One old god has turned bullets into prayers in a very creepy Virginia town.
Shadow and Wednesday are on the run from Mr. World and his shapeshifting partner, Media. Laura, on the run chasing Shadow (ha, get it?), runs back into Mad Sweeney who's chasing his lucky coin inside of Laura's stomach. They both join Salim, who's chasing his jinn-lover, in Salim's taxi and drive off toward Kentucky.
Vulcan, Virginia. (YouTube)
"Welcome to Vulcan, Virginia," Wednesday says to Shadow as they drive into a suspiciously empty small town. Shadow is right to feel uncomfortable: the few people lining the sidewalk carry rifles strapped to their backs; the grandmother in a wheelchair rests her gun on her lap; a funeral parade marches down the middle of the main street, made up of dozens of gun-wielding, red-armband-wearing white people.
This town is Purge-levels of creepy and when the marchers fire a salute straight into the air, the bullets rain down on Shadow's car like hellish hail.
The leader of this show of force is Wednesday's latest potential recruit: the god of fire and the forge and namesake of the town, Vulcan.
Vulcan leads the parade. (YouTube)
Vulcan's bullet factory—his giant forge—towers over the town breathing black smoke into the air and filling the guns of its citizens with Vulcan-made ammunition. With this factory, Vulcan explains to Wednesday, he has franchised his power.
Every fiery gunshot that fires a bullet stamped with Vulcan's name is like a prayer to him and every death by bullet, a blood sacrifice. The worker who fell into the vat of molten metal and became a few cases of bullets? An even better sacrifice. "Every bullet fired in a crowded movie theater is a prayer in my name," Vulcan says.
Vulcan counters Wednesday's proposal for war by explaining this new source of power. The rest of the Old Gods might be starving for prayers, but not Vulcan. He's happy with his murder-hungry followers and greedy for sacrifice. After pledging alliance to the New Gods like Mr. Wood, his hunger for power makes him just as much an enemy to Wednesday.
Always-clever Wednesday uses Vulcan's own trick against him: killing him with the sword that Vulcan has just forged in Wednesday's name, making him a godly blood sacrifice to Wednesday and cursing the bullets that will contain the fiery metal that buried him.
Jesus de Mexico. (YouTube)
Vulcan isn't the only god murdered in "A Murder of Gods."
This episode's "Coming to America" story follows a group of Mexican immigrants wading carefully across the unnamed-Rio Grande into unnamed-Texas or New Mexico. When some anti-immigration warriors show up in lifted pickups and armed with assault rifles loaded with Vulcan bullets, the triumphant scene turns tragic. In a display of Vulcan's power, the gunmen murder the immigrants, their guns engraved with "Thy Kingdom Come" and rosaries in their hands. They crucify the Christ figure who saved one traveler from drowning in the river and the camera zooms out on Dead Jesus, lying in the crucifixion pose and with a glowing heart like the famous Sacred Heart image.
Laura and Sweeney take the road. (YouTube)
"Did you just name-drop Jesus Christ?" Laura asks Sweeney when he says he knows a guy who knows a guy who can, possibly, resurrect her. Wednesday mentioned history's Jesuses in an earlier episode, and it looks like he'll be making more appearances in the show in one form or another. This opening scene showed the tragic incompatibility of guns and religion, while the rest of the episode basically turned guns into a form of idol worship. With both sides of the Old vs. New war showing off their power, the stakes are growing and the show is plunging headfirst into all of its implications for the real world.