Streaming in the UK Mondays on Amazon Prime.
We live in a godless age. Every question once asked of the almighty can now be answered in seconds by Google on the screens that surround us every day. We have certainty, not faith. We have science, not religion. It is definitely a godless age, but do the gods themselves know that?
The original Neil Gaiman ‘American Gods’ novel was released back in 2001 but its tantalising storyline is just as relevant now as it was almost 20 years ago. So relevant in fact that the television adaptation, and its subsequent success, was nothing less than an inevitability.
The premise of American Gods is that gods are most certainly real and living among us. Or rather, they’re real as long as someone believes in them. They gain their power from our belief and prayers, and were brought to America by the first to set foot on the soil. However, as the country was colonised and technology increased their worship waned and the gods were forced to get by on the little scraps of belief here and there, taking menial jobs just to get by.
One such god is Mr Wednesday, an old horse deity who viewers from season 1 will already be well acquainted with. And while getting back to his con man roots was a fun enough diversion, he has bigger ideas than merely robbing idiots. He wants to put the old gods back on the map, waging war on the new gods of technology, media and modernity itself who feed off the time wasted staring at a phone or computer.
Aiding him in this task are newly widowed and released Shadow Moon, his dead wife risen from the grave, Laura Moon, and down-on-his-luck Leprechaun Mad Sweeney. And if all that sounds mad it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The series was created by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) and Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) and you can see those influences straight away. While Fuller was known to pay more of a homage to the characters than straight-up adapting the novels of Hannibal, he has actually stuck very close to the source material this time with his own beautiful visuals and sight amendments to make it his own, aided by the writing of Neil Gaiman himself who has been heavily involved in the series.
The first season did the job of introducing us to this world beneath our own, Shadow serving as the eyes of the viewer entering this new place of wonderment and close-to-the-bone satire. And now we have that basic understanding and familiarity, the training wheels are well and truly off.
Episode 1 of season 2 opens as you’d expect, with Technical Boy running over a golfer carrying the injured Mr World to a safe place to wage war on his predecessors. Bruce Langley is at his manic best as the bratty hipster god of technology, but Crispin Glover is utterly terrifying as Mr World whispering the ominous threats of a total psychopath.
That’s not to say the old gods aren’t as bonkers as ever. Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) and his crew are on their way to the house on the rock and a meeting of old gods, Wednesday hopes to inspire them to join him on his crusade, with mixed results. And it’s not until they reconvene after the meeting that the war really begins.
Everything about this show is perfect. The soundtrack is a mix of western-sounding tunes mixed with modern techno. The cinematography features immense visual effects to help bring the titanic deities to life. It is an utter trip to behold, and it’s hard not to immediately lose yourself to every second on screen.
This opening episode is designed whet the viewer’s about what is to come. Namely, war. The cast take to their characters like a duck to water, each with their own motives and complexities, making for brilliant television. Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is finally coming into his own, shifting from the confused con to the excitable puppy revelling in the unknown. The amendment from the book brings a new and exciting dynamic to the story with the chemistry between Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura Moon (Emily Browning) proving too hilarious to not seem more of than we did in the book.
Fuller seems to be simultaneously sticking to the source martial while remixing it with his own brand in a way that makes what still is my favourite novel even more exciting than before. The gory, sexy, love and hate-filled acid trip of an episode somehow manages to fit into less than an hour. God only knows what will happen next!
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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