American Gods episode 2 recap and review: The Secret of the Spoons


In episode 2 of American Gods, The Secret of the Spoons, Wednesday takes Shadow on a road trip and Shadow learns he shouldn’t bet against black.

Last week on American Gods, we met Shadow Moon. After learning his wife died in a car accident, he got out of prison only to learn that she was cheating on him with his best friend when she died. In fact, both of them died, leaving Shadow without a wife or a job. Then he met Wednesday and everything got really weird.

If you thought things were going to clear up for episode 2, you are sadly mistaken. Shadow’s still lost and clueless, and so are you.

Buckle up, because this week we’re taking a road trip. But first, back to the past.

Coming to America – 1697

We begin this episode in the hold of a slave ship. It’s full of African men, shackled together. One cries out to Compe Anansi. He doesn’t have a gift, but says Anansi knows the ways to crawl in and out of danger. The man begs Anansi to help him out of that place. He will sing to Anansi all his life and bring him gifts. And Orlando Jones appears in the role he way born to play.

OMG Character Poster Orlando Jones (Mr. Nancy) (Official image 19b16abd-4469-4654-8e20-974931d8a294.jpg Image ID AGS1_104_071416_0255via Starz

Anansi tells them stories of the future.

"You shed tears for Compre Anansi, and here he is telling you, you are staring down the barrel of 300 years of subjugation., racist bulls*** and heart disease. He is telling you there isn’t one godd*** reason you shouldn’t go up there right now and SLIT THE THROATS OF EVERY LAST ONE OF THESE DUTCH MOTHERF*****S and set fire to this ship! … You already dead asshole. At least die a sacrifice for something worthwhile. Let. The motherf*****. Burn. Let it all burn."

And they do. The African men and the Dutch men alike all burn with the ship. But one little spider rides a plank to the shore. Anansi has come to America.

Motel America

After getting stapled back together from last week’s beating and hanging, Shadow returns to the Motel America where they rented rooms. He asks Wednesday what in the world is going on. Shadow lets Wednesday know he was just kidnapped by a toad skin-smoking punk who said to tell him he’s reprogrammed reality. Wednesday tells him that kid doesn’t have a clue. Of course, neither does Shadow. Wednesday doesn’t give him one, but he does get a raise.

Shadow goes into his room and sleeps. He wakes, and there’s Laura. His dead wife stands by the bed. She tells him he was just having a bad dream.

Emily Browning as Laura Moon (Official image 6f4736ef-88db-4336-8500-e24e481c0e96.jpeg via Starz)


Shadow really wakes up to the harsh light of day and reality. It’s time to go home. Visiting the home he and Laura shared, he sifts through a box of her things collected from the scene of her death and finds her phone. Of course, Shadow looks for texts from Robbie. You know, Audrey’s husband. The one Laura died with. With his Johnson in her mouth. One scroll up, and there it is: a d*** pic from Robbie. Shadow looks around and sees that Laura actually had it printed and framed.

You can’t go home again. Not after that.

Getting the house ready for sale, Shadow scrubs everything down with bleach. But probably not enough to wipe that picture from his mind. However, there’s no time to contemplate or grieve, because Wednesday is waiting outside with his big black Caddy. It’s time for a road trip.

No highways

Wednesday explains that he and Shadow are going to meet with some people who are experts in their pre-eminent fields and ultimately rendezvous at one of the most important places in the country. Their first stop will be Chicago. But Wednesday doesn’t want to take the highway. Says if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. He waxes rhapsodic about scenic byways and serendipitous discoveries. You should roll your eyes at him now, because that is not the reason. He’s avoiding something.

Before they visit anyone, they need supplies. Wednesday gives Shadow $1000 and a really odd, yet extensive, list to go shopping at a big box store.

Big box

Shadow fills his cart, wandering up and down the aisles, and finds himself in a canyon of flat screen TVs. One of the screens shows I Love Lucy, played by Gillian Anderson. She speaks to Shadow in a breathy, brassy voice.

