Fans of the American Gods novel, rejoice!
American Gods Season 3 Episode 1 finally takes us to Lakeside, one of the most memorable parts of the book.
TV fans will find a lot to love here, too, and that we're watching the blustery little town come to life in the middle of winter suits the story perfectly.
During American Gods Season 2, Shadow chose not to take Wednesday's, uh, recommendation to relocate.
Instead, American Gods Season 3 begins with Shadow placing down roots in a town where he's gotten a good job and made a hell of an impression with his work ethic.
Not only did he impress a girl that he regularly crushes at dominos, but she suggested him for a promotion, too. Shadow is happy. He's let his hair grow and has a beard. He even stops to help old ladies down the street. It's a Shadow we hadn't had a chance to see before.
Shadow: Mother fucker.
Wednesday: As charged! Like the new look. Less severe.
No sooner do we see that side of him than he's plucked out of obscurity by his old man. Sometimes, father knows best. Going to Lakeside will do wonders for Shadow.
After all, Shadow is still reeling with the idea he's the son of a god. He has a lot to process, and stepping away from it all will give him some time to do that.
Having parted from Wednesday, Shadow had a lot of questions about himself that hadn't been answered. Wednesday isn't going to win Father of the Year, but he earned a few points by offering up a game of 20 questions to allow his son to uncover something about his history.
Shadow wasn't even sure that Wednesday was serious about their connection, something that was finally laid to rest.
Wednesday: We're going to play a game of 20 questions, and they're all yours. Fire away.
Shadow: You really my dad?
Wednesday: Oh, is that still a point of speculation considering our shared traits? Charisma, strong jawline, way with the ladies.
Season 3 will find Shadow taking control of his life with this new information, framing what kind of man and god he will be. It's a lot to unpack, and the change of setting focuses him.
Even Wednesday has changed since we last saw him. He's shaking up his rides depending on his moods. He's sporting casual wear. Hell, he hangs out with metal bands and revels in the adulation of his fans.
Wednesday is also getting more serious about the task that lies ahead. That's why he needs Shadow to get in line. If he can't count on his son's loyalty, then he's going to have a hard time getting others on board.
The battle between the new and old gods on American Gods comes at a strange time in the world, too. There is an odd blending of fiction and reality that only the greatest writers can predict.
When we spoke with Neil Gaiman, he wished his thoughts weren't so prescient. What a difference a month can make.
If anything, his thoughts on technology having far too much power over us need to be explored more than ever. Our reliance on technology has forced a disconnect between rational thought, debate, and the delivery of information.
Bilquis and Technical Boy will have a great arc this season as they begin to grow closer in their thoughts. Once they get a better understanding of one another, it's not as easy for them to follow their leaders blindly.
Tech Boy experienced something he'd never imagined in his wildest dreams when Bilquis thrust him firsthand into the realities of war.
They toss the word around as if it's easy, and victory is assumed. Bilquis knows better. Their interactions will be fascinating to watch.
Laura is desperately trying to revive Mad Sweeney so that she can inflict her revenge upon Wednesday.
Unfortunately for any 'shippers of the unlikely couple, she doesn't give a hoot about him coming back to life for any emotional reasons, and if someone can figure out how to eek just enough of life out of him so she can get what she needs from him, she seems perfectly fine with that.
But removing the coin from inside of her and placing it into Sweeney's hand surprised me. She had the potion and perhaps hoped that it would save her while the coin would do the same to Sweeney. It rolled right out of his hand, though, and she turned to dust.
Thanks to the promos, we know that Laura plays a significant role this season, so what comes next? It's hard to know exactly since her arc is so different from the book. Do you have any thoughts?
There are also new characters popping up already, and they seem like a lot of fun so far.
In Lakeside, Shadow encounters Ann-Marie Hinzelmann, the self-appointed mayor of Lakeside and purveyor of the general store. It's the first place Shadow visits; Ann-Marie is his first acquaintance.
She's kind and motherly, full of good cheer. She takes care of Shadow by offering him a chance to get warm and calling Sheriff Chad Milligan to give Shadow a ride across town lest he catches his death of cold walking in the Wisconsin weather.
Chad seems like a good guy, and Ricky Whittle's doing his darndest to get fans on board for the Chad/Shadow bromance by tweeting #Chadow and #Shad as possible 'shipper names. They've made a connection on set. Will their characters make the same connection?
At first, things seemed idyllic. Nice people. Regular people. But the rifle at Shadow's head as the credits roll is the first indication that everything in this snowy little town isn't what it seems.
Another hint would be Wednesday's insistence that Shadow finds his way there, forcibly pointing him in that direction when his suggestion went unheeded.
Shadow was already somewhere safe and normal before Wednesday interjected himself again. There's more to this story.
Wednesday also took Shadow with him on a surprise trip that was half getaway, half planned detour.
Whiskey Jack and Shadow had a tete-a-tete that gave Shadow additional perspective on his destiny, too. Hearing it from someone other than Wednesday, Shadow can take it to heart.
Wednesday also has a new traveling companion doubling as his fiance, Cordelia. We didn't get too much about her yet, but she's a suitable replacement for Shadow as Wednesday continues recruiting the old gods to go to war.
"A Winter's Tale" perfectly introduced the new tone for American Gods Season 3.
It's a little more sedate than the previous seasons. Characters get introspective.
There is even a mystery on the horizon that gives Shadow a sense of purpose beyond being a son and demigod, but for which being a god will ultimately come in quite handy.
We've watched him on the run for two seasons. Fresh out of prison and thrust into concepts he's struggled to understand, Lakeside will help Shadow find his true path and reveal his destiny.
No, Mr. Nancy isn't a part of this particular portion of the story, but this sojourn is necessary. It's grounding the characters and the settling unrest that fed behind-the-scenes drama.
It's a new chapter and a welcome one. The stage is set for a satisfying season, and it won't disappoint.
What did you think of the premiere? What are your expectations for the season?
We'd love to hear from you, so drop us a line below, and watch American Gods online if you'd like to revisit the story so far.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.