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203: Muninn – The Dominant Paradigm: An American Gods Podcast
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DwayneD   |  @   |  
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American Gods - Train Wreck

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.

Along with the podcast, below you’ll find a written recap of the season 2 episode of American Gods (Episode 2.3 “Muninn”), followed by some salient points regarding Shadow’s upbringing and Mad Sweeney’s “horde.”

Podcast (play or download podcast here)

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The Recap

We open with a train wreck. A man is seen while a woman yells shadow. We realize that the car Wednesday left in the tracks at the end of episode 2 was fine, despite getting hit by a train. The train seems to have been destroyed by hitting the (magical) car. Laura was on the train. She lay in pieces, which Mad Sweeney places in Betty’s trunk. Shadow is under sand. Mr. Nancy was nowhere to be seen.

We see Shadow limping through the woods the next morning, hurt and bleeding, wavering in and out of consciousness. He meets a girl named Sam Black Crow with a Ford Bronco and hitches a ride to Cairo.

American Gods - Sam Black Crow gives Shadow a ride.

After Sam Black Crow catches Shadow trying to scam a gas station attendant, she gives him a ride.

A crow finds its way to Wednesday, who’s at Mr. Ibis’s mortuary in Cairo, fixing up Laura. Ibis tells Laura that she has a week before she’ll fall apart and is unfixable. The crow tells Wednesday that Shadow is alive.

Mad Sweeney has a hard time stealing transportation. He gets picked up by a tour bus of Christian Rockers on their way to New Orleans.

Salim and the Jinn head to the Porn Palace on a classic motorcycle and side car. They meet a man named Iktomi who will grant their request, but who expects a favor in return. They’re given sprouted plant 🌱 and a guitar case.

American Gods - Salim and the Jinn on a sidequest

Salim and the Jinn take a side-quest to retrieve something for Wednesday to aid in the war

Wednesday convinces Laura to come with him to find Shadow while Sweeney gets upset that Laura won’t come with him to New Orleans where she can be fixed. They head to Argus.

Mr. World quarrels with Technical Boy about Argus when the recently-missing Media reappears as New Media, goddess of global content. She says she needs bandwidth and seeks it from Argus. They uhhh…merge with the hopes of “synergistic marketing opportunities.”

Wednesday and Laura go to a data center where Argus makes his residence. They find Argus, literally tethered to technology and getting bitched out by Technical Boy. Wednesday entreats Laura to kill Argus, but she disagrees. Wednesday convinces Laura he’s the one that orchestrated her death and that killing Argus can help her live again.

American Gods - New Media emerges

New Media is “the goddess of global content.”

Laura walks in on New Media and Argus… merging. She kills Argus, and Technical Boy doesn’t resist because he’s disgusted with what’s going on. New Media is upset as Technical Boy takes her and escapes.

Wednesday states that Argus was a traitor to the Old Gods, working for the other side, and that though he’s dying, he’ll come back and that he should remember whose side to be on. Laura’s body regenerates. They part ways.

When Shadow gets to Cairo, it’s late and Mr. Wednesday is back from his little adventure with Argus and Laura. Shadow, having been kidnapped, tortured, and saved by his dead wife only to be thrown from a crashed train, demands answers of Mr. Wednesday. Mr. Wednesday refuses.

Salient Themes and Imagery:

Title: Muninn

Wednesday still has faith in Shadow making his journey without external help: “The quickest way for Shadow to get where he’s going is sometimes the longest.” He knows something the others don’t.

“Two ravens sit on his (Odin’s) shoulders and whisper all the news which they see and hear into his ear; they are called Huginn and Muninn. He sends them out in the morning to fly around the whole world, and by breakfast they are back again. Thus, he finds out many new things and this is why he is called ‘raven-god’”

Hugin comes from the word hugr, “thought.” Munin ( comes from the word munr, which is more difficult to translate, but can encompass the concepts of “thought,” “desire,” and “emotion.” (The two ravens’ names are often translated as “Thought” and “Memory” in popular works on Norse mythology, and “Thought” is quite accurate, but “Memory” is at best imprecise and rather arbitrary.) The two names therefore can’t be neatly distinguished from one another; they overlap to the point of being virtually synonymous. This reflects the fact that, in the sources, Hugin and Munin don’t have distinct personalities. They’re a duplicate form of the same underlying idea.”

