‘American Gods’ Season 3: Behind the Sinister Force in the Weird Town of Lakeside

Shadow Moon’s arrival in a small town marks a new chapter in the TV version of American Gods, and Lakeside, Wisconsin may not be ready for the reluctant demigod’s baggage. That’s not a bad thing.

Lakeside seems to already have its hands full with eerily charming residents, a strange car tradition, and a recipe that screams suspicious. There are clues in the series about what may be lurkin under the surface, but one ancient thing sticks out.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for American Gods Season 3, episode 2, “A Winter’s Tale”]

Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon in American Gods
Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon in ‘American Gods’ Season 3 | Courtesy of Starz

Episode 2 of ‘American Gods’ highlighted two deities

Viewers are probably accustomed to the opening sequences on American Gods providing hints for each episode — and sometimes the entire season. In addition to hearing to the name “Thunderbird” being uttered in episode 2, so was Hödekin, an entity summoned by the colonizers.

The mention of Misiki’nubik (a reference to the horned snake) was made to signify the underworld deity that works in tandem with Thunderbird.

But several things took place in the first moments of “A Winter’s Tale.” The Thunderbird staff was unceremoniously thrown into the river, a giant bird cast a shadow on the ground as thunder clapped in the sky, and when Hodekin was summoned, the rain cleared.

All of that set up a ritual for the future and one keeping Lakeside so insulated.

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Who or what is Hödekin?

Fans of the American Gods novel or mythology in general may recognize Hödekin as ancient spirit from German folklore. It’s a type of kobold — a household trickster spirit — that’s temperamental and either likes or detests humans. It depends on its mood, but kobolds can serve, protect, or act on their own accord.

They can take the form of anything or anyone, and in lore, kobolds have sometimes been royal figures, miners, or local townspeople.

However, one myth attached to the entity speaks of it being angered by a child and ripping him to pieces. It then cooked him in a dish. Most tales about kobolds and the like say not to get on their bad side.

Pasty, anyone? Such spirits accept offerings as a form of appeasement, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have fun along the way.

In the show, someone’s underwear disappeared, Lakeside “sacrifices” a car to the ice each year, and Shadow picked the date of March 23. That date coincides with a Norse pagan holiday for the spring. Oh, and a girl disappears under mysterious circumstances.

Hinzelmann is a hint

The kind lady showing Shadow all over Lakeside is named Ann-Marie Hinzelmann. In folklore, Hinzelmann was the name of a kobold entity who could either bestow good luck or misfortune.

Ms. Hinzelmann of Lakeside seems to be on the jovial side so far, but weird things always reveal themselves around Shadow Moon.

Clearly, there is something sinister afoot in Lakeside, and Shadow’s own spiritual guardians may show up in full force to protect him and unlock what’s hidden.

While it’s already been revealed that the Orishas will play a role in Shadow’s ancestral story this season, it should also be noted that Shadow has connections to Native Americans too.

As season 3 moves forward, there’s bound to a battle for the land of Lakeside once its origins are uncovered by someone other than Ms. Hinzelmann. And something tells us that cheerful veneer of hers will shed, and it won’t be pretty.