Martin Carr reviews American Gods’ season 2 finale…
Belief is strange as it ceases to be believed if people cease to believe in it. Adversely knowledge stems from experimentation and morphs into fact, while faith depends on interpretation leaving room for charlatans, tricksters and con artists. Media outlets either terrestrial, digital or radio harbour the most hucksters who run interference to gain an advantage. That mass media manipulation sits at the centre of this final forty minutes of outstanding television, reminding you why American Gods is essential viewing.
Effortlessly tapping into the paranoia of a modern age dictated by instant gratification, attention deficit disorder and communication breakdowns, it’s nice that Orson Welles is their touchstone of choice. Ahead of his time at the time Welles sent America into meltdown with a radio broadcast and reportedly had people evacuating their homes in terror. Cinema was still in its infancy, radio was the domineering entertainment medium and it made Welles a star almost instantly as did film with Citizen Kane.
In a montage of images where fourth walls are broken and audiences directly addressed we are given snippets which converge informing, educating and warning in equal measure. Radio morphs into television, television into cinema and smart phones by way of video, bringing us up to speed. Metronomes tick, inputted code becomes a breathing consciousness before sucking us back into a morticians bolt hole where ancient powers reside. Games of chess, teasingly naked liaisons and visual mindscapes manifested through half remembered dreams combine with flashback giving everything a nostalgic hue.
Allegiances are now a distant memory replaced by splinter factions where agendas are varied, intentions unclear and self-sufficiency essential. Calculatingly cool headed they may be, but the old Gods are holding onto their poise and hiding behind posterity while new age deities plot their demise. No grand gestures or superfluous monologues burn up precious screen time here where character remains key and Wednesday continues to consume. As ideologies lock horns, cultural preoccupations pre-occupy and both fight to establish pre-eminence, American Gods puts no faith in cliff hangers or other tawdry tactics. If you choose to watch you will be rewarded, if not there will always others to replace you.