Synopsis of 1×06: One reluctant trio teams up for a road trip, while another reluctant trio experiences a double-crossing. It’s the calm before the storm this week on American Gods.
But first, Shadow wants answers about the police station that Mr. Wednesday can’t give him. He admits that he saw Laura in his room, but when they get back to the hotel to pick up their car Mr. Wednesday purposefully keeps the two of them apart and Shadow questioning his experience.
After realizing her own car is missing from the motel parking lot – having been towed when she was pronounced dead on the scene – Laura teams up with Mad Sweeney to steal a new car. He wants her to give up the coin, so he plans to help her become resurrected permanently. But in the midst of their hotwiring a taxi, it turns out that it belongs to Salim on his search for the Jinn and they all decide to head for Kentucky together.
Mr. Wednesday and Shadow have to make a pitstop in order to remove something crawling around in his wound from the tree sticking him last episode. It’s a brief, but painful, moment where Mr. Wednesday explains a bit more about the gods, though whether Shadow is paying any attention or comprehending remains to be seen.
In the car, Salim is speaking about his experiences in New York City, Laura is daydreaming, and Mad Sweeney is complaining. It’s either the best or the worst road trip ever as Laura and Salim bond over getting new lives from the gods. When Mad Sweeney settles in to sleep in the shit-stained backseat, Laura encourages Salim to drive in a different direction.
It’s not in search of Shadow, as he and Mr. Wednesday are headed to Virginia to meet up with an old friend. But before they get there, there’s a montage for Richard, the ‘World’s Greatest Boss’ as he inspects a manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, due to some faulty handrailing, he falls into the liquid metal vat and is quickly made into bullets for the Vulcan plant.
As they drive into town, Shadow notices all of the townspeople are armed and wearing red armbands – they’re also all primarily older and white. Vulcan himself is leading a funeral procession for the dead man as Mr. Wednesday explains the sacrifices happen every so often and that it’s cheaper to settle than to bring up safety standards at the plant. God of the Fire and the Forge, Mr. Wednesday seeks to recruit Vulcan to their side of the war.
When he wakes up from napping in the backseat, Mad Sweeney realizes they’re back at Jack’s Crocodile bar. He works to convince Laura that Shadow has moved on with a new life and new goals, indicating that Salim has also gotten himself a new life, but she’s insistent that Shadow made her heart beat.
Vulcan’s home reminds me of the town in Hot Fuzz, as neighbors pass by in friendly greeting – there’s even unsettling undertones as Shadow looks at an old lynching tree in the front yard. He wants to leave quickly, but Mr. Wednesday needs something first. He pours Mr. Wednesday a drink and denies one to Shadow, asking him about lynchings and explaining that he’s franchised his faith.
The bullets that the plant manufactures carry his name and the guns are like tiny volcanoes accessible to everyone. This is how he survives, how he gets his believers. Vulcan easily accepts Mr. Wednesday’s plea and agrees to make him a blade worthy of a god. When Shadow asks if he trusts Vulcan, he doesn’t give a straight answer and Shadow continues to be suspicious of him – especially since he seemed to know Shadow had been lynched without anyone telling him.
Mr. Wednesday tries to calm his mind because he’s distracted by Laura’s reappearance in his life. He closes his eyes and sees her whereabouts as Mr. Wednesday encourages him to let her fade away. When she’s finished looking, she climbs back into the taxi with Salim and Mad Sweeney and directs them to drive away.
As Vulcan forges a beautiful broadsword, he laments that he didn’t make Mr. Wednesday a gun, which is more powerful and deadly than any sword ever made. When he seems to be stalling, Vulcan is confronted and admits that he’s told the new gods where to find Mr. Wednesday. He has a powerful monologue justifying his actions, including the uncomfortable line, “Every bullet fired in a crowded movie theatre is a prayer in my name.”
At the end of his posturing, Mr. Wednesday informs him of the narrative that everyone will remember: he forged a blade for Mr. Wednesday and the new gods killed him for it as his head is lopped off with that very blade and he’s shoved into his own vat of metal to be made into bullets. But that’s not enough, as he passes the blade off to Wednesday – who is appropriately freaking out – to hold, Mr. Wednesday lays down a curse on the Vulcan plant.