Well that was… interesting.
Based on the novel of the same, American Gods is a bold and ambitious new series by Starz as the cable network tries to grab hold of pop culture in the new age of peak TV. Judging by the pilot, it just might be on to the next big thing (and let’s face it, everyone wants to be the next Game of Thrones).
Now this isn’t the most straightforward pilot episode. In fact, I was often confused and I’m still unsure where the show is going. I can of course google the novel and spoil all the surprises but I choose to enter this show with an open mind and zero expectations. The Bone Orchard at least introduces the show’s bizarre world in a skillful enough manner that I feel like sticking around at least for a couple of episodes.
It helps that the show’s two leads, Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane, are absolutely glorious in their roles. The former is our protagonist, Shadow Moon, a former convict who is released early from prison after the sudden death of his wife. Whittle does a splendid job with his potent mix of quiet intensity and heart. But McShane is seriously incredible as Mr. Wednesday, a mysterious man (or is he?) who hires Shadow Moon as his bodyguard. If nothing else, at least we’ve got a rock-solid dynamic between these two that’s sure to entertain no matter how crazy the plot shenanigans get.
Although I’m still not too sure what this show is about (a battle between the Gods perhaps with Shadow Moon smack-dab in the middle?), I’ve got surprisingly high hopes for this one.
Bits & Shadows
– Lots of twisted imagery in this episode: the strange opening credits, the flaming bull, the surplus of blood and guts at every corner – it’s all very trippy.
– Loved Shadow Moon screaming out into the abyss. Whittle is really great at conveying raw pain.
– The “Somewhere in America” super felt really out of place.
– Hey look, it’s Beverly from The Mindy Project basically playing the same character.
– So is Mad Sweeney really a leprechaun?
– Badass fight scene between Sweeney and Shadow. I particularly loved the slo-mo shot of the punch landing on Shadow’s face.
– The Goddess of Love, Bilquis, swallowing a guy through her vagina has to be the single most shocking thing I’ve ever seen on a TV show. I still can’t get over it. Also, so pornographic.
– Why did the coin sink into the ground above the coffin? Could Shadow’s wife be coming back?
– I genuinely laughed out loud as Audrey begged Shadow to sleep with her since their deceased spouses were cheating on them together.
– The noose imagery was really powerful. I guess this show won’t be shying away from some tough topics.
– Super strange ending with Shadow Moon meeting Technical Boy (yes the names on this show are super weird) in the limo and then getting almost beaten to death by his faceless minions. Care to guess who saved him at the last second?
Narrator: Their sails hung flabby as Grandmother’s teat.
Low Key Lyesmith: You understand what I’m saying right now?
Shadow Moon: One of those “behaviors that work “inside a specialized environment such as a prison but can fail to work when outside such an environment” – sort of situations.
Low Key Lyesmith, No, dummy. I’m saying do not piss off those bitches in airports.
Mr. Wednesday: Are you nervous?
Shadow Moon: Uh, never flown before.
Mr. Wednesday: Nothing to it. Just sit back and be a bird and drink up.
Mr. Wednesday: What should I call you if I were so inclined?
Shadow Moon: Shadow Moon.
Mr. Wednesday: Oh, my boy, that is one outstandingly improbable name. Shadow Moon. Moon Shadow. Goddamn hippie parents.
Mr. Wednesday: It’s all about getting people to believe in you. It’s not their cash, it’s their faith.Take this plane, for example. This 80-ton chub of metal, seat cushions, and Bloody Mary mix has no right to be soaring through the sky, but along comes Newton explaining something about the air flow over the wing creating an uplift or some such shit, none of which makes a lick of sense, but you got 82 passengers back there who believe it so fiercely, the plane continues its journey safely. Now, what’s keeping us aloft? Faith or Newton? Mm. They give you a free little shit kit in first class.
Mr. Wednesday: You drive where needs driving to. You take care of things generally on my behalf. And in an emergency, and in an emergency only, you kick the asses of those whose asses require kicking.
Shadow Moon: I think someone might’ve actually said she’s in a better place.
Audrey: She’s in Parkview Cemetery. Target would be more interesting than here.
Audrey: Get used to the boot, puppy. There is no closure from the dead.
Audrey: An eye for an eye, blow job for a blow job, right here where they can see us.
Shadow Moon: I appreciate the offer, but-
Audrey: My husband and your wife my best friend I want them to see it. I want Robbie to watch while I take this gorgeous man’s cock in my mouth. Pissing on him wasn’t enough. I want you to come in my mouth, I’m going to spit it on his grave.
Technical Boy: Language is a virus. Religion, an operating system, and prayers are just so much fucking spam.
With its razor-sharp dialogue and haunting imagery, the American Gods pilot is an odd but ultimately engaging debut episode.