American Gods Season 2 Episode 4 Review: The Greatest Story Ever Told

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It was fascinating and engrossing how American Gods Season 2 Episode 4 opened with a god origin story that was the hallmark of many of the episodes on American Gods Season 1.

Technical Boy Close-Up Vertical - American Gods Season 2 Episode 1

Here we see Technical Boy manifest through the worship, and attention of a boy who falls in love with Pong then progresses through his Gameboy years to become a programmer who realizes the potential of technology to change the world.

I translated all of Bach's cantatas into a database that wrote a program that segmented the notes into digital objects the way that Bach statistically attended to... But everything it created was mechanical, artificial. The real insight was in programming violations to predictable variations. I gave it permission to shatter the rules.

Son

Inspired by Bach and his father's own worship of music, he writes a program which can compose new Bach-like music. Through that act of creation and devotion, Technical Boy is born.

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Considering the many changes in the show's production team, I appreciate that they're trying to create a sense of continuity through these two very different seasons.

Of course, seeing his beginnings means that we mourn a bit when he gets "retired" by Mr. World and replaced by New Media.

Don't get me wrong. Technical Boy was super annoying especially when he was initially introduced on American Gods Season 1 Episode 1.

Technical Boy sees Himself - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

However, it's indicative of Mr. World's approach to war preparations that he has no loyalty to those who are no longer useful.

Specifically, Technical Boy let Laura kill Argus on American Gods Season 2 Episode 3, so it was obvious there would be repercussions for that.

Wednesday: I'm going to win this one. People like me more than they like you.
World: I prefer to be feared.

And, considering how that left New Media in that awkward state just short of her fait accompli with the dextrously-tentacled Argus, she was probably gunning for his downfall secretly while offering to scratch his back.

There's an innate sense of injustice in the Upgrade Trope. Technical Boy was a New God, but he was first-generation. He and Classic Media evolved together, hand in hand even, anthropomorphically-speaking.

With the arrival of New Media, it's very clear who is Mr. World's current pet.

New Media Hanging Out - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

And she's even more annoying than Technical Boy was at the start.

For Technical Boy's CEO worshipper to jump deity ships so quickly was a harsh and sudden reality check for the God of Entitlement.

He just didn't have the glamor to retain that attention anymore.

Worshipping Technology - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

Although Mr. World refers to Technical Boy as "retired" it looks more like he's gotten "archived" and that means he could come back into play. 

If Media was upgradable, it seems reasonable that his skills could serve a future purpose with some retraining.

Close Up on Bilquis - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

From the New to the Old, this narrative spans the spectrum. Bilquis' pursuit of Shadow brings her into conference with Mr. Ibis and Mr. Nancy.

It is hella-fertile ground for some powerful speeches.

Mr. Nancy's impassioned lecture on the dangers of passivism and neutrality in these troubling times gets undercut by the calm of Mr. Ibis's big picture perspective of history.

Mr. Nancy: Egyptians told tales of the sacred Book of Thoth which contained the secrets of the gods and brings misery and pain and suffering to anyone who reads it.
Mr. Ibis: And grants a birds-eye view to he who writes it.

Meanwhile, Bilquis' interaction with Ruby, the grieving mortal granddaughter of one of Mr. Ibis' clients, is itself alternative form of religion.

She preaches the spirit of revolution that Jesus fostered in his original followers, the disruption he caused by his teaching, the powers he overturned through his presence.

She takes direction from that memory and resolves to be a part of the movement so that her worshippers will not settle for "contentment" the way Ruby's grandmother did.

A woman's heart should never be so hidden in God that she cannot hear her own truth.

Bilquis

The underlying message here -- for both Bilquis and Technical Boy -- is that there needs to be both give and take between gods and their congregation.

Technical Boy's failure can get blamed partly on how he approached the CEO, demanding action and servitude without considering the CEO's desire for delight and joy.

Related: American Gods Season 2 -- It's All About Faith

Bilquis learns from Ruby. Listens to her needs and regrets as well as her dreams and why she clings to a faith that gives back so little.

