Season one of American Gods left us at a key moment in the story – and with a long time to wait before we discovered what was next for Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane).
The drama, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s beloved fantasy novel, debuted on Amazon Prime Video in April 2017 and was renewed for a second season shortly after. There have been big changes to the cast and crew since then, including the departure of the series showrunners and star Gillian Anderson.
So what should we expect from season two? Here’s what we know so far:
When is American Gods back for season 2?
Series two of American Gods will launch on Starz in the US on Sunday 10th March 2019 and will air in the UK and internationally on Amazon Prime Video.
The show was recommissioned in May 2017 and season two began filming in April 2018. Production was reportedly pushed back following the departure of the series showrunners and star Gillian Anderson.
“It’s definitely taken a while to get season two out but it takes a while to get good [episodes]. I think we’d all rather have it good than have it quicker,” Gaiman has said, according to Variety.
Why did the American Gods showrunners leave?
In November 2017 some big news broke: Michael Green and Bryan Fuller, the showrunners behind Amazon’s big budget sci-fi series American Gods, had left the show ahead of the second season.
At least half of the scripts had already been written, but filming had yet to begin. Variety suggested that the pair had quit after clashing with producer Fremantle Media over “budget and direction”. The production company was reportedly concerned about the series becoming vastly more expensive.
The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, because when American Gods was renewed for a second season the duo were enthusiastic.
Emily Browning told RadioTimes.com in June 2017: “They’ve started fleshing it out and mapping out the whole season, but it’s funny because Bryan [Fuller, showrunner] always wants to tell us every single idea that he has about season two which is amazing – we all just sit around rapt with our chins on our hands listening to him like ‘Uhuh, uhuh.’”
Who is the new showrunner for American Gods?
Jesse Alexander has joined American Gods as showrunner, taking over from Michael Green and Bryan Fuller. He actually previously worked with Bryan Fuller on shows including Hannibal and Star Trek: Discovery.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the production company planned to start over from scratch with Alexander, replacing the existing scripts and returning more closely to Gaiman’s novel as the source material.
“We needed to get back to the line in the book,” star Ian McShane said at the Television Critics Association press tour panel in the US. “The characters you were invested in needed exploring more… Gaiman wrote a great blueprint for a TV series that can go wherever it wants as long as it remains true to the roots of faith.”
Still, Gaiman added, “It feels like the same show that we had for season one. Part of that is because we had amazing actors; part of that is because a lot of the people didn’t change.”
Who is in the cast of American Gods?
Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle will return as Shadow, with Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday.
Yetide Badaki’s sex goddess Bilquis will be absolutely “pivotal” in season two, while Emily Browning is back as Laura Moon – Shadow’s dead wife.
The cast also includes Bruce Langley (Technical Boy), Orlando Jones (Mr Nancy) and Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney), and we’ll be seeing plenty more of Crispin Glover as the sinister Mr World.
But Gillian Anderson will NOT play Media in season two. She told The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m not doing any more American Gods. Bryan and Michael Green aren’t either, as has been announced.”
Instead, her character has been recast and updated: “New Media,” the successor to Anderson’s “Media”, will be played by South Korean actress Kahyun Kim. The idea is to make the character more relevant to the modern media landscape, which has changed rapidly since American Gods was first published. “New Media” will have some “Mark Zuckerberg-like” qualities.
Also joining the show are Dean Winters as Mr Town and Native American actress Devery Jacobs as Sam Black Crow.
Kristin Chenoweth will not be returning as Easter, although Gaiman says he had never planned for her to be in season two. However, he said, “Somewhere up the line we’re going to meet Easter again. Whether or not we get Kristin or someone else remains to be seen.”
What is American Gods about?
Here’s the basic concept: American Gods shows a gloriously surreal version of reality based on the concept that immigrants to America over thousands of years have brought their gods with them. Over time they forgot about the gods they once worshiped, abandoning the old deities to the edges of American society.
Now those old gods are fighting back against the newer gods (media, technology) that threaten to destroy them forever. Ex-con Shadow Moon (Whittle) gets thrown right into the middle of this war by his new boss, the mysterious Mr Wednesday (McShane).
What will the second season be about?
In a video announcing the return of the production, Gaiman teased, “Things are going to get darker, things are going to get more dangerous.”
The first eight episodes of American Gods only took us a fifth of the way through the novel, so there’s plenty of material left over for a second season (and a third, fourth and fifth). Speaking ahead of the series premiere,Whittle told RadioTimes.com: “This show really has got legs to go for numerous years.”
Even though American Gods is adapted from a novel, it’s impossible to say for sure what will happen in season two – considering all the ways the TV version was different from the book. And the story may change direction AGAIN now that Michael Green and Bryan Fuller have left as showrunners.
But with the book in hand and clues from Twitter and Gaiman himself, we can make some predictions about what will happen in season two.
Season two will pick up about “30 minutes after season one ended” (according to Emily Browning, who plays Laura) and will explore the relationship between Shadow and his dead wife, as well as what happens now the two of them have reunited. A big part of her story will be “about finding some new things to fight for” now that Shadow is “not her puppy any more.”
We’ll definitely be visiting the Biggest Carousel in the World – found in a tourist attraction known as ‘The House on the Rock‘ in Wisconsin, a bizarre real-life location that was briefly referenced at the end of season one. Here, Shadow and all the gods find themselves inside the mind of Mr Wednesday (or Odin) as his boss tries to rally the Old Gods for war.
As the casting announcement reveals, we will also be meeting Sam, short for Samantha Black Crow. In the novel, she’s a hitchhiking college student who is intrigued by Shadow and joins him on part of his journey.
The next chunk of the novel includes kidnappings, lots of Mr Ibis and Mr Jacquel, Shadow’s reinvention as Mike Ainsel, the disappearance of Mr Wednesday and the downfall of Mad Sweeney.
Looks like we are in for quite a ride, and not just on the Biggest Carousel in the World…
This article was updated in February 2019