When word got out that Starz was not renewing American Gods for a fourth season, I can’t say I was all that surprised. Had that come after two seasons, I might not even minded all that much since season two was such a mess.
I will say, as I make most of my banner images myself…the one I made for this show is really, really bad. I won’t miss that.
But will I miss American Gods itself? That’s harder to quantify. Season one was fantastic, a visual delight with some fantastic storytelling moments that said more about the world of American Gods than the plot of the show. As someone who has read the book two or three times, I can safely say it got the spirit of the book right, and the various moments of gods in America doing their thing, whether in the past or the present, were always great and rarely connected to the plot. The show got away from that, revived a little this season, but these flashbacks always connected to…something.
Though I don’t think this show ever came close to matching Mr. Nancy’s introduction for sheer awesomeness.
Then between seasons one and two, we had…problems. A lot of people from both in front of and behind the camera left, made especially worse by the fact the show didn’t have someone in the showrunner position for most of season two, or if they did, it wasn’t a consistent person with Neil Gaiman himself possibly holding it for a period despite a complete lack of experience in that sort of job. More actors left after season two, and going into season three, I wasn’t all that psyched to see it. I mean, I put off season three of American Gods to cover The Queen’s Gambit instead. I don’t for a minute necessarily regret that decision, but the fact that I made it at all says a lot about my feelings for what American Gods had become.
And then season three righted a lot of what went wrong. True, it wasn’t up to the high standards I held for season one, but it was a coherent and fun story again and not just a bunch of characters sitting around a funeral home and arguing over this and that before inevitably killing off a few more characters and leaving others to spin in the wind. It’s telling that, of all the Old Gods, by the time this episode ends, it looks like the only ones left are Wednesday (sort of), Czernobog, and Mr. Ibis. Sure, there’s also Bilquis and the other African deities, but they’re off doing something different involving chosen ones (Laura is one? Really?).
But I knew the show had not been renewed when I sat down to watch this last episode, and I saw hints they were going for the big reveal from the novel about what is actually going on as Mr. World more or less confirmed he’s really some sort of Trickster deity (and Technology Boy is, it turns out, the longtime God of Innovation, the nature of whom’s powers cause him to forget that every so often), and Wednesday, after getting Shadow to stand vigil on the World Tree, also reveals he tricked his own son because such an act of devotion would bring a god like Odin back to life.
No matter what happened, I always got a kick out of Ian McShane chewing scenery. But that’s true just about everywhere.
Regardless, this is the end, and it ended on a cliffhanger that may or may not ever be resolved. There was talk of perhaps doing a TV movie to resolve everything. Given what I know about the novel, that may be possible. It would have to be at a different pace than the series had been thus far, but it could be done. Shadow would just need to survive the World Tree and come back to figure out what exactly his father was planning, and then there’d need to be a reveal on who and what Mr. World is. If they were going to do the book’s twist, they set it up nicely.
So, I may miss what American Gods could have been, but consistency of quality was a problem for this show over its three season run. Who knows? Season four might have gone back to the problems of season two.
Overall, the good did largely outweigh the bad, so let’s say 8 out of 10 Dead Wives Who Won’t Stay Down.
But I do need something else for Mondays. Maybe I’ve been too happy lately. You know what that means? It means The Handmaid’s Tale came back.
Yeah, a nice weekly dose of unbridled misery seems to be in order, and it does seem to fit the Monday theme of TV shows derived from a single novel that wasn’t all that long to begin with.