REVIEW: American Gods, S3 Ep1 – A Winter’s Tale

American Gods, S3 Ep1 – A Winter's Tale

American Gods began its third season with Shadow Moon trying his best to defy his destiny but eventually giving in to forces beyond his control.

American Gods, S3 Ep1 – A Winter's TaleThough it might be too early to tell, at least this season premiere seems to be a return to form for American Gods, and this is a view shared by some of the actors after a turbulent first two seasons. The focus returns to Shadow and his complicated relationship with Mr. Wednesday or Odin, who Shadow now knows is his real father. The hero of the show is determined to forge his own path and so refuses to proceed to Lakeside, as he has been instructed. Instead, he starts out working a blue-collar job somewhere out in Milwaukee, thinking he has left the madness behind. But he is not as hidden as he believes and very soon encounters Odin once more.

The episode begins with a striking scene of a ballet that turns into a gory death metal concert which then turns out to be a modern, cult-like worship of Odin, led by Marilyn Manson himself. Despite his bedraggled appearance, the Old God still has some tricks up his sleeve and is still able to find worshippers to fuel his existence. This proves to be a threat to is younger rivals.

The New Gods continue their plans to wage war and bring upon destruction on humanity. Mr. World has morphed into a beautiful, black woman (played by Dominique Jackson) and is more dangerous than ever. In a vicious display of bloody fury, Ms. World murders one of her minions who dares to speak out of turn. The character has become even more villainous and even inspires more fear in the nervous Technical Boy.

American Gods, S3 Ep1 – A Winter's TaleTechnical Boy tries in vain to convince Bilquis to join the fight but the elder deity is determined to remain neutral. The goddess is living a charmed life, finding worshippers through an app Technical Boy gave her. He reminds her that Odin and the old gods never helped her out when she was struggling but she is pragmatic enough to remind the boy that he only helped her because he wanted something of her. But she refuses to play their games. And using some of her ancient powers, she gives the younger god a brief glimpse of the horrors of war, something he has clearly never experienced.

Laura Moon tries to get Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte to resurrect Mad Sweeney but to no avail. Apparently, despite being well-preserved, Sweeney will not be so easily revived. Laura reluctantly drags his corpse into a mausoleum and decides to sacrifice the coin that has been keeping her animated just to bring him back. She writes some instructions on his forehead to make sure he will enact her revenge after she is gone and then she rips the coin from inside her and tries to put it in his hand. But the coin rolls across the floor and poor Laura dissolves into dust while Sweeney remains dead.

This may seem like the end of the road for both of them on American Gods, which is a pity since I’ve enjoyed their interactions, but Emily Browning is still listed as a regular cast member of season three while Pablo Schreiber has left the show already. So nothing is as it seems and this will not be the last we see of Laura Moon.

American Gods returns to the heart of the story: the relationship between Odin and Shadow. They both go on the road to meet up with a Native American god called Whiskey Jack, Wisakedjak as he is properly called, whom Odin hopes to recruit to his cause. Wisakedjak has a serious conversation with Shadow and the importance of his role in the grand scheme of things. This is the first god that Shadow actually takes seriously and he considers the inevitability of his involvement with the war.

American Gods, S3 Ep1 – A Winter's TaleA very interesting moment transpires between Wednesday and Wisakedjak when the former tries to remind the latter of their need to unite, the latter reminds Wednesday that it was Odin’s worshippers who stole the land of Wisakedjak’s people and murdered them. His brutal reminder of the atrocities of colonization asserts his own, ancient power and even Odin cannot argue with him then.

In the end, Shadow cannot escape destiny and he resigns himself to going to Lakeside, after all. He arrives late at night and is unaccustomed to the extremely cold weather. He meets some key characters from the town such as Anne-Marie Hinzelmann and Chad Mulligan, before he arrives at the house Wednesday set up for him. But the key breaks as he tries to open the bedroom door and when Shadow goes around the back of the house, he feels a shotgun being pointed at the back of his neck, and that is how the episode ends.

A bit of a slow start for the new season of American Gods but again, a significant improvement so far over the chaos of the second season. Let’s hope that the show gets back into its groove as it progresses so that we can continue to join Shadow on his fascinating journey with the pantheon of gods.