Half of the fun — and much of the timely social exploration — of Starz’s American Gods arrives not in the show’s central story line but in the stunning standalone scenes that highlight supporting characters like Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy.
Mr. Nancy — or Anansi, the African spider god, to those more familiar with the holy trickster — makes his debut at the beginning of the second episode of the Starz series, and the network has just dropped a first look at the scene from the May 7 episode.
Nancy appears in a vision to slave captives heading to America on a trade ship, and to say his monologue is searing would be doing an injustice to the show, character, and script. Jones debuts his character (who will pop up again later in the season) with a literally explosive speech about the state of affairs that his worshippers find themselves in, and a warning about the horrors to come in American race relations centuries later.
Beyond the commentary, however, the scene is helpful in illustrating one of the central conceits of American Gods’ plots: Old gods like Mr. Nancy arrived in America thanks to the summoning of their worshippers. However, these believers have since waned, and the once great ancient myths are now struggling in the modern world to find any crumbs of attention they can get (that aren’t already going toward the new gods who have risen on our shores, like the goddess of Media or the Internet-powered Technical Boy).
American Gods airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.