Review – American Gods S01E01: “The Bone Orchard”

American Gods Starz


American Gods S01E01: “The Bone Orchard”

Note: This review will not have explicit spoilers for either the book or the first episode of American Gods other than what is in the summaries for both pieces of media.

This week on American Gods:

In “The Bone Orchard”, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is released from prison early so he could go to his wife’s funeral. On his way there, he meets and is employed by an enigmatic but mysterious con man who goes by Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as a right hand man.

American Gods S01E01: "The Bone Orchard"

This episode was extraordinarily well composed. It followed Shadow’s plot line for the majority of the episode, but also wandered off into a couple of anecdotes which the show has yet to give an in-universe explanation. As someone who has read the novel, I caught several instances of foreshadowing, from hints to a character’s identity to a sneak peek at a character’s endgame. Although a couple visual hints bore fruit this episode, almost none of the hints placed in this episode have yet paid off. American Gods is clearly playing the long game (like Mr. Wednesday himself), which is really exciting as a viewer. The resolution of “The Bone Orchard” was a scene that diverged from the novel and left a cliffhanger-esque moment to draw in book readers and new fans alike.

However, for a show that’s been touting their female characters, not many appeared in this episode. My count is about two and a half. Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) got an introduction similar to the one she got in the first chapter of the book, and if I spoiled said introduction for you, you would not believe me. Audrey (Betty Gilpin) appeared in a couple scenes towards the end of the episode, having a complicated reaction to the death of her husband and her best friend. Laura (Emily Browning) didn’t get a “real life” appearance until after she was put in her coffin, when there was opportunity to show her earlier, talking to Shadow over the phone. Thankfully, the promo makes it seems like at least one of these characters will have more of a spotlight next episode. In addition, there are more female characters that have been cast for this season, but have not appeared, notably Media (Gillian Anderson), Easter (Kristin Chenoweth), and Zorya Vechernaya (Cloris Leachman). Since all three of those characters have more to do with Mr. Wednesday’s involvement in the main plot, which the television audience doesn’t know much about yet, there is a good deal of potential for all three of the aforementioned as-yet unseen characters.

American Gods S01E01: "The Bone Orchard"

On Watchability of American Gods:

Since this is a new television series, some people may have questions regarding whether they can watch it with their kids. The short answer is “do not.” The longer answer is a bit more complicated. One of American Gods‘ show runners, Bryan Fuller, used to be the show runner for the NBC cult hit show HannibalAmerican Gods often uses blood to color scenes in a way that reminds me of that show. If your theoretical child is mature enough to watch Hannibal and/or Game of Thrones, they may enjoy watching American Gods. If you would not let your child near either of those shows, you probably don’t want to have them watch American Gods either.

American Gods is a series airing on Starz at 9 pm on Sunday nights. This television series is based on the popular novel by Neil Gaiman. The first season will have eight episodes. 

Points to Remember From This Episode:

  • The first scene.
  • Mr. Wednesday’s proficiency as a con artist.
  • The episode’s title setting.
  • Shadow and Mr. Wednesday’s first interaction
  • What is Mr. Wednesday up to?

Some of these points may come back next episode and some may come back in a future season, but I think we should be on the lookout for plot hints.

What did you think of “The Bone Orchard”? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Starz

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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan is a 24 year old MLIS student who prefers to read over socializing and is passionate about diversity and accessibility.

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