Warning: This post contains spoilers from the season three premiere of American Gods.
Shadow Moon arrived near the end of the American Gods premiere on Sunday Lakeside, the sleepy town where he’ll spend a significant part of season three. It was cold and Shadow didn’t have adequate outerwear to ward off the winter in Wisconsin. So he quickly stepped into the general store to try to find a ride to his new apartment, and there he was warmly welcomed by the owner Ann-Marie Hinzelmann.
Within moments of meeting Shadow, Ann-Marie (played by Julia Sweeney, Saturday Night Live’s vet) was treating him like a friend she’d known for years. Beautiful or? Until Shadows Ritt arrived and Ann-Marie introduced him under his pseudonym Mike Ainsel … which he had not shared with her.
It was a moment of blinking and you will miss it, but Shadow definitely noticed (although he said nothing). And so do we. When TVLine was chatting with Ricky Whittle recently, we asked him about it. This is how it went:
TVLINE | When Shadow comes into Ann-Marie Hinzelmann’s shop, she names him without him telling her, right?
[Long pause] American gods are blessed …
TVLINE | Wait, say your evasive quote again because I’ve laughed too much and it will be difficult to transcribe.
[Laughs loudly] American Gods is full of Easter eggs. We are gifted by a smart audience in the science fiction and fantasy world that I love and that you don’t have to spoon-feed. And if you watch, we’ve told you everything you ever need to know. Neil Gaiman told you everything you could ever need to know in Chapter 1, Episode 1. But it’s so detailed and so carefully laid out that it’s one of those moments, for example, that once you’ve seen this whole show, you act out and you go back and watch it again. Then you realize, “He just said that. She just said that. Of course it all makes sense now! You knew from the start. “It’s those moments. And so there are always moments to watch out for, traits of character, things they say, things they do. It’s always very fascinating.
Hmmmm … right? For the record, Whittle was, as always, very charming when he delivered his no reply. Also for the record: the exchange in question doesn’t take place in Neil Gaiman’s novel on which the series is based – the introduction of Shadow and Hinzelmann is very simple there – but it’s hardly the only departure from the source material in the coming season. For example, in the book, Richie Hinzelmann is male. (And if you’ve read American Gods, please don’t spoil anything in the comments for those who haven’t.)
On the whole, the episode felt like the start of a season that was creatively covered up. (I’ve seen the first few episodes; the trend has continued so far.) Here are some other notable events that took place in “A Winter’s Tale”:
* Wednesdays crowd dove at a concert that was also a homage to the Allfather himself. When he got on stage, singer Johan (played by Gothic rocker Marilyn Manson) pulled a sword from its scabbard and knelt in front of him to offer his allegiance.
* In New Orleans, Laura’s attempts to bring Mad Sweeney back to life failed when she cut his coin from her – ending her unlife and turning her to dust. Nearby, however, the vial of the resurrection juice she had obtained from a local witch woman broke and trickled closer to her pile of powder.
* Mr. World chose to star as Ms. World (played by Poses Dominique Jackson), who was annoyed that Wednesday crowd surfing – rather than the New Gods message – went viral. When one of the millennials who worked for her didn’t take her anger seriously, she picked up a baseball bat and hit it into a paste while the Technical Boy and the rest of her staff were splattered with his blood. She reminded Tech Boy that the New Gods are trying to build a pipeline into everyone’s brain, but they are struggling to secure funding. Then she sent him to bring Bilquis to her side. He did not succeed, and Bilquis hit him with a blow that confused him well.
* At the beginning of the episode, Shadow was joined by Shadow in the latest incarnation of Betty – a Winnebago – on Wednesday to see Whiskey Jack. They entered another dimension with an evil, cool Northern Lights-type sky, but Shadow was the only one with a meaningful connection to Whiskey Jack. The mystical man (a god?) Told him that he had a fate to fulfill: “So don’t screw it up, or it will all end.” When Wednesday and Shadow returned to the real world, they were met by Cordelia, a young woman who was introduced as his fiancée on Wednesday. Before he and Cordelia answered the phone, Wednesday reminded his son that he had a paid apartment in Lakeside. “I do better if I make my own decisions,” said Shadow. But when he was trying to literally take a bus somewhere, a sudden winter storm determined that he was actually going to Lakeside.
* At the end of the episode, Shadow tried to break into his apartment after breaking the key in the lock. And then he noticed someone was pointing a gun at his neck and slowly raised his hands.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the episode? Did you catch the moment when Ann-Marie mentioned the name? Rate the premiere using the poll below and hit the comments with your thoughts!