Posts Tagged Mr. Wednesday

Series Issues: American Gods gets its Head Full of Snow

Spoilers might drop from the skies.

Shadow is not crazy, but it does seem like the show is. The surreal rules the storyline of American Gods, but at least we have a direction. We’re going to Wisconsin. It’s not Valhalla, but… Wait, actually perhaps it is. Anything is possible here. The balance of crazy has to be made with care. Too much crazy and it becomes silly. You want crazy weird, not crazy stupid. Look up David Lynch for a master class.

(Source: Starz)

I have to say Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are giving Lynch a run for his money, at least in the visual imagery that drips the right mix of weird off the screen. The fact that the source material comes from the mind of Neil Gaiman is the best of starts you could wish for, but without the right color palette, the right music and a superb cast, you’d bore your audience.

I enjoyed the opening story of the God of Death, Anubis, as he claims the soul of an old woman. The visuals of them ascending up the fire escape, then up stone steps and finally into the desert were powerful and somehow subtle.

Shadow has his own fire escape moment as he meets Zorya Polunochnaya, the third sister who sleeps during the day and watches the skies at night. It’s not a coincidence that she’s the young, virgin one. She also takes the moon, gives it to him as a silver coin, and takes a kiss from him. Did Shadow dreamed it up? Nope, the silver coin is in his pocket.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wednesday remembers better days and a past fling with Zorya Vechernyaya, all the while making it rain. Actual rain.

Shadow manages to snare Czernobog into another game of checkers. This time, he proposes giving him a second go at the hammer, in case he doesn’t die with the first. Shadow wins, which means Czernobog will come with them – but Shadow still owes him one hammer strike. No time, it’s morning and Mr. Wednesday has a bank to rob.

We have an interlude story. A salesman waits for an appointment that is never honored, only to be waiting all day. After being told to call for another appointment, he leaves the office without seeing the man he wanted to see. Outside, he takes a cab to find out it’s driven by the Jinn, a being with eyes of fire. He states he does not grant wishes. The Jinn and the salesman go to a hotel and make love. In the morning, the Jinn is gone. Or is he? The salesman dresses up in the Jinn’s clothes and steps into the taxi. Has he become him?

(Source: Starz)

Back at the bank, Mr. Wednesday wants Shadow to think about snow. Meanwhile, there’s errands to run. Things to obtain. Business cards to print. And Shadow must take note of the number of the public phone across the street from the bank. When everything’s in place, snow falls and Mr. Wednesday appears in a security guard getup. He stands in front of the deposit box (now “broken” as well as the ATM) and takes people’s deposits while asking them to sign a form. When the police questions him, he produces a card which calls the number across the street. Shadow picks up, corroborates his story, and even offers the police officer a job.

Mad Sweeney has completely lost his luck and has realized he’s inadvertently given Shadow his original lucky coin. By the time he catches up with him and Mr. Wednesday, he’s seen better days. Shadow has no problem telling him he’s left that coin on top of his late wife’s burial grounds. That makes Sweeny go all the way back there and dig to find that Laura Moon (and his coin) are not here.

And somewhere in America, Shadow Moon opens the door to his motel room to find his dead wife waiting for him.

Highs/Lows/TheMoonIsACoinYouCanGrab:

  • I loved the story about Death, specially when her heart had to be measured on the scales and it was good despite what she perceived as flaws. We’re much too self-critical of the sins of the past that have shaped us. Okey, sorry I had an Obi-Wan moment.
  • Zorya P grabbing the moon and handing it to Shadow as a coin. There was something just poetic about that.
  • I was scared that Mad Sweeney would take Shadow’s silver coin due to the fact he’s lost his original lucky coin, and his luck in the process.
  • I don’t remember if Czernobog ever swing his hammer at Shadow. I could look it up in the book to remind me, but I’d rather watch the series instead.
  • The Jinn’s eyes are made of fire just like the buffalo in Shadow’s vision. That can’t be a coincidence.
  • The jazz-like background music does remind me of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Not that this show has not made its own weirdness. However, much weirdness do owe their reception of crazy to Twin Peaks’ run.
  • With the three Zorya sisters representing three different generations, I was reminded of the three aspects of fate. I’m ashamed to say I know more from Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality than the original story from Roman and Greek mythology.

That will do for now.

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Series Issues: American Gods starts with The Bone Orchard

Spoilers will demand a sacrifice.

So. American Gods. Ahem. Where do we start? I don’t mind disarray. Chaos can be beautiful, but I am hoping that things fall into place. I read the book a while ago, and I don’t really have it fresh in my mind, but I’d rather rediscover this story anew. That being said, this is not a strict recap.

(Source: Starz)

We get vikings, landing in America, finding it inhospitable and wanting to go back. But to get wind, they must offer a sacrifice of violence to their god of war. We also get to peek on an encounter between a middle-aged man and Bilquis, who happens to be an old Goddess, a devourer of those who worship her. It’s a contrast of the gods in the olden times and the new. Before, men depended on them. Now it’s hard to find one that will worship. The visuals are both stunning and over the top.

The main story brings us Shadow Moon. A man just released from jail a couple of days early, due to the sudden death of his wife. He encounters the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday who seems to know his story a little too close. As a matter of fact, he seems to know it better. And he wants to employ Shadow. Mr. Wednesday is obviously hiding something and we can already tell he knows everything.

It isn’t a surprise then that Shadow will end up meeting Mr. Wednesday again, and end up having to take him up on his job offer. But first, Mr. Wednesday’s other employee and self-proclaimed leprechaun, Mad Sweeney, goads him into fighting him for a coin.

How exactly does Shadow manage to stay calm in a sea of chaos, is hard to guess. By the time he buries his wife, he’ll learn that she was cheating him with his best friend. And then he’ll fall in a trap by the new god of technology, Technical Boy. But just as we expect him to be hanged by his minions, Shadow will find himself free while the minions have been mysteriously ripped apart.

Highs/Lows/GoldCoins:

  • I’m not trying to find rhyme or reason in the symbology, but there’s something behind all the mad imagery. I’m just taking it all in without necessarily understanding it all.
  • There’s a distinction between the Old Gods and the New Gods. The visual style is different. The powers of Old Gods feel waned. The Old Gods seem to rely more on cunning than brute power.
  • Ricky Whittle seems fitting as Shadow Moon. The character just gave his first steps. We’ll have to wait and see what he does next.
  • Ian McShane is not the picture I had of Mr. Wednesday, but I’m giving him time. Neither is Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney, but I know I should wait.
  • On other hand, Yetide Badaqui seems like a great choice for Bilquis.
  • Although Shadow really fought Mad Sweeney over the insults to his wife, he still gets the coin. And yes, the coin disappeared in Laura Moon’s grave, foreboding events to come.
  • Yeah, you never pick a fight at the airport.

That will do for now.

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