American Gods 101 - The Bone Orchard
PREMIERED SUN, APRIL 30 at 9PM ET/PT
Official Synopsis: When Shadow Moon is released from prison a few days early, following the death of his wife, he meets the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who recruits Shadow as his bodyguard. Attacked his first day on the job, Shadow quickly discovers that this role may be more than he bargained for.
It has been a long time since I've sat down to actually write out an opinion on a TV series. For the past few years, I'd say I've watched quite a few shows that I recommended or discouraged people from watching, but never really gave much of an in-depth look at the show to explain my choice.
But then along comes a show like American Gods.
I'll be upfront about a few things: I love Neil Gaiman's work. All of it. I was introduced to him through the Sandman comics, (if you haven't read them go buy them) and then devoured every novel he had written at that point. American Gods was the last of the books I read, and its tale was one for the generation. The battle between old and new...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The series doesn't start where the book does. Instead, it elects to start years before, an introduction to the god, and the violence that is about to come. The tale of a group of men stuck on land, far from home and with seemingly no way out, they try to gain the attention of their unnamed god.
It really should be pointed out that if gore is not your thing, you really should avoid the series. Its over-the-top violence rivals Kill Bill.
As the story truly begins we meet our protagonist, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle). Days away from being released from prison, he desperately wants to get home to his wife and restart that life of his. Shadow is talking with a cellmate in the prison yard, seemingly his only friend. There's no mention of the guy's name, and for good reason, as you'll later discover.
This is around when we first get to see a glimpse of the world we're about to enter. Shadow dreams of skeletal bodies littering a forest, as a near magical cosmos filled sky hangs overhead. He walks forward to a tree whose branches reach out as hands. Shadow seems as lost as the viewer, but neither seems to mind all that much.
The dreams of a happy reunion with his wife and friends come to an all too tragic end as he learns that his wife died. That becomes the spark to introduce Mr. Wednesaday. A con man, or so it seems on first meeting, who takes a liking to Shadow, but has far too much knowledge about the guy then he should.
Another thing I'm going to be upfront about; Ian McShane is one of my favorite actors. He's smart and commanding, and I can only imagine how this role is going to progress. TV shows are giving accomplished older actors the chance to shine these past few years, and it's making for amazing television.
Before the episode can end, we're introduced to the other side, for now, let's call it "the new". Gleaming white and insulting to Wednesday and those like him. Threats of deletion. And in so we get the idea of the series. Digital vs. Analogue.
As the faceless sometimes pixelated minions violently attack Shadow he's saved by an unseen force whose presence tears their bodies in half, leaving the ground stained bright red with blood.
I'm not here to give you a play-by-play of the episode, but just to entice you in a little more: there's a scene where a man get swallowed into the vagina of a goddess, a 6-foot Leprechaun who loves to fight and a buffalo with burning eyes that asks you to believe.
The first episode does what any good introduction does; it draws you in, leaving you with more questions than answers but makes you think the answers are within reach.
For a start to a series it's not quite as strong as Westworld, but I'm hooked and looking forward to more.