|“||You may have to consider that you didn't see what you saw ... or you did. The world is either crazy, or you are. They're both solid options. Take your pick, and when you decide, come and tell me.||”|
Coming to America 1697 C.E.
Mr. Ibis writes a story of a Dutch slave ship and the shackled people within its hold who are being transported to America to be sold. A man, Okoye, prays in desperation to Anansi, pleading for help and telling him he would give him gifts if he had them. Mr. Nancy manifests from a spider and begins to tell them a story. He informs them that they are Black and will be enslaved by white people for centuries, worked to death, murdered, shot in the back by police. Okoye is angered by what he hears and Anansi tells him to use that anger to go upstairs to kill the Dutch slavers and set fire to the ship. Another man says that it will kill them all and Anansi replies that they're already dead and might as well die in sacrifice instead of subjugation. He frees Okoye and leaves. Okoye frees the rest of the the slaves and they set fire to the ship. A plank of the destroyed ship washes ashore and Anansi the Spider arrives in America.
Shadow goes to a hospital to treat the injuries he received from Technical Boy's Children. The nurse asks if he was shot because he would have to call the police. Shadow tells him no and to not involve the police. He returns to the motel and pounds on Wednesday's door, disrupting him with a young, blonde woman. He tells Wednesday how Technical Boy hijacked him and tried to kill him. Wednesday offers him occupational hazard pay and doubles his salary. Wednesday promises that he is angry about Technical Boy and has a plan.
Shadow goes to his room and draws up a bath. He removes his wedding ring. He goes to bed and dreams of Laura visiting him. He tells her she's dead and she replies that he is having a bad dream and he wakes up to find himself alone. He cries himself back to sleep.
The next day, he arrives at Laura's house to pack up her stuff. He avoids the coroner's box with Laura's belongings, leaving it for last. Once he's finished packing, he opens the box and removes Laura's cell phone. He scrolls through her texts and finds a dick pic from Robbie, confirming their affair. He cleans the house, scrubbing the bathroom floor so hard his fingers bleed. After he is finished, Wednesday arrives, asking if he'll miss Eagle Point. Shadow says no because it was Laura's town. Wednesday tells Shadow that he only gets to be upset for so long because Laura was cheating on him.
They take off in Wednesday's car, Betty, and start driving. Wednesday informs Shadow they won't ever take the highway and will take back roads to recruit various people to attend a meeting in one of the most sacred places in America. Their first stop is Chicago to get Wednesday's hammer.
They stop at a diner where Wednesday is meeting someone. He gives Shadow a list and sends him shopping. Shadow heads to a superstore to get the items on Wednesday's list, including maps, romance novels, cigarettes, and vodka. As he is walking through the store, I love Lucy is playing on one of the TVs in the store's entertainment section. Lucy calls out to Shadow from the TV, stopping him. He unplugs the TV and all of the TVs in the display go black before Lucy appears again. She explains the screen is the altar and she is the one they sacrifice their time and attention to. She offers Shadow a job to work for her because Wednesday isn't even yesterday while she is today and tomorrow. She is impressed by how Shadow handled the Technical Boy and she won't underestimate him. Shadow refuses her offer. She tells him she is trying to help him.
Shadow returns to the diner, passing by the man Wednesday was meeting with. Shadow tells Wednesday that Lucy was talking to him from the TV and he thinks he's going insane. Wednesday gives Shadow the choice of either fighting the strangeness or accepting it; either the world is crazy or Shadow is. Shadow asks if this is part of them "reprogramming reality" and Wednesday says that going mad is not the biggest sacrifice to make.
They start driving again and Wednesday discovers a cell phone in the bag of stuff Shadow bought. He tosses Shadow's cell phone and the one Shadow bought for him out the car window, saying, "no cell phones." He tells Shadow his secret to attracting the young blonde women is with "charm." He taps his fingers along the dashboard and the radio turns on.
Bilquis goes out on numerous dates, consuming men and women with her vagina as she rejuvenates and refreshes herself with their willing self-sacrifices. In spite of the worship she receives, she is unhappy. She visits an exhibit of antiquities, passing by a statue of herself as the Queen of Sheba. She sees her body jewelry laid out in a glass case and an image forms under the red velvet as if someone were wearing it.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at an apartment in Chicago. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Wednesday that Czernobog, who is currently in a field killing a cow with a bolt pistol, will not be happy to see them. She brings them into the apartment and Wednesday presents her with the vodka, romance novels, and binoculars that Shadow picked up from the store. Zorya Vechernyaya downs the entire bottle of vodka before calling for Zorya Utrennyaya to come to the kitchen. She explains that their other sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, is asleep. Wednesday passes Zorya Utrennyaya the books and sets the binoculars down in front of Zorya Polunochnaya's door.
