Warning: SPOILERS ahead for American Gods season 2.
American Gods season 2 continued the journey of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and his driver/bodyguard Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), as the war between the Old Gods and the New Gods continues to simmer towards its boiling point.
In the dramatic season 2 finale, Mr. World created mass hysteria by using New Media to spread stories about massive security breaches, before painting Shadow and his allies as terrorists responsible for the "Bellefontaine Massacre." Armed police descended on the Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor, but as Shadow tried to escape he found himself captured by the miniature Yggdrasil and had visions that revealed the truth to him: that Wednesday a.k.a. Odin is actually his father. In an apparent flex of his demigod powers, he removed the police outside, allowing himself and his allies to escape. Now, Shadow is heading to the town of Lakeside under the false identity Mike Ainsell - but the gods are unlikely to let him go so easily.
Season 2 of American Gods is available now on Blu-ray and DVD, so we spoke to star Ricky Whittle about the most recent trials that Shadow's been through - and what he will be dealing with in the future.
What kind of locations can we expect to see in season 3?
Season 3 is going to be the Lakeside story, as we continue our way through Neil Gaiman's fantastic book. It's actually my favorite part of the book and after what it's turning out to be, with conversations in the writers room between [showrunner] Chic Eglee and his writing team, my favorite part of the show. We're going to see a completely different Shadow, I mean he's even going by the new name Mike Ainsel, which we rounded off the season 2 finale with. It's a new identity, it's a chance to be something else and someone else, to go into hiding. He's kind of had the world of the gods abusing him for long enough, and using him as a punchbag, so now it's his time to try and escape and live his life and take stock of all the information he's just received. He's just found out that he's potentially got a father in this world, who is not of this world, and what does that mean for him and the abilities that he seems to have showcased throughout the first two seasons.
In another interview you described Shadow as being "empty" at the start of season 1, because of all he's lost. Where is he at the start of season 3?
You could say he literally has come full circle, despite gathering a whole wealth of information, because he's still lost. Just because he's getting more information, he doesn't understand it all... He has the knowledge that Odin was his father, that his father was a god, he wasn't just some guy who left his mother and himself to fend for themselves. He was there the whole time, and how much has he had to do with [Shadow's] life, with the decisions that have been made and the things that have happened to him. Shadow's not had a great life, so did [Wednesday] just allow all these bad things to happen to him? It's a lot to take on for a son who feels neglected and abandoned. But there are consequences to that you know, obviously we've touched upon it lightly that when your father's a god, does that make Shadow a demigod and does that mean he too has powers, he too is special?
So that's something we're going to investigate, but also in the Lakeside story he wants to escape this world, he's had a taste of it and he doesn't want any part of it. So he's going to try and escape, he's going to try and hide in Lakeside and finally be amongst human beings, or who he thinks are human beings. He's got to try and balance this world of trying to start this new life with all these people, love interests, friends, but also keep the gods and all that chaos away from this normal life... We did meet him when he was vulnerable and empty and void of emotion and character and personality, because he'd lost everything. Now his wife came back, and he's getting stronger and he's getting more knowledge, he's getting more confident again. So season 3 will see a lot more of the old Shadow, before we met him... a happier Shadow, a more content Shadow who's driving his own story.
It'll be nice to see Shadow happy. The last two seasons have been kind of rough...
[Laughs] He's had a very tough two seasons, and let's not be silly here, this is American Gods and we can't always get what we want, and the best way to entertain an audience is to never give them what they want, and that is happiness for Shadow. So we will see him smile, we'll see him have fun, and we'll see some humor, which is unlike Shadow over the past two seasons, but of course he is fighting against gods so that's quite a battle he has on his hands.
Near the end of season 2, Shadow kills Mad Sweeney to save Wednesday's life. How does that affect Shadow's relationship with Wednesday - is he more loyal to him now, or less so?
I mean, I don't think it affects his relationship with Wednesday because of the much larger issue that Wednesday's kept this secret from him for so long, and has he been manipulating him this whole time? Sweeney's death is something that would weigh on Shadow because he's just a human being with good morals, and even though it was an accident, that's definitely something that's going to weigh on Shadow's mind. Now, is the death of a god different to the death of a human? Would it weigh on his mind the same? I'm not too sure, because they are these kind of magical beings, and hey come back to life and they die and they reform. Are any of these gods and beings and deities ever really dead? So Shadow's going to learn a bit more about that in the passing of Mad Sweeney, but he's going to learn a lot more about himself as well with the consequences of that death.
