selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which the show starts to surprise book readers.

Well, the teaser's "Coming to America" story was familiar, with the prehistoric god whose name was forgotten, but certainly the reappearance of same much later in the episode was not. I do wonder whether Fuller didn't include it just for shock effect but also to indicatee what happens to gods who are completely forgotten, to demonstrate what's at stake for the deities.

It's easier to say what's in the book then to list all the things that weren't, in this episode, and I don't mean that as a criticism, because I'm certainly intrigued by what Fuller has added. What the episode used from its source material: parts of the first post mortem conversation between Shadow and Laura, some bits from the Wednesday-Shadow conversations, and parts of the second Mad Sweeney-Shadow conversation reappropriated to the very different encounter of Laura and Mad Sweeney. (Which was great, btw. Also a good way to get the information across to both audience and Laura what thoroughly nasty fate is in store for her - i.e. literally rotting away - even if she doesn't die again, because again, it's important for Laura's motivation.

Everything else was new. The Media-Technological Boy scene was fantastic (and would have been impossible in the novel, because aside from the "Coming to America" stories, we don't leave Shadow's pov until he's, well, you'll see). Gillian Anderson's David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust impression is undoubtedly already imortalized and shared everywhere. Also, here you see what Shadow in the novel notices about Technological Boy at a different point, i.e. that he's really just an annoying and secretly scared teen - with powers. Loved everything about that scene, including Media mentioning that she was there for the "War of the Worlds" scare of 1938 and fed on that belief, because of course she did.

The Laura and Shadow conversation more or less follows the lines of the novel - and btw, Ricky Whittle was terrific in that scene, bringing on the emotions just with the way he looked at her - until it's interrupted by Wednesday, and then we depart the plot for the reminder of the episode. Since Fuller already did the kidnapping-by-minions thing to Shadow, here he - and Wednesday, which doesn't happen in the book -, get arrested by actual police, and the smart female Sheriff was awesome, which is why I was duly crushed when she got killed.

The "Mr. World, Media and Technological Boy meet Wednesday and Shadow" scene: by itself great, but of course it immediately throws up a massive, massive question to the book reader. There is, ahem, a reason why "Mr. World" never is seen by Shadow until much, much later. Now I tried to remain unspoiled for the tv show but I followed the casting, so of course I knew that there were two different actors playing Mr. World and Other Character. I figured that didn't necessarily mean anything, because Other Character is a shapeshifter (among other things), and since the two being the same is the lead up to the biggest twist of the novel, which goes to the very premise, it's understable Fuller didn't want to give the game away to tv only viewers early on by the casting alone.

Now, two possiblities: on the face of it, Mr. World comes across an actual modern deity (mass surveillance, which I thought was an amusing and impressive concept - I don't think the book ever says, because of the other identity). Big Brother embodied, so to speak. So either Fuller is completely parting ways with the novel's most fundamental plot line - or he's still true to it, but in that case has some explaining to do re: Mr. World's powers. Not the changing of faces - like I said, Other Character can do that -, but the access to all the surveillance equipment and the Sheriff's fax.

Outstanding visuals: the opening teaser in animation instead of letting actors play the prehistoric characters worked very well for me. Both of Media's appearances were further proof, not that it was required, that Gillian Anderson is a goddess, though I favored her David Bowie impression over her Marilyn Monroe one. Laura's slight smile under the water when Mad Sweeney gets arrested cracked me up.
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