Review – American Gods S02E04: “The Greatest Story Ever Told”

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American Gods S02E04: "The Greatest Story Ever Told"
  • Writing - 7.5/10
  • Acting - 7.5/10
  • Overall - 7.5/10
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This week on American Gods, Technical Boy reflects on his origins, three gods have a philosophical debate, and Shadow gets real cozy with a cat.

Last Week on American Gods

Last week on American Gods, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) made his way to Cairo, IL, courtesy of Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs). New Media (Kahyun Kim) made her long-awaited appearance. She and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) went to pay their respects to Argus. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Laura Moon (Emily Browning) went to him as well, but not with respect in mind. Laura killed Argus, regaining some life in her lifeless body, but Wednesday abandoned her for his own agenda.

Issues With a Road Trip-esque Narrative

American Gods S02E04 The Greatest Story Ever Told on Starz
American Gods S02E04: “The Greatest Story Ever Told” – Starz

American Gods, in both media, is all about the journey. It’s supposed to epitomize the road trip: a journey with a destination, but one that doesn’t matter in the end. However, as they bring up at least once an episode, there is a war going on. Wars are nothing like road trips. Book readers know that that aspect of the plot has a definite goal and a definite conclusion, one that capital-m Matters. Although the war is brought up in every episode, there’s a case to be made that it does not progress in every episode.

Without spoilers, this episode ends with two characters being refused assistance by a third party. That subplot did not move the longer arc in any meaningful way, especially since it was original to the show. We are now halfway through the second season, and they’ve only promised one more. These days, even the promise of an additional season isn’t enough to guarantee one. I get that this show is all about the journey, but TV shows don’t necessarily have a great deal of time to hang out at rest stops.

Neil Gaiman says that the plan for the show is to complete five seasons. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but are enough people watching American Gods to sustain these detours?

American Gods vs. Game of Thrones

One of the other notable fantasy shows of our current age, Game of Thrones, could be said to have the opposite adaptation problem. They are only barely comparable: they’re adaptations of material by notable white male fantasy writers. For the first five seasons, Game of Thrones spent about a book’s worth of plot a season. The effectiveness of the pace was debatable, and maybe could have been tweaked to accommodate how A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons take place over the same period of time. Eventually, they ran out of books, and that has noticeably changed the show. However, Game of Thrones will end this year with a very good run length of 8 seasons. I am not convinced that American Gods has the capacity to go that distance, or even to its planned destination.

Another notable comparison point between these two shows is the showrunner problem. Game of Thrones has managed to keep the same showrunners the whole time. Considering that American Gods is on its fourth showrunner, that’s a pretty big comparison point. Do we think that makes a difference in maintaining a show?

Next week on American Gods, we see Laura and Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) in agreement and Wednesday teams up with a different mortal.

American Gods airs Sunday nights on Starz at 8 pm.

What did you think about this week’s episode? Is there enough faith left for this show? Talk about it in the comments!

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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan needs books to function, and therefore can infodump quite a lot about them, particularly when they're either science fiction or fantasy.

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