American Gods 01×01 Review: The Bone Orchard
The first episode of American Gods, titled ‘The Bone Orchard’, highlights the magic that happens when you take the unique narratives of Neil Gaiman and mix them with the artistic mind of Bryan Fuller. It’s absolutely amazing.
It’s hard for me to go into this show without bias. I’ve been a Bryan Fuller fan for many years, especially his visually stunning masterpiece Hannibal. My love with his visual style goes all the way back to Dead Like Me and it’s been a delight to watch him gain such a strong fanbase over the years. Likewise, my love of Neil Gaiman’s work is no secret either. My favorite book of all time is another work of his, Good Omens. So it should be a surprise to absolutely nobody that these two coming together has had me beyond excited. Despite my clear bias, I still think this show is something special and ‘The Bone Orchard’ sets up the tone of the series perfectly.
We are introduced to our protagonist, Shadow Moon, who is being released from prison and hoping to reunite with his wife. Days before his scheduled release his wife passes away, causing them to release him early so that he can attend her funeral. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Ricky Whittle in this because he’s a relatively younger actor with a somewhat short list of projects, but he’s acting along with some serious powerhouse actors here. In ‘The Bone Orchard’ we see him interact significantly with Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday, who crosses paths with Shadow as he heads home for his wife’s funeral. Whittle is something special. I’m overjoyed to see him getting some wider exposure with this project.
Besides Mr. Wednesday, we’re introduced to several other enigmatic characters that set up this new and fascinating world of the Gods. It’s strange and violent. It’s clear the series is obviously going to be brutal and bloody, so if you had trouble with the amount of gore in Hannibal, you may struggle here as well. But like the violence in Fuller’s previous work, the blood and gore is also surprisingly artistic and, dare I say it, artistic? Despite the abundance of blood in ‘The Bone Orchard,’ I wouldn’t exactly call it gratuitous. It sets the tone. The world of the Gods is one where violent dismemberment can feel just a bit magical. And now our protagonist is part of that world and we get to experience all the astonishing gore right along side him.
The first episode also doesn’t hold back with one of its more shocking characters, Bilquis. As someone who’d read the books I was very curious how they’d translate ‘that scene’ to the screen. They teased at San Diego Comic-Con last year that it’d happen pretty much right away, but even knowing that I held my breath watching the whole thing play out. It was the most WTF moment in the books and, just like the violent dismemberment mentioned before, sets the tone of the magical world of the Gods, as bizarre as it may be. Welcome to American Gods. It’s weird and beautiful.
‘The Bone Orchard’ is the first of an 8 episode first season. Fans can catch the remaining episodes every Sunday on Starz through June. The series was renewed for a season 2 a solid month before it premiered, so it’s clear the network has some remarkable faith in the show. And faith is what it’s all about, isn’t it? This is the world of the Gods, after all. Faith will keep it alive.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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