It wasn't until watching American Gods Season 1 Episode 2 for the second time that I realized it didn't play out as a standalone episode nearly as well as it did snuggled inside the four I binged originally.
That's not to say it didn't have anything good to offer or that it wasn't worth watching because it did and it was.
"The Secret of Spoon" also felt like a very long segue because it didn't seem as if anything concrete was established.
What impresses me the most about the hour is the way the relationship between Mr. Wednesday and Shadow is unfolding.
There is a natural chemistry between Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle that makes the connection between the characters more believable than I would expect at this point.
When Shadow arrived at Wednesday's door after his assault terrified and angry, Wednesday didn't behave in the way Shadow would have expected.
But when Wednesday left his room and told Shadow not to confuse the absence of anger to mean he wasn't offended and that an attack on Shadow was an attack on him, it was clear he was sincere.
Wednesday: They don't have a clue. They don't have a fucking clue!
Shadow: I don't have a fucking clue! I don't give a fuck if they don't have a fucking clue. I want one! Give me a fucking clue!
Wednesday: Clues were not in the agreement.
We don't know why yet Shadow was chosen for his role, but we know he has value to Wednesday, and the decision wasn't made lightly. How long they'd stay in Eagle Point was up to Shadow, as was his later decision to put his life on the line for the cause.
If Wednesday is in some way manipulating Shadow, he's doing it skillfully, con man to con man.
My gut says their relationship is as pure as any can be in this world, for whatever that's worth.
If it wasn't, I don't think the other side would be trying as hard to get him away from Wednesday as they are, and they're trying very hard. Every time Shadow is alone, it's a life or death struggle to reach him.
Technical Boy made his play, trying to kill him when he didn't go along. Media was a bit more friendly, as media would be. What's interesting is the new gods don't have a lot of range. What's the difference between those two gods anyway?
Their fights must be deep considering how closely they are related.
Shadow had a vision of his dead wife when he was cleaning out the house, but she's dead. It was only a bad dream.
Mr. Nancy was introduced at the beginning of the hour seemingly to make the point of Shadow's skin tone relevant before he and Wednesday arrived at Czernobog's house because Czernobog was going to call Wednesday Shadow's massa and make a point out of Shadow being black.
Czernobog: You're black, right?
Shadow: That a problem?
I'm sure I'm supposed to understand something about that. I understood Shadow's first thought was that he was being lynched purposefully, as a black message, rather than hung because TB is an asshole. The new gods are no better than the old gods when it comes to making points.
But is Shadow in the fray because he's black? Is there some subtext that makes his race relevant? It seems too early for me to make that call, but it's impossible not to imagine I should when the hour opened with Mr. Nancy making his point.
Shadow is fucked merely because he is black. I think Shadow has proven already being black isn't a liability. I doubt that's how he ended up in prison, either.
I can only guess that her skin color is the reason why we had another Bilquis scene, as seeing her gobbling up another man while remaining as lonely as ever, longing for a past that she cannot have doesn't yet fit into the storyline.
That's partially what I meant about the hour not flowing well as a standalone. The narrative, so far, is firmly rooted in the actions of Shadow and Wednesday, and when it moves away from them, the big picture falters a little.
Wednesday is amassing an army to do battle, supposedly with the new gods. He needs his hammer, which we now know comes in the form of Peter Stormare. Stormare is Czernobog, a relative to three sisters who tell fortunes.
Zorya is a hoot. She can't cook well, but tells great fortunes and can't lie worth a damn. Shadow's not going to die of cancer like his mother. And that was the only good news she had for him.
Czernobog was concerned about the color of Shadow's skin and using his hammer again. Preferably on Shadow's head when he beat him in a game of checkers.
The wager they made didn't have any stakes for Shadow, who is in too far over his head. He's not sure what's real and what isn't. He can't tell if he's dreaming or awake, so figured if he makes a wager on his life, it might not even matter.
Maybe the clue was in the color of checkers he was given by Czernobog. When the white guy makes the black guy be white while he takes the black ones after making a fuss over his skin color, you should probably be wary.
But then again, nothing is over until sunrise.
The series is going to go on, and I don't imagine Shadow's head will be pummeled with that hammer. That means Shadow will have a cunning plan. Even though Wednesday assured him Czernobog would go through with his death, perhaps he knows something else.
The imagery, as always with a Bryan Fuller production, was gorgeous. You know you're not hanging with an amateur when a greasy man wearing a dirty T-shirt can hold a deadly killing device dripping blood and your first instinct is to be wowed by the beauty of it.
Every scene is artfully filmed and even if it doesn't fit into the flow of the story, it looks amazing. Wednesday blowing a dandelion out the window was simple and effective. A call to arms.
I didn't regret one second of Mr. Nancy's speech at the beginning, it just didn't feel on par with the rest of the hour in my opinion. I have no doubt it will suit the overall series just fine.
Part of me wishes American Gods had been a binge watch series, even as much as I usually denounce them because they are so difficult to cover here at TV Fanatic.
You tell me. What did you think of the latest episode? Did it make sense and leave you wishing for more? Do you wish you had the third hour at your fingertips so you could watch American Gods online right now?
Drop us a comment!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.