By Ryan Keating-Lambert
A wonderfully dark and twisted second outing with a distinctive road movie feel. Some interesting new characters come to surface, but none as intriguing as Gillian Anderson’s ‘Media’ – a serious ‘wow’ moment mid-episode.
After Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is mysteriously rescued from an extremely bloody and barbaric fight instigated by ‘Technical Boy’ (Bruce Langley), he sets off with Wednesday (Ian McShane) on a road trip to Chicago to recruit some help for what’s to come.
And what is to come? We know that there’s going to be some kind of war between the old gods and new, and we’re introduced to a few more in this episode. Let’s start with Mr Nancy, the spider from Africa whom we’re introduced to on one of the early slave ships to America. A powerful opening with reference to past slavery as well as the recent police shootings in the U.S. A clever and relevant adaptation. Mr Nancy appears to be a powerful and manipulative personality that’s going to have a lot to say down the line.
While on the road, Wednesday and Shadow stop at a department store for supplies, and that’s when we get the most memorable introduction thus far. Ladies and gentlemen, Gillian Anderson as ‘Media’ the god of… well, media basically. The television scene was creepy, and her Lucille Ball get-up, not to mention that accent, was just spot on. She seems to know a lot about Shadow, and Wednesday. Although she has a small role in the book, it seems like she could pop up at any time in the series after this out-of-the-blue encounter.
The creators did promise to expand on the female parts in the books, and what a start. Bilquis also gets revisited in this episode. We now know where her sex victims are supposedly going. Do they just float around in space forever with a hard-on and a smile on their face? She’s a beast with an appetite, but totally irresistible. Yetide Badaki’s charm continues to shine through here, and that theme music… Brian Reitzell’s signature score is starting to play a part that’s just as important as the show’s complex narrative, and seductive visual style.
Then we come to Czernobog and his hospitable flatmates. Peter Stormare is no stranger to the Russian accent (Fargo, Armageddon), so he doesn’t disappoint here, although I haven’t asked any Russians. He’s a brute, but a friendly brute. He’s going to be the rebel with a heart of the series it seems. Bittersweet.
The only qualm that I have (still) with the show is Shadow. Whittle seems to be slightly more comfortable in his shoes this episode, but still struggles to bring across any real emotion without going to over-the-top sadness territory (was he actually crying in bed or just laughing). The scenes with the dead wife Laura (Emily Browning) were less riveting, but still not necessarily bad.
The show’s heading in a real road movie kind of direction and also has a certain Alice in Wonderland vibe about it. McShane’s Wednesday makes for a wonderful Cheshire Cat. Let’s see where the rabbit hole takes us next.
Photo: BWA Crew