American Gods, the new series on STARZ is based on the book American Gods by British author Neil Gaiman. Until last night, I had resisted adding STARZ due to the enormity that is my monthly cable bill.
After my free STARZ months, I had bid a reluctant goodbye to The Outlander.
Recently, I winced when I learned that A Handmaid’s Tale was part of the Hulu lineup. You can’t afford it, I reminded myself. There are too many good shows and not enough time to watch them all, especially when it costs more. And then I read that Starz was airing a ten part series based on American Gods, a book that I had read and greatly enjoyed. My fiscal resolve developed a serious wobble.
STARZ had me at hello, American Gods.
As the first episode ended, did I have any regrets? Absolutely not!
Rather than the soul, American Gods explores the dark recesses of the human heart where magical thinking, desires and grudges reside, overruling logic and dictating our choices. The opening credits alone are worth a look. The lush visuals of American Gods reflect myth and machine. They create a jumble of the bizarre and the beautiful, a dreamlike landscape inhabited by fearsome creatures.
Gaiman’s American Gods is a war story. The old gods, brought to our shore by immigrants from different parts of the world, prepare for battle.
The first sequence involves a god carved from driftwood
Vikings land on a hostile New World shore. The bugs alone make this place a no go for the exhausted Norsemen. When the lack of a strong wind prevents their leaving, they create a god, hoping it will intercede and convince the stubborn wind to let them leave.
The god is greedy. It wants blood offerings.
The wind finally comes when half of the invaders are dead, the result of a mass sacrifice. Not wanting to linger and chance the wind changing its mind, the Vikings abandon their god in the New World along with their unburied dead.
In Episode One, “The Bone Orchard,” we meet Shadow Moon, an inmate serving time in a 21st Century prison.
On parole and on his way home for his wife’s funeral, Shadow (Ricky Whittle—The 100) becomes the reluctant employee of Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane—Ray Donovan, Deadwood plus too many to count).
A slick con artist, Mr. Wednesday embroils Shadow in the doings of the old gods, who are now scattered across the American landscape.
After losing a bar fight with Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber—Orange is the New Black), a six-foot plus leprechaun, Shadow begins to doubt his sense of reality and his commitment to his employer, Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday knows that America’s new gods are homegrown. Fathered by innovation, birthed and nurtured by commerce, the new gods mean to destroy the old ones.
Neglected and forgotten, the old gods, especially Mr. Wednesday, will not go gentle.
Knowledge of Shadow as Wednesday’s new bodyguard brings the wrath of one of the new gods, bratty know-it-all and nightmare millennial, Technical Boy (Bruce Langley—Dead Waters). After grilling him on Wednesday’s plans, Technical Boy orders Shadow’s death, a fate Shadow barely escapes as the episode ends.
Starz is currently airing American Gods with the last episode debuting on June 18th.
So, do any Americans, descendants of immigrants, believe in the gods of the old country?
I think some do. Ask any football fan how many rituals he or she performs to ensure a win for their favorite team. But don’t ask them during a game; that’s bad joo joo.