TV Review: American Gods – Season 1 Episode 6 “A Murder of Gods”

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

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EPISODE 6: "A Murder of Gods"

SYNOPSIS:  On the run after the New Gods’ show of force, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday seek safe haven with one of Mr. Wednesday’s oldest friends, Vulcan, God of the Fire and the Forge.

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REVIEW: So far, American Gods has relied primarily on the source novels by author Neil Gaiman. Tonight's episode takes a detour into original territory with a character written expressly for the Starz series. Corbin Bernsen's Vulcan is a timely creation who represents the ancient god of war who has sold himself out as the face behind America's obsession with guns and violence. Clad in the requisite clothing of the stereotypical NRA gun afficionado, Vulcan commands a small army of true believers who will remind many viewers of the extreme right who helped put Donald Trump into the White House. While I doubt many of those conservative viewers made it to this point after seeing a full-on homosexual sex scene, the portrayal of gun zealots in this episode will surely send them over the top. But, tonight's hour also is a turning point for the plot of American Gods while also representing two dieties whom the United States reveres deeply: Guns and Jesus Christ.

In the opening short, Jesus is portrayed as a Mexican savior who tries to help a group of illegal immigrants cross over the border in the middle of the night. Ambushed by Border Police, the migrants are massacred. One man watches as Jesus sacrifices himself to save some of the innocents. At first, this strikes you as being far more political than it actually is and with what we learn about Jesus later this season, it makes a lot of sense. The rest of the episode is primarily focused on Shadow and Mr. Wednesday journeying to recruit Vulcan, but the rest of the hour is dedicated to Laura Moon reuniting with Mad Sweeney and picking up a third member along the way. Returning to the motel, Laura convinces Mad Sweeney to steal her a car so she can get back to Shadow. Sweeney suggests he knows a ressurectionist who can free her from his lucky coin and they agree to head to Wisconsin to find her. Before they can depart, Laura and Sweeney learn the cab they are trying to steal belongs to Salim. You will recognize Salim as the man who made love to the Jinn a few episodes back. His longing for his love has led him to search for the Jinn. Laura finds a parallel to Salim's journey and they agree to work together to find their soulmates, much to Mad Sweeney's chagrin.

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Still reeling from the attack at the police station, Shadow demands that Mr. Wednesday explain what is happening, Wednesday remains as vague as ever but is interrupted when the wound from where a tree stabbed Shadow begins pulsating. Wednesday uses his skills to pull the parasite from Shadow and implores his associate to join him in recruiting Vulcan. The pair head to the gun-toting messiah. Early in the episode, we see a man working at Vulcan's weapons factory who accidentally falls into a boiling vat of molten lead and becomes part of the bullets being manufactured there. It is a deliberate and slowly paced sequence reminiscent of numerous segments of Fuller's previous series, Hannibal. It also foresees the eventual fate of Vulcan himself. When Wednesday and Shadow encounter Vulcan, he is leading a Nazi-esque troop of believers clad in black with red armbands and firing pistols into the sky. Vulcan reminisces with his old friend about how his almost forgotten nature was resurrected by the power of modern America. Vulcan transformed himself into a modern and new god but agrees to side with his old friend and forge a sword to help usher in a war between gods Old and New.

Shadow doesn't seem entirely comfortable in Vulcan's presence, especially when he notices a tree with magical roots that look like a noose appear on his lawn. Vulcan and Wednesday converse in vague language that made me wonder just who was trustworthy and who was not. By episode's end, we are given a much different look at who Mr. Wednesday is and what he is capable of, even if his true name is not yet known. Once Vulcan reveals that he has called the New Gods and told them that Wednesday and Shadow were there, we see Wednesday as the merciless diety he truly is. Speaking without any gravity, Wednesday explains that he is going to use Vulcan's death as a motivation for the rest of the Old Gods to join in the fight. He then swiftly decapitates Vulcan using the sword he just forged and kicks him into the vat of lead, turning him into the physical manifestation of what he came to represent. Wednesday stands there wielding the sword, a truly powerful image, as Shadow barely is able to contain his shock.

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Another excellent hour, "A Murder of Gods" finally gets the narrative pumping. While only a brief stop on the large scale journey, seeing Vulcan and Wednesday's relationship crumble was quite entertaining. It was also interesting to go deeper with Corbin Bernsen's character who has made the transformation from Old to New God. But, while we got Peter Stormare's character over multiple hours, it is disappointing to have only gotten Vulcan for half of one episode. Overall, this was a great episode that allowed us to delve into who these mystical beings are. My only complaint about this politically charged episode is that half the running time felt like it was stretching the journey to Vulcan and then all the time spent with him went too quickly. With two episodes to go, I am not expecting this season to be wrapped up neatly, but I have no doubt it is going to get better.

Key Observations From "A Murder of Gods":

  • Laura and Mad Sweeney have way more chemistry than Laura and Shadow ever have on this show. Even when he calls her "Dead Wife" or "Cunt", it sounds endearing.
  • For a criminal, Shadow doesn't seem to have much of a stomach for pain or seeing people get killed.
  • The great thing about this show is how seamlessly they added new characters. Vulcan was cool but I wish Corbin Bernsen had lasted for more than one episode.
  • When is Laura going to start decomposing more? She has held up suprisingly long.
  • There were not nearly enough "Genie in a Bottle" jokes this week.

NEXT ON AMERICAN GODS: "Prayer for Mad Sweeney" airs June 11th – Her brief reunion with Shadow over far too quickly, Laura turns to an unlikely travel companion to find her way back to life, and back to Shadow. Mad Sweeney’s long, winding, and often tragic past is explored.

TV Review: American Gods – Season 1 Episode 6 “A Murder of Gods”




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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.