Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 5:21 pm
On April 30th, when STARZ aired the American Gods premiere, they opened not with leading stars Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane). Rather, the pilot episode began with a period tale about Norsemen, adventuring abroad from Iceland, to the Western Hemisphere. It was about their utter failure at establishing themselves on these “New World” shores.
What I’m getting at is that American Gods is as much about fantastical super-powered beings as it is about the mechanism by which they arrived here: migration, voluntary or otherwise. Tuesday, STARZ released a clip of Sunday’s new episode, “The Secret of Spoons,” in which showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green use their platform to take a true-to-life look at the migration stories of America, warts and all.
Below we see the West African trickster god, Anansi (Orlando Jones), in both spider and human form, talking to enslaved Africans in the hold of a 17th century ship as they make the trans-Atlantic voyage to their new world: one bereft of freedom.
Mr. Nancy, the Americanized version of Anansi, not only uses explicit language to tell these people the suffering that they and their children are about to endure, he also posits the origin of certain recurring stereotypes in America, like how black people can’t swim, and how, perhaps, it’s OK to be an “angry black man.” He also speaks openly in foresight of how, even after freedom is secured for their descendants, justice will never be theirs.
While both original author Neil Gaiman and showrunner Fuller are on record saying that American Gods is not at all designed to be a so-called political message show, it’s worth noting that this clip was released on Tuesday, May 2nd, when we can at least, bittersweetly, say that even gods like Anansi can be just a little wrong sometimes.