Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is loved by both fans and critics. So it makes sense that some were apprehensive when they heard the book was getting the television treatment. However, Gaiman has assured fans of the show’s quality since he is working directly with the Starz. He also hopes that the show is successful enough to get Sandman show greenlit. Cold opens have been a popular thing in recent years for new shows to try but American Gods goes the traditional route. We’re introduced to Mr. Ibis played by Demore Barnes, who acts as the narrator for the intro. The first few minutes of the show is used to establish the relationship between gods and humans as some vikings are having trouble laying siege to what we find out is North America. It’s quite obvious that the god Mr. Ibis spends the introduction talking about is Odin aka Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane).
When you’re first introduced to Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), you immediately get the feeling his life is about to get a lot worse. Which says a lot since he’s in prison. It’s at this time the show introduces the audience to Low Key Lyesmith played by Jonathan Tucker. No, most of the names in the story aren’t subtle and they’re not meant to be. Gaiman wants you to know who the main character is dealing with. So after a brief introduction to the already crappy life of our protagonist, he quickly gets a shot in gut when he finds out his wife has died in a car accident.
The show’s introduction to Mr. Wednesday is somewhat heavy-handed but that serves the purpose of establishing the character’s personality. It’s quite obvious that Moon’s life has been heavily monitored by the divine beings but at this point in his life they wish to make a more direct approach. Pablo Schreiber plays the leprechaun Mad Sweeney. He handles Moon in a less subtle manner. Sweeney is the friend you don’t tell all the details of your plan because he doesn’t know when to shut up. Sweeney is somehow less of a dirtbag than Schreiber’s past roles, but that’s likely to change just due to the nature of leprechauns. Even the way that Sweeney pulls Moon into a fist fight doesn’t seem as bad as the other stuff we’ve seen Schreiber’s characters do.
Now you’d think after spending the last two days dealing with his wife and best friend’s death, TSA, airline employees, and fighting a leprechaun steroids; Moon’s life couldn’t get worse. Well, the wife of his best friend tells him that his wife died while engaging in a sexual act with her husband. She even tries to recreate the act at his wife’s grave.
There are some other gods introduced in this episode as well. Technical Boy played by Bruce Langley, is a new god who wants to know Mr. Wednesday is up to. He’s the physical embodiment of the internet. Moon has a not so positive interaction with him towards the end of the episode which ties directly into a conversation and premonition from the earlier prison scene. Now I wanted to save the bit about this god for last because it’s the most wtf moment in a show composed of wtf moments. Bilquis aka The Queen of Sheba played by Yetide Badaki. Worst Tinder date ever is the best way to describe how she’s introduced. Unfortunately no one’s there to warn the poor guy to run for the hills.
American Gods does a great job of combining excellent dialog with great cinematography, good action, and a soundtrack that is essential to progressing the story.
American Gods airs on Starz on Sundays at 9PM EST or you can view it earlier that day using the Starz app.