American Gods Must Master The 'Slow Burn'
Now, far be it from me to jump on the popularity train, but I’m going to disagree just a wee little bit with those in the consensus. I would never argue that the source material isn’t worthy; I’ll admit I haven’t read it, but that doesn’t make me unfamiliar with it. In fact, it’s been the recipient of much praise and several awards. Also, I’d never argue that Bryan Fuller and those involved with the show don’t know how to deliver something that’s slick, visually captivating, and audacious. Each and every hour has served up a kind of look not found on television all that often, giving audiences one loving frame after another.
Still, my position is that up until this past installment – “Lemon Scented You” – even Gods’ artistic images weren’t enough to elevate the complete storytelling to the level required to justify all of the program’s praise. The first four hours all had great moments with fantastic characters, but – artistry aside – there was no compelling reason to stick with the show as it lacked any central conflict. Sure, I could agree that you could sense a storm coming, but why wait all the way until after the midpoint of your first season to introduce the conflict?!?
Hey now, haters: we’re all entitled to our opinions. I’m not saying that American Gods isn’t worth hanging around for in its entirety (even though none of us know what that entirety might look like), nor am I suggesting that a storyteller as accomplished as Bryan Fuller has lost his way. What I am saying is that great characters need something to be directly and visibly in conflict with in order for there to fundamentally be a great story. One doesn’t necessarily make for the other, and –up until episode 5 – Gods was looking like a huge pile of sugary scenery.
We’ve got a villain. Sad that we had to wait so long to meet him.
Now the fun begins …
As always, thanks for reading … and live long and prosper!