The Dominant Paradigm is a weekly podcast where Geeks of Doom Podcast hosts Dwayne D, Andrew Sorcini, and Tosin Onafowokan discuss STARZ’s TV series American Gods, the works that inspired it, and the larger questions about the lenses in which we see our world, AKA, the paradigms.
In this episode of The Dominant Paradigm, Dwayne, Andrew, and Tosin break down American Gods Episode 3, “Head Full of Snow.” Beyond the recap, the three discuss the salient imagery precipitation, the thing about grandmothers, and the overall impressions about the episode; as well as changes from the 2001 novel.
Finally, you’ll find Ephemera – links to content that is either related to American Gods or that gives insight to the show.
We’re greeted with the cityscape of New York, we’re in Queens, and we see an older woman (Jacqueline Antaramian) standing on a rickety footstool to gain access to a jar of pickled fruit for a family gathering that evening. A knock on her door reveals Mr. Jacquel (Chris Obi). He lets her know that in fact she is dead, having fallen from the stool. Her body is on the floor. She goes with him to the dunes of Egypt, where he gives her access to five doors. Her cat pushes her into one.
We return to Shadow (Ricky Whittle) in Chicago. He wakes up at night and find his way onto the roof through an open window where he meets Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar), the midnight sister. She explains that each sister has a shift watching the sky to make sure a celestial demon doesn’t destroy the world.
Zorya Polunochnaya reads Shadow, and he admits that the world’s not what he thought it would be. She promises to help him if he kisses her. She steals the kiss and gives him a coin, which represents the moon, that he is not to give away.
Shadow wakes up and visits Czernobog’s (Peter Stormare) room where he convinces him to play another game of checkers. He wins and Czernobog agrees to join him in Wednesday (Ian McShane).
Meanwhile, Wednesday flirts with Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman) and she reads him his fortune, which is dismal. Wednesday brushes it off and leads her for a walk outside, where it storms.
Wednesday and Shadow rob a bank. Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) reappears and is haunted with bad luck. That coin he gave shadow seems to have some magic.
We meet the Jinn (Mousa Kraish), an Ifrit, who changes places with an Salim (Omid Abtahi), an Omani salesman. Shadow goes to his hotel room and find’s Laura (Emily Browning) waiting for him.
Salient Imagery: Grandmother’s beliefs, the storms, and…pickles.
Dunes and Grandmothers
Mrs. Fadil and the Omani salesman both see Dunes when they are with their respective supernatural people. The visuals are stunning and remind you how far those places are from the America that the show seems to want to portray.
The Precipitation Theme
Last week we had blood, the week before it was lynching, and this week it was precipitation. Rain and snow, and clouds, followed by an incredible sunrise in the morning. Particularly notable was the visual of Wednesday’s storm in the night sky as it obscured Polunochnaya’s view of the demon bear she’s meant to guard.
Both Shadow and Mrs. Fadil are exposed to revelations on rooftops during head full of snow.
Questions: Mrs. Fadil falls when she goes to get the jar of pickled yumminess…
How does the jar get to the sink, unbroken?
How does it get opened, so that they can taste it?
You can hear her sort of cry out and yell just as you would imagine the stool would fall.
Supernatural characters introduced in ‘Head Full of Snow’
Zorya Polunochnaya, the Midnight Star
Demon watcher, saying “Odin’s wing and the great bear. It is a thing. It’s not a god, but like a god. It is a bad thing chained up in the stars.”
She is a virgin and thus has power.
She can infiltrate Shadow’s dreams or lead him to sleep involuntarily. The entire encounter feels like yet another dream
She is awake through the night, which explains why she was asleep throughout the day. In American Gods, she would likely wake up as Zorya Vechernyaya went to bed, in order to watch over the night. In the morning she would wake Zorya Utrennyaya, Goddess of the Morning, so that she could go to bed while the Morning Star would take up watch.
While she plays a small, but prominent role in the book, it’s important to note that Zorya Polunochnaya is an invention of Neil Gaiman specifically for American Gods.
Anubis aka Mr. Jaquel
According to the Wikipedia, Anubis is the name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head.
Changes between “American Gods” the book and the STARZ TV show (by no means exhaustive)
The Somewhere in America with Mrs. Fadil is completely an invention of the show.
Zorya Polouchnaya seemed younger in the show and now has virgin powers?
Mad Sweeney’s Exhumation of the grave
Ephemera: Stuff to read or watch related to this episode, “Head Full of Snow”