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Insight on 'The Beguiling Man' and Season 3 from American Gods' Yetide Badaki and Orlando Jones

By Tara Bennett

In "The Beguiling Man," the second episode of American Gods Season 2, audiences get to see the god factions continue to test the waters in regard to securing allies, or clarifying enemies. In particular, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) sits down with Mr. World (Crispin Glover). And Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) starts a road trip with Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane).

To discuss the personal moves of their characters this week, we sat down again with Jones and Badaki to find out what's motivating their characters. And with the recent news that American Gods will get a third season, Jones also puts on his consulting producer hat to share where Season 3 will go.

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It feels like were just getting to hear Bilquis' voice about what she wants for her future. What's satisfying about what she's finally saying about that?

Yetide Badaki: What I found very interesting about Bilquis, and what she begins to shine a light on as she goes forward in this journey, is that she is not moved by the same wants and needs. That is part of why she is so terrifying to both of those sides, because they know with this god, "I just need greed," or with this person, "I just need pride." But she comes in and I really think that she tries to articulate to them that these are not the things that matter to her, but they operate in very different spaces. Yes, they're binary, and she's going, "Neither of these are the way to go." I keep on seeing this symbiosis is Bilquis where she sees what is present, but why she is starting to thrive this season is because she's able to reach into history and pull out the things that worked and the things that were of power there, and meld them with the new things she's learning now.

How was it doing that one-one-one with Crispin Glover?

Badaki: On the page, I think for some it may seem like an immediate battle, but the more we played and talked, we're like, no, we're really trying to understand each other. A meeting of the minds. Two equal forces, and he has utmost respect for her. And she's got a respect in him, but she needs to make clear to him, his war is not what she exists for.

It's interesting to see, because Wednesday's distrustful of her. People are distrustful of her, and I think it's funny because I'm like, "She's the most honest of all of you." She is telling you, but she can't say that she is going to go with Wednesday's war either, because what is he offering her? He didn't even invite her to the table.

There's a playful quality about Mr. Nancy right now as he embarks on his road trip. What's that about when the stakes are getting so high in the story?

Orlando Jones: To the writers and producers, I said that I don't want him to be a victim. I want him to be a trickster. I want him to be clever. I'm trying to rattle your cage, but I have my own separate issue. I need this war to happen because my worshipers are dying and I need Bilquis to be with me, and us, in order to accomplish this. I need Mama-Ji (Sakina Jeffrey) because she has more powers than all these fools do.

So, Bilquis is ultimately his goal right now?

Jones: He follows the queen and he supports the queen, so that's heavily what he's tracking in Season 2. The question is where does Bilquis live? Is she on our side? Is she on their side? I think his focus is very much around how can he get her to come to the side of the Old Gods, and he has romantic interests. He puts on a big show, everyone has a great time, she absorbs whatever she wants out of the room. Given the society he is from, given that they have known each other since infancy, for him to align forces with her, that is his drive. The rest, he is pretending to care about it.

You'll notice he spends most of his time just giggling at the stupidity around him, and the only time he is not doing that is, and when he is actually silent, is when he comes to kiss Bilquis' hands. At that point he says "My Queen," and he steps back. He says nothing else through the sequence except telling Shadow that he is a f***ing idiot, which he proceeds to tell Shadow over and over again. Primarily because he knows Shadow's been played. I am not on his side. I really want him to wake the f*** up.

What are you most excited for audiences to see in upcoming episodes?

Badaki: I'm so excited for people to continue the journey of watching through the episodes. It's a group effort in every way. We have these wonderful directors, quite a few female directors, which makes me very happy. There were three male directors and four female directors, so you have all these incredible, powerful women coming in with their viewpoints as well. Bilquis evolves, which is interesting because evolve or die is the message. It is very much an ensemble effort. Each character is a combination of all these various parts.

As you talked about the plan for unfolding this story over seasons, what does Season 3 focus on?

Jones: I think the challenge of Season 3 is straightforward. Yes, there's still a war going on, and yes, there's still the backroom machinations to go along with that, but most importantly, understanding the backstory of how they arrived is really what showcases the moves of the war.I feel like that's truthfully the blueprint for what we'll end up with for Season 3. You'll have the ability to go, "All right, now that you've had enough of a taste to understand all these things, we can march forward with these characters, namely Shadow."