More than any question we have regarding the direction American Gods second season may take us in terms of story, the departure of showrunner Bryan Fuller and writing partner Michael Green leaves the creative process in a nebulous state of flux. Although several scripts have already been written prior to the pair walking away, such is Fuller’s idiosyncratic, playful thumbprint that it’s hard to imagine who would take over. As the executive dispute was about episode budgets, it’s entirely possible that a safe but unspectacular locum is enlisted to oversee a profitable ship; and it has to be said that Fuller’s vessels haven’t always been thus.
Away from the backroom unpleasantness, what can we expect to see in Season 2 as the New Gods and the Old march closer to the inevitable final reckoning on the House of the Rock?
First off, perhaps now the wool has finally, finally been lifted from the eyes of Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and he’s at last accepted that he’s firmly embroiled in a theological shitstorm, he can engage with a story in which he’s the lead character. Granted, his role up to now has been the audience surrogate; our Alice against which the denizens of Wonderland have bounced. However, it’s made him look disinterested at best, and outright stupid at worst.
By the end of the season he had been firmly usurped in our affections by his late wife Laura (Emily Browning). Her odd-couple road-trip with surly leprechaun Mad Sweeney (Pablo Screiber) was a highlight of the season. In a role much beefed-up from Neil Gaiman’s source material, she was a great mix of determination and guilt; very much the protagonist the show needed. Her situation is the most pressing, being that she’s continued to decompose at an alarming rate, and was unable to be resurrected by Easter, due to the face she had been killed by a God; none other than her husband’s employer, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). It’s safe to say some solution will be found. Even for a show that’s diverted wildly from its source, killing off Laura would be unthinkable.
One other quibble there was with first season was the derailment of the main story by digressions into the story of various Gods. As entertaining as these have been on their own merits (that scene of literally fiery man-on-genie love was especially memorable), they have been guilty of stalling the momentum of a relatively short series, particularly the extended Essie McGowan episode. Now that the main parties have been established, it is to be hoped that things may streamline somewhat.
The warring side are now firmly in place: Wednesday, Shadow, Mr Nancy and Mad Sweeney against Media (Gillian Anderson), Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) and Mr. World (Crispin Glover). It seems the Old Gods are up against it, but has Easter’s meteorological strop at the end of season one levelled the playing field? Hopefully we can expect Anderson to have even more fun adopting the guises of other pop-culture icons as digi-siren Media, Peter Stormare’s Czernobog to make another appearance, along with his slaughter hammer, and Laura to throw an almighty spanner in the works. Surely Shadow’s loyalties will now be divided, since the Old Gods he’s siding with murdered his wife in order to manipulate him into their fight.
What we hope most of all is that American Gods is that it retains the quirky, expressionistic touches of Fuller and Green’s tenure, while drawing the various threads tighter into a more coherent, satisfying narrative.