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.
Below you’ll find a written recap of the season 2 episode of American Gods (Episode 2.6 “Donar The Great”), followed by some salient points and imagery, questions, and notes on the thematic *big picture.*
The Regius Theatre is Donar’s Old stomping Ground.
We start literally backstage at a surprisingly integrated 1930’s burlesque show. Wednesday sings on stage. After the performance, Brownshirt Nazis arrive calling themselves The Friends of New Germany. Mr. Nancy is the stage manager behind the curtain. Donar and Columbia plot to leave Wednesday for the West Coast. In the front of the house, Technical Boy is revealed to be a high roller, and Wednesday sees to it that he’s comfortable with booze, smokes, and companionship. Technical Boy declines and Wednesday gives him a phone so he can take a call.
Wednesday realizes that these American Nazis don’t even know what their symbolism stands for… and yet they worship Thor/Donar.
Donar’s act comes on. He’s a strongman who performs feats of strength with acrobatic ladies. One of the Friends of New Germany gets Wednesday to introduce him to Donar where he sells Donar on entering a weightlifting tournament. Columbia recognizes them as Nazis, while Wednesday sees them as sheep ready to worship their pantheon again. The tournament turns out to be a scam. Donar makes it to the finals only to have the American Nazis ask him to throw the win to the German contender. Donar quits the tournament rather than fake a fall, and then commits to leaving with Columbia for California. Before they could leave, Wednesday and Technical Boy isolate Columbia and sell her on the idea of becoming the symbol of the U.S. War Effort. She accepts and becomes Rosie the Riveter. Donar and Wednesday battle and Donar breaks Wednesday’s spear. Donar leaves alone, and, during the war, commits suicide.
Back in the now, Mr. World plots. He’s tells the keeper of Black Briar that he’s responsible for random attacks. World summons New Media, telling her to amp up her power by deepening her worshiper’s devotion. She agrees.
The mall may be full of money-losing stores, but Wednesday and Shadow will find a way.
Shadow and Wednesday head to a Midwestern mall built atop a dwarven center of power to meet Dvalin and his team to fix the runes on his spear. The dwarves send Shadow and Wednesday on a side quest to the other side of the mall to shoplift a studded leather jacket once worn by Lou Reed. Shadow and Wednesday con the shopkeeper out of the jacket and give it to the dwarves, and the runes on Odin’s spear are restored.
The alarms at Black Briar, the lair of the new Gods, go off once this takes place. Mr. World is not frightened though. He seems as if everything is going according to plan.
Wednesday’s con-man acting skills are put to good use on stage
Title: Donar The Great
The chosen name of Thor Odinsson.
Episode is centered on him.
In the novel Thor Meets Captain America: Just as World War II began to turn against them, the Nazis were suddenly championed by the Norse pantheon. – Wikipedia
Wednesday calls himself “Al Grimnir” and is the owner of the Regius Club (regius meaning king).
Wednesday compares the mall to Gomorra.
Last week the dead factory. This week is the dead mall. More reflections of the change in America from when the book was written to when the show was produced.
Wednesday tells the young woman — or goddess? — to take care of someone in the theater.
To Be — Or Not to Be?
Donar says: “They are only men. They’re nothing to be afraid of.” Yet we know that a God’s strength comes from Men, and Donar worries that there aren’t enough worshipers in CA.
Columbia & American Doctrine
Columbia says Donar doesn’t need to worry about worshippers in California because he’ll be riding with “manifest destiny.” “I am the West,” she says.
Columbia performs a western number about freedom and liberty (“Don’t Fence Me In”), a contrast to what the Friends of New Germany are proposing for Donar.
Reflections on a Prodigal Son
Shadow and Wednesday in the mirrors, surrounded by manikins as Wednesday tells the story of his son.
Wednesday to Shadow: “Sometimes you remind me of my son.”
Rock & Roll as Religion
“Great rock & roll, like faith, cannot be shaken.” – Wednesday
Wednesday’s arm candy looks like young ladies, but those ladies are goddesses.
What are the characteristics that Thor and Shadow share?
Who is the sad girl we see in repeated shots in the dead mall? Is there any importance to her?
The Big Picture
A man kisses his runically restored spear.
Dead Means Dead
“There are certain deaths our kind cannot come back from.” We learn here that suicide is one of the deaths (besides lack of worshippers), that gods cannot come back from.
Donar played by Derek Theler – another name for Thor, Odinson.
Columbia played Laura Bell Bundy – The Symbol of America.
Dvalin played by Jeremy Raymond.
Isamba – African Goddess of the Moon.
Overall, this was a more engaging episode than 204 & 205, yet it is still unclear where this season is heading overall, other than a continuous gearing up for war.
This season-padding fetch quest is pretty tedious.
Wednesday Calls Nazis
“Sheep in search of a shepherd. Like he is a god in search of worshipers”
Technically, Technical Boy is a high roller.
Respect Your Elders
Wednesday to Technical Boy: “We are the ancient ones. You know, the ones that paved the way so you kids could do your thing.”
Wednesday, as “ancient one,” was once an ally to Technical Boy, who represented the new gods. This must have been before a rift between old gods and new (possibly instigated by the presence of Mr. World?).
Why does he tell these stories?
He is the god of storytelling.
“My homeland still exists,” he says. “But not for me.”
Nothing is straightforward when it comes to plot points in this series.