Season two of American Gods launched on Starz in the US on Sunday 10th March 2019 and airs in the UK and internationally on Amazon Prime Video, with episode one arriving on Monday 11th March 2019. Further episodes will be released weekly.
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).
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 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.’”
Since Fuller and Green stepped down as showrunners, the direction of the story has changed significantly. Whittle explained: “There were storylines and directions that were going one way, which have kind of segued a different way… But there are still parts that we use. There are still moments.”
Who is the new showrunner for American Gods?
Jesse Alexander joined American Gods as showrunner, taking over from Michael Green and Bryan Fuller. 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.
However, he too stepped aside in September 2018, and the show was finally completed without an official showrunner at the helm.
“You needed somebody who was willing to come in and sort it out and clean it and then, towards the end, be a little bit more creative,” Mr Wednesday actor Ian McShane said at a press event in London. “And Jesse did his best, and it was fine up to a point. But then it became, ‘How do we end the show again? What do we do to set the stage for series three?'”
Still, as Gaiman was keen to stress at the Television Critics Association, “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.
Gillian Anderson will not play Media in season two, despite the character’s importance in the novel. She told The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m not doing any more American Gods. Bryan and Michael Green aren’t either, as has been announced.”
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.”
Clarifying the circumstances behind Anderson’s exit, McShane told RadioTimes.com: “Well she was never a regular. She’s good friends with Bryan, but the thing is, you think any company would sign talents like Gillian Anderson and Kristen Chenoweth and then let them walk away? So they weren’t, no – they were coming in from time to time, because Gillian only filmed four days with us and was there from time to time, so it’s not like they were regulars in the show. But Easter might come back later.”
What will happen in American Gods season two?
In a video announcing the return of the production, Gaiman teased, “Things are going to get darker, things are going to get more dangerous.”
Season two will pick up “about half an hour after season one ended at Easter’s house” (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.”
Browning told RadioTimes.com: “Her arc this season is, she is always going to keep watching out for Shadow I think, but she starts to find a few other things to fight for, and I think revenge becomes something that she becomes a little more focused on by the end of the season.
“So she’s still chasing him around, and she still has a lot of sitting in a car and antagonising Mad Sweeney, and throwing him around a bit.”
And Shadow Moon? Whittle tells us: “Shadow went from cynic to believer in season one and now he believes, he wants to understand. He still doesn’t understand this world of gods and six foot five alcoholic leprechauns and walking dead wives, so he’s got a lot of questions and Mr Wednesday is very reluctant to answer them… and he does not want Shadow to know too much too soon. Which is going to cause a lot of friction between the two.
“But he is starting to know that he’s important, or he may have some part in this puzzle that is unknown to him just yet… he wants to know the sides, the stakes, who’s going to war and what for, and most importantly what his part in this is.”
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.
Me? What am I doing? Oh, just hanging out with gods and mortals at the House on the Rock. Why, yes, that is the Biggest Carousel in the World. Nothing special. (YES, IT WAS AMAZING. YES, IT WAS AS AMAZING AS YOU WOULD THINK.) @GodsOnAmazon@AmericanGodsSTZpic.twitter.com/BhLEPLTp7d
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.
What happens next in the novel?
Shadow Moon and Mr Town
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). But even with the book in hand, 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.
What we do know is that the next chunk of the novel includes a kidnapping and a run-in between Mr Town and Shadow, with Laura coming to the rescue. There is a stay at the funeral parlour of Mr Ibis and Mr Jacquel, followed by 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…