The beleaguered Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods had an ambitious and interesting first season, a ton of trouble with its creative team (like the departure of showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green), and a long final limp to its second season.
The new gods and the old walk among the humans and supernatural residents of the USA, and trouble is brewing. Or at least, it was for a full season, and as we approach its second, something should be happening.
Now, the reviews for Season 2 are in, and they reflect this hiccupy road trip that mirrors the war for America’s soul.
Let’s allow the critics explain:
Collider’s Vinnie Mancuso bemoaned the death of the first season’s vibe, saying that the “mythology-meets-punk-rock spirit has been sucked out of Season 2.” He points out the behind-the-scenes drama, but also that the show spends “episodes meandering, direction-less — goal-less half the time — in one of the most obvious wheel-spinning bits of storytelling I’ve ever seen.” That said, Mancuso is excited the cast is still firing on all cylinders... just seemingly with nothing to do.
Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall feels similarly, calling the second season “utter tedium” and one “traveling in circles.” Even though the cast is still working hard — with star Ricky Whittle called out as the low point — the show is still tough to watch and even tougher to care about. Sepinwall explains the writing and showrunning drama in great detail, but says that when it comes right down to it, lackluster visuals make “the long and opaque stretches of plot even tougher to sit through.”
Ben Travers at IndieWire said that the “lifeless road trip” of the second season “is lucky to be continuing at all” after all the drama. But, with its new and unexpected lease on life, the stagnant show squanders its second chance and is as opaque as ever, just less exciting. New characters? Sure. New plot lines? Yes, though “none are all that gripping.” It’s just a slog, it seems, and one that should have known better.
Clint Worthington at Consequence of Sound echoes his peers’ concerns about the “visually dazzling but empty” second season. Aside from a “gutsy, pitch-perfect Ian McShane performance,” there’s simply not much to like in “the dull twists and opaque dialogue.” Worthington partially credits this to the attempts to more closely follow Gaiman’s source novel, which was a mandate that led to the hiring of a new showrunner (who didn’t last all that long either).
American Gods returns on March 10.