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Recap / American Gods S 1 E 1 "The Bone Orchard"

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Season 1, Episode 1

The Bone Orchard

"It was obvious now what was required. After all, their god was a war god."
— Mr. Ibis

After three years in prison, Shadow Moon is released early after the passing of his wife Laura. On his journey home, he meets a grifter calling himself Mr. Wednesday who offers a job though it may be more than Shadow bargained for.

Tropes That Appear In This Episode:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the book, the Warden is downright gleeful about giving Shadow the bad news, and finds it darkly funny. Here, he's genuinely sympathetic. Even the guards clearly feel bad, and one's "ultimate good news/bad news joke" line comes across as a tone-deaf attempt to ease the tension.
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  • Adaptation Deviation: The show gives Sweeny at Irish accent, something his book counterpart pointedly lacked.
  • The Blank: The "Children", who act as the Technical Boy's goons, have no faces on their heads.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The Coming to America sequence with the Vikings, especially the ending.
  • Bookends: The episode begins and ends in a bloodbath; first with the Vikings and then with Technical Boy's Mooks getting completely slaughtered.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A viking's arm gets chopped off and literally goes offscreen, appearing on the upper black border of the letterbox instead of disappearing behind it.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Mr. Wednesday proposes that aerodynamics is an example of such.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Children, who are pink-skinned and dressed all in white, try to kill Shadow by lynching him.
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  • Eye Scream: The stranded vikings make an early attempt to gain the favor of Odin by each sacrificing an eye using a red-hot knife.
  • Faceless Mooks: The Children are, literally, the Technical Boy's goons and have no faces.
  • Fan Disservice: Bilquis's sex scene is very, very explicit, but it ends with her eating her date with her vagina.
  • Foreshadowing: It took the Vikings to make war in order to summon Odin's favor.
    • A huge one, if the show adapts the reveal from the book, which might be years down the road.
    Odin: I offer you the worm from my beak, and you look at me like I fucked your mom?
  • Groin Attack: Laura was giving Robbie a blowjob seconds before the car accident. The resulting impact was enough to send them both flying through the windscreen, and whether from the force of the collision or brain damage, Laura unintentionally bites off Robbie's penis. This in turn reveals to Audrey and Shadow that their spouses were having an affair.
  • Heroic BSoD: Shadow spends most of the episode going in and out of a fugue after learning of his wife's death.
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  • How's Your British Accent?: Wednesday is first seen performing a con as a senile old British man. He's played by the similarly British Ian McShane.
  • Lady in Red: Bilquis, rather than in the trashy Street Walker outfit the novel describes, appears in an elegant red dress.
  • Leprechaun: Mad Sweeny claims to be one despite him and Shadow both being big guys and lacking an accent. He's got a lot of the traits in common including red hair and doing tricks with gold coins. He's also got the stereotypical Irish traits including drinking, loving to fight, and has a hell of a temper.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: One viking is absolutely and suddenly pincushioned by arrows from unseen Native Americans.
  • Setting Update: A character example with the Technical Boy, a The Matrix-aping Basement-Dweller in the book is updated to an obnoxious millenial who vapes inside a limo with a solid white interior.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The sequence with the Vikings who have arrived in what would become America, faced with hostility from unseen Native Americans, recalls Valhalla Rising.
    • The device used by the Technical Boy to communicate with Shadow within virtual reality jumps and wraps around Shadow's head in a manner similar to facehuggers.
    • The outfits worn by the Technical Boy's goons are modeled after the outfits Alex DeLarge and his droogs wear in A Clockwork Orange.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, the norsemen sacrifice a native American and are later massacred to a man in retaliation. While some die in the new world, at least half of them live to hightail it back home.
  • Wham Line:
    Audrey: Holy shit, Shadow. Nobody told you? Laura died with my husband's cock in her mouth.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The coin Mad Sweeny gave Shadow and he in turn leaves on Laura's grave shines with an eerie light before being swallowed into the earth.
    • Shadow staring on in the aftermath of a bloody massacre of the men who beat and hung him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Shadow finds out Laura, at her funeral no less, was cheating on him with his best friend while he was in prison.
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