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Recap / American Gods S 1 E 2 "The Secret of Spoons"

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Season 1, Episode 2

The Secret of Spoons

"You already dead, asshole. At least die a sacrifice for something worthwhile."
— Mr. Nancy

After a narrow escape from the goons of the Technical Boy, Shadow deals with the remains of Laura's life, and finds confirmation of her infidelity. Shadow and Wednesday head to Chicago to meet with Czernobog, to convince him to join with Wednesday's campaign. When Czernobog refuses, Shadow comes up with another way to secure his support: a bet over a game of checkers.

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Tropes That Appear In This Episode:

  • Adaptation Personality Change: Bookverse Mr. Nancy was invariably fun-loving and laid back. Mr. Nancy's first scene in the series has him spitting a furious speech about what America has in store for African slaves and their descendants, inciting a 17th century ship full of slaves to break their chains, slit the throats of their enslavers, and burn the boat down.
  • Anachronism Stew: Anansi appears aboard a 17th century slave ship wearing a Zoot suit. Given that he somehow knows the future, presumably he foresaw the clothing style and decided he liked it.
    • In the book it is mentioned that all the 'Coming to America' stories are just that: stories. They generally happened as described, but details are embellished as part of the telling. So presumably Anansi was not dressed in such a modern style.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ananasi tells the kidnapped Africans that they're "staring down the barrel of 300 years of subjugation, racist bullshit and heart disease."
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  • Black Comedy: Right after Anansi tells a chained African that his mother was thrown off the boat for refusing to sleep with a slaveholder and (obviously) drowned, he turns to the other slaves: "You all need to work on that. Take swimming lessons! This is how we get stereotypes."
  • Blatant Lies: Zorya Vechernyaya reads Shadow's future and rather unconvincingly claims he'll live a long life and have many children. Shadow is understandably unconvinced.
  • Blood Lust: Czernobog is so enamored with the shedding of blood that he discerns between different types of meat and blood, such as the blood spilled by cows that are slaughtered early in the morning.
  • Chess with Death: When Shadow plays a game with Czernobog, Czernobog offers a wager: If Shadow wins, Czernobog will help Wednesday with his plans. If Czernobog wins, Czernobog gets to take his big hammer and knock Shadow's brains out the next morning. Shadow accepts, giving the game this quality.
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  • Damned by Faint Praise: Zorya Vechernyaya's true description of Shadow's future comes down to "you don't die of cancer".
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bilquis - The first episode revealed the depraved part, this episode reveals that she'll happily consume both men and women.
  • Dirty Old Man: When Shadow reunites with Wednesday, he finds a teenage girl in the old man's bedroom.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The jinn briefly meets up with Mr. Wednesday before appearing proper in the following episode.
  • I Die Free: Anansi convinces slaves being shipped to America to burn down the slave ship and kill all the slavers, because it's better to die fighting for freedom than to live as a slave.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Deconstructed. Anansi, known as a great storyteller in his myths, tells the man who prayed to him he'll help him by telling him a story. It's exactly one sentence, and the implications are not good.
    Mr. Nancy: You want help? Fine. Let me tell you a story: "Once upon a time, a man got fucked." Now, how is that for a story? 'Cause that's the story of black people in America!
  • Jerk Ass Gods: Anansi tells the slaves on the ship that even hundreds of years from then, the only possible future for a black man in America is to suffer and die and the only thing to do to make their life worth anything is to kill the slavers and themselves as sacrifices to Anansi. He turns down the suggestion that they could kill the slavers and steal the boat, rather than setting it on fire and dying.
  • Non-Human Head: During his speech, Anansi briefly appears with the head of a spider.
  • Reading Tea Leaves: Zoryas Vechernyaya and Utrennyaya use Turkish coffee to read Shadow and Mr. Wednesday's fortunes when she agrees to let them into their house. Shadow's fortune is implied to be so horrible that even she can't properly lie about it. Verchernyaya fortells Wednesday's grand plan is doomed to fail.
  • The Television Talks Back: Media comes to Shadow with her offer of employment by taking over a bunch of TVs on sale at the store.
  • Undead Author: Since all the slaves in the Coming to America segment die, there's no way Thoth could have learned their story... unless he got it from Anansi personally.
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