American Gods – S1 E1 – Reaction Breakdown Review

Someone asked if I’d watched American Gods a while ago and I’d never heard of it, but I’d made a mental note to check it out but didn’t get around to it.  My sister started watching a few weeks ago, and asked had I started watching and again I said I would get around to it.  Yesterday I was participating in a YouTube Live stream and they were reviewing Season 2 Episode 2 of American Gods.  I was about to leave because I’ve never watched the show before.  The content creator, John St. Baptiste (YouTube Channel link here) suggested I stayed as a preview.  By the end of the stream I was ready to begin watching. 

Before I watched I googled the show description and found out that American Gods is based on a novel by Neil Gaiman that involves ancient and modern mythology, which is right up my alley.  I will try my best to avoid spoilers until I’m caught up to the live show.  I expect that I will have more questions than an actual review since I have no true insight to the show as I have not read the source material.

Here goes: Season 1 – Episode 1 – Reaction/Review

Opening shows someone writing a story and right away I’m wondering who is writing this story and is the whole show from the perspective of this story teller?  The first scene appears to be Vikings arriving in the New World, which I assume is America, rather than their travels to England or France.  They are greeted by Native Americans’ arrows and decide to stay on the coast, wise choice.  They want to return to their home but the wind is not in their favor so they are asking the Gods for assistance.  This reminds me a little of Homer’s Odyssey; however, I assume they are praying to Odin, since they decided to put an eye out but it’s a bit confusing since I thought Thor control the weather.  Not sure; however, this show of devotion did not work and they decided to simulate battle, skirts vs skins and basically kill each other.  Since their God is a war God, this plan works and they’re able to leave.  I assume this scene is to give some context around how human behavior in relation to religion. 

Next, we meet Ricky Whittle’s (Lincoln from The 100) character Shadow Moon, who is in prison.  He has a prison friend whose name I did not catch but I feel as though Shadow is the only one who can see this prison friend.  Shadow makes a call to his wife, whom he tells that he would be home in 5 days.  She tells him that she and a friend (also did not catch his name) are planning a surprise party for his homecoming.  He asks her repeatedly if everything was ok and I assume this is foreshadowing that everything is not ok.  Later we see Shadow asleep and he is having a dream about his wife and then he is in a forest of sorts.  There is a super weird tree that cuts his face and I feel as though the tree marked him.  There is also a noose hanging from the tree.  Perhaps he is marked for death, I’m not sure.  Later we find out that Shadow’s wife died and then the dream seems to have been somewhat prophetic.  However, as a Game of Thrones enthusiast I couldn’t help but be reminded of Weirwoods by the trees in Shadow’s dream.

Shadow is released from prison early and is trying to change his flight due to his early release.  The ticket attendant is giving him a hard time changing it and Shadow has a memory (I think) of his prison friend telling him not to mess with women at the airport.  This scene seems to be more than it is.  I already felt as though his prison friend was a figment of his imagination or just someone that only he could see.  It seems pretty convenient that he gave Shadow this specific piece of information that was perfect for this situation. 

Next, we meet Ian McShane’s (who is Game of Thrones alumni) character, Mr. Wednesday.  Mr. Wednesday is at the ticket counter pretending to be an old man out of sorts and is upgraded to first class because the attendant is concerned for this poor old man traveling alone, well done Mr. Wednesday.  Once they’re on the flight someone has taken Shadow’s seat and a frustrated flight attendant also upgrades Shadow to first class, now it seems fishy.  Shadow and Mr. Wednesday are seated next to each other sharing a drink and Mr. Wednesday is being super creepy talking about travelers, which makes me think of the Gypsies in The Vampire Diaries or those in The Man in High Castle (both excellent series if you’re interested).  Mr. Wednesday proceeds to talk about Shadow’s past and has insight that he shouldn’t have about a stranger and I’m wondering, is he a psychic, that would fit with the Gypsy Traveler.

Both guys fall asleep and Shadow has another weird dream about the tree and now there is a buffalo or similar animal that has fire shooting out of his eyes.  Honestly, I thought I had crazy dreams, Shadow’s dreams are next level.  He wakes up as the flight made an emergency landing within driving distance to where he was going.  How does this guy have credit cards and the ability to rent a car right out of prison? #IJS

Ok, this next scene just completely blew my mind.  So, there’s an older guy, played by Joel Murray (who I know from Mad Men), in a bar who met a woman, played by Yetide Badaki, through online dating set up by his kids.  They’re talking and seem to be having a good time and she asks does he like her and he says yes and they’re off to a room.  At first, he is a little timid and says that he thought they should wait because he really liked her and wanted to see her again but she is not really trying to hear that and escorts him to the bed where they start going at it.  She tells him to worship her and here is where it got really intense!  Initially he is just saying nice things and she slaps him which seems to possess him because his voice changes a little and he is in full worship mode and he’s calling her Bilquis.  This is where I paused the show.  

