AMERICAN GODS may have been off the air for almost two years, but that doesn’t mean fans have forgotten about the epic battle that was teased at the end of season one. While the gods are readying for war, the battle hasn’t been relegated only to the screen, as reports indicated the journey to season two – which premieres on Starz this Sunday night – was fraught with turmoil behind the scenes.
Dramatic changes affected the production, with the show losing not only its visionary showrunner Bryan Fuller, but key cast members, including Gillian Anderson in the season transition. However, that hasn’t prevented the series from building anticipation, with exciting updates being dropped regularly, culminating in a featurette titled “Eve of Destruction”.
Neil Gaiman, celebrated author of the original novel, claims season two will be, “Bigger, darker, and much, much stranger.” That’s a bold claim to make, as anyone who watched in 2017 can attest to the show being very dark, and very strange already. The story is set to pick up after the cliffhanger finale, with Wednesday (Ian McShane), leader of the Old Gods, facing up against the New Gods, the deities of technology and media. The protagonist, Shadow (Ricky Whittle), is the human stuck in the middle, obliged to do Wednesday’s bidding while contending with his wife, Laura (Emily Browning) who returned from the dead after a horrible car accident.
While the first season of AMERICAN GODS covered approximately one third, or close to a half of the novel, many additions and alterations were made to the story. The character of Laura was vastly expanded, and we can expect to see more of her and explore her relationship with Whittle’s Shadow more thoroughly after their reunion at the end of season one. This season will also introduce Samantha Black Crow (or, Sam, played by Devery Jacobs), the hitch-hiker who joins Shadow on his journey, and Mr. Town (Dean Winters), the right-hand man to Mr. World. Notably, Gillian Anderson’s character, Media, will now be portrayed by South Korean actress Kahyun Kim.
So, why did fan favorite Gillian Anderson leave AMERICAN GODS? She jumped ship out of loyalty when showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were replaced by ex-Lost and Heroes producer Jesse Alexander. According to Variety, Fuller and Green quit amid a feud with the production company, Fremantle Media, over creative differences and budget disputes. While Alexander was brought in quickly to take the reins, the damage had been done, and cast members loyal to his predecessors had already headed in the opposite direction. Soon after, Alexander himself was pushed out leaving the show without a showrunner, but that hasn’t stopped Starz from ensuring season two makes its way to screens on March 10.
If the featurettes released in the weeks leading up to the premiere are any indication, the new episodes will carry the same striking visual style that made the first eight such breathtaking television. The latest video revealed “The House on the Rock” – a location with the largest carousel in the world, a sprawling circus, a mechanized orchestra and a host of otherworldly characters in the form of the Old Gods. This is where the story truly takes off in the novel, and by all appearances, the show’s version will not be a letdown.
Despite the obvious troubles behind the cameras, AMERICAN GODS looks just as dazzling as its first instalment did two years ago. This leads us to the question of the future of the show beyond season two. Taking into account the arduous and lengthy production process, will a third season be worth it for Starz? According to Deadline, a source close to the production says, “We didn’t make Season 2 of American Gods not to make a Season 3.”
It appears Starz is digging in its heels and plans to keep the show running for some time yet. That would require more expansion of the characters and story, which can only mean good things as the additions so far have given the show an extra level of depth to that only a long-form drama series can provide.
For fans of author Neil Gaiman, AMERICAN GODS is a form of wish fulfilment. Seeing his world brought to life so vividly is a treat, and this year will see the premiere of another of his novels in television form. Amazon’s upcoming adaptation of his apocalyptic novel Good Omens is set to launch as part of an ongoing series of productions between the streaming giant and Gaiman. If the producers of AMERICAN GODS can smooth things out by the time season three goes into production, we might be looking forward to a lot of Gaiman television for a long time to come.