‘American Gods’ Season 1 Episode 1 Spoiler Review – The Bone Orchard

FIRST IMPRESSION

The episode isn't perfect, but pretty darn close. There's a lot to unpack in this one episode. There are pacing issues, and you might find yourself a bit lost if you have not read the book. Still, the unique visuals and clear setup of things to come should make you clamoring for the next episode.
MFR Rating
- Advertisement -

Praise Wednesday! Praise Technical Boy! The television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantastical opus American Gods finally made it to the small screen. The Bone Orchard, the first of the eight-episode first season, is nothing short of faithful and dazzling.

From its opening moments, The Bone Orchard is crafted with care and precision, thanks to the masterful storytelling capabilities of showrunners Michael Green (Heroes, Kings) and Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal).

Every scene in the first episode of American Gods is like something out of a painting. We open with a “coming to America” sequence, written and narrated by Thoth – the Egyptian God of wisdom – composing his story in a well-decorated study. He writes of a group of Vikings, the first to arrive in America, hundreds of years before Leif Erikson and Christopher Columbus.

The Vikings are welcomed to this new land by an onslaught of arrows, insects, hunger, and utter uncertainty. Eager to return home, they find themselves stranded, as their ship won’t sail due lack of wind. The Vikings make a number of sacrifices to their God, the All-Father Odin. This includes burning out one of their eyes with a red-hot blade, burning one of their own alive, and a bloody and grotesque battle royale. Finally, the Gods answered, and the wind has returned. The Vikings leave the new world, never to return again. However they have left their mark, leaving a wooden sculpture of Odin on the beach.

- Advertisement -

The old Gods have arrived in the new world.

From there, the world-building begins quickly and boldly, handled with a style that is next to impossible to describe. You just need to go and watch it for yourself.

We are introduced to Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who is days away from getting out of prison and reuniting with his wife Laura (Emily Browning). Whittle gives Shadow an emotional weight right off the bat, as everything good in his life is taken away in an instant. Laura dies in a horrific car accident alongside his best friend, who had a job waiting for him.

Shadow has to go home for his wife’s funeral and gets on his first plane ride and meets the enigmatic, smooth-talking Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). He makes Shadow an offer he cannot refuse — yet he somehow does.

And then – “somewhere in America” – we meet Bilquis (Yetide Badaki). A Goddess who leads a scene that is eye-popping. Jaw-dropping. It’s a sex scene that was a tad difficult to visualize if you read the book. Now that it is brought to life on the small screen, it’s still hard to comprehend.

Back to the main story, Mr. Wednesday finds Shadow at a bar, struggling to pay for a meal. He once again tries to woo Shadow into his employ. After a botched coin toss (never bet against a God), Shadow caves and is hired as Mr. Wednesday’s driver, bodyguard, and aide-de-camp.

Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), a drunken, seven-foot-tall Leprechaun shows Shadow a coin trick of his own. Sweeney says he will reveal the secret to the trick, if Shadow fights him. Moon refuses, but is provoked by the deranged Irishman. The two brawl in the bar, ending with Shadow waking up in the back of Mr. Wednesday’s car, on the way to Laura’s funeral, with no memory of how the fight ended, and one of Sweeney’s gold coins in his pocket.

Shadow finally makes it to his wife’s funeral only to find out that she died in the car with his best friend, Robbie, with whom she was having an affair. After the funeral, Audrey (Robbie’s wife and Laura’s best friend) offers revenge sex to Shadow on her husband’s freshly dug grave. He refuses and, after a few solemn words with his deceased wife, throws Sweeney’s coin on Laura’s grave.

On his way to rendezvous with Mr. Wednesday, Shadow is kidnapped by Technical Boy, a pipe-smoking, pompous wunderkind of a New God, who knows he’s working for Mr. Wednesday. Wanting to know what Mr. Wednesday is up to, Technical Boy threatens Shadow by having him deleted. Shadow, employed by Mr. Wednesday for only a few hours, doesn’t know a thing. This still pisses off Technical Boy, who commands his faceless thugs to beat the piss out of Shadow and lynch him.

