We will start this American Gods premiere review with a bit of an unsurprising admission: We’re a Bryan Fuller connoisseur. Hannibal and Pushing Daisies are among our favorite shows of all time, and we loved Heroes when he was around for it.
With all of this in mind, we were predisposed to enjoy his new series, which premieres on Starz Sunday night with a thought-provoking, emotionally haunting story about a man in Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) who finds himself pulled apart psychologically following a series of life changes. He gets released from prison, and then finds himself sitting alongside a mysterious omniscient con artist named Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) aboard an airplane destined for Eagle Rock. It doesn’t make it, but Shadow finds his own way. This is one of the themes of the episode — a self-reliant man forced into this further in a world where he has almost no friends and little support system. He’s lost both his wife and his good friend Robbie, and to make matters worse, he learns that his wife was having an affair at the time of her death.
There may be no more awkward and rage-induced scene than fellow mourner Audrey wanting to get revenge on her unfaithful spouse by committing a sexual act with Shadow right in front of the bodies. There may be no more bizarre scene than near the end of the episode, where Shadow effective finds himself in another world trying to grasp with yet another “person” who knows too much about who he is and what he’s supposed to know.
How much of this is real? We write this as someone without knowledge of the source material, but there is a case to be made for the entire story as a man trying to grasp a purpose in the life after suffering a series of terrible traumas. Being one with the gods is a way to establish a sort of grounding, especially when being an ex-con often means that you are on the fringe of society.
In the long run, the big challenge that American Gods may have as a series is that it is inherently detached. Shadow Moon is a man in separate worlds, and it doesn’t quite seem as though he has a firm grasp on any of them. The series explores the idea of faith in an interesting way, at times showing it to be an asset while at others suggesting that doing so makes you a cog in a larger machine. It’s a show that will suck you in and stun you; whether or not it leaves you discussing the finer intricacies of the story remains to be seen. This is a show about power, about understanding, and possibly about imagination and reality. We’re not sure how much of the plot we’ll discuss here in these reviews, because we are so consumed by the moments — the drops of the coin, the lightning storm, and Whittle’s screaming into the wilderness, a desperate plea for understanding in a world without kindness.
American Gods does have a ways to go, but it’s kicked off its journey with an outstanding first episode. Grade: A-.
Be sure to share your thoughts on the American Gods premiere, and some of the moments that struck you like a bolt, in the comments.
Meanwhile, be sure to click here in the event you want some further news now regarding the second episode of the show and more.