The first season of STARZ's American Gods ended with a declaration of war from Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), who also revealed himself to be none other than the Norse god Odin, in astonishingly dramatic fashion, naturally. With a war between the Old Gods and the New Gods all but promised for the forthcoming seasons, it seemed like things were ramping up to a major showdown. But, in not so many words, we'd be waiting a little bit longer for that true conflict, as the Gods each took to beefing up their respective ranks, jockeying for position in this world-rending war. Here's a fast recap of Season 2 of American Gods, covering the things you should know heading into the forthcoming third season premiere on January 10. Warning, spoilers ahead.
American Gods' second season continues to expound on Wednesday's secret war of the gods, all while Shadow (Ricky Whittle) continues to struggle to understand his place in the war. Season 1 ended as Mr. Wednesday attacked Easter (Kristin Chenoweth) at a party, hoping that by denying the world the abundance of a fruitful spring might force them to turn to praying to the Old Gods, earning them more power in this world where belief is everything.
But, as io9's review of the season points out, this plan more or less falls to the wayside to make room for a different kind of narrative, one that harps on the double-edged power that Media (Gillian Anderson), or as they're known in this second season, New Media (Kahyun Kim), wields. Again, in American Gods' world, which is a reflection of the modern world, belief is everything to the controlling powers that be, and whoever can manipulate that belief the most effectively controls the world. With this in mind, Mr. World (Crispin Glover), controlling both New Media and a reborn, futuristic Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), makes moves to leverage their unique powers to capture the attention of the world at large.
This comes to a head in the second season's finale, which sees Mr. World carrying out his plan, with New Media working in tandem with Technical Boy to flood the airwaves with "fake news" pinning a massive worldwide data breach on Wednesday, Shadow, and Salim (Omid Abtahi), labelling them as terrorists and the world's most wanted criminals. They each set out to escape Cairo, Illinois, where they've all gathered at Mr. Ibis' funeral parlor. Shadow's escape provided the biggest clue as to where the series would be headed next, as he's stopped by police while riding a bus out of town.
Sure he's about to be caught, he hands over his ID when asked, but is floored when they say he's free to go, all thanks to his ID, which has mysteriously changed. Now traveling and in hiding as Michael Ainsel, Shadow heads to Lakeside, Wisconsin, which fans of the novel may very well recognize as the same locale where Shadow lays low and hides out from the New Gods as the war between them continues to reach a fever pitch.
Of course, this being American Gods, Lakeside has plenty of eerie secrets and mysteries of its own, which pull Shadow even deeper into the Gods' war, driving him further from his goal of understanding who he is and what he wants his part to be in the coming conflict. To make things even more complicated, Shadow also struggles with the recent revelation that Mr. Wednesday is more than just a conman-slash-old-god-slash-his-boss — he's Shadow's father.
It's been a long journey for everybody to be sure, but at the very least, fans hoping to delve deeper into Shadow's journey need not wait much longer.