Season Three of 'American Gods' Struggles to Find Its Voice [Review].
The story of "American Gods" behind the scenes has been almost as riveting as the show itself. After many failed attempts, the visionary Bryan Fuller ("Hannibal"), co-showrunner of season one with Michael Green, seemed like a perfect fit for adapting Neil Gaiman's beloved novel. Despite the positive reception and early renewal by Starz for Season 2, rumors circulated that Gaiman didn't like Fuller & Green's approach and that arguments between the creators and producers over budgets had become heated. During the second season's pre-production, creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green left the show, along with stars Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth. The show had already written four scripts for the upcoming season, all of which were scrapped. Jesse Alexander ("Star Trek: Discovery") took over while fans waited for the second season, but things went off the rails again when he was fired by Starz, there were rumors of being behind schedule, and there was no script for the season two finale. Sadly, it seems to have gotten even worse. A $30 million budget overrun was rumored for the season, Ian McShane reportedly did not like the new scripts and improvised, and Orlando Jones was reportedly furious.
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As might be expected from a season that had such a rocky production history, season two struggled to find its footing in terms of tone and direction while remaining faithful to the source material and the work done in the previous season. It lacked the assurance and foresight of the first season, leading some to worry that this was indeed the final installment. However, Ricky Whittle's Shadow Moon and Mr. Returning on January 10 for a new season of 10 episodes under the direction of Charles Eglee ("Murder One"), Wednesday (Ian McShane) reportedly already has a fourth season in the works. It's not easy to put an end to a deity. Could this tv god regain its former glory? The verdict is not yet in.
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The third season of 'American Gods' picks up not far from where the second season left off, with Mr. On Wednesday, the Old Gods' team-building efforts against the New Gods, led by Mr. Cruspin Glover's Worldwide Shadow Moon was transformed into a new identity, Mike Ainsel, at the end of season two, and the show finally catches up with him in the first episode of season three. He just wants to get on with his life, get a job, and put the events of the first two seasons behind him, but Wednesday needs him, and it has to do with a little place in Wisconsin called Lakeside. Consequently, Shadow moves in with the locals, lending an air of dark, folksy humor reminiscent of Fargo (Julia Sweeney's portrayal of a Wisconsin accent is so spot-on that Noah Hawley should hire her). and adding a missing girl mystery to the first few episodes that keeps the audience interested.
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As usual in "American Gods," Wednesday is hard at work on his secret plan to vanquish the New Gods. The first four episodes of this season were shown to the press, and they all feel a little disjointed, just like the majority of season two. In spite of Mad Sweeney's (Pablo Schreiber) death at the end of season two, Laura Moon's (Emily Browning) character arc is still intertwined with his. Season two's best parts were played by Browning and Schreiber, and this season, Laura has a fantastic episode in which she is forced to evaluate her entire life. When Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), the Goddess of Love, repeats the unforgettable sacrifice she made in the first season, she finds herself in hot water. Salim (Omid Abtahi) experiences the anguish of being separated from Jinn (Mousa Kraish) at the same time. Only one early episode features Crispin Glover, and the loss of Orlando Jones is especially painful. His and Schreiber's absence is keenly felt by the show.
Read more about how 'American Gods,' despite being aesthetically stunning, fails to succeed narratively in its second season review.
A lot of "American Gods" episodes still don't have the same drive and ambition as the first season. shifting from relatively profound discussion of the divine's place in human history to what sounds like the ravings of a philosophy major who thinks he knows more than he does about the subject at hand. The rapid transitions from profound insight to complete nonsense are often breathtaking. When it's most casual and approachable, rather than when it's delving into Gaiman's grander vision, this season has been its strongest. It would be nice if, after Wisconsin, Whittle did a real mystery/noir, because the writing is so tight and clever. McShane has the unique ability to make any piece of writing more enjoyable, and Browning never ceases to amaze.
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Season 2 of "American Gods" is a more assured and entertaining show on the whole and from episode to episode, but the show's larger ambitions remain elusive. Rather than gaining momentum from episode to episode, it seems content to aimlessly float from one to the next, allowing for the aforementioned philosophical mumbo jumbo. There are a lot of people on the show who talk about how vital their work is and how desperately they need certain things, but the show itself often fails to convey the seriousness or urgency of the situation.
Still, fans who have stuck with "American Gods" this season can take heart from at least some aspects of each episode. While Anderson and Jones' absences are felt by all, episodes featuring wonderful guest stars such as Peter Stormare's return in the second and Blythe Danner's perfect casting as Demeter in the third help ease the pain. Wisconsin residents are all highly efficient. Every time I'm ready to give up on this show, something happens that reminds me of its potential. Will it take until the second half of season three, or even season four, to finally tie everything together? Who knows but God? [C ]
Chris Pine, Emily Browning, Ian McShane, Julia Sweeney, Neil Gaiman, Peter Stormare, Ricky Whittle, and Starz's American Gods.
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