted hometown. Hitting the road, we get to see Shadow and Wednesday take the scenic route (Mr. Wednesday refuses to use highways) which also includes some light shopping for various gifts and sundries needed for their next stop.

That stop ends up being a visit to Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya, one of three sisters who lives in Chicago. Mr. Wednesday is there to see Czernobog (Peter Stormare). Living a life as a cattle slaughterer, Czernobog is still a dark and menacing Old God whom Mr.Wednesday needs. Why he needs him is still a mystery. But, like any traditional takes on these omnipotent characters, Czernobog likes to play games. Stormare is still a phenomenal actor and brings both an intensity and frightening quality to his performance with RIcky Whittle getting to sit back and let Shadow Moon drink in the crazy. Czernobog doesn't want to help Mr. Wednesday, but Shadow steps in and accepts a challenge to play a game of checkers. Should Shadow win, Czernobog will join their quest. If he loses, Shadow will die under the same hammer Czernobog uses to kill his cattle. At the end, Shadow loses and we are left to wait until next week to see him pay up.

At the same time as all of this is going on, we are seeing only one other narrative: that of Bilquis. Last episode, the beautiful woman used her sexual prowess to absorb her mate and seemingly make his power her own. This week, she does the same to multiple conquests, making herself stronger. There is still no real explanation as to why she is doing this, but we do see her visit a museum where there is seemingly a display of statues and jewelry made to honor her. Bilquis uses her restored magic to put the destroyed necklace back together. For those who have not read the novel, the disconnected nature of these scenes may be confusing but it is clearly leading somewhere down the line.

American Gods, TV Review, TV, Drama, Fantasy, Neil Gaiman, Bryan Fuller, Starz, Ian McShane, Peter Stormare, Gillian Anderson

"The Secret of Spoons" is another win for this freshman series and continues to be both baffling and enthralling. Like Bryan Fuller's previous series Hannibal and Pushing Daisies, there is a lyrical and surreal quality to American Gods that makes it somewhat obtuse for the casual viewer. But, American Gods also feels vastly more approachable than either of those other shows. Like the premiere, this second episode is funny, dark, and very mysterious. I am loving every casting decision thus far and this hour makes me hope for Peter Stormare to be in the rest of the season. The only drawback I have is that American Gods is a very dense world of mythology and two hours in we still don't have a true idea of what is going on. Even though we are given many clues along the way, the show needs to start answering some of the dozens of questions it is laying out.

Key Observations From "The Secret of Spoons":

  • I am going to assume that is not Dane Cook's dick Shadow Moon finds a photo of. I do know that I really should never have had to write that sentence down in my life.
  • Gillian Anderson is somehow getting sexier with age. She looks incredible as Lucille Ball. I cannot wait to see her dressed as Marilyn Monroe.
  • Ian McShane may be one of the most underrated actors working today. I would take a road trip with that guy any day.
  • Every time I see Bilquis and her man/woman-eating vagina, I am reminded of the Brad Dourif/James Earl Jones horror film GRIM PRAIRIE TALES. Anyone else remember that movie?
  • If you are a fan of the FX series Baskets, you may find it weird to see Martha Kelly playing a very different role here.
  • I would never agree to play checkers with Peter Stormare.

NEXT ON AMERICAN GODS: "Head Full of Snow" airs May 14th Shadow questions the terms of his employment when Mr. Wednesday informs him of his plan to rob a bank (because, naturally, every army needs a source of funding). And just when Shadow thought his life couldn’t get any more complicated, he returns to his motel room to a surprising discovery.

TV Review: American Gods – Season 1 Episode 2 “The Secret of Spoons”




About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.