American Gods Earns More Style Points
Since American Gods started, I have been letting a thought regarding the artistic style marinate, but since I am usually playing catch up, I never had a chance to share it in a timely fashion. The reason I mention it now is because I am hoping that my prayers may have actually, finally, been answered.
I was very interested in the show and the ideas and concepts it seemed to be bringing to light, to the point having to get Starz somehow just to see it. I was open to whatever style they employed, CGI and animation included, but found myself quickly turned off by the hyper-stylized blood they showed so much of right off the bat. It wasn’t because it bothers me(hell, I’ll watch a gazillion zombie shows) but because, frankly, it bores me and I did not want this show to be that kind of stupid fluff. Early on, I think it was Rog who referenced Spartacus and that was right on the money because that is exactly the type of show I had zero interest in watching another version of. It’s not even the lack of originality of the style that bothered me so much as it did not do anything with its influences. I don’t know if that makes sense but take, as an example, the show Legion. I could easily point out some of the varied inspirations(and I’m sure a film student could point out even more) of the creative influences of the Noah Hawley. But the result is greater than the sum of its inputs and the result is a show that visually and sonically is quite captivating and, for a super hero show especially, very artistic. I supposed my preconceptions are my own fault but, while I was intrigued by American Gods early on, I could never attach those adjectives to the show.
Perhaps I stayed up way to late to watch it, but I feel like all this changed with last night’s episode, A Murder of Gods(great title, btw!). It was just that: visually and sonically captivating and truly artistic story telling. I really loved the 3-headed road show of Matt, Dead Wife and Salem/Not Salim, with so many great lines that made me want their scenes to keep going. Matt is a laugh a minute, regardless of which end of the joke he is on. Laura became even more endearing, finally, by being the kind of bitch you can actually get behind. Salim, I think, was a big reason for that grounding between the characters and I thought all three meshed so well. There was even a hint of Laura developing a little soft spot for Salim, further making her seem more of a real character, certainly a more enjoyable one. More so, they moved the story along by providing exposition without being overwrought in the process. As a side comment, while I totally enjoy(and employ) cussing and my favorite word is without a doubt “fuck”, I find the ‘c’ word to be the most vulgar English word out there, so I enjoyed Laura shutting down Matt’s excessive use of it in a way that totally fit within the story – a little victory for decency everywhere.
The music really stood out to me and it’s the first time in the series I recall being engrossed by it and feeling the synergy with what was being presented on the screen. The chaotic jazz score throughout was fantastic and the switch to the loungy vibe in the croc bar kept that visual/aural synergy intact. Visually, I thought this episode did a great job of drawing you as well, from the bullet-ridden crucifix pose to the Neo-Nazi-esque town to bullets, both as sacrifice and a test of gravity. Even the blood was used judiciously, and I thought it made a cool scene, while also giving a chance to tell the story of one of the first Gods(and explain that out of the blue chair scene from the previous episode).
And then there is the character of Vulcan! For a minute, I was wondering if that was Walter White playing him; that was a great and unexpected Corbin Bergen appearance. I thought Shadow’s reaction after his death was a little weak; I kind of thought he actually would have been pretty relieved, but who knows how the hell I’d react after seeing someone’s head chopped off.
Tying back to my original point, I’ll end with saying that I think there is an inverse relationship between the the quality of the show and the amount of blood sloshing around the screen, which does seem to have diminished a little lately. As far as I am concerned, I hope this latest episode is more indicative of what we will see from American Gods moving forward. If so, I am fully converted!
Keep up the great work; I always look forward to the next breakdown.
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