I had to google the name Bilquis since this show is based on mythology right away I could tell this was not a human woman but I’d never heard the name Bilquis before in any myth I was familiar with.  Here is what I found on Wikipedia (good enough), Bilquis aka The Queen of Sheba aka Makeda.  I was familiar with both Queen of Sheba and the name Makeda but never heard the version Bilquis.  I also found out that Jewis and Arabic myths consider her to be a jinn which is a demi-demon, half human half demon.  Makeda is the Ethiopian version of the name.  All of it was great background information but I was not aware of the Queen of Sheba having demonic features but perhaps I don’t remember the story of Solomon well enough, homework for later.

Back to the review, well Bilquis is growing more and more powerful it seems as he is calling her name and making devotions to her.  The camera angle almost makes it seem as though she is actually growing.  I could not tell if she was growing or he was getting smaller; however, she literally devours him through her vagina! *mind blown*

Then we pick up on Shadow in a bar and The Dixie Cups song Iko Iko is playing and this song has absolutely creeped me out ever since I saw The Skeleton Key (awesome movie).  Mr. Wednesday is trying to get Shadow to come work for him and Shadow is not interested but he finds out that the friend he was going to work for is also dead.  He agrees to work for Mr. Wednesday and I’m sure I missed some symbolism here with the deal they made and those drinks.  I guess I was too distracted by Pablo Schreiber’s character Mad Sweeney who I know and love to hate as a creep in both Law & Order SVU and OITNB.  So apparently, he is a leprechaun…who is set on enticing Shadow to fight him and it appears to either making him stronger or somehow changing Shadow, I’m not exactly sure what is happening here just yet.

Shadow finally makes it to his wife’s funeral and we meet Audrey, played by Betty Gilpin from GLOW.  Audrey is Shadow’s wife Laura’s best friend.  We learn that the friend Shadow was going to work for that died, is Audrey’s husband Robbie.  Robbie and Laura were sleeping together and died in the same car accident while having oral sex.  Poor Shadow is not having a great few days.  Following the funeral, Shadow goes to the cemetery to talk to his dead wife Laura and ask why she cheated. Audrey shows up and suggests that they have sex as get-back for Laura and Robbie’s betrayal that has apparently been going on for years.  Shadow turns her down.  Ok I forgot about these coins.  Rewind to the beginning, Shadow does a coin trick in the beginning while on the plane with Mr. Wednesday.  Mad Sweeney pulls coins out of the air before their bar fight.  When Shadow gets to the cemetery he flips a coin that lands on or near Laura’s grave.  Following his interaction with Audrey, the coin is absorbed into the dirt.  Where did the coin go? Laura?  There’s something there, I just don’t know what it is yet.  They make a point of pointing out that the coin is gold and it has markings on it, it’s no regular quarter.

Just when I thought it wasn’t going to get stranger, Shadow is leaving the cemetery and sees a mysterious box/orb robot alien gadget.  Of course, he goes over and messes with the thing and it does a weird robot thing and opens up and leaps towards Shadow’s face.  Then we see him in what looks to be some sort of spaceship or just some sort of tech-plane with a new character Technical Boy played by Bruce Langley whom I’ve never seen in any other show or movie.  He has 2 or 3 henchmen that are pixelating and I’m utterly confused because I did not see that coming.  This reminds me of the avatars in Charmed (the original).  Technical boy says that “Wednesday is history, we are the future”.  I’m thinking he is some type of super artificial intelligence.  I guess he’s trying to get some information from Shadow about Mr. Wednesday but he eventually tells his computer henchmen to kill Shadow.  Shadow is pretty much losing and we see the noose from his dream again.  Shadow is hanging from a tree by the noose and someone or something destroys the computer henchmen leaving me thinking: Who/what killed all the computer people?  The tree? That fire-eyed buffalo?  Just wow!

Ok, I will move on to episode 2.  I’m avoiding all YouTube reviews and breakdowns until I finish season 1.  I’ll be interested to see how wrong or right my thoughts have been.  Please feel free to comment but please no spoilers past the current episode.  Anything I may have missed in the reviewed episode is welcomed.

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