American Gods S01E03: “Head Full of Snow”
Note: This review will not have explicit spoilers for either the book or this episode of American Gods other than what is in the summaries for both pieces of media. However, this review will have spoilers for the first and second episode of American Gods.
This week on American Gods:
This week on American Gods, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) plays a game for his life and plays the role of accomplice to Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) bank robber.
This episode was all about buildup. Shadow still doesn’t quite understand of what Mr. Wednesday’s world consists, but this episode contained the most clues so far, for both Shadow and the audience (the audience, who know what the title of the show is and are able to watch the “Coming to America” sequences, have a leg up on Shadow). The show is building up to the eventual reveal of Wednesday’s world, but this episode contained other smaller buildups. In certain parts of the episode, it felt like the writers were spending more time on the buildup than on the actual event to which they were building. On the bright side, it seems like Shadow will use his experiences in this episode to figure out what is up with Wednesday’s world sooner or later, and the episode-ending reveal, in particular, may shock him enough to believe in what Wednesday is selling (for better or for worse).
It’s clear that showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green like to take their time with this show (as was the case with Fuller’s previous show Hannibal). Longtime fans of the material know what is coming, and are chomping at the bit for their favorite sections of the novel to make it to the screen (one of my favorite book moments actually happened in this episode). But both they and the viewers currently left in the dark may be getting frustrated by the writing wallowing in detours before showing some real answers. The writers have not officially resolved the first episode’s cliffhanger, the question of whom saved Shadow from the Technical Boy’s minions. This episode ended on a reveal that I’ve been expecting since the first episode (and takes place in the book timeline around the beginning of the second episode). Part of my worry with this show is that Fuller and Green may end focusing a bit too much on aesthetic over plot and change certain parts of the plot just because they “look cool.” Although aesthetic is important in television (and no one can deny that Fuller and Green have mastered a unique aesthetic for American Gods), fans also really latch on to plot and theories. A fanbase cannot be built on aesthetic alone.
In conclusion, this episode was good, but not a standout among the episodes so far. Fuller and Green are certainly infatuated with the world that they’ve created but don’t seem to like showing the guts of it to outside viewers (and seem to praise themselves overmuch about inclusion). As soon as viewers start getting some real answers, the pace of the show should pick up.
Next week on American Gods, the show does something truly hard to believe: focuses on a female character.
In case you missed the news, American Gods has been renewed for a second season. It’s not clear how many episodes that season will have, but it’s likely that it too will have eight episodes.
American Gods airs on Starz at 9pm on Sunday nights.
Images courtesy of Starz.