This week marks the Television premier of Neil Gaiman’s beloved series American Gods .
Let’s just preface that once again Bryan Fuller has delivered a unique, beautiful, and insane television show. The cinematography alone is worth the hour of your time as it’s visually intoxicating. The way the landscape, blood, and everything else just encapsulates you as you watch it, is just interesting and a great example of visually captivating.
In our inaugural episode, we are first introduced to a time long ago, showcasing the power of the gods. While we do not see their physical powers in the beginning, we see what their powers manifest in the form of belief of their followers. Some Vikings make it to the new world and after first dealing with hostile Native Americans, disease, and no escape, they have to rely on their Old Gods. There we get to see the lengths they will go to in order to appease their Gods. First maiming their eyes, then battling each other to the death, we get to see the devotion they will go through in order to display their power of belief. In order to just get the chance to have the wind, they go through extraordinary lengths to appease their deity, the one-eyed Odin. And so goes the theme of the show, Gods require belief and devotion in order to thrive
In the present, we meet Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle, fresh off his stint on The 100), an ex-convict who is released a few days ahead of schedule after he finds out that his wife has passed away. He keeps his head down while in the clink. The only friend he has is Low Key (I’m sure he will be important later on). It seems that he is special. He knows a storm is coming, and that storm begins with his wife’s death. Thanks to his wife’s death, he gets to leave prison early, a good thing, but for a bad cause. From there, we get into the weird. As he gets stuck at the airport, he meets Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) in first class of the plane. Mr. Wednesday wants to offer him a job and has all the charisma of the devil himself, although he is the Norse God Odin. Wednesday wants Shadow to be his bodyguard. Why would the Allfather need a bodyguard?
Elsewhere, we meet another God, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki). Thanks to a Tinder date, the Goddess is off to meet a new gentleman caller. She feels “old” as she is one of the Old Gods. She requires worship and devotion from her new friend as they engage in sex. There, we are treated to the most bizarre sex probably ever seen on TV (or even on the Internet). As she is giving this man the ride of his life, she literally swallows him whole until she is the only one left. Literally, everyone watching their TV was now fully engaged as this is a TV show, unlike any others.
Shadow doesn’t immediately accept his offer, yet the two cross paths again at a local bar. Shadow’s world gets even more interesting as at the same bar he meets Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), who is a self-described leprechaun, although he is a little too tall to be one. The two engage in a few choice words and end up engaging in a lovely fist fight. Mr. Wednesday is thrilled watching Shadow in action and afterward, he once again offers Shadow a job. This time he accepts.
Wednesday allows Shadow to go to his wife’s funeral where he finds out the one thing you never want to find out about your wife. All he knew is that she died in a car accident. Now he got to find out the uncomfortable truth that his wife died while giving oral sex to his best friend. That’s not a great way to want to remember your beloved. His friend’s ex-wife is also just as upset as you would think she should be, and she even offers Shadow a little “revenge sex” to their significant others. Shadow, still being a noble person, declines. Shadow does drop off one of Mad Sweeney lucky coins at her grave, so that probably means that we haven’t seen the last of his wife.
As Shadow makes his way back to his hotel so that he can meet up with Mr. Wednesday, we get even more weirdness. A glowing gadget is seen in the grass. As he goes to investigate, he is sucked into another reality. There we meet the Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), one of the New Gods who wants to know what’s the deal with Mr. Wednesday. The vaping Technical Boy literally has minion drones ready to beat Shadow up if he doesn’t give the right answers. Since Wednesday has been coy with Shadow, he doesn’t even have to lie about what he doesn’t know. It’s obvious that Technical Boy and Mr. Wednesday are at odds with each other, and the Old and New Gods will come to blows soon enough. Shadow’s lack of knowledge doesn’t matter to Technical Boy, who options that Shadow is to be “deleted.” As he is teleported to be deleted by the Technical Boy’s faceless minions, they are defeated by someone (probably Wednesday), and the war between Old and New Gods beings!
This show is beyond fascinating! Even from the inaugural episode we have barely scratched the surface, but become completely enveloped in a new world where belief powers gods, and if belief is going elsewhere, those gods need to reclaim their worshippers. Whether it’s through sex or devotion, they will go to war with their newfound enemies in order to survive. What is Shadow’s part to play in all of this? It’s obvious he is special. Is he a demigod? Is he an Old or New? Time will tell as we explore this introductory season to a mesmerizing show.
American Gods airs Sunday nights on Starz at 9:00 PM EST.