American Gods: Episode 1
***SPOILERS AHEAD. MAYBE. I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHERE I'M GOING WITH THIS YET***
I'm a huge fan of book adaptations. My favorite thing about them is comparing and contrasting. I'm totally that person who says "Yeah, but in the book...". I know it's annoying, but I don't care. American Gods is unique in that I don't care for the book. I've tried. I read it for the first time about ten years ago when most of my friends were losing their minds over it. I read it for the second time roughly five years ago. I still didn't get what all the fuss was about. Earlier this year, I decided maybe, for me, the audio version is the way to go. So, I gave it a listen. I still don't really like it. I mean, it's okay. I've consistently given it two stars on Goodreads. I do, however, like the wikipedia plot summary. Here's the link if you want a refresher or would like to have some idea what's happening when you watch the show.
Despite the book not really being my thing, I was very excited when I heard Starz was adapting it for television. I was even more excited when I heard Ian McShane was cast as Mr. Wednesday. I LOVE IAN MCSHANE. A lot. Anyway, the rest of the cast seemed pretty alright, the promos were great, and the trailer was rad. I don't have Starz so I went to a friend's house. There were four of us there; someone with no prior exposure to AG, a big fan of AG, someone who is currently reading and enjoying AG, and someone who is totally indifferent (me). After watching the premiere, the general consensus was, the show is pretty rad and one "I kept waiting for it to make sense." Well, keep waiting, guy, it won't make sense until the end. The plot is vague; it's weird, it's gory, it's visually appealing. The blood, there was a lot of blood, looked like red Jell-o that hadn't set up yet, which I liked. I prefer my gore over the top and cartoonish.
Again, the promo posters are awesome. Just look at that neon.
As with most book to screen adaptations, the episode merely scratched the surface without getting too deep into the story. I think that's what I'm going to like most about it. We'll get to meet all these interesting characters without going off on too many tangents.
Here's a basic run down of what happened last night. Shadow gets released from prison a few days early when his wife and best friend die in a car accident. Together. In an awkward position. Shadow can't catch his scheduled flight and ends up on a flight with Mr. Wednesday, who almost immediately offers him a job doing "mostly legal" stuff. Shadow initially declines, but ends up accepting the offer later when he and Mr. Wednesday happen to be hanging out in the same bar. While at the bar, they run into Mad Sweeney, a leprechaun, who wants to fight Shadow for no real reason. Just because. They fight. Shadow ends up with one of Sweeney's gold coins. Of course he has gold coins; he is a leprechaun, after all.
The following day, Shadow goes to his wife's funeral where he finds out she and the bestie were having an affair. Before leaving the cemetery, he tosses Sweeney's gold coin on her grave and it ominously sinks into the soil.
Shadow is then taken by one of the new gods and beaten up. Shadow has worked for Mr. Wednesday for roughly sixteen hours and has already been in two fights. He should find other work.
Somewhere in all this, we cut to Bilquis, the goddess of love, who seduces a man and absorbs him to regain youthfulness.
I told you it was weird.
The teaser for next week's episode looks pretty good. I mean, who doesn't like a wife returning from the dead. And I CANNOT wait until we get to meet Mr. Nancy. He's second only to Mr. Wednesday. He also has his own book, Anansi Boys, which I really, really like.
Even though it's not my favorite, I would recommend American Gods to anyone who likes fantasy novels and/or has an interest in mythology. I would also recommend, if you're skipping the book and going straight to the show, read the plot summary first. I think the show would be confusing, like Twin Peaks confusing, if you went in totally blind.