OK, let’s ask a basic question: what the hell was that?
That strikes me as a good question. Here we are at the end of another season of American Gods, a show rocked by behind-the-scenes problems, a full eight episodes, and ultimately, I don’t think anything much happened. Granted, season one went the same way. Eight episodes and barely any plot advancement. However, I felt like the show was going somewhere then. The various asides showing the backstories of different gods was cool. The overall look of the series was awesome. The cast was spectacular. And now, here at the end of season two, and I don’t know how much of that holds true.
Side stories? Well, not so much. Side monologues as everybody hung out at Mr. Ibis’ funeral home, sure, but not so much side stories.
The overall look? I felt like the show was trying to copy it this season and only doing a so-so job of it.
The spectacular cast? OK, we still have that one, and a few more well-cast characters to boot. New Media is every bit as obnoxious as she should be, and every bit as shallow as her predecessor. Technical Boy is back as Quantum Boy. Same actor, new wardrobe. And the holdovers still do good work even if it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Take this finale. We open with Mr. World explaining, by way of the famous War of the Worlds urban legend, how fear works. It’s creepy and cool, and Crispin Glover never raises his voice above a quiet whisper. Then there’s Nancy and Ibis debating over chess. The Jinn gets the last word in that scene, and it’s brilliant in the way it puts the loudmouthed Mr. Nancy in his place. Shadow is still something of a cipher, but it fits his name at least. And while Mad Sweeney is lying dead on a table and Mr. Wednesday is off enjoying a nice steak, we still have Laura Moon here. Is there a single character on the show more deliciously despicable than Laura Moon?
That said, someone must have remembered Bilquis went almost the entire season fully dressed and said, “We can’t have that!” I get what kind of goddess she is, but that doesn’t make it less exploitative that she spent most of season one not wearing much.
But the bottom line is a simple one. Not much happened. We had the House on the Rock, and then a lot of philosophizing and looking for things that nobody can either find or hold onto for very long, and then in the end, everyone leaves the funeral home and goes off somewhere else. Wednesday left early. The Jinn took Salim with him to protect his lover. Bilquis and Nancy probably just departed on their own. Laura, rejected by Shadow, takes Sweeney’s body and vows to kill Wednesday. And Shadow hops a bus for a town in Wisconsin familiar to book readers.
However, Shadow did have some revelations of his own. A series of hints shown in rapid succession tell him Wednesday is his father. He’s a demigod or something. His absorption and removal from Wednesday’s World Tree seem to fix the fact that he, Wednesday, and Salim were all suddenly wanted terrorists. He has a magical new identity. He has a destination. Too bad this life isn’t done with him yet.
Will I be back for season three? Good question. I do think American Gods is still salvageable. As meandering as season two was, there was a lot of good there. Anytime Wednesday monologues and explains things, I dig it. Mad Sweeney’s whole tragic backstory was fantastic. The flashback episode to show why there’s no Thor hanging around largely worked, as did the quest to recruit Money. The House on the Rock somehow showed the beauty of these divine beings while still showing how fragile they were. And the overall themes of Neil Gaiman’s novel are still there. This show really just needs a solid showrunner to keep things moving. It didn’t have one here. It may for season three. I won’t give up on it just yet.
But it’s done for now. Let’s see what’s up for next Monday…
Oh, Stranger Things is back.
That should be a bit of an improvement. I hope.