Martin Carr reviews the third episode of American Gods…
Losing none of its ability to visually stun three weeks in ‘Head Full of Snow’ weaves a narrative dance around its unsuspecting audience. Exploring religious fables, physical congress with mythical beings and modern-day attitudes towards a search for identity. Intercutting short story vignettes, with our central narrative thread, Gods touches on Slavic folktales, Egyptian deities and astrological providence without dropping the ball.
Moments of gratuitous physicality are lifted beyond mere flesh fetish by desert seascapes, iridescent irises and the underlying assumption of self. Mundane actions of the money grabbing kind are transcended by snowflakes forming as cars careen across their surface. Weather is controlled on a whim just as time stands still and water droplets slow to a standstill. All of this is delivered with a confidence which cares little for ratings, approval, renewal or safe bets. An adage that seems to have paid dividends as season two has already been approved.
Above all it is this disregard and supreme focus that has garnered almost universal praise for the series so early into its first run. That and an unshakeable faith in Gaiman and his source material. Apartment blocks which stretch into the clouds, astrological waifs in cotton dresses who pluck planets from their orbit and dead drunk Irishman a shotgun blast shy of ignominy await the brave and foolhardy. Mix in central performances anchored by an Ian McShane both laconic, lascivious and brimming with righteous indignation simultaneously and we have ourselves a strange brew.
Never has the conjuring of snowflakes, flashes of briefly glimpsed characters or rancorously driven leprechauns been so engaging. Let us not forget also how downright dirty, dishevelled, unkempt and unruly Gods has turned out to be. In a few short weeks there have been threats made with dripping sledgehammers, sexual black holes, planetary vistas and incidents of sordid genius none of it suitable for terrestrial transmission.
That is before we get to the matter of Wednesday, Shadow, and his recently deceased wife Laura. In the gathering snowstorm and blasted glacial cloudfront there is an undeniable foreboding. This may have examined the line between reality and fantasy, belief and make-believe but now I fear Gods is crossing over into the realm of dreams. That line which Shadow has merely skated until now is soon to be erased forever. As we go deeper into the rabbit hole and explore what it means to have identity and be denied the opportunity to establish your own Gods will get better. Never have multiple narratives been so effectively interlinked around a singular idea with such bold brilliance. In the words of Aldous Huxley we have truly entered a brave new world.