American Gods S01E05: “Lemon Scented You”
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 explicit spoilers for all of the first four episodes of American Gods.
This Week on American Gods:
This week on American Gods, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) confronts his late wife Laura (Emily Browning), before he and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) are confronted over an event that occurred in an earlier episode.
In this episode, consequences came home to roost, certain proposals were made, and there were a few great escapes.
American Gods and Deviating From Established Canon:
All of this episode, except the cool animated “Somewhere in America” and Shadow’s confrontation with Laura, consisted of events that did not happen in the book. The show even spent a little time in a True Detective or general procedural like space (which ends up as sort of a callback to Bryan Fuller’s last show), where a law enforcement figure tries to reach out to our protagonist(s) and make them see reason from their point of view. However, the protagonist in both Hannibal and American Gods is a bit too far down the rabbit hole to be called back by traditional reason, and their point of view takes over the conversation: both in and out of the show. American Gods‘ now almost traditional brand of crazy literally (and inevitably) conquers the procedural interlude, and the viewers are still stunned nevertheless.
This is the way you should deviate from your canon when adapting media. When you switch from a book to a visual medium, it’s unlikely that you will be able to hit upon all the points that the book (or books) reached. You’re always going to disappoint some people, so you need to prioritize what to adapt and how to fill the other gaps. There are several options that you, potential adaptor, can take. You can elaborate on (or even change) points in canon that don’t quite mesh with your view of the universe in which you are playing. You can create situations where characters who have issues with each other meet and hash out their issues. You can clue in people who have not read the source material by making explicit parts of the dialogue or action that were more subtle in the original You can set up future plot deviations or how you are going to tackle a particular canon plot point. Without spoiling any revelations that occur in this episode, it seems that Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have used all of the above tactics in one episode, to dazzling effect.
There are only three more episodes left in this brief season, and this episode made me think that Fuller and Green may reach a stopping point that is going to appease and entice book readers, as well as keep viewers who aren’t particularly interested in the original novel interested and waiting for more.
American Gods airs Sundays at 9pm on Starz.
Images via Starz.