American Gods Ep. 105 Recap and Review – ‘Lemon Scented You’
“Lemon Scented You,” is a major turning point in Starz’s American Gods, and I’m not just talking about the part where Laura and Shadow finally meet. Warning: Major spoilers are ahead. You’re going to want to watch this episode before venturing any farther into this recap and review.
First we have a brand new “Coming to America” vignette about a forgotten god, Nunyunnini, who was brought over by the First Peoples as they crossed over the land bridge connecting Siberia to North America. This had quite a unique look as it was done entirely in CG animation, but it also had a distinct stop motion aesthetic. Executive Producers Michael Green and Bryan Fuller state that, while they wanted to tell a story set in the Ice Ages, it was impossible tot shoot live-action. Then Fuller suggested that they animated Nunyunnini’s story. The EPs entrusted the idea to the episode’s director, Vincenzo Natali, who has a background in animation. He did not disappoint.
Nunyunnini was a mammoth god who cared for the well-being of Atsula’s tribe. Atsula often looked to Nunyunnini for help or guidance. In the search for “the land of plenty,” the god told her that sacrifices would have to be made to find it. Her tribe lost many dear casualties on the trek to this new land, but when they got there, it was just a forest of bones. Atsula realized that a true sacrifice had yet to be made: hers. Atsula and her tribe came across another tribe with their own god, a giant buffalo. Atsula sacrificed herself to the buffalo god and her people was absorbed into the flourishing buffalo god’s tribe. As a result, however, Nunyunnini was totally forgotten. You can take a look at the full story in the video below.
Hardly anything about the complicated world within American Gods, TV show or book, is explained outright. Instead the stories within the story give concrete hints leading up to an ultimate/overall idea, or in this case, motive. Motive to what is driving the Old Gods and the New Gods right now. More on this later.
After the vignette, we finally get into the big conversation between walking dead Laura Moon and Shadow. Shadow wants to talk about her infidelities with Robbie, but this is a conversation Laura has already had with Audrey. In other words, she’s likely already bored with having to repeat herself even though it’s with a person in most need of an explanation. She’d rather talk about the miracle of her no longer being six feet under. Shadow already knows the answer to that; he at least has a pretty good idea.
What’s interesting (and almost comical) is that Laura is trying to seduce Shadow. First it’s by wearing a flirty dress, and then by dipping herself in hot water so she can feel warm to the touch in case Shadow suddenly felt like touching (or kissing) her. When they do kiss, Laura can suddenly taste and her heart beat once. This is our second significant hint — third if you count Wednesday taking a not-so-random interest in him — that there is something more to Shadow that either of them realize.
Laura then asks if Shadow was still her puppy. At first Shadow slightly smiles as if to say yes, but the trust is broken forever and their individual situations are way more complicated than before. So, he says “No.”
Mr. Wednesday hears of Laura’s arrival from a raven and aims to distract Shadow away from her by taking him out to drink and answering a few burning questions. But then the cops show up to arrest them for the bank robbery….
According to the detective, who knowingly risks breaking the law by not getting Shadow a lawyer when he asks for it, they were tipped off by their identities and their exact whereabouts from a fax machine no one knew was still working. Shadow and Wednesday’s pictures were taken at the bank by the very military satellite that found Osama Bin Laden. The detective recognizes that these are very extraordinary circumstances, and she simply wants to know what the hell is going on.
The detective sort of gets her answer, but in the most gruesome and horrific way possible. The New Gods overtake the precinct and corner Shadow and Wednesday in the interrogation room in which they were locked. Media as Marilyn Monroe floats into the room and introduces the one and only Mr. World (Crispin Glover).
Up until this moment, American Gods has taken a few small liberties with the story, reinterpreting certain aspects to match the times in which we live while continuing to stay loyal to the subject matter. “Lemon Scented You” is where the narrative jumps way up, allowing us to meet Mr. World way earlier than anticipated.
