Beginning with Vikings in the New World, we see violence and blood everywhere and see that mere mortal are only the tools of powerful creatures. If this first episode doesn’t exactly spell out what the world is really like, we get plenty of hints. First is the creepy and menacing Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) who offers ex-con Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) a job. Then, there is Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), who insists on fighting him. All this on his first day out of prison thanks to an early release after being told his wife died.
The problems though are only just beginning with freedom. To have a name like “Shadow Moon” is to be drawn into the supernatural. Ricky Whittle plays this charming and intense ex-con with a great mix of apprehension and hopelessness. Plagued with foreshadowing dreams and visions, of course, things get worse. Not only is his wife dead, but his best friend who was supposed to have a job waiting for him, he’s dead too. Oh, and they died in the same car accident, in flagrante delicto, in fact.
The real peril is merely hinted at, the action is superb and the dialogue is sparkling. The humans in this story are not happy and the gods aren’t there to bail them out. Quite the contrary, it appears.
“The Bone Orchard” also ends with a brutal assault. Shadow is attacked at the behest of a digital avatar with no explanation. Clearly, he’s gotten himself into the middle of something bad, and even though there is still much to be revealed, everybody knows Shadow’s situation is completely beyond his understanding or control.
American Gods is shocking and disconcerting and so very intricate and compelling. It may even be one of those cases where it exceeds the source material in every way. This is a must see for anyone interested in the suspenseful and chilling whether you are familiar with the material or not.
AMERICAN GODS Season 1 Episode 1 “The Bone Orchard” easily earns a 9 out of 10 and a promise of so much more.