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TV Review: American Gods (Season 1, Episode 3)

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This new instalment of American Gods has Shadow questioning his new job when Mr Wednesday intends to rob a bank to fund an army – one, it seems, he wishes to use to restore the world to what it once was.

From a visual aspect, Bryan Fuller continues to make American Gods a visual masterpiece. A scene that sticks out near the beginning of the episode – Mr Wednesday and Zorya Vechernyaya (played by Cloris Leachman) is standing in the rain, the droplets falling slow and vivid against a dark sky. Zorya says “I can taste you on the rain. What have you done?” and gets a simple and powerful answer from Wednesday, “War.”

This scene is stunning and builds the tension towards what one hopes will be the apex of the series.

At the same time that this scene is playing out, you have Shadow and Czernobog (played by Peter Stormare) who have continued their battle of life and death checkers. Whilst it’s not immediately obvious why this juxtaposition is so important, it is noticeable about the idea of old verse new.

Before the rain scene, in Zorya’s bedroom, Wednesday reminisces about a time before – of worship and jewels and beloved by all – a clear message that Wednesday wants a return to that kind of worship.

Shadow, however, uses age and predictability against Czernobog and makes a point of telling him so. It’s an enjoyable debate to have in the middle of such a fantastical and gore tale about war and gods, a combination that is so wonderfully Gaiman that it’s translating onto screen feels honest to what American Gods had always been intended to be.

Something to be commended about American Gods as a series is the amount of diversity each episode has. Following gods from different belief systems, the old and the new, allows for every country, every culture to be touched upon in a way that isn’t seen in other forms of media. A glimpse of this is a cab ride “somewhere in America” with two men speaking in Arabic to each other, the words appearing as Arabic lettering as well as English.

It’s such a small thing that makes American Gods stand out so much from other similar stories.

This scene also ended with a really intense and intimate love scene and a play on the idea of the transferal of power that was fascinating to watch.

Perhaps the part that is quite hard to understand is that, despite all that Shadow has seen up until this point, all that he has experienced, he still feels the need to emphasis the idea that “one is fantasy and the other is science”.

Whilst it makes sense that Shadow would debate and push back against this sudden upheaval in his understanding of the world, the random insistence of it at whenever it suits him feels jarring – either he accepts or he doesn’t.

Although, as Mr Wednesday says, “You are pretending you cannot believe in impossible things” and perhaps, this is the only way that Shadow can cope with what is happening around him: denial.

Which brings up an important question about Shadow’s character – faith. It’s spoken about quite a bit in this episode, questioning what Shadow believes and what that means for him.

It’s a good way of exploring a character and in a story with so many beings that rely on the faith of others, it’s definitely something of relevance.

Episode 3 of American Gods has set themes, hinted towards the mystery behind character intentions and continued to build this brilliantly vast world of gods and myth.

New episodes of American Gods are available weekly on Amazon Prime. 




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