The television adaptation of American Gods has been through a lot of ups and downs over the past several years. The series is based off the bestselling novel by Neil Gaiman. Many new characters and storylines have been expanded upon to stretch out the novel into two seasons so far on Starz. And with the third season on the way, the show has still not hit the end of the book. The third season is also unlikely to be the end of the show, with many sources indicating that a fourth season is coming.
A teaser for season 3 of American Gods debuted at (the virtual) New York City Comic-Con this week. It previews the rise of Shadow Moon as a god himself. Let’s take a look at what we know about season 3 of American Gods, and all the controversy that surrounds the series.
Spoiler Warning for the first two season of American Gods to follow.
A New Shadow Moon Rises In American Gods
Image via Starz
The teaser for season 3 of American Gods opens with the character of Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) trying lay low in the small town of Lakeside. It appears that some time has passed since Shadow Moon discovered that his real father is Mr. Wednesday, aka the god Odin. But Shadow cannot escape the manipulations of the gods for long. He is quickly drawn back into the eternal war between the old gods and the new. In the process he will claim his own inherent power – and birthright – to rise up as a new god himself.
Season 3 of American Gods focuses on Shadow’s time in the small town of Lakeside. This small portion of the novel will encompass the majority of season 3. But there is plenty of other action on display as well. The teaser for season 3 of American Gods shows us Shadow’s dead wife Laura Moon on her own journey. She spent the previous season searching for a way to return to life. There are also some new characters at work in season 3, including Danny Trejo as another incarnation of Mr. World, and Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon as a leprechaun.
Journeys Of Self-Discovery Are In Store For Major Characters
Image via Starz
Actress Yetide Badaki plays the goddess Bilquis in American Gods. And at the Starz panel for the show at NYCC, she commented on the personal character journeys that will make up season 3.
“It’s something that we see with every single character along the way. There is this journey of self-discovery,” said Badaki. “We see that with Shadow; we see that with Laura, we see it with Technical Boy, with Salim… I think it’s been an interesting thing to see because we’re going back to, I think Neil said it best — that American is this country that’s trying to figure out who it is, what it is. As each of these characters go on these journeys finding themselves, they then start to see further how it all interconnects.”
The Gods Of Black America Will Shine In Season 3
Image via Starz
The upcoming season will also focus on the many subplots of the ensemble cast that were not featured in the American Gods novel. We know that many of these characters on a journey of self-discovery. But others are rising up to claim their power. The teaser shows a new character for the show: an ancient goddess in the form of Oshun (Herizen F. Guardiola) of Yoruba mythology. According to the synopsis for season 3 of American Gods, Shadow Moon will be “guided on this spiritual journey by the gods of his black ancestors, the Orishas.”
The teaser has a powerful moment of one of the Orishas saying “The time has come when we will rise together as one.” At a time when black people all across America are rising together against injustice and oppression, this feels incredibly timely. The exploration of Yoruba, and Shadow’s African-American heritage is a welcome addition to the story of American Gods. The show has made pointed statements about the treatment of African-Americans in the past. The god Anansi (Orlando Jones) delivered a powerful monologue in the first season during his introduction. Anansi traveled to America on a slave ship, and his righteous fury has never abated.
The Drama of American Gods Occurs Off-Screen As Much As It Does On-Screen
Image via Starz
Unfortunately we are unlikely to see the character of Anansi in season 3 of American Gods. Actor Orlando Jones was allegedly fired after season 2. (Although we do still wonder if the Neil Gaiman novel Anansi Boys will ever get an adaptation, and if that will see Jones return to the role in the future.) Jones spoke out about his firing last year on Twitter, slamming the producers of American Gods for treating him like a second class citizen. He also fired shots at the new showrunner Charles Eglee. Jones claims that Eglee felt like Mr. Nancy’s anger was “the wrong message for black America.”
The producers responded to Jone’s allegations with the claim that he was let go because Anansi simply does not appear in the part of the book that season 3 is adapting. However, there are many other characters and subplots that will appear in season 3 outside of Shadow’s journey. All of this makes the official response to this accusation feel somewhat dubious. Adding to the confusion is the fact that author Neil Gaiman claims that Jones was not actually fired, and could return for season 4.
Neil Gaiman Says Mr. Nancy Could Be Back
In an interview with Digital Spy, Gaiman said that “There are a lot of actors who seem to think that they’ve been fired because they weren’t in season three, and you’re sort of going, ‘You’re not in this season because stuff is happening in the season that you’re not in. That doesn’t mean you’re not coming back.” Unfortunately we don’t yet know if Orlando Jones will return in future seasons of American Gods
A spokesperson for the show released the following statement about Orlando Jones and the trajectory of American Gods.
“The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones’ option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon’s world that will further contribute to the show’s legacy as one of the most diverse series on television.”
Controversy Haunts American Gods
Image via Starz
This is far from the only controversy that has plagued the production of American Gods over the years. The original showrunners – Bryan Fuller and Michael Green – famously left the show after the first season. With them went actress Gillian Anderson who portrayed the goddess Media in season 1 of American Gods. The series has also had a different showrunner every single season. The only one who remains consistently involved is author Neil Gaiman. His creative control over the series has been amplified due to all of the behind-the-scenes changes.
Gaiman spoke to the value of the previous showrunners. He credits Fuller and Green for the stellar ensemble cast. “What’s magical about what the previous creators involved have brought to American Gods is this amazing ensemble cast, which is not there in the book,” said Gaiman. “Shadow’s story was in some ways the easiest part of it – that was already laid out in the book.”
Season 3 of American Gods Is (Probably) Coming In 2021
Image via Starz
Neither the teaser, nor the NYCC panel indicated a potential release date for season 3 of American Gods. However it is likely due to premiere on Starz in early 2021. Neil Gaiman spoke to his excitement over season 3, and promises that it will be the strongest yet.
“I think season 1 was terrific, but it felt a little bit like an anthology from time to time. It felt like, ‘Okay, we’ve got this story, but we’re going over here and we’ve got this story and we’re going over there. Season 2 had its own quirks. Season 3 just feels like it’s telling this fabulous story and it’s all come together. What I loved about it was sitting, starting to watch episode 1 and being drawn in and getting to the end and not believing that 50-something minutes had just passed, and just wanting to find out what happened next. Feeling that about American Gods was a wonderful thing to feel.”
We look forward to finding out what season 3 of American Gods has in store when it arrives on Starz in the (hopefully near) future. To stay up to date, follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.