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Recap / American Gods S 1 E 6 "A Murder of Gods"

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Season 1, Episode 6

A Murder of Gods

After escaping from the New Gods, Shadow and Wednesday seek refuge with Wednesday's old friend, Vulcan. As Wednesday presses Vulcan to join the cause of the Old Gods, Shadow gets a distinct feeling that people of color aren't exactly welcome in this town. Meanwhile, Sweeney decides that the best way to get his coin back from Laura is to make it so that she doesn't need it anymore, so he takes her on a road trip to meet his old friend, Jesus Christ, courtesy of Salim, who's looking for the Jinn that gave him his new not-Salim life.

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  • Affectionate Nickname: Vulcan calls Wednesday "Big Daddy," which could be considered a modern version of the title "All-Father."
  • Appease the Volcano God: Every couple of months an employee of Vulcan Munitions falls into a factory furnace - due to faulty railings - to his death, thus providing Vulcan with a constant supply of Human Sacrifice to thrive in peace.
  • Asshole Victim: After finding out how Vulcan gets his power, it is hard to feel sympathy for him when Wednesday kills him.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Mr. Wood is an ancient god of trees and forests that has aligned with the New Gods and sold out its domain, trees and forests.
    • Vulcan has also joined the side of the New Gods - though he was asked to pretend to be neutral - and rats Wednesday and Shadow's presence in Vulcan, Virginia.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Salim seems to be driving randomly around America looking for the Jinn and just happens to stop at the same motel where Shadow and Wednesday were staying and then Sweeney chooses his cab to steal. This is likely justified by the golden coin manipulating events in Laura's favour.
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  • Convection Schmonvection: Justified in the case of Wednesday and Vulcan being right next to a boiling vat of metal (and Wednesday urinating into said vat), as they are gods and feeling hot is an optional extra for them. Not so justified for Shadow, who should be feeling the burn... unless there's more to him than he seems. He did (possibly) make it snow and raised Laura, after all.
  • Cool Sword: Vulcan forges a badass looking greatsword for Wednesday.
  • *Click* Hello: Salim does this while Mad Sweeney is attempting to steal his cab.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Mexican Jesus, naturally. He even has bullet wounds through the palms of his hands and through his heart. A tumbleweed leaves thorns on his head for extra measure.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The red armbands and black clothing worn by the people of Vulcan - all of them Caucasian - sure looks a little fascist.
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  • Double-Meaning Title: The meaning of the title is dropped by Mad Sweeney as a gathering of gods, using the collective noun "a murder" that usually applies to ravens or crows. However, there is a more literal interpretation of the title, as the episode contains a scene in which one god murders another.
  • Drink Order: At the Crocodile Bar, Mad Sweeney orders Southern Comfort and Coke. Laura orders vodka, as close to rubbing alcohol as they stock, and Salim orders coffee.
  • Eagleland: Vulcan, Virginia, a Caucasian only town filled with American flags and that lives and breathes gun culture.
  • Egopolis: Not only is the town Vulcan runs named after him, but his factory is the centerpiece of the main street and his sigil is everywhere, including in armbands worn by the populace.
  • Excrement Statement: Wednesday urinates on Vulcan's furnace to lay down a curse on the new batches of bullets after killing him and dropping his corpse in the molten metal.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Mr. Wood had stabbed Shadow in the previous episode. We learn he infected him with a similar plant creature that grows within him until Wednesday removes it.
  • False Flag Operation: Upon killing Vulcan for his betrayal, Wednesday states that he's going to tell everyone that the New Gods did it for apparently siding with him, thus creating a martyr for the Old Gods.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Zig-zagged. The residents of Vulcan's town fire in the air at the funeral of the employee who fell into the molten vat. Wednesday then tells Shadow to take cover as the bullets are shown reaching the apex of their trajectory and falling back down, denting Wednesday's car amongst over things.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Wednesday telling Shadow the story of Mr. Wood, an Old God who changed his image with the times and joined the New Gods foreshadows the reveal that Vulcan has done the same.
