selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which we get a second road trip storyline and some acerbic comments the rl US status quo.

From the book: Wednesday naming two or three of the charms he knows, and Mad Sweeney getting two lines or so of the narrative description of how the Laura/Shadow kiss tasted, transfered into a speculative taunt on his part. And that's it. The rest is all original to the tv show, and yet very much in the spirit of the novel.

First of all, I love that Laura, Mad Sweeney and Salim (!!!) get a road trip storyline of their own. In the novel, we get glimpses of what Laura does when she's not bailing Shadow out of trouble, but no more than that, and Mad Sweeney at this point of the story has already left the tale in a, err, final fashion. Salim is not seen again after his "Somewhere in America" story. Letting Laura and Mad Sweeney reluctantly team up and run into Salim who is trying to find the Djinn again was an inspired idea, and the developing dynamic is hilarious and at times touching. Not to mention that sympathetic Arab Muslim characters whose story isn't about terrorism in any way are currently a rarity on tv and the big screen alike. This subplot also allows for more exploration of Laura; granted, due to her physical state and the threat of decline her options are limited, but still, Salim and Mad Sweeney have a point about her having the chance for a second life, which could be wherever she wants it to be.

(The downside of this subplot is that I've started to care about Mad Sweeney, not least because he and Laura play each other off so hilariously. If he meets his doom the way he does in the novel, it will hurt.)

Secondly, in the main plot: the dig at the US worship of guns, and Vulcan (who doesn't show up in the novel) having used this to rebrand himself and thus get worshipped again (which appears not to have been his original idea but that of Mr. World) was so very timely. I would call the appearance of Vulcan't town with all the gun bearing worshippers and their insignia over the top satire, but not anymore. Not anymore.

Dig at the US second amendment cult aside, the gist of this week's episode to me was to make a point to the audience of just how dangerous Wednesday is, who so far we've seen do only harmless con man things, though the very first scene of the tv show, about how Odin came to America, should be a warning that he's anything but harmless. Meanwhile, Vulcan is not the brightest. Hephaistos, if it occurs to you Wednesday would benefit from a blood sacrifice, you can bet it's occured to him ages ago, and that doubly applies to the idea of selling him out. I also love the way it happens, that Wednesday gets Vulcan to make him a sword first and then uses it against him, because that is so very Odin.

(Though Vulcan has a point: where on earth is Wednesday going to hide that thing?)

Wednesday's "I know a charm..." monologue from the novel is in the book an eerie moment and one of those where it feels like Neil Gaiman is either quoting or very well imitating actula Norse poetry. Here in the show, in a neat illustration of the difference of medium, he goesn't get further than charm #2 or #3 before it turns out the forgotten god from last week has left a nasty reminder of himself in Shadow and thus a healing charm is urgently required. And that results in a very physical scene that feels beautiful, creepy and bizarrely intimate at the same time. (BTW, I wonder, if I didn't know about the Wednesday-Shadow relationship from the novel, would it have come across as sexual to me? Especially given Wednesday in the show is far more overt in pushing Shadow to move on from Laura than he's in the book? As it is, it didn't, because I can't unknow certain things. But it certainly was a powerful scene.)

Continuity question: I'm curious whether we'll get an explanation/exploration re: Shadow keeping quiet about the truth re: Vulcan's death, because he must in order for the main plot to proceed, and yet it fells un-Shadow like to back Wednesday up on this particular lie once they reach Wisconsin.

"I put a spell on you" as a song choice for this episode: loved it.
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