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Tag: American Gods

Decrypted: American Gods just made its heroes a lot less likable

Enlarge / Laura really has to keep those flies away now that she has become a zombie demigod avenger entity thing. (credit: Starz)

When I first watched episode 4 of American Gods, I absolutely hated it. After re-watching it and talking to Tokusatsu Network Editor-in-Chief Paula Gaetos in this week's episode of our TV podcast, I'm starting to come around. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried that our main characters are terrible people.

This podcast contains spoilers.

We talked at length about what it meant that this week's episode left Shadow and Wednesday behind and focused entirely on Shadow's dead wife, Laura. Paula loved what the show did with Laura's character. We talked about how Laura has been revealed as incredibly flawed—aimlessly depressed, apathetic, sort of a user—but, at the same time, she has a no-nonsense attitude that allows her to be brave in ways that Shadow isn't. Unlike Shadow, she completely accepts that the world is full of weird magical things and takes control of it. She even tells Anubis, the god of death, to "fuck off." That's pretty badass.

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Decrypted: American Gods grants our wish for hot jinn action


This week Ars Technica's podcast Decrypted explores the action-packed third episode of American Gods, where we meet a jinn from the ancient city of Uran (located today in Oman), a disgruntled traveling salesman, and an ancient Egyptian death god. And that's just the part where Mr. Wednesday isn't up to one of his more intricate cons. Yes, this podcast contains spoilers.

My guest this week is award-winning fantasy author and critic Amal El-Mohtar, whose story "Seasons of Glass and Iron" is up for a Nebula Award and a Locus Award this year. Amal gives us some linguistic context for the scene in the cab (yeah, the Arabic isn't exactly right), and she sheds light on some of the tropes about Middle Eastern characters in this episode.

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Decrypted: American Gods gives us a spider we can’t forget

Enlarge / In his opening soliloquy, Anansi/Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) sums up the story of black slavery in one sentence: "Once upon a time, a man got f**ked." (credit: Starz)

American Gods' second episode took us to a place that the book never did: straight into the belly of the slave ship that bore the spider trickster god Anansi (Mr. Nancy) from West Africa to America. Our guest this week is Evan Narcisse, who writes for io9 and is working on a super secret comic book project for Marvel. This is his second time on the show, and it was great to have him back and force him to tell me all about the New Gods that Jack Kirby invented for DC Comics.

In this episode, we discuss the meaning of Mr. Nancy's incredible opening soliloquy and how slavery left its mark on American history. We agreed that Orlando Jones is pretty much on fire in this role, literally and figuratively. We talked about how this scene helped create an interesting context for the lynching in episode 1, and how slavery fits into the immigration stories of so many Americans. I noted that Mr. Nancy's oddly anachronistic look was part of a tradition in African-American storytelling where slavery collapses time (this is an idea I stole from Stanford literary scholar Andrew Shepherd).

This led us into musing about whether it matters that Shadow is black in the show, even though he's racially ambiguous in the novel. (The answer: it's complicated.)

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Decrypted: American Gods: New series is as good as the book

Enlarge / Wednesday (Ian McShane) meets Shadow (Ricky Whittle) under some extremely dark and mysterious circumstances. (credit: American Gods / Starz)

Welcome back to Ars Technica's podcast Decrypted, which is all about the TV we love to analyze. Right now, we're watching American Gods, a new Starz series created by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) and based on the bestselling novel by Neil Gaiman. The first episode aired Sunday night (or Monday in the UK on Amazon Prime), and, in our first episode, your host Annalee Newitz (that's me) talks to Ars staffer Sam Machkovech about whether the show is really about religion or just the experience of immigrating to America. Plus, we compare the book and the series.

I've just finished reading the author's preferred version of American Gods (which is about 14,000 words longer than the one originally published in 2001), and Sam read the book when it came out (though he went back to it to refresh his memory before the podcast). We talk about how Fuller translates Gaiman's dreamy tone into a compelling story and how he makes some seemingly unfilmable moments into incredible feasts for the eyes. We also have some thoughts about protagonists Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane). Basically: damn they are amazing actors.

We can't help but discuss all our feelings about Technical Boy, the god of... what? Computers? The Internet? Videogames? Vaping? Plus, we dissect the older gods we meet in this episode and what they represent in their new American context. The terrific thing about this show—and the novel—is the multi-layered story that lends itself to endless analysis.

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American Gods may have finally nailed the modern-fantasy formula on TV

AUSTIN, Texas—TV pilots ain't what they used to be, as the Netflix model takes much of the weight off a first episode's shoulders. Series can take their time revealing characters, unfolding plots, or even having much plot take place in a single episode.

Weirdly, the first hour-long episode of Starz' new American Gods series feels like a relic of that older era—in all of the best ways. This is TV built to stun, with equal parts momentum and cautious pauses, and it won't embarrass fans of its source material. The Neil Gaiman novel of the same name has no shortage of mystery, intrigue, and surprise in its first few dozen pages. Starz' take on the book manages to follow its every major plot thread to a satisfying degree, all while setting into motion a solid framework for how we should expect the modern-fantasy epic to unravel.

Vikings soaked in corn-syrup blood

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