Glover has a grand oddness to him. When Michael Green and Bryan Fuller first met him to talk about the role, he entered (or rather “floated”) into the room wearing a velvet suit and derby hat. They tried to incorporate their unconventional meeting into the introduction of Mr. World. The result is utterly fascinating. The camera is steadied in front of Glover’s face while the background moves behind him. These close-up shots of Glover walking in and out of them room are the most disorienting and shows to great effect how the world around him bends to his will.
Mr. World, Media, and Technical Boy come to Wednesday with a proposition: a way to rebrand Wednesday’s image. In Wednesday’s case, it’s a a big-ass missile with his real name on it. I’ll not say it here in case you decided not to heed my spoiler warning, but this is a big reveal of who Wednesday really is. The revelation, however, is overshadowed by the bright colors and showmanship of Media’s presentation, which brings forward a major concern. The New Gods’ way of making Wednesday relevant again in today’s world is to literally turn him into a household name, or rather into a well-known brand name destined to make a big
One would say that the New Gods have good intentions in mind, but there is a stark philosophical difference between both camps. As Wednesday points out, the New Gods thrive on people’s attention. They do not give back or give their worshippers meaning as the Old Gods did (via miracles, blessings, and etc.). Furthermore, do you really think Wednesday wishes to put himself under someone else’s thumb? He remarks earlier in the episode that the other Old Gods fear and respect Czernobog much more than they fear and respect him, and he aims to fix that on his own terms.
So, Wednesday respectfully declines their offer.
As Mr. World and Media begin to leave to let Wednesday and Shadow reconsider their offer, Technical Boy scoffs at the both of them for letting Wednesday go. They have him now, he’s powerless to stop them as he is now, why not just kill him? Technical Boy, the little sh*t that he is, fails to perceive the level of respect Mr. World has for Wednesday and gets his teeth knocked out by Media.
After the New Gods leave, Wednesday rightly guesses they are not out of the woods yet, pun intended. They leave the interrogation room and find that all of the cops in the building have been brutally slaughtered. Then a tree suddenly spouts from the now dead detective and attacks Shadow. He and Wednesday barely escape.
Meanwhile, back at the motel, Laura is waiting for Shadow. Mad Sweeney barges in demanding she give him back his coin. The two clash physically, but Laura barely lifts a finger to subdue him. During their confrontation/conversation, we learn that Sweeney can’t really take the coin back for himself unless she willingly gives it to him. Of course, Laura has no intention of doing that.
The two fight again, during which Sweeney manages to pin Laura down underneath the tub water. Then the cops barge in and arrest Sweeney for “murdering” Laura.
Sweeney gets taken to the same precinct currently under attack by a tree monster, and Laura wakes up in a morgue where she accidentally kills a coroner who surprisingly had been passing the time looking at pictures of mini horses instead of porn.
I love that Starz’s American Gods is thrusting these two characters together. They’re both unapologetic assholes in their own right, but they are now our assholes. I enjoy seeing these two interact.
Overall, “Lemon Scented You” is a most excellent episode that propels the show’s agenda forward and reveals an aspect of the New Gods’ plan. The show smartly reveals Mr. World and his plans earlier than in the book. It sets the stage for new avenues in which the show could possibly take before the impending conflict between two opposing factions, showing where some people are likely to end up when the time comes.
If you take Nunyunnini’s story into consideration, it could be that Mr. World has already recruited forgotten gods to his side, giving them new meaning under his employ. In the book, characters such as Mr. Town, Mr. Wood and Mr. Road were once old forgotten gods now working for Mr. World as his “Spooks.” The most vital information that we’ve learned this week is that Mr. World is doing a bit of his own recruiting, which he has disguised as giving the Old Gods new ways in which they can be worshipped.
Nunyunnini may not actually be working for Mr. World, but his story is a clear indicator that gods can be forgotten and, as the story suggests, disappear completely. I can’t imagine that even gods would like to be blinked out of existence. Hence Mr. World’s rebranding effort.