War is brewing in American Gods season 2, and the premiere proves that Mr. World is done trying to negotiate the Old Gods into obscurity. After Shadow Moon pays a visit to the House on the Rock, where Mr. Wednesday has gathered the Old Gods to try and convince them to fight in the war, he finds himself caught up in a scene of shocking violence - and the end of the episode throws him out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Though the TV series is generally following the same paths as Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods is also putting enough of its own twist on things to keep even book fans on their toes. For example, Salim and the Jinn (who only appear in one "Coming to America" story in the book) are regulars in season 2, while Laura Moon and Mad Sweeney (who never meet in the novel) find themselves stuck together this season as Sweeney doggedly follows his lucky coin, which is the only thing keeping Laura mobile.
Due to behind-the-scenes difficulties, it's been a long wait for American Gods' season 2 premiere. For some fans the events of "House on the Rock" might be hard to follow, if you've forgotten details like Bilquis' deal with Technical Boy and Laura's unique ability to track down Shadow. Here's a breakdown of what happens in the premiere - particularly its ending - and what it could mean for the future of season 2.
- This Page: Black Briar and the House on the Rock
- Page 2: American Gods Season 2's Premiere Ending Explained
Mr. World and Black Briar
One of the most interesting elements of the American Gods season 2 premiere was its opening, with Technical Boy and Mr. World arriving at Black Briar Country Club (killing a poor unsuspecting golfer on the way), which hides a top-secret surveillance center. Ostensibly for the use of the President of the United States, Black Briar quickly becomes a base of operations for Mr. World, who claims to have been the man behind the man behind every secret government agency and operation for decades.
Black Briar isn't in the novel, but it does make sense to introduce it in the TV show as Mr. World and his "Spooks" (like Dean Winters' Mr. Town, who joins the cast this season) are in part the manifestation of popular belief in shady characters pulling the strings behind the scenes. The paperclip that Mr. World gives to Technical Boy to hold up in front of the camera is presumably a reference to Operation Paperclip (which is mentioned later by Mr. World). Operation Paperclip was a covert project carried out in the wake of World War II with the aim of putting Germany's best scientific and engineering minds to work for America during the Cold War - even those scientists who had been involved in Nazi Germany's war crimes. The paperclip, therefore, is a perfect representation of how Mr. World operates: preferring to act where no one is watching, and willing to get his hands dirty for the sake of victory.
House on the Rock and the Magic Carousel
The bizarre tourist attraction that Mr. Wednesday and the other gods gather at, the House on the Rock, is a real place in Wisconsin, and was closed for several days while American Gods season 2 filmed there. The arrival at the House on the Rock is, aside from the characters present, very close to the book - right down to the joke about "Frank Lloyd Wrong" and Shadow thinking that it's flattering to be compared a member of Mr. Nancy's family (even his very stupid son). And the wildest scene of all, in which Shadow and the gods get on a magical carousel that spins around and around until it takes them "backstage" into Wednesday's mind, is one of the most memorable moments of the book.
After Shadow rides the carousel, he finds himself waking up on a shore near a Viking meeting hall, and it's explained to him that he has been taken "Backstage," and is inside Odin's mind. Backstage is a plane of existence only accessible by gods, and is comparable to being taken behind the scenes at the theater (with the "real world" being the stage). The gods can use Backstage not only as a safe place to have meetings, but also as a shortcut from one place to another, since space works differently Backstage. While the gods are here they can appear in their true forms - like Zorya with her three faces, Mr. Nancy with his many eyes, and Mama-ji with her blue skin and multiple sets of arms.