Sometimes the seemingly most mystical television shows end up becoming the most timely and relatable to their audiences. That’s certainly the chase for the critically acclaimed series, ‘American Gods,’ whose upcoming third season engages its viewers in large part through its characters and their identifiable journeys. From the versatile protagonist, Shadow Moon, to the title Gods, the diverse characters must decide who they are in an ever-changing world, and becoming more comfortable with themselves in their new situations.
The Emmy Award-nominated fantasy drama’s latest season shows that Shadow is determined to lose himself in normality, and discover how he can become more himself. In doing so, he must ultimately follow the path that’s guided by the Gods of his ancestors, and decide what side he’s on — humanity’s or the Gods.
Season 3 of ‘American Gods’ is set to premiere next Sunday, January 10 at 8:00pm ET/PT in the U.S., as well as internationally on Amazon Prime Video, beginning Monday, January 11. The show is based on British author Neil Gaiman’s award-winning 2001 fantasy novel of the same name.
‘American Gods’ is the epic story of an inevitable war building between the Old Gods of mythology and our New Gods of technology. Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is a man who’s pulled into the service of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), only to discover that not only is his charismatic but un-trustable boss actually the Norse All-Father god Odin, he’s also his father.
In Season 3, Shadow angrily pushes this apparent destiny away, and settles in the seemingly idyllic snowy town of Lakeside, Wisconsin to make his own path, and while he’s there, he’s guided by the gods of his Black ancestors, the Orishas. However, he’ll soon discover that this town’s still waters run deep, dark, and bloody, and he can’t simply reject being a god. The only choice he has to make is what kind of god he’s going to be.
Whittle generously took the time recently to talk about starring in the upcoming third season of ‘American Gods’ during an exclusive interview over Zoom. Among other things, the actor discussed how the dynamic in the relationships between Shadow and Mr. Wednesday, as well as his protagonist and Laura, will be continuously changing throughout Season 3, as all three characters embark on their own separate paths before they’re brought back together. He also mentioned that he thinks the third season is the most efficient one yet, in part because the season’s storyline more closely follows the book than the series’ sophomore season..
The conversation began with Whittle discussing how during Season 2, Shadow discovers that Mr. Wednesday is really his father, which leaves the protagonist questioning if he’s also a god, and if he’s destined for something greater. The performer delved into how his character’s now-estranged relationship with his father shapes Shadow’s trajectory throughout the new third season, particularly with the gods and his wife, Laura (who’s played by Emily Browning).
“That’s a huge relationship that has really been dynamic and changed throughout the three seasons. In Season 3, we find Shadow Moon shunning Wednesday. (Shadow’s) just found out that Wednesday’s his father, and we also know that Wednesday killed his wife, Laura,” Whittle noted.
“It’s not like Wednesday was working at the local store; he’s a God-he’s Odin. He could have been there at any time in Shadow’s life. He’s had a terrible life; he lost his mother to cancer when he was 15, so he was alone until he met Laura, and Wednesday killed her,” the actor pointed out.
“So we find Shadow Moon in Season 3 really resentful. He doesn’t really have time for Wednesday, so he tries to disappear. He’s leading a normal life, working in a factory, before he ends up in Lakeside,,” Whittle revealed. “He grew his hair and beard out, and changed his name to Mike. He’s hiding from the police and FBI, and it’s all Wednesday’s fault. So in Season 3, there’s a huge friction between the two.
“What I wanted to do this season was make things more fun. (Shadow’s) like a petulant teenager who doesn’t want to talk to dad. But in Season 3, you’re going to see a bit more comedy between the two of them again,” the performer continued.
“I love their dynamic and relationship. You’re also going to see the power that Wednesday had over Shadow is going to start to shift. It’s now Shadow who has that strength in the relationship because he doesn’t want to speak to Wednesday. But Wednesday knows that he needs Shadow more than the other way around. it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Wednesday play games with Shadow,” Whittle added.
Further speaking of Shadow’s ever-evolving relationship with Laura, who became a revenant, an animated corpse that’s believed to have revived from death to haunt the living, during the first season, the actor expressed his happiness of being able to work with Browning again this season. “Emily is just a delight. I love that girl more than cake! Anyone who knows me knows I love cake!,” he shared with a laugh.
Laura “has a fantastic journey this season. But the threads of all of our characters, including Bilquis and Tech Boy, start to drift off. We all have powerful, strong arcs of discovery for our characters,” Whittle revealed. “The writing’s been truly great; Season 3 is a massive return to form for the show. (Season 3 showrunner) Charles Eglee and Neil Gaiman had more time over the summer to craft the story that will span from Season 3 into Season 4.
“The relationship between Shadow and Laura becomes really exciting. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the two will go on their own separate paths throughout this season, but will come back together. It’s about where they’re going…and that’s fascinating, exciting and mind blowing,” the performer revealed. “The season finale’s going to be incredible, and it’s all about those two.”
Following up on the fact that Gaiman’s 465-page novel is still providing ample inspiration for the show, Whittle added that the new season stays true to the book, while also taking some creative freedom in its storytelling. “This, for me, is the most efficient season. He continued that Gaiman, who also serves as one of the show’s executive producers, “came in and brought a steady hand to the ship. After Season 2, we brought the show back to the book. It’s Shadow’s story, and we’re going to my favorite part of the book-Lakeside.
“It’s great fun, as we meet this whole new (group of characters) from the book, and the show turns into this murder mystery. So Neil and Charles Eglee really formulated this fantastic story where it’s important to remember that we’re doing an adaptation. There’s so much great stuff in the book from Lakeside that we’re able to take out for the show,” the actor continued.
“We’re bringing in this great talent who are integral to the book into the show, during which time Shadow really grows into what he’s about to become. He’s about to make some really strong choices this season. Even for those people who have read the book, there’s still enough new material (in the new season of the show) to make it really exciting for them, including elements between Shadow and Laura, as well as Shadow and Wednesday and Bilquis and Tech Boy, who have their own fantastic arcs…We’re all slowly moving along our own paths to this magical destination,” Whittle concluded.