    • Another one comes with Vulcan's talk about him "franchising" himself, exactly like Mr. World and the Media offered Wednesday in the previous episode.
    • When Wednesday tells Vulcan that people no longer make sacrifices to him, Vulcan points out that he could always make a sacrifice of himself.
  • Forging Scene: Vulcan personally forges an exquisite blade for Wednesday in his foundry.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The xenophobe group that attacks the immigrants use Vulcan's ammo.
  • Human Sacrifice:
    • We see one of the workers at Vulcan Munitions taking a dive into a forge full of molten metal, courtesy of a faulty safety railing. Wednesday tells Shadow this happens twice a year, and it doesn't take much to figure out they're sacrifices to Vulcan.
    • Every person killed by one of Vulcan's guns and bullets are also sacrifices to him.
    • Vulcan suggests that Wednesday needs blood sacrifices to get stronger, and Wednesday acts on this by murdering him and throwing him into his own forge.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Wednesday kills Vulcan with the sword he forged with him and then shoves his body in a vat of molten lead, just like the countless workers Vulcan has used as blood sacrifice.
  • Jerkass Gods: Vulcan thrives on the human sacrifice of his workers and the victims of his customers, mocks Shadow for nearly being lynched, and ultimately sells out his old friend Wednesday to the New Gods.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Deliberate in Vulcan's factory, so that regular workplace fatalities act as sacrifices to him. Even hand-waved by saying the insurance company finds the settlements to the relatives cheaper than paying to improve the factory. Like much of Vulcan's story, this is Based on a True Story in Alabama that Neil Gaiman found out about.
  • Off with His Head!: Wednesday decapitates Vulcan for selling out to the New Gods.
  • Putting on the Reich: The people of Vulcan, Virginia wear military-esque uniforms and red armbands with the Vulcan insignia.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic:
    • A bunch of them attack a group of illegal immigrants after crossing the Rio Grande.
    • The town of Vulcan, Virginia, seems to be a cross between Company Town and this.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The sequence of the Vulcan plant is scored with a rendition of "Come On Get Happy" by David Cassidy (most famously used as the theme to The Partridge Family). It follows a worker punching in, greeting co-workers, generally enjoying his day... and then he falls off a walkway and into a molten vat of lead to be incinerated.
  • Spotting the Thread: Shadow becomes suspicious of Vulcan because Vulcan seems to know about Shadow being lynched, something he would not have knowledge of unless he was told by the New Gods. It is implied that Wednesday figured out things were not right even earlier.
  • Stealth Insult: Vulcan brings up Shadow's hanging as an insult, which in turn is an insult to Wednesday. When Shadow points this out, Wednesday says that Vulcan has been subtly insulting him all night. The most obvious is the moment where Vulcan refused to open Wednesday's gift of Soma, opting for his own wine instead.
  • Stepford Smiler: The people of Vulcan, Virginia are all constantly cheerful, while producing weapons by the ton and carrying assault rifles in public. Vulcan's comments suggests they life in a Big Brother Is Watching You police state and feel safe as a result.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Vulcan forges a sword for Wednesday, while telling him that a blood sacrifice would help make him stronger, then admits that he's informed on him to the other side. No bonus for guessing what happens soon after.
  • Walk on Water: Mexican Jesus naturally does this on the Rio Grande, while helping a group of immigrants cross safely.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The xenophobe group that attacks the immigrants doesn't care there's a girl among their targets and open fire on them.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The xenophobe group shoot the women in the immigrant group.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Laura talks Salim into driving in the direction of Eagle Point while Sweeney's asleep. They end up in Eagle Point, and Laura ends up spying on her mother and her family - but they can't (or don't) see her looking through the window. Laura ends up deciding that she needs to break away, now that she's (un)dead.
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