“American Gods” thoughts, Season One, Episode Three: “Head Full of Snow”

In both sequences, the faults of the modern-fantasy writing style pioneered by original American Gods author Neil Gaiman, both in his prose work and in his mega-popular Sandman comics, remain visible cracks in the edifice. The opening sequence begins with the soon to be dead woman talking to herself out loud about her good-for-nothing son, her wild grandkids, and the meal she’s cooking; It’s so needlessly direct and explicit that you can all but see the comic-book word balloons or caption boxes floating around every line of dialogue. Her acceptance of her supernatural visitor feels convincing enough, though, perhaps because she just died and that seems like the kind of experience that would leave one feeling particularly open-minded about how the world works.

The jinn sequence has no such excuse. It’s just hard to swallow the idea that a novelty salesman in a powder-blue suit who just dutifully sat in an office for seven hours waiting for a meeting with a guy who never even bothered to show up would simply roll with the punches when he discovers his cab driver’s eyeballs are on fire. I mean, does he strike you as the adventurous type? But the blithe treatment of the extraordinary as commonplace is a hallmark of Gaiman’s work and that of all the writers who followed in his footsteps, both in the Vertigo comics line built around his characters and in the world of fantastic fiction at large. This dude has to be okay with meeting (and eventually fucking) a supernatural entity within seconds of discovering his existence, because otherwise there’s no story, is there? Granted, this is in part just a genre convention: Normies react differently to supernatural beings in urban fantasy stories than they do in, say, superhero or horror. But it’s always sat wrong with me, and no amount of red-hot (literally and figuratively) sex is gonna set it right. (The less said about the decision to superimpose the subtitles for their conversation against gigantic flowing Arabic script, the better.)

I reviewed this week’s episode of American Gods, which was better but still not good, for Decider.

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