If you were wondering if American Gods would cross the same controversial territory as the novel, the opening minutes of this episode resolves your curiosity. It not only crosses the land of its source material, but it also takes present day twists on the subject material.
As the novel, this episode opens to a slave ship coming to America in 1697. One of the slaves is praying to Anansi, asking to be freed from where he is. In comes Mr. Nancy, played by a very well dressed Orlando Jones. In this one scene, where he describes what the future holds for the black race, Jones puts on the performance of his career. An actor known mainly for being on MadTV and a 7-Up advertising campaign, Jones holds the viewer captive with his energy and ferocity as he paints the bleak picture to the slaves and then plants the idea of revolt in their heads.
Cutting back to the present, Shadow is recovering from his injuries in the attempted lynching by Technical Boy’s henchmen. He makes it back to his old home and comes across the belongings of his deceased wife. After making the ill-decision of seeing her last texts with Robbie on her iPhone, Shadow focuses on cleaning the house and having everything moved out. Upon meeting back up with Wednesday, Shadow arrives at a superstore for supplies. As he makes his way into the electronics department, Shadow is again approached by another entity seeking his loyalty.
The God of Media, presenting itself as Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy, is played by Scully herself, Gillian Anderson. Anderson does a masterful job of presenting us a mixture of the comedy legend and the want and temptation Media displays in order to get Shadow to work for her, going so far as to offer something never heard from the mouth of Lucille Ball. Shadow leaves and professes to Wednesday that he feels he’s going mad, who in turn responds with telling him they are to locate his hammer. After a drive, they arrive at the household of Zorya Vechernyaya, her two sisters and Czernobog, who is unhappy to see Wednesday in his home, who is requesting his companionship on this quest. Peter Stormare is his usual self here as he portrays Czernobog, projecting his angry and annoyed Russian attitude in this role. During their meeting, Czernobog challenges Shadow to a game of Checkers; a game with wagers that could cause great implications for Shadow himself.
The visuals of this series continue to stun the eyes as this adaptation continues on its path. Still remaining true to the overall angle of the novel, there have been some changes made to benefit the visual storytelling along with updating the story to today’s day and age. Now, we must wait until next week to see how the screenplay of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green develop the end result of the game of Checkers.
American Gods airs Sunday nights at 9pm on Starz and on the Starz app.