The episode ends with Shadow saved by an unknown entity.

The episode isn’t perfect, but pretty darn close. There’s a lot to unpack in this one episode. There are pacing issues, and you might find yourself a bit lost if you have not read the book. Still, the unique visuals and clear setup of things to come should make you clamoring for the next episode.

American Gods does not hold back any punches. The Bone Orchard has made that abundantly clear. Director David Slade helps Gaiman’s tale come to life, taking you through a trippy trip of striking visuals, compelling performances, and the start of a most epic story. It’s horror, fantasy, and mythology, with wildly imaginative storytelling and unconventional narrative. And it’s one of the biggest strides in the evolution of cinematic television in years.

What did you think of The Bone Orchard? Let us know your thoughts about the series premiere of American Gods.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

DC Daily Ep. 170: Can a Robot Batman Protect Gotham Better than the Real Batman?

For even more DC Daily, be sure to subscribe to DC Universe at https://yourdcu.com/ytdcd170 Today on DC Daily, two of our super fans join us to discuss the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES episode, “His Silicon Soul” and whether or not Batman and his robot counterpart can protect Gotham together. Plus, we chat with toy designer,…
video

X-Men Seminal Moments: Jonathan Hickman and The Age of Apocalypse

Jonathan Hickman, writer of HOUSE OF X, talks about how The Age of Apocalypse changed the history of X-Men.
video

DC Daily Ep. 171: Batman Faces Off Against “The Demon Within”

For even more DC Daily, be sure to subscribe to DC Universe at https://yourdcu.com/ytdcd171 Today on DC Daily, we’re chatting about the THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES episode, “The Demon Within,” and whether or not Batman is out of his element when confronted by magic. Plus, David F. Walker talks to us on what will be…

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21 – Lizards And Vultures And Vermin, Oh My!

Nick Spencer's "HUNTED" arc continues in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21. Kraven's plan is fully realized as we get ready for the big finale.
video

Cartoonist Kayfabe Commentary: BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS – Part 1

What more can be said? The boys unpack the Frank Miller classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes!
video

X-Men Seminal Moments: Adam Kubert and the 90s X-MEN

Adam Kubert, artist of CAPTAIN AMERICA, looks back at the iconic imagery and incredible creative team behind the 90s run of X-MEN. ► Subscribe to Marvel: http://bit.ly/WeO3YJ Follow Marvel on Twitter: ‪https://twitter.com/marvel Like Marvel on Facebook: ‪https://www.facebook.com/Marvel For even more news, stay tuned to: Tumblr: ‪http://marvelentertainment.tumblr.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marvel Reddit: ‪https://www.reddit.com/user/marvel-official Pinterest: ‪http://pinterest.com/marvelofficial
video

Comics Explained – Superman’s Son vs General Zod: Superman Unity Saga: Part 5

Superman is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the character first appeared in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938, which marked the rise of the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Review: Meet Mother Shark, The Ocean’s Memory Holder, In AQUAMAN #48

Andy, a.k.a. Aquaman, is nothing if not resilient in his quest to find his true identity. The recent events with the Old Gods helped...
Avatar
Michael Frommhttps://www.michaelefromm.com/
Michael E. Fromm is an all-around scrivener, writing screenplays (short and feature), short stories, novels, poetry, blogs, articles, and press releases. Since first learning to hold a pen, he has done little but read, watch, and write about characters and worlds of fantasy. It would be very difficult to find him without a pen in hand and an idea in mind, which is problematic for anyone wanting to have a conversation with him. Michael graduated from Rowan University, primarily focusing on improving his skills as a filmmaker and screenwriter. After said schooling, he joined an elite force of Rowan grads who also had the notion of becoming filmmakers. This group, known as Justice Productions, call on him every so often to write short films. And, until this whole writing thing pays off, Michael currently does development & marketing communication (writing, graphic & publication design, social media and website upkeep, etc.) for a web development company in Central New Jersey, where he currently resides.