Where Technical Boy's freedom comes to an end because he cannot grow with his worshipper, Bilquis finds the spark to spur her to action when she understands Ruby and the plight of those she would serve.

Questions for Wednesday - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

And that brings us to Shadow and Wednesday.

Shadow's gotta be more discombobulated than usual after his dream healing sex with the cat goddess, Bast. Yeah, that. At least he's moving easier despite the scratches on his back.

Their mission in St. Louis? To get Money to throw in with the Old Gods.

Money. The most influential god in America. Untouchable asshole but his stock never falls.

Wednesday

I totally and completely LURVE the casting of this show.

The predictable thing would've had some stuffy, upper-crust pseudo-European old white man playing the role of Money.

Who do they cast instead? Yeah, sure, he's still an old white man, but it's William "This-is-my-brother-Larry-and-this-is-my-other-brother-Larry" Sanderson. Absolutely brilliant.

The Leaders Meet - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

And the idea that Money isn't just what Americans worship WITH (by buying and donating), it's WHAT they worship is such a meta-concept, my mind needs a little Bilquis-style contorting to accommodate it.

He may be credited only as The Bookkeeper, but Sanderson's every nuanced reaction to Wednesday and World conveys the authority Money commands.

After all, how DO you coerce Money? With what can you threaten it? For what (or whom) does it care? 

Money: Okay, enough. I'm honored to have the big dogs and the god gang begging at my table but Money doesn't make emotional investments or invest in emotional entities. Too much risk in such ventures. Not enough opportunity.
Wednesday: You could always hedge your bets.

Mr. Wednesday's ability to roll with the setbacks is admirable. I mean, he's got to be getting used to it by now.

However, I'm not as convinced by his negging of Shadow, trying to convince him that he got chosen because he's worthless.

Wednesday and Shadow - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

Kudos to Shadow for not buying it either.

In a clever parallel to Wednesday's parable of the dollar bill, Shadow knows that Wednesday believes there is value in him, just as people's trust in Money makes pieces of paper valuable.

I have a piece of paper. But I want this salt shaker. You have the salt shaker but you're willing to take my piece of paper for your salt shaker. Now, why would you do that? Because this isn't actually a piece of paper. It's a story. And the story you've heard over and over and over again is to convince you that this is worth something, this is of value. No matter what country or culture or religion. The whole world loves money. The greatest story ever told.

Wednesday

Can we talk about how creepy it was for Money's heralds to be a trio of Girl Scout-esque candy hockers? Hockers. I said, HOCKERS.

And how hilarious was Wednesday's reaction to their entrance? Mind you, I don't believe for an instant that he was so distracted that he missed hearing Mama-Ji's warning.

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When dealing with tricky alliances, it's probably wise to ignore some things. Odin knows this well.

So, where to next?

We'll need to check in on Laura and how her new heartbeat is treating her.

Mr. World is due for another team meeting although Team New Gods seem to be shrinking in numbers by the episode.

Mr. World Wears a Hat - American Gods Season 2 Episode 4

I'm curious as to what Bilquis and Messrs. Ibis and Nancy are up to while they "have a drink."

And, of course, Salim and The Jinn have Gungnir in hand. What is the plan for Odin's mighty spear?

As with American Gods Season 1, it's a pleasure to watch American Gods online a couple of times if you have the chance for its visuals, style, and effects.

Watching Orlando Jones make his pitch to Ibis and Bilquis alone is worth revisiting this episode.

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American Gods premieres on Starz each Sunday in the U.S. and new episodes become available the day after the U.S. broadcast in Canada and internationally on Amazon Prime Video.

The Greatest Story Ever Told Review

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Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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American Gods Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

I translated all of Bach's cantatas into a database that wrote a program that segmented the notes into digital objects the way that Bach statistically attended to... But everything it created was mechanical, artificial. The real insight was in programming violations to predictable variations. I gave it permission to shatter the rules.

Son

This is grief. And yet, the rising notes of joy, shattering his own rules. Can you hear it? This is how men like me pray.

Father