The Bone Orchard
The Secret Of Spoons
Head Full Of Snow
Lemon Scented You
A Murder Of Gods
A Prayer For Mad Sweeney
Come To Jesus
Exclusive to Amazon Prime, American Gods is a show based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name and revolves around a war between old and new gods living among us on Earth. Boasting some impressively hedonistic visuals, and surprisingly grounded depictions of god and faith, American Gods is a fascinating show and one that visually at least, is hard to match in any other show. Despite some clunky dialogue and under developed characters, the first Season is good albeit flawed that promises a lot from its cliffhanger ending that may leave some people frustrated at the lack of resolution to the story.
Its worth noting here that the first Season of American Gods is a lowly 8 episodes and it feels like it needs another 2 or 3 just to flesh out the story. For those unaware, American Gods is the first of many Seasons and based on its slow paced story, looks set to turn into a long, multi-season show tackling the complex issues brought up in the episodes.
The mythological, epic fantasy drama shifts its focus between different characters through the course of its episodes but predominantly focuses on non-god Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle). After finding out about the death of his wife and only recently been released from prison, convict Shadow begrudgingly becomes the bodyguard for the mysterious Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) whom he meets on an aeroplane and together they travel the country in search of old Gods to join in the battle against a ruthless, dangerous group of new Gods that look hell bent on taking the world by force. If you know much about mythology it will certainly help the ride here as for the first few episodes you constantly feel like you’re playing catch up as new characters and Gods are introduced to the fray.
Throughout the course of the Season, there’s a constant build toward an epic showdown and its here that the show really thrives. Its exciting, tense and complete with some incredibly diverse themes including death and faith being explored in artistic ways, American Gods effortlessly delivers a smartly written script. It never feels overbearing in its depiction of faith and the many Gods but ironically where it stumbles is on some of the more mundane scenes. The dialogue sometimes feels clunky here and the show suffers from some poor pacing with its episodes.
The characters, for all their positives, are wildly inconsistent in the amount of screen time and back story each are given. Mad Sweeney, the man obsessed with his lucky coin, is given an entire episode to explore his backstory whereas Mr. Nancy is reduced to 10 minute cameos in the two episodes he crops up in. You could argue that its a conscious choice, given the show is due a second season and presumably more to follow to flesh out the world and characters but for an opening season, it would have been nice to see a little more consistency in this respect. There are times where Shadow Moon feels like a generic protagonist but as the Season develops and the plot becomes thicker and more complicated, its more easily disguised as the story takes on its twists and turns.
Overall, American Gods is a decent opening to a franchise and although its story remains largely unfinished with a cliffhanger ending that, after 8 episodes of teasing never really involves battles between the Gods, is highly addictive stuff. The Gods are well designed and with each episode exploring the mythology of each in more detail, its fascinating seeing how the cultures have been modernised and delivered in a way that’s both respectful and realistic. Its not perfect and with some awkward pacing, inconsistent character screen time and some wonky dialogue, American Gods doesn’t always hit the mark. When it does, its unlike anything else on TV and one of the most interesting shows to be released in a long while. This is definitely one to keep an eye on for the future.
Verdict - 7.5/10