Even the dead have agendas to push, shows the latest time-traveling American Gods season 2 episode. Fair Warning!!! Spoilers ahead in our review.
The Ways Of The Dead is a tale of two dead girls. Both the girls all centered around a man who gets them into trouble. One of these dead girls is an anonymous white woman found dead at the turn of the 20th Century. She is the one who gets a man into trouble and then gets a man killed. The other woman cheated on her husband was killed. She came back driven by a mission to save and protect a man from danger. One of these women is, of course, Laura Moon. She features prominently in the episode as her trip to New Orleans with Mad Sweeney. It starts getting out of hand.
The other isn’t named, and her story doesn’t particularly matter in the grand scheme of things. But the story of the lynching of Will James (Warren Belle) takes up the bulk of the episode just the same.
Moreover, To be quite honest, I’m not sure what the point was. Typically, when we’ve seen these sorts of stories, it’s because someone brought their God to America. Then ended up dying in some sort of way, leaving the God behind. In this case, Will James is essentially something of a ghost. The one whose Shadow sees in the mirror and who “infects” Shadow with the memory of his tragic killing. The tragedies faced by black Americans throughout history. Will James is a real person who was lynched in Cairo. The lynching of white man Henry Salzner that night by the very same mob is unmentioned.
However, it’s a side story of a side story, in other words. Shadow acts weird, learns about lynching. It not having grown up in America, he’s got some distance from America’s history. Apparently needed education from Nancy and Ibis. It delivers a brief message to the camera in a dubbed or digitally altered voice. The reminding people of the medieval philosophy of “memento mori”. After delivering that message, he is apparently freed. Other than a few brief clashes between Ibis and Nancy—the relationship between the Gods seems to change at the drop of a hat. That sums up that whole plot.
At least Laura and Sweeney’s side trip to New Orleans has something to do with the characters. Ditto Wednesday and Salim’s trip to Alviss (Lee Arenberg) to attempt to get his spear. It reforged and its runes refreshed. Wednesday is preparing for war. Laura wants her life back. Sweeney needs his coin and has caught feelings for Laura.
What exactly is Shadow doing, aside from learning about the history of Cairo, Illinois? Why do Bilquis and Nancy care so much about the fate of Ruby Goodchild? That character must eventually have a point, but at this point, who could possibly be invested in her? All she’s done is being talked at by Gods and her minister. Or express her desire to leave Cairo behind.