TCA 19: Destinies collide on American Gods season 2

American Gods Ian McShane Ricky Whittle

The second season of American Gods follows Shadow’s journey with Mr. Wednesday as the latter gathers the old gods to fight a war against the new gods.

The team behind the show attended the TCA’s this year to share some details on what to expect in this season, which is described here:

“Season 2 finds the battle between old gods and new gods moving inexorable towards crisis point, as their destinies collide with those of men. While Mr. World plots revenge for the attack against him in season one, Shadow throws in his lot with Wednesday’s attempt to convince the old gods of the case for full out war. In this strange new world of living gods, change demands commitment, and faith requires terrible sacrifice.”

One specific feature of the second season is that it follows more of the book than the first. Ian McShane, who plays Mr. Wednesday, spoke about this during the panel, saying:

“Season 2 is really a great way back to the book, which I thought we got away from in Season 1. Spectacular some of it was, and subversive and far out there as it was, we think we needed to get back to the line in the book, which is reuniting Shadow with his story, and his relationship with Laura, and Laura’s complicated relationship with Sweeney, and the character that you’ve become invested in needed exploring more.”

He goes on to say that while the world of American Gods has some elements of magic and mythology, it cannot be compared to other series like Harry Potter.

American Gods Neil GaimanExecutive producer Neil Gaiman expressed his admiration for the cast members and the strong performances they brought in the next season. He also mentioned that while the new episodes follow the source material more closely, there are some new elements added to the television adaptation. He said:

“Well, we do have a number of new characters turning up in Season 2, some of whom are in the book, and some of whom aren’t. One of the coolest of whom is New Media, because the peculiar thing about the book for me as the author is that, while the old gods in the book still feel timeless, and timely, the new gods of 20 years ago already feel faintly dated. We had to do a whole upgrade on the Technical Boy in season one to stop him being a 1999 Technical Boy, and make him a more Zuckerbergy, more irritating, you know no longer a fat kind in his mom’s basement proud to be able to order pizza through the internet, he’s now something else again. And so New Media wasn’t a thing when I wrote the novel, and now is an enormous thing, and it’s gloriously played by Kahyun Kim. I would say that the theme of… the first season, thematically tended to be weird shit happens, and Shadow goes, “What the fuck is going on?” Season 2, Shadow’s kind of figuring out what’s going on and weird shit is still happening, but now he is actually learning what’s going on. Meanwhile we have Shadow and Laura’s story goes in interesting directions, Mad Sweeney and Laura’s story goes in even more interesting directions, heading off to New Orleans in search of immortality and there is other things. And we get to go back in time. Mr. Wednesday tells a story that may even be true, you never really know with Wednesday’s stories, about running a burlesque house in the 1930s, and the death of Thor, and we get to meet a younger incarnation, a previous incarnation, of the Technical Boy in the shape of the Telephone Boy, who has recently replaced the Telegraph Boy. These New Gods date and age out really quickly.”

And while he mentions that guest stars like Kristin Chenoweth and Gillian Anderson will not be appearing in the second season, this will not be the last we see of their characters. There’s still so much story to cover.

American Gods Yetide OrlandoAnother change to expect in American Gods is increased nuance and development for Laura Moon (played by Emily Browning) and Bilquis (played by Yetide Badaki.) Their roles have been expanded from the book and they take their own journeys as the series progresses.

Badaki said:

“Thinking thematically for me, while I was looking at Bilquis the first season was all about believe. And, in the second season the journey of Bilquis, I started to look at the idea of remember, which in a show like “American Gods” that happens to be so topical. Because it comes from the mind of such a genius. We get to play with things that unfortunately are still incredibly prevalent. So, for Bilquis, while she was just trying to survive for season one, we finally get to see her beginning to thrive through Season 2.”

Browning said:

“A lot of Laura’s journey for season one was about getting back to Shadow, like being reunited with Shadow. And, I think it was kind of clear in season one that she didn’t really have much of a plan beyond that…

But there’s an evolution for her and her arc in this season is kind of finding a new thing to focus on outside of Shadow. And, I think she’s always gonna be there to protect Shadow but it’s about her finding some new things to fight for.”

Pablo Schreiber American GodsContinuing the theme of developing the existing characters, Mad Sweeney (played by Pablo Schreiber) will also be explored, particularly in episode seven.

Everything in American Gods really boils down to Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle) and his journey as he discovers these powerful beings and gets caught in the middle of their struggle for dominance. Whereas the first season saw him in a vulnerable place, having lost everything and thus been susceptible to Mr. Wednesday’s charms, the second season shows a different Shadow. Whittle said:

“He wants to know the stakes. He wants to know the size, the players and where he fits in this puzzle. Now he knows that everything is real around him. And he wants answers. He’s going to be very much more proactive. You know, we’ve got a lot more layers to add to shadow this season and he’s going to start searching for answers which is going to cause a lot of friction between Shadow and Mr. Wednesday, who is reluctant to give that information. Knowledge and information is power on this show and he doesn’t want to give it. So, the two are going to be tense this season. The dynamic will shift and change as will Shadow’s relationship with other characters this year which is going to be fun to play.”

The cast likewise discussed the iconic scene in the House of the Rock and how it will be an extraordinary experience to view once the episode airs. It was weird enough in the book but apparently the television adaptation surpasses even that.

There will be so much to look forward to when American Gods returns to our screens this month. The clash between the old gods and the new will be balanced by more nuanced stories for the different characters caught in the crossfire. The team promised a magical experience and based on the first season alone, we can be sure that they will deliver.

American Gods season two begins on March 10 on Starz.

Check out the trailer for season 2 below: