If you haven’t started American Gods by now then you should. It brings to life a stunning and intricate world of humans and Gods, living side by side, and bickering amongst themselves.
As the series develops it seems an impossible task to keep the quality of each episode so high but somehow, so far, they have achieved it. Episode three, Head Full of Snow, is no different. It starts, like the others, with a short story separate from the general narration – between a human and her God. This time, we are presented with a death sequence set in a swirling desert. There are fabulously unnecessary transitions to start the episode, but their detail and beauty really make every scene unmissable. Not a single frame is wasted. Even during this beautifully matter of fact death sequence, there are injections of humour throughout, and with a stunning backdrop they barter for her soul, ‘I tried my best’.
These initial scenes in the episode are more than welcome. While they may later prove to be an important part of the narration, they still bring more Gods into a world seemingly teeming with them. They add layers of traditions that span worldwide, bringing these Gods palpably close. After last episode’s brilliant Anansi – or Mr. Nancy – (played by Orlando Jones), I was not sure they would be able to attain such energy again at the start of this episode. Anubis’ – or Mr. Jacquel – (Chris Obi) portrayal proved me wrong, and for someone with a bit of a gripe against too much CGI I still adored it. It feels like all the right ways to use the tool, bringing larger than life portrayals of stars and deserts to our screens.
In this episode we meet the youngest Zorya sister, with Erika Kaar capturing a wonderfully quirky Zorya Polunochnaya – surrounded by teddy bears, telescopes, and stars. Having read the book, this portrayal felt particularly true to source, bringing a sweet magic to a world of worn-out Gods and flashy new ones. Hopefully she will be a recurring character in the series.
so perfect that its clear unreality makes it feel real
Perhaps more politically risqué was a later scene involving a Jinn and a human, the latter from Oman and former from a lost city in the desert. The sex scene between the two was made even more intense by particularly impressive music, and graphics that emphasise the act. This was my favourite music attached to a scene so far, with a rhythmic beat that is gradually layered with a deep brass and an ‘Arabian’ twang.
The episode is brought to a head when Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is made to imagine snow – hence, Head Full of Snow. Looking deep into his chock-full marshmallowy hot chocolate, he imagines their car driving along the pillowy white masses. The graphics are fantastic, bringing a stylistic beauty to the show that is so perfect that its clear unreality makes it feel real. There seems, so far, not to have been a fault in the production: music which is undeniably perfect, matching a strong cast that is too long to name individually and cinematic visuals that seem faultless. The music has touches of the techno about it, which mixed with the more classical orchestral pieces brings the conflict of old and new into every part of the show.
It seems impossible for me to lay criticism at this episode’s feet, but I will attempt to do so nonetheless. It is perhaps easy to get lost in the narrative, unsure what exactly is happening – either in the main storyline, or the side-ones that are brought in. Each scene could be a short film in themselves. Despite this, it is difficult to care that you have become lost in it all. You just don’t want it to end.
New episodes of American Gods are available Mondays, exclusively on Amazon Prime Video
Image: Amazon Prime Video