American Gods S02E06: "Donar the Great"
Writing - 8/10
Acting - 8/10
Overall - 8/10
User Review( votes)
This week on American Gods, the audience sees the lengths that Mr. Wednesday is willing to go to in both the past and the present.
Last Week on American Gods
Last week on American Gods, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), Salim (Omid Abtahi), and the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) take Gungnir to get fixed so Wednesday can use it in his plans. On the way there, they argue about Salim’s monotheism. Rather than being able to get it fixed in one stop, Wednesday learns that he needs Dvalin to fix it. Laura Moon (Emily Browning) gets a recipe for more life, but her relationship with Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) splinters. Meanwhile, Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) accuses Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes) of not protecting the black men in Cairo, but Ibis’ involvement is left ambiguous. Shadow (Ricky Whittle) also did things, but nothing relevant enough to register on the previously-on (here or on-screen). Not a good look for the POV protagonist, but what else is new?
American Gods and the Untrustworthy Mentor Problem
Mr. Wednesday cannot be trusted. There have been several pieces of evidence proving that he does things for himself and avoids explaining his actions. This week’s episode showed Mr. Wednesday going to lower depths than we have seen him go before. However, he has maneuvered himself into positions that require trust. In the war against the New Gods, he has positioned himself as the leader. On a smaller scale, he has forced Shadow into a sort of apprenticeship. To pile on to these problems, he ditched the only person who consistently called him out (Mr. Nancy sees his issues, but calls out everyone but him).
Neither Shadow nor the Old Gods’ vanguard can really thrive under Mr. Wednesday’s leadership. He will sell out whomever to serve his own ends. The audience knows that it’s foolish to hope that Wednesday is on their side, which makes the situation literally tragic. We know it will end badly, but we don’t know when. The New Gods are making plans, and it seems like they will deploy them soon. At this point, I could argue that book-readers don’t really know when the Old Gods will next suffer great losses, though they may have a better idea. Shadow and the Old Gods need to figure out how to get the most benefit from Wednesday while earning the least harm, and it feels like they will inevitably fail.
Unlike my last few articles on American Gods, this “problem” isn’t actually that metatextual. It isn’t really a problem with the show. Mr. Wednesday is allowed to be a problematic mentor without undoing the structure of the work. Just ask Emperor Palpatine. However, the trap American Gods may be wandering near is fascination as undue focus. I haven’t done a concrete analysis, but I’m pretty sure Wednesday has had the most screentime this season. This focus is putting Shadow, our actual POV protagonist, in the shadows. American Gods needs to remember to show the world through his eyes more often.
Next week on American Gods, Mr. Wednesday has some trouble getting people to do what he wants, at least for now.
American Gods airs on Starz on Sunday nights.
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