What is the “Red Wedding?” Pssssssh. Move on over Game of Thrones, American Gods is here to usher in a new era of premium television storytelling with a dash of ultra-violence!
To say I was excited when Starz announced a live action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed novel, is putting it lightly. I have been enthralled with old world mythology since grade school. I immediately ran off and snagged a copy of the book and tore through it in quiet anticipation.
This Sunday, American Gods premiered and it did delivered. The show breeches the screen with a viking boat making land only to have the leading scout shot up head to toe with arrows – literally, head to toe covered like a porcupine. What follows in the prelude entry will leave most weak stomached racing for the nearest vomit repository. Blood, guts, and gore are spewed all over the scene as a strange quest to appease a God leads to one of the most haunting battle scenes. Kudos to Starz and the show runners for going for it.
For those not familiar with the source material, American Gods follows the story of an early-released convict, Shadow Moon, as he returns to the quiet town of Eagle Point for the funeral of his wife. En route, Shadow makes the acquaintance of a peculiar fellow who asks to be referred to as Mr. Wednesday and has a deep insight into Shadow’s past and current situations. Mr. Wednesday extends employment to Shadow, citing a steady paycheck may be difficult for a convicted felon to find. After some persuasion and a curious coin flip, Shadow accepts the position and the story progresses to his original destination of his wife’s funeral.
What unfolds in the next hour is a series of bread crumbs giving viewers subtle hints to the world we will be delving into: the one of old and new gods congregated on American soil. In one of the more disturbing scenes from the book, we lay witness to the goddess Bilquis consuming a deceived lover in most jaw-dropping fashion.
Where American Gods stands out is the casting. Ricky Whittle offers a believably innocent yet hardened interpretation of our hero, Shadow with Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday finding the perfect balance of sleazy conman and calculated crime boss. Looking ahead to charaters yet introduced, heavy hitters such as Cloris Leachman, Crispin Glover, Peter Stomare, and Gilian Anderson are due up. Episode One: The Bone Orchard held very tight and true to the original text of the novel and without major deviation from the core story, we are surely in for a highly entertaining story to unfold.
American Gods airs Sunday evenings at 9PM on Starz.