The American Gods premiere was nothing short of epic, but with it being a book-to-screen adaption, will previous fans be satisfied? And will the series be able to draw in viewers?
American Gods follows an ex-con named Shadow who is hired by the mysterious con man named Mr Wednesday. Shadow soon finds himself caught in the middle of a war between the old deities of immigrant cultures, from Norse to Slavic and Egyptian mythologies, and the modern messiah’s, who we worship on a regular basis, such as Technology and Media.
First things first, if you’ve watched the first episode or plan on watching it, you’re in for a ride. Some may find the series confusing, and that is understandable as the book by Neil Gaiman is also like this since it’s filled with a significant amount of content across 600+ pages, and for me, it’s a book unlike anything I have ever read before. This is what makes American Gods so very intriguing and almost disorienting because you have nothing really to compare it to. In regards to the television series, you could attempt to compare elements from the series to other series’, except there’s no point as it’s in a category entirely by itself.
From the music to the scenery and to the brilliant portrayals of the characters, these all draw together to create a mind-blowing opening episode which shows true promise for the rest of the series as it continues.
American Gods first opens with some trippy credits, which is then followed by a flashback narrated by Mr Ibis, who helps to give viewers a run-down as to what happens when you need the assistance of a deity. There’s something incredibly exciting about the sound of some husky narration and it’s as if you just know right then and there that it’s going to get good real fast.
Mr Ibis tells of the Vikings who arrive in a new land (hello America!) and become stuck so they decide to call upon the All-Father (hello Norse mythology!). In order to get his attention, the entire group are stabbed in the eye to ‘make him look’ and that’s the first moment of a long list of a brutal moments this episode contains. With no response, they decide to create a ‘war’ and the Vikings attack one another which leads to some brilliant and bloody visual effects, but alas there is no response so they burn a man alive. Success! They escape from the desolate land and vow to never return.
Side note: If you don’t like gore or bloody scenes, this isn’t the show for you.
Cue the next husky narrator. We meet Shadow Moon in prison along with prison pal, Lowkey Lyesmith, who is instantly likeable. Shadow is concerned about the weather and claims he can smell snow. Are you friends with Lorelai Gilmore, Shadow? This causes him to call his wife Laura and both are excited as it’s only 120 hours until his sentence is over. That night, Shadow dreams of a forest filled with bones and the score featured in this scene is very reminiscent of an old thriller movie, which just goes to show this series isn’t going to be tip-toeing around anything. The following day, Shadow is told he will be released today because his wife is dead. Poor guy.
Upon his release, Shadow is unable to get a new flight and he soon comes across an elderly man who people question as to if he should be flying alone. Somehow this man manages to get an upgrade to first class, and Shadow also finds himself sitting in first class across from this gentleman. However, he is no bumbling old man as his personality changes and he reveals himself to be Mr Wednesday, only because that’s what day it is. Wednesday requests Shadow to work for him since nobody will want an ex-con except Shadow declines his offer. He then has to drive the rest of the way to get to his hometown and his wife’s funeral.
‘Somewhere in America’ we meet Bilquis. She meets an older man on a blind date and the two hit it off, so naturally she takes him to her all-red and sensual room. The obvious ensues especially since she’s “the sexiest goddamn thing he has touched for free”.
During the deed, she begs him to worship her since she’s a deity, in case you didn’t get that. As he rants and raves, the man begins to become smaller and this is because her womanly parts are drawing him inside her body until he is no more. Newcomers will find this quite bizarre, and it’s a scene that is just as bizarre to read and comprehend!
Meanwhile, Shadow stops at Jack’s Crocodile Bar when Mr Wednesday turns up again, which causes Shadow to get annoyed by his offer of employment again. Wednesday lets it slip that Shadow’s best friend Robbie was killed alongside his wife which only aggravates him further. He tells Wednesday he will accept his offer based off a coin toss and Shadow rigs it as he does not want to work for him. Wednesday says a few choice words about always getting what he wants and the next result happens to be what he picked, even though Shadow rigged it again. So now Shadow has found himself employed.
Enter Mad Sweeney, who is a 7-foot leprechaun and no, he’s not a little tall for his type “as being small is a stereotype and represents a very narrow view of the world”. Sweeney manages to further aggravate Shadow with his countless coin tricks and pulling coins from here, there and everywhere.
This piques Shadow’s interest and he asks how he does it, and Sweeney agrees to show but they must fight for it. He turns this down but Sweeney harps on about Shadow’s dead wife which causes the first punch to be thrown and an epic brawl ensues between the two!
What’s a good show without a sexy-as-hell car? Wednesday and Shadow hit the road in Betty and Shadow makes it to Laura’s funeral. While there, he apologises to Robbie’s wife who is shocked by his apology and informs him that Laura died with Robbie’s manhood in her mouth. This upsets Shadow and things get awkward when her coffin gets stuck and they have to force her into the ground. He hangs around and speaks to her grave telling her of how he read 6 books a week for 3 years to show he can change and grow. As he begins to leave, Robbie’s wife confronts Shadow and she’s beside herself. Hopped up on prescription drugs she tells Shadow how she pissed on her husbands grave and proposes they do a few things in front of Laura’s, but he denies her. Upon leaving, Shadow drops Sweeney’s gold coin on her grave and it gradually sinks into the dirt.
On his long walk back to the motel, Shadow comes across a bizarre device which opens up to form a mask and attaches itself to his face. He wakes up to find himself in a car and it seems as though he is tripping out big time while he is interrogated by a male. Known as Technical Boy, he asks questions about Mr Wednesday and his plans for Shadow. The boy then orders Shadow to be ‘deleted’ and leads to him being bashed by a group of faceless people. Strung up to a tree by his neck and blood surrounding him, he mysteriously is cut down by some-kind of force which then slices the faceless people in half and drenches everything, including Shadow, in blood.
Overall, this episode embodied the novel to a T and showed promise to stay true to its original source material, especially since Neil Gaiman served as an executive producer. While it may not gain a large audience due to it being quite unusual, previous fans will be incredibly satisfied with the adaption.
American Gods returns next week with ‘The Secret of Spoon’.
What did you think of the premiere? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!