Synopsis of 1×03: This episode is heavy on the introduction of gods, as well as checking up on Mr. Wednesday’s current recruits. It’s a step back from focusing on Shadow’s story and serves to enrich the world of American Gods further.
He seeks out Czernobog, questioning if it’s really possible to kill him with one swing after all these years. They make a second bet where, if Shadow wins, Czernobog has to go with them to Wisconsin before killing him, and if Czernobog wins, he can swing at Shadow twice. You can guess who wins the second game, as it’s a metaphor for the old gods doing the same thing they’ve always done and suffering for it.
In the morning, Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow that they’re going to rob a bank, which he reluctantly goes along with. Entering the bank, they ask for overnight deposit slips and Mr. Wednesday pockets a stack of them. He buys Shadow a hot chocolate and has him take note of a payphone number before telling him to think of snow. They get to a copy store, where Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow about the multiple Jesus’ going around, before he asks the employee to help him in making some business cards.
It’s a surprisingly well-engineered plan, occurring in the snow that Shadow may or may not have conjured with his mind.. Mr. Wednesday poses as a security guard and tapes off the deposit slot and ATM in front of the bank. He has people sign deposit forms and leave their drop-offs with him. When a police officer questions him, he gives his business card and the officer calls Shadow, waiting on the other side of the street at the payphone, who poses as his boss. Just like that, they’ve got the money they need and Shadow’s fears of going back to jail were unfounded.
Introduced as she stands precariously on a stool, an older woman is making food for her visiting family when she gets an unexpected visitor. Anubis has come to collect her, as she fell from the stool and died without realizing it. Because of how she remembered him from stories of old, he takes her to the scales to be weighed and measured in her death. When she hesitates to follow the potential ‘wrong god’ into the afterlife, her cat makes the decision for her. It’s a gorgeous scene with sprawling visuals, as they take the fire escape stairs up to sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
Checking in on Mad Sweeney, who is passed out in the bathroom of Jack’s Crocodile Bar, the waitress confronts him with a shotgun. When he informs her that it won’t be her lucky day if she tries to shoot him, she promptly shoots the bottle he’s drinking from and he moves along. It’s only when the well-meaning recovering alcoholic picks him up from the side of the road and they suffer a graphic, freak accident on the road that he realizes something might be amiss with his luck.
In another ‘Somewhere in America’ segment, Salim has a hard time making it as a trinket salesman in a major city. After another day of failure, he bonds with the cab driver who picks him up and who is going through some troubles of his own. When he falls asleep waiting in traffic, Salim wakes him to discover that he is an Ifrit with burning eyes.
He takes it surprisingly well and offers the Jinn some rest after he reveals he’s been driving the cab for over 30 hours. They have sex the only way American Gods knows how, full-frontal and with some psychedelic visuals thrown in. It’s less clear in the show than the book, but when Salim awakes alone, he finds the Jinn’s clothing and cab, which he takes over while the Jinn presumably took his trinkets (and his ticket home in the book). He gets into the cab and tells himself, “I do not grant wishes.”
Mad Sweeney catches up to Mr. Wednesday and Shadow, confronting them about the coin Shadow was given previously. It’s his lucky coin and he wants it back before he meets them in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Shadow doesn’t have it anymore as he tossed it onto his wife’s grave after her funeral. When he tells Sweeney this, he takes off to dig up Laura’s grave and get his coin back. But when he gets there and starts digging, he finds a coin-sized hole in the top of the coffin and its contents empty.
Shadow opens his hotel room door only to be greeted by his dead wife.