American Gods has finally arrived, and with it comes one of the craziest, most memorable scenes on TV in a very long time.
The first episode introduced us to a few different gods, who all have a role to play in the upcoming battle. One of those gods (or goddesses) is Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), also known as the Queen of Sheba. We met her as a nice young woman on a first date with an unassuming dude she met online. After drinks, she drew him back to her bedroom, which was all draped in red and filled with candles and statues.
He was astonished and a little unsure of the fact that she was so ready to sleep with him, but "sleep" is a particularly bad word to describe what ensued. They started having sex, and all of a sudden his dirty talk got weird as he started to worship the various parts of her body.
Before you or he or anyone besides Bilquis knew it, he was being swallowed up by her body. Eventually, he was completely gone.
So if you had any doubts that American Gods would take advantage of the fact that it's on premium cable, those doubts are now also completely gone.
Bilquis is one of the many secondary characters from the book who executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green really latched onto. While she only appears in one or two other scenes in the novel, Bilquis will be seen a lot more in the series as we learn what her journey entails. And as her portrayer, Yetide Badaki couldn't be more excited about the character she's bringing to life, or her intro scene.
"Can you see how exciting that is for me?" she asked us when we talked to her at the show's Los Angeles premiere. She says that as a "huge geek," she's been a fan of the book since it came out. "I mean, that was an initial 'yes please, I'd love to be a part of this.'"
"There were so many elements that were discussed within the story and this character that I really wanted the chance to jump in and play with—one, being an immigrant that only became a citizen three years ago, that immigration story of these gods, how they came to America, that really fascinated me," she tells us. "And to maybe remind people that yes, if you go back far enough, everybody came from somewhere. And then there was also the aspect of sex positivity. I've never ever ever before seen a woman own sex in that way, and it was exciting and it was powerful and I loved how many men said they were terrified. I said, OK, well pay attention."
It's hard not to pay attention to Bilquis after such an intro scene, which Badaki says she absolutely loved.
"What I really loved is it was unapologetic," she tells us. "And I feel that as women, so much nowadays it feel like we have to apologize for wanting something or for being ambitious for for being flawed, or just apologies all around for just being. And the chance to play a character that just didn't apologize, that just was, that was so freeing. That opened my eyes. And I have to say it started to trickle into my every day life a little bit—Don't mess with me, or else I will swallow you up."
And if you think Bilquis is the only god we're about to fear and revere, you have no idea what you're in for.
"One of the things that I love about Bryan and Michael is that they are the masters of building up a story from the bottom up, and there's something about old gods as well that they don't necessarily ascribe to a flash in the pan type of new age movement," she says. "These are beings that have become very comfortable over time, almost like a mountain. Their power is deep. Their power may be quiet at times, but they are forces to be reckoned with."
American Gods airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Starz, and also stars Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Gillian Anderson Kristen Chenoweth, Pablo Schrieber, Bruce Langley, and Orlando Jones.