Zorya Utrennyaya makes coffee for Wednesday and Shadow while Zorya Vechernyaya offers to read Shadow's fortune. Shadow heads for the bathroom just as Czernobog returns home. He is not pleased to see Wednesday and throws a lamp at him. Wednesday offers him the cigarettes and herb Havarti but Czernobog still wants him to leave. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Czernobog she already invited them to dinner.
Shadow offers to help with the cooking but Zorya Vechernyaya refuses. She tells him they are all relatives who came over together a long time ago and that family is people you stick with even when you don't like them. Shadow gives Zorya Utrennyaya his empty coffee cup and Zorya Utrennyaya turns it upside down to read the coffee grounds. She whispers with Zorya Vechernyaya who lies to Shadow that he will have a happy life with many children. Shadow asks if there is any good news and she replies that his mother died of cancer but he won't.
From the living room, Czernobog becomes upset with Wednesday and raises his voice. Zorya Utrennyaya hurries in to shush him so he doesn't wake up Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday is trying to get Czernobog to come to the meeting because everyone else will be there and will think Czernobog is weak if he doesn't show. Czernobog tells Wednesday he wants his brother, Bielebog, not him.
They sit down to a terrible dinner of tough meat and soft potatoes, which Wednesday enthusiastically enjoys. Czernobog asks Shadow if he is Black. Where he is from, everyone is the same color so everyone fights over shades. Bielebog has light hair where Czernobog has black hair so everyone thought Bielebog was the good one and it turned Czernobog into the bad one. They are both gray now so there is no longer a way to tell who is light and who is dark.
Czernobog shares how they first arrived in New York and it wasn't so bad but then they came to Chicago and it's not so great. He had to get a job in the slaughterhouse and became a "knocker" on the killing floor. Zorya Vechernyaya opposes him telling cow killing stories at dinner but he continues anyway. He explains how it takes strength and skill to artfully kill a cow properly with a sledgehammer. If not done properly, the cow becomes angry and angry meat tastes bad. He complains about the ease of the bolt gun that makes it so anyone can kill cows now. He asks Shadow if he plays checkers and invites him to a checkers game after dinner and Shadow agrees.
After dinner, Czernobog sets up the checkers board, playing black and they begin their game. Czernobog asks if Shadow wants to see his killing hammer and retrieves it from over the mantle. He explains how blood feeds the hammer, giving it shine, with sunrise blood being the best. Now, his hammer is red with rust but Shadow sees blood pouring off it from the 10,000 kills Czernobog made. They continue playing checkers and Czernobog offers to make a wager. If he loses, then he will go with Shadow and Wednesday to meet with the others. If he wins, then he gets to hit Shadow in the middle of the forehead with his hammer.
Wednesday tells Shadow it's his decision if he wants to make the wager. Shadow considers all the crazy things he has seen in the last few days and what is real and what is not. He agrees to Czernobog's wager and they keep playing checkers. Czernobog starts singing an old song about bitter coffee and a spoon that makes it sweet as he gets more and more of Shadow's pieces off the board. Shadow loses the game and Czernobog declares that at sunrise, Shadow will willingly go down on his knees for him to knock his brains out.
Guest starring Edit
Notes and trivia Edit
- Shadow references the poem "Strange Fruit," written by Abel Meeropol and most famously performed by Billie Holiday. It is a protest song about racism and in particular, lynchings.
|“||Southern trees bear strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees||”|
–Strange Fruit lyrics
- The title of the episode is in reference to an "old" song about stirring coffee that Czernobog sings while he's playing checkers with Shadow. Michael Green came up with the lyrics while reminiscing about a favorite aunt who had passed away, leaving him a sugar bowl and spoon.
|“||My love made the sweetest coffee / With no sugar at all / She only stirred with her spoon and it was done / Now my drink is bitter / The secret of spoons forgotten / When my voice breaks on this song / Remember old love gone / And drink bitter coffee||”|
–Czernobog, The Secret of Spoons