Starz's 'American Gods': Is Shadow Moon actually the God, Balder Moon?
With 'American Gods' heavily revolving around Shadow Moon, is there more to the man than meets the eye?
Warning: Contains spoilers!
Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle) may not be as enigmatic as Mr. Wednesday (Odin), but the Norse God didn't keep Shadow around only for protection. Odin is a God after all, and there may be more to Shadow Moon than just a catchy name.
From the first episode itself, fans will feel like they're taken through what seems like a drug-fuelled trip, where each episode treats them to plenty of psychedelic and memorable imagery, and after you throw a bunch of old and new Gods into the mix, you've got yourself a hit show!
Throughout the first season, we follow Shadow to the brink of death and back again as he fulfills his obligation to Mr. Wednesday, who hired Shadow Moon to be his bodyguard. If you've not been to enough pubs, it may seem weird for a stranger to offer you a job opportunity, and with Shadow fresh out of prison, it was even stranger to him. Mr. Wednesday seems like a senile old man, and his talk about an upcoming battle between Old Gods and New wasn't helping his case in any way, yet, Shadow feels a strange pull towards the one-eyed old man and decides to help him.
Though 'American Gods' is a made for TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel with the same name, only about a third of the original novel had been integrated into the story we see on our screens today, but that doesn't mean that they won't use some of the main plot points in the novel to drive the story.
While we follow Shadow through his many trials and tribulations, the question always arises. Who is Shadow, and why has Mr. Wednesday aka Odin, selected him (a supposedly mere mortal) as his bodyguard? While the book clearly states that Shadow Moon is, in fact, Balder Moon, the TV show has not outrightly said it, but we're given hints of Shadow's divinity throughout the first season.
Premonitions: Ever since we knew Shadow, he's always been getting vivid dreams of things to come, and they're often about unhappy events to be. Balder, the Norse God, also has similar premonitions where he foresees horrible events to come.
The White Buffalo: Although more closely tied to Native American folklore than Norse mythology, the White Buffalo/Buffalo Man appears to Shadow in his dreams, telling him to believe. The White Buffalo is closely tied to the land and nudges Shadow to "believe", which could be its way of signaling Balder of his divine nature by him starting to believe in himself.
Shadow's Halo: His zombie wife, Laura is always seeing Shadow with a halo around his persona, and Balder is known as the God of Light, they say that Balder is so bright that light shines from him, exactly like what Laura sees in him.
Shadow's core character and relation to Mr. Wednesday: Balder is said to be a God who is loved by all, and is also known as the God of joy, purity, and the summer sun in Norse mythology. Balder is also the son of Odin, which could explain why Mr. Wednesday (Odin) pushes him around so much, yet keeps him close by. Shadow is taken through hell from the very first minute of the series, with his wife cheating on him, then her death and resurrection as a zombie, and even being beaten up by a 6′ 5″ leprechaun. But Shadow is always looked up to and revered by those that hurt him, and his forgiveness is almost God-like (pun very much intended).
So, with all of Shadow's attributes and his composed nature even after staring death in the face, one could actually see Shadow in the second season rising up as Balder Moon, and what a welcome change that would be.
'American Gods' season two is slated to release on March 10 on Starz, and you can view the season two trailer below.