"The screen’s the altar. I’m the one they sacrifice to. Then ’til now. Golden Age to Golden Age. They sit side by side, ignore each other, and give it up to me. Now they hold a smaller screen in their lap or the palm of their hand so they don’t get bored watching the big one. Time and attention: better than lamb’s blood. … I hate that they were hurting you Shadow. I would never do that to you, honey. No. I wanna offer you a job, working for me. I want you in my camp with us.Look at it like this, Shadow. We’re the coming thing. We are already here.We are now, and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. And he ain’t even yesterday anymore. I heard about the trouble you had with the technical boy… They all underestimate you. Not a mistake I’ll make. Whatever the old guys are giving you, I can give you so much more. You name it, honey. What do you need. Hey. You ever wanted to see Lucy’s t*ts?"

Disgusted, Shadow walks away. He meets Wednesday back at a diner and tells him he thinks he’s going crazy. I Love Lucy talked to him. Shadow demands explanations and wants to know if Wednesday is messing with him. But the old man is cagey, as usual. “There are bigger sacrifices one might be asked to make than going a little mad,” is all he has to say about that.


Back with Bilquis, she’s on a binge. She’s devouring men and women like she’s getting read to hibernate for winter, or getting ready for a marathon. She swallows them one after another, gathering sustenance. It wasn’t always like this.

American Gods Season 1 2017 Yetide Badaki as Bilquis (Official image b711976f-3781-4025-982b-9d43eee95776.jpeg via Starz)

Between meals, remembering, Bilquis visits an exhibit called Artifacts of the Aksumite Empire. There’s a statue of a faceless fertility goddess, an old image of herself, a reflection of aspects past. She remembers what it was like to be worshiped. 


In Chicago, Wednesday and Shadow pay a visit to an old woman and her family. Her name is  Zorya Vechernyaya and she doesn’t stop talking. Her sister Zorya Utrennyaya never says a word aloud. Their other sister sleeps in the next room. The last of this Chicago family is Czernobog, who just got home from slaughtering a cow, still wearing his bloody shirt. He greets Wednesday by throwing a lamp at his head.

Peter Stormare as Czernobog (Official image 4abedd33-b097-469a-8330-d92a7963e02a via Starz)

While preparing dinner, Zorya Vechernyaya and Zorya Utrennyaya tell Shadow’s fortune in his coffee grounds. He’s not going to die of cancer like his mom. That’s good, right?

Wednesday explains to Czernobog that he needs his help. Czernobog needs to go somewhere because the others (others?) respect him. He can show them how to be strong. It will be glorious. This is all very vague, but Czernobog does not seem confused. The old man wants no part of it, but insists they stay for dinner since the sisters cooked. It would be an insult otherwise.

At the dinner table, Czernobog notes that Shadow is black. He explains that in the old country, everyone was the same, so they had to fight over shades. Back then, they all thought his brother was the good one, so he had to be the bad one. But now they’re old and gray and no one can tell which is light and dark. If none of this makes sense to Shadow, he doesn’t show it.

The secret of spoons forgotten

After dinner, Czernobog challenges Shadow to a game of checkers and they play. Czernobog takes a break to show Shadow his hammer. It’s rusty from disuse, but, gesturing to its head, he tells Shadow that 10,000 deaths were made right here. As he speaks, the hammer runs red with blood.

Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon) and Peter Stormare (Czernobog) (Official image e54fc761-54bb-44e8-ac31-8c946c6444d0.jpeg via Starz)

Sitting down again, Czernobog decides they should bet on the game. If Shadow wins, Czernobog will go with them and help Wednesday. But if Czernobog wins, he gets to kill Shadow with his hammer. For some reason, Shadow says yes. It’s not exactly loyalty for his employer. “If all of this is real, if there’s a world under a world … y’know, f*** it. It’s good.” I guess it’s a leap of faith.

As they continue to play a very extended and tense game of checkers, Czernobog sings in a minor key:

"My love made the sweetest coffee with no sugar at allShe only stirred with her spoon and it was doneNow my drink is bitter, the secret of spoons forgottenWhen my voice breaks on this song, remember all love goneAnd drink the bitter coffeeAnd drink the bitter coffee"

The game is over. Czernobog wins. “So at sunrise, I get to knock your brains out. You go down on your knees willingly. It’s a shame. You’re my only black friend.” Too bad for Shadow and so much for Wednesday’s plan.

Related Story: American Gods episode 1 explained: Who is Bilquis?

Can that be it for Shadow Moon? Will our protagonist get his head smashed in with a hammer at the start of episode 3? Check back with Culturess next week to find out.