Quote taken from Norse-Mythology.com

It’s worth noting that Wednesday’s crows are a poor-man’s Argus.

It’s also worth noting that Shadow meets SAM BLACK CROW during this episode, and that she all but delivers him to Wednesday.

Ibis talks to his cat about Zeus and Hera
No matter their story, they all fall victim to their list for worship. He tells of how Zeus seduced Io, and how his sister-wife Hera was angry, and turned Io into a cow. She then had Argus watch the cow. Zeus killed Argus and Hera had Argus reborn in the U.S. as the god of surveillance. Ibis believes that since Argus’s followers waned, his sight is less and less and that an alliance with the New Gods can keep him thriving.

Argus threw off his old body
This gives credit to the idea that he will return in a new form.

Getting to know Laura Moon
Laura is described as a revenant. We finally have a name for what Laura is. And no– she’s not a zombie.

Argus threw off his old body
This gives credit to the idea that he will return in a new form.

American Gods new character, Sam Black Crow

Sam Black Crow has an interesting name, considering the title of the episode

Meet Sam
The girl Shadow is with sees herself as male and female, or perhaps both. Visually represented as a sort of tomboy, Sam transcends a lot of the “central casting” stereotypes of queer people in fiction.

Media & Argus’s Merger

  • We’ve never seen Gods *merge* before.
  • Physically it’s like having sex, but Bilquis has sex and she remains unchanged.
  • The visual was reminiscent of Japanese animation’s infamous Hentai sex scenes. Many refer to this as “tentacle pornography.”
  • Why do synergistic marketing opportunities matter to New Media? Because advertisers worship content and sacrifice money to it. Because people worship content creators and sacrifice money and time to them.
American Gods - Laura burns books

During their search for Argus, Wednesday convinces Laura to sacrifice a few things.

Search & Sacrifice
Wednesday asks Laura her mission and then sacrifices the cow, Io, that is under Argus’s traditional protection. As it does, it turns into a woman— Io. They find a new dead version of Argus in a library, which is supposed to represent the Library at Alexandria. They burn it as a sacrifice.

Questions

  • From last week– was that the same train?
  • Answer: Yes.

  • What the hell kinda car is Betty?
  • What was the germinating seed?

The Big Picture

Argus
We spoke about Argus last week. What have we learned about him this week that helps us understand his role better?

  • He is worshiped as “The Deep State” or “Big Brother” by many Americans.
  • He is a personification of bandwidth.
  • Argus– an old god, had made a deal with the new gods, which motivated Wednesday to have him killed.
  • He’ll be back. He manages to return time and again. Wednesday hopes that he’ll choose the Old Gods’ side next time.
American Gods - Laura Kills Argus

Laura’s body regenerates after killing Argus

Laura

  • Laura’s regeneration shows that she’s not alive just for Shadow. So what’s she alive for?
  • Wednesday says that Shadow loved the girl who tried to kill herself with bugspray, not the one who’ll kill a god to keep her heart ticking, begging the question: Is Laura in fact the woman that Shadow fell in love with?

Search & Sacrifice

  • When looking for Argus, sacrifices were made. Who exactly is Wednesday sacrificing to?
  • Will there be repercussions for killing Io?

Bickering Bad Guys
The new gods are always quarreling and fighting with one another. While the old gods may disagree, it’s nowhere near the snapping and berating we see in the interactions we see between the new gods. This is an OLD trope, and it usually spells doom.

Sam Black Crow
Sam Black Crow lives between two worlds: her mother’s christianity and her father’s native heritage.
A reminder that America is a melting pot. Many of us live these dual lives.

What’s old is new again
At one point, Mr. World to Technical Boy: “Tradition! We build the new world on top of the ruins of the old.”

It’s clear that the new gods can’t live without the old gods. So how will they win?

Wednesday the puppet master
Wednesday freely admits that he organized Laura’s death. He called Laura a puppet, but he’s pulling the strings.

That’s a wrap! Join us next week for an intelligent, entertaining discussion of STARZ’s latest hit series.

The Motel America in American Gods

Podcast

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