The story of American Gods has undergone significant changes from its source material, as the series starts season 2. This will come as no surprise to fans of the original novel, who have already seen a number of changes from the book made during American Gods season 1, where ex-con Shadow Moon found himself being drawn into a world of magic and mysticism after entering the employ of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Even the American Gods season 1 finale, in which Mr. Wednesday revealed himself as the god Odin at an Easter party held by the fertility goddess Ostara, was based upon several different moments from the original American Gods book, combined into a single scene.
Originally published in 2001 to great acclaim, the novel American Gods went through several revisions in being adapted for television. Some of these changes were made out of consideration for the differences in the media but others were made to reflect how society has changed in the two decades since the book was originally written. For instance, the character of Technical Boy (the New God of technology) is described in the American Gods novel as looking like the cliche computer nerd of the time - overweight, zit-faced, and wearing a black trench coat. By contrast, the television version of Technical Boy (played by Bruce Langley) is sleek and slim.
These changes have continued in American Gods season 2, though not all of these changes were born out of consideration for the story or changing times. A new subplot involving Technical Boy's quest to find Media, for instance, came out of Gillian Anderson's decision to leave American Gods after season 1. This has resulted in the creation of a New Media (played by Kahyun Kim) who draws her power from YouTube and Netflix as well as television and magazines. Yet even more changes have arisen as the story of American Gods season 2 continues.
Bilquis as a New God Double-Agent
One of the most memorable scenes in the original American Gods novel involved Bilquis - an African fertility goddess, whose legends also inspired the Queen of Sheba in the Abrahamic traditions. Many fans feel that American Gods season 1 perfectly adapted the scene, in which Bilquis' love proves to be literally all-consuming. The season went on to show her drawing several lovers into her, absorbing their lives and their worship as they literally die experiencing pleasure beyond that which mortals were meant to know.
A flashback later in season 1 revealed that Bilquis' fortunes weren't always so bright in America and that until fairly recently she had been living on the street as a homeless woman, barely remembering who she once was. That changed in 2013, when she was found by Technical Boy, who showed her how she could find worshipers, one at a time, using dating apps on a smart phone. In exchange for helping her get back on her feet and reacquire some small measure of worship, Technical Boy said that she would owe him a favor at some point. The nature of that favor was revealed in the American Gods season 2 premiere, where Bilquis was tapped to act as a spy on the meeting where Mr. Wednesday tried to rally some of the other Old Gods to declare war on the New Gods.
While the scene in which Bilquis devours her lover was flawlessly adapted from the original novel, virtually everything else about her has been made up for the television series. Bilquis only appeared in two scenes in the original novel - her infamous sex scene and a scene where she is unceremoniously killed off by Technical Boy. It remains to be seen what role Bilquis will have to play in American Gods season 2, as her work for the New Gods seems to be done by the end of the American Gods season 2 premiere. Still, it seems likely Mr. World and his forces may find some use yet for the treacherous love goddess.
Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon Team Up
One of the more interesting changes to the story of American Gods in season 1 was the teaming of the leprechaun Mad Sweeney and the zombie Laura Moon. The characters never met in the original novel, where Mad Sweeney died a rather sad death after accidentally giving away his lucky gold coin to Shadow Moon. Shadow Moon then threw the coin into the grave of his recently deceased wife, Laura, who was brought back to life by the magic gold and began trying to prove herself a better wife in death than she had ever been to Shadow in life.
The show has kept Laura's motivations the same, while offering more insight into her background and giving her much more personality than she had in the original novel. The show has also kept Mad Sweeney alive and desperate to reacquire his lucky coin. This has him sticking to Laura through thick and thin, not out of any love for her, her husband or Mr. Wednesday, but because he's waiting for an opportunity to take back what is his. It remains to be seen where this odd couple will go in American Gods season 2, but Pablo Schreiber, who plays Mad Sweeney, has said that the season will see the two working towards "their common goal of revenge and retribution" despite their mutual hatred of one another, as they realize they have a common enemy.