Warning: This post contains spoilers from American Gods’ Season 3 premiere.
Toward the end of American Gods‘ premiere Sunday, Shadow Moon arrived in Lakeside, the sleepy town where he’ll spend a significant amount of Season 3. It was cold, and Shadow didn’t have appropriate outerwear to stave off the Wisconsin winter. So he quickly stepped into the general store to try to find a ride to his new apartment, and that’s where he received the warmest of welcomes from the proprietor, Ann-Marie Hinzelmann.
Within moments of meeting Shadow, Ann-Marie (played by Saturday Night Live vet Julia Sweeney) was treating him like a friend she’d known for years. Nice, right? Until Shadow’s ride arrived, and Ann-Marie introduced him by his alias, Mike Ainsel… which he hadn’t shared with her.
It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but Shadow certainly noticed (though he said nothing). And so did we. So when TVLine recently chatted with Ricky Whittle, we asked him about it. Here’s how that went:
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TVLINE | When Shadow comes into Ann-Marie Hinzelmann’s shop, she refers to him by name without him telling her, right?
[Long pause] American Gods is blessed…
TVLINE | Wait, start to say your evasive quote again, because I was laughing too hard and it’ll be tough to transcribe.
[Laughs loudly] American Gods is full of Easter eggs. We are gifted by an intelligent audience in the sci-fi and fantasy world that I love, that you don’t have to spoon-feed. And if you watch, we have told you everything that you ever need to know. Like, Neil Gaiman told you everything you ever need to know in Chapter 1, in Episode 1… But it’s so finely detailed and so meticulously laid that, it’s one of those moments, for instance, where, once you’ve seen this whole show play out, and you go back and re-watch it, that’s when you realize, “He just said that. She just said this. Of course, now it all makes sense! They knew from the very beginning.” It’s those moments. And so, there are always moments that you need to pay attention to, character traits, things that they say, things that they do. It’s always very fascinating.
Hmmmm… right? For the record: Whittle, as always, was very charming while delivering his non-answer. Also for the record: The exchange in question does not happen in Neil Gaiman’s novel on which the series is based — Shadow and Hinzelmann’s introduction is very straight-forward there — but it’s hardly the only departure from the source material in the season ahead. In the book, for instance, Richie Hinzelmann is male. (And if you’ve read American Gods, please don’t spoil anything in the comments for those who haven’t.)
On the whole, the episode felt like the start of a season that’s been creatively zhushed. (I’ve seen the first few episodes; so far, the trend continues.) Here are a few other events of note that took place in “A Winter’s Tale”:
* Wednesday crowd-dove at a concert that doubled as a tribute to the allfather himself. When he arrived at the stage, the lead singer Johan (played by goth rocker Marilyn Manson) unsheathed a sword and knelt before him, offering his fealty.
* In New Orleans, Laura’s attempts to bring Mad Sweeney back to life backfired when she cut his coin from her — ending her un-life and turning her to dust. Nearby, though, the vial of resurrection juice she procured from a local witchy woman broke and trickled closer to her pile of powder.
* Mr. World chose to appear as Ms. World (played by Pose‘s Dominique Jackson), who was irked that Wednesday’s crowd-surfing — and not the New Gods’ message — went viral. When one of the millennials working for her didn’t take her anger seriously, she hefted a baseball bat and beat him into a paste while Technical Boy and the rest of her staff were spattered with his blood. She reminded Tech Boy that the New Gods are trying to build a pipeline into everyone’s brains, but they’re having trouble securing funding. Then she sent him to bring Bilquis to their side. He did not succeed, and Bilquis put some whammy on him, via touch, that messed him up good.
* Early in the episode, Wednesday got Shadow to accompany him in the latest incarnation of Betty — a Winnebago — to see Whiskey Jack. They entered a different dimension with a wicked cool, northern lights-type sky, but Shadow was the only one to have a meaningful connection with Whiskey Jack. The mystical man (a god?) told him that he has a destiny to fulfill, “so don’t screw it up, or everything will come to an end.” When Wednesday and Shadow returned to the real world, they were met by Cordelia, a young woman Wednesday introduced as his fiancé. Before he and Cordelia took off, Wednesday reminded his son that there’s a paid apartment waiting for him in Lakeside. “I do better when I make my own decisions,” Shadow said. But when he tried to take a bus to literally anywhere else, a sudden winter storm determined that he was, indeed, going to Lakeside.
* At the end of the episode, Shadow attempted to break into his apartment after the key broke in the lock. And that’s when he realized someone wa pointing a gun at his neck, so he slowly put his hands up.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Did you catch the moment Ann-Marie mentioned the name? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!