By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Some fascinating gods, and series revelations come in episode 3, shrouded in storms and snow. Shadow finally comes out of his shell and we’re again introduced to some new characters. Another extremely visual and poetic episode.
Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane), after convincing Czernobog to help them out later down the line, rob a bank to secure funds for their future endeavours, and Shadow begins to question reality and his influence on the world.
American Gods is a show that gives a lot on the visual aspect of things. I’ve basically been drunk off the neon colours and delicately floating blood and gore since the first episode, but it was this one that really gave way to mystical underworld that we want to see.
The exquisite opening scene really opened up the mythology. Seeing the dead woman take a journey up an Escher-like staircase with the Egyptian god of death Anubis (Chris Obi), told us that it’s your belief that determines your afterlife. The desert cliffs and the sphinx cat were a real nice touch – some wonderful thought and analysis has gone into not just Neil Gaiman’s source material, but into real god mythologies. It was also pleasant to see Anubis actually helping and guiding a human rather than taking advantage of or killing them, as we’ve seen in episodes with other gods thus far.
By far the most magnificent scene in this episode though, was the quiet rooftop meeting of Shadow and Slavik night goddess Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar). The scene somewhat resembled a scene from ‘Peter Pan’ or similar fairy tale, and the teddy bear on the end of the telescope was the icing on the cake, while Wednesday and Zorya Vechernyaya danced in the rain below. Wonderful character building.
Another standout moment was obviously the controversial gay sex scene between the two Muslim men. Fantastic utilisation of effects here – the oil covered bodies and the fire within. This scene has been built up in the media as being one of the most out-there gay sex scenes in television so far. It was certainly ballsy, but of course not quite as controversial as headlines suggested. The Jinn’s (Mousa Kraish) fire-filled eyes symbolise some kind of connection to the peculiar Bison that Shadow met in the first episode. When will these two meet face-to-face?
Speaking of Shadow, this is the first time that Ricky Whittle seems to be really working out the part and getting a bit more comfortable in this ex-con’s shoes. The more that Shadow surrenders to the godly happenings slowly engulfing his life, the better Whittle’s performance becomes. He’s still far from perfect, but I can really see him blossoming later in the season.
So what’s in store next? We know that Wednesday and Shadow are off to one of the most holy places in the country for a meeting of sorts – expect some proper psychedelic stuff there. The dead wife Laura has also popped up thanks to the lucky coin, so we might also get some back story on that front. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the episode began with an introduction to another god. It seems to be the trend the series is following at the moment.
Photo: BWA Crew