In God and Guns We Trust
♦Tripwire Contributing Writer OLLY MACNAMEE casts his eye over this week’s episode of American Gods, on Starz tonight in the US and on Amazon Prime in the UK from tomorrow…
American Gods Episode 06
Director: Adam Kane
Writer: Neil Gaiman, Maria Melnik
Stars: Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Emily Glover
Another episode and another prologue reminding us that people have been coming to America by various methods throughout series. Last week, it was the nomadic tribes of the Ice Age following their food, previously we’ve seen people coming by force as slaves, and of course the bloody brutal vikings of the pilot episode. This week and we’re closer to home with a group of brave and desperate Mexicans crossing illegally into the States. And, again, we have the intrusion of another deity, but one there to save the day. America was a long time in forming into the cultural melting pot it is today, and these vignettes prefixing most of the episodes remind us of this. This is also an episode that reminds us of America’s love for guns and ammo, as Wednesday (Lovejoy’s Ian McShane) and Shadow (Ricky Whittle) continue their road trip around America attempting to rally the troops ahead of the eventual trip to Wisconsin; clearly where both Wednesday and the series is heading.
Meanwhile, Laura (Emily Browning) and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), who is determined not to let her out of his sight, go off on their own road trip, jacking a taxi to do so and by jacking said taxi, also picking up an additional traveller we have met before. The feeling of predestination, as characters come together by accident (or, design?) rears its head again. As Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were responsible for recording the life and works of Jesus, Bryan Fuller, Michael Green et. al. are responsible for the fate of Gaiman’s American Gods, and like all good myths, legends and fairy tales, building on what has come before. Stories of this nature are always in flux and only take some form of definitive shape when written down. Even then, the wolf doesn’t always get slain by a woodman.
The main focus of this episode, for me at least, is Wednesday and Shadow’s trip to Virginia and the fascistic town (and munitions factory) called Vulcan. Welcome to Trump’s America, viewers. Here, in Vulcan, we meet the town’s eponymous leader and old school god who, thanks to the Second Amendment’s long term legacy of creating a country that worships the gun, means he will continue to prosper, maybe even more so than ever before. In God and Guns We Trust, maybe?
No episode so far has come as close to open criticism of America and it’s gun laws as this one, albeit it has made overtures to how America was formed through slavery, immigration (legal and illegal) in the past, and Vulcan is only too happy with gun-loving US of A. Each bullet is a prayer to his power and he’s doing quite well, as the patriarch of this very Middle American town. Here we have a god of the ancient world with, arguably, more relevance to America today than he ever did during the days of the Roman Empire. Although, bullets aren’t the only way he maintains his power. The odd accident at the Vulcan munitions factory act as a handy form of blood sacrifice easily explained away as an industrial accident. Did you know, for instance, that in 2015 – 2016, in the UK, there were 144 fatalities through work, with an additional 67 members of the public also fatally injured through industrial accidents too? Oh, and in America, for the year 2015, it was a staggering 4,836.
Another great episode that continues to scratch at the scabby wound that is the American psyche and all its modern day ills. And its past misdemeanours too. On one level, this is the story of Gaiman’s American Gods, but through the filter of an America that, while it did exist upon the original publication of the novel from which this series is derived, has never seemed so polarised, particularly on the subjects of immigration, gun control and religion. And, while Marvel comics may be deliberating the necessity for political discourse through comics after it’s recent (and currently ongoing) Secret Empire crossover; and the subsequent fallout on social media, I am glad to see that American TV does not always shy away from including a critical voice, and certainly not American Gods.