Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Brief Introduction to the Gods of American Gods Season 1

Photo Credit: Starz

Season 1 of the Starz hit show American Gods ended Sunday night. While I didn’t love it the same way I love HBO’s Game of Thrones and Westworld, it was entertaining enough that it convinced me to add the Neil Gaiman book it’s based on to my Amazon wishlist. The basic plot of the show is that the Old Gods, largely forgotten by man at this point, are going to battle it out with the New Gods for supremacy. Season 1 was mostly a road picture with goofily named and in-over-his-head mortal sidekick Shadow Moon joining the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a trip across America as they recruit Old Gods to join the upcoming fight. 

The season introduced us to a slew of characters that range from a little disconcerting to completely bonkers. While not all of them are “gods” the majority are. Here’s a guide to those Gods with at least one minor spoiler: 

Featured in Episode 6, a grizzled Corbin Bernsen plays the Old God of Weapons and Fire. A long-time ally of Mr. Wednesday, he’s asked to forge a sword for the old man and join the cause, but is he willing to leave his new gun-fanatic followers behind?

Played by Demore Barnes and also known as Mr. Ibis, Thoth’s origins trace back to Ancient Egypt. He works in partnership with Anubis and acts as a scribe responsible for documenting the history of the Old Gods.

Jesus Prime
It turns out there are multiple Jesuses (Jesi?), all based on the various versions of Christianity over the centuries, but Jeremy Davies plays Jesus Prime. He’s wise, he’s kind, he walks on water, and he’s good pals with Easter. 

Technical Boy
Young actor Bruce Langley plays the petulant New God of Technology. Are you an Old God in need of a new image in the digital age? Want to build up your worshippers via a multi-platform social media presence? He’s your man.

The Goddess of Spring and Dawn only appears in the final episode but she makes quite an impression. Played by Kristin Chenoweth, she has the power both to give and take life on a grand scale and she uses the latter of these strengths to impressive effect in the final minutes of the season.

The Slavic God of Darkness is played by veteran character actor Peter Stormare. Czernobog isn’t a fan of Odin, but he longs for the days when he got to brain people with his hammer and he reluctantly joins the cause after losing a bet with Shadow.

The God of Death is played by Chris Obi. Stoic and unforgiving, his job is to weigh the hearts of the newly dead then send them to their proper afterlife. Shadow’s late wife Laura is the one soul that got away and his interest in how she managed the trick leads him to follow her journey back to Earth.

Head of PR for the New Gods, Media is played by X-Files star, Gillian Anderson. She’s beautiful, she’s convincing, and she can mimic a host of dead stars including Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. Rub her the wrong way and she’s got a kiss that’ll literally knock your teeth out. 

Yetide Badaki plays the seductive Old Goddess of Love. She’s been tantalizing both men and women into her deadly embrace for thousands of years. She’ll give you the kind of pleasure you can only dream of, but in return, she’ll swallow you whole in the most unusual of ways. 

Orlando Jones plays the trickster African God, Anansi. Also known as Mr. Nancy, he’s followed Africans’ migration to America since the first time they were brought over as slaves. He and Odin seem to go way back and it will be interesting to learn whether he ultimately helps or hinders Shadow Moon’s pursuit of faith and fulfillment.

Mr. World
Played by infamous weirdo Crispin Glover, Mr. World is the boss of the New Gods. He’s dapper, well-mannered, and extremely creepy. He has eyes on everything and everyone and he can morph his appearance at will. 

Mr. Wednesday (Spoiler Alert!)
Ian McShane of Deadwood fame plays aging con-man Mr. Wednesday, the Old God that convinces human protagonist Shadow Moon to help him recruit other forgotten deities to his cause. He lies, he cheats, he manipulates, and he thoroughly entertains. It isn’t until the final episode that we learn he’s actually Odin, the ancient Norse God of Battle.

If you haven’t watched the show yet, I encourage you to catch the reruns before Season 2 starts next year. And if you’ve already read the book, don’t tell me how it ends!

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