Season Recap: American Gods

There’s rarely a television concept that we haven’t seen before. How many shows out there are based around crime scene detectives or sitcoms about the all American family? Stemmed from a book, American Gods certainly offers a unique storyline. Bringing together new and old gods from mythology into modern day society makes for one strange, interesting world that at times works and at times, doesn’t work.

American Gods has only had one season so far and that season consisted of eight episodes. The series opens up with Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) being released from prison a few days before his expected release due to his wife, Laura (Emily Browning) having died in a car crash. From there, Shadow meets a mysterious man who goes by the name Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). The two go across the country recruiting for the older man, because, oh yea; I forgot to mention that apparently, he’s a god. From the old world where people worshipped gods, Wednesday is hoping to get other ancient gods to join him to fight against the new deities that humanity worships, such as media, technology, and globalization.

I won’t go through the entire show, you should watch it to find out for yourself. The first thing I noticed from episode one was how much I loved the intro show. I know that’s a weird thing to point out, but the graphics of having aspects from ancient mythological cultures intermixed with electronic music, rave lights, and amp plugs are such great details that I appreciate. The graphics in this show are interesting all around. We have moments of blood that is very unrealistic, colored scenes that look something akin to the movie 300, and then animated stories all mixed in. The show was originally meant to air on HBO, before moving to Starz and I wonder how different the show would have looked under HBO.

For the aspects that worked on this show, a lot of it is due to the actors. McShane is absolutely phenomenal as Mr. Wednesday. Charismatic, crafty, and suave, he makes a great character that is shrouded in mystery throughout the season and we often can’t tell if we should be rooting for him or if he’s going to make everything worse. My absolute favorite in the show was Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), a leprechaun who is originally employed by Wednesday and ends up taking a detour trip with Shadow’s dead wife Laura. We get a lot of character development with him and a lot of backstory; honestly, I really want more interactions between him and Laura in season two.

Some honorable mentions here go to Orlando Jones as his work as Mr. Nancy, the Ghanaian god Anansi. As a trickster god, Mr. Nancy is delightfully terrifying and a fantastic storyteller.

I also enjoyed the new gods such as Media (Gillian Anderson), Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), and Mr. World (Crispin Glover). Considering there were only three new gods in this season and a slew of old gods, I hope we get to see more new gods portrayed in the second season.

Where I felt that the show was weak was some of the backstories. I understand that the show wanted to introduce us and familiarize us with stories we’ve probably never heard of, but most of it felt like filler. A lot of episodes focused more on tales than they did the actual plot. For eight episodes, the show felt unnecessarily long because of these filler episodes. There were also some gods that were thrown in, made a big deal of, and nothing ever really to happen to them, such as Chernobog (Peter Stormore).

The finale of the season was also a little lackluster. Again, I was more so intrigued by Laura and Sweeney’s journey than Wednesday’s. After dragging Shadow into this whacky mission, Mr. Wednesday’s intentions are brought to light; finding a way to make people start worshipping them again. His solution to the problem? Have Ostara aka Easter (Kristin Chenoweth) take away the spring (essentially crop life) until people start praying to them again. Seems pretty selfish and at that moment, I found myself rooting for the new gods more, even though it seems they have an uphill battle to wage.

The reveal that Mr. Wednesday was, in fact, Odin also fell short. Maybe the showrunner felt this would be a bigger deal to the audience due to the success of the Thor movies in the Marvel universe and thus us more aware of Odin now, but still…meh? Also, when Mr. World and Media propose a truce with Mr. Wednesday earlier in the season, they briefly mention “Odin” when talking about his branding, so we always had a slight inclination of who he was. That and the name drop “Glad-of War” several times in the show.

Again, what I’m looking most forward to is the continuation of the Laura and Sweeney arc. It will be interesting to see where they go in the second season and which side Shadow decides to align himself with now that he knows the full truth. American Gods has experienced a lot of changes, such as losing Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth due to scheduling, which is a shame because I liked both of them in the show. Jesse Alexander was brought in as the co-showrunner, and new faces were announced. Dean Winters, Devery Jacobs, and Kahyun Kim will be playing Mr. Town, Sam Black Crow, and New Media. The second season is set to return in 2019.

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