The last time we see Mad Sweeney in season 2, he's being carried away by Laura. Why do you think she decided to take his body? Is she hoping to find a way to bring him back?
I mean, she wanted to bury Mad Sweeney for herself and she saw the way in which Ibis would deal with the bodies and she didn't want Mad Sweeney to go along that road. She'd started to develop some feelings for him and she wants what's best for him. If she can bring him back to life that would be her ideal, because in life she had Shadow to love, and to love her, and in death she had Mad Sweeney, and in one swift episode she lost them both. So she's very alone right now, and if there's any way of getting either of them back then she will. But we're going to see how that goes. And from a personal view, anyone who has worked with or seen Pablo Schreiber work, of course you want Mad Sweeney to come back, because I love working with Pablo Schreiber, he's one of the best actors I've ever had to opportunity to grace a screen with.
What about Laura's relationship with Shadow? Is there still hope there, or is he done with her?
I don't think he's ever done with Laura. I think, as in the book, she's always around and looking out for him, and I think he would be the same for her. But it's where the gods kind of blur with real life, anyone can relate to this, when someone you truly love shows their true colors, maybe they weren't the person that you put them on that pedestal to love, it changes things. And for Shadow, he was so in love with Laura in life, and he portrayed her as this perfect iconic picture in his mind, when he realized who she really truly was, and that she cheated on him with his best friend, and she was kind of this negative dark person who was battling through her own troubles... He realized that he does love her, but it's that cliché where he's no longer in love with her, that's not a relationship that he wants to move forward with, because he's kind of tied up in this world and he's trying to cut all ties from what keeps dragging him back.
It's almost like Shadow's wading through quicksand and the gods and Laura and Sweeney and all this information is kind of weighing on him and dragging him down, and he just wants to be set free. So for Shadow, trying to escape to Lakeside and trying to escape this whole situation and process what's happened... he's trying to break free and leave all that behind,and unfortunately Laura's one of those weights.
Wednesday disappeared again at the end of season 2. Is Shadow going to be searching for him in season 3?
I think Wednesday is seen when he wants to be seen. I don't think it's a case of finding Wednesday, but he finds you, and unfortunately for Shadow, who's going to be building a new life, that will be sooner rather than later. It's a conversation that's going to need to be had, it's a conversation full of truths and honesty, but the tides have turned and all of a sudden Shadow now holds a lot more power, and whereas before Wednesday refused to give answers, Shadow's now of a standing where he can refuse to do Wednesday's bidding until he does provide answers. So there's a very huge dynamic shift in their relationship. The first season was very much student and teacher or craft old wise man teaching a young con man new tricks. Season 2 became more of a frustration or friction, and growing anger between the two. And now season 3 we literally have this father-son dynamic where the son's kicking back and rebelling, he's refusing to do what Wednesday wants until he gets the answers that he really needs to move forward.
In season 2 we got to find out what happened to another of Wednesday's sons, Donar. How did Donar's death impact Wednesday's relationship with Shadow - if at all?
I think Wednesday will always see people and his' sons as the same, as a means to an end. It's always about his power and self-serving. Will he have learned lessons from Thor, from Donar... maybe. We saw how it affected him, Shadow saw himself how much it affected Wednesday in the present day, to the point where Shadow was pressing Wednesday for answers and backed off because he could see the vulnerability and pain for the first time in Wednesday. So obviously it does affect Wednesday, but Wednesday's always got his one eye on the big picture.
We last saw Salim and the Jinn riding away together on the motorcycle - will they continue to be involved in the story in season 3?
Salim's the only other human in the story, and it's very important to get his take on things as well, because he's kind of stumbled upon this world by accident, falling for the wrong deity - or the right deity, I guess! Whereas Shadow has kind of been tricked and manipulated into this world, and maybe he had a higher purpose. So Salim's story is very interesting, and he'll very much be involved in the telling of the human story, and he's got some incredible stuff that will be happening this season as he searches for answers himself. He's got one of the most incredible and sensitive and interesting stories where his faith talks about one god and yet he is in love with another god who technically shouldn't exist in his faith. So even the fact that you have two gay Muslims is illegal in some countries and against his faith, so he's got a lot to juggle and it's really a powerful beautiful story as he tries to find himself.