AMERICAN GODS Episode 4 - 'Git Gone'
"Shadow deserves better than you."
"I love Shadow. Loved Shadow. Love Shadow. I love Shadow. He's the light of my life."
But to get to the cold, confused, complicated heart of the matter, this week's episode is all about Laura Moon. It's going to be interesting to see how viewers respond to this version of the character. Without getting too much on my "pop culture viewed through a feminist lens" soapbox, deliberately unsympathetic characters who make unlikable or unrelateable choices sometimes tend to get treated differently by the fan base depending on if they're male or female. (See the adoration of unlikeable amoral protagonists such as Walter White versus hostility towards his wife Skyler, etc.)
I will not go so far as to say that Laura is a cunning subversion of the "token love interest" or manic pixie dream girl, at least not yet, as this is the first episode of the show in which we've got to know her. And "poignantly beautiful woman who is deeply unhappy and disaffected in ineffable but telegenic manner" is a trope in and of itself. But I like a show that lets its women be dark and difficult, and I believed in Laura's psychology, her relationship with Shadow, and, most importantly, her relationship with herself.
In the book, Laura is a travel agent. I don't necessarily agree with Neil Gaiman that they had to change that in updating a 20-year-old book to the present day because nobody is a travel agent anymore, but I liked the insights we got into both Shadow and Laura, how they met, and their developing relationship. With Laura working as a croupier at a typically cheesy casino (nice fakeout with the Ancient Egyptian decor by the way), we get to meet Shadow as a cocky little con artist in his own right, about to get totally busted until Laura totally makes him and saves him by pointing out all the security cameras and spies he has totally missed. She takes him home and bangs him that night* and before long they're couple friends with Laura's BFF Audrey and Audrey's boyfriend Dane Cook (his character's name is Robbie but it's Dane Cook), getting married, and having heart-to-heart conversations about faith and religion and how everything you once believed was real is not real at all, "it's just snake oil, except the snakes are real".
The spiritual emptiness Laura feels despite what is on paper a pretty good life is something I think more than a few people can relate to on some level. Sometimes she deals with her feelings with a little light self-harming involving her hot tub and some bug spray (the brand "Git Gone" gives the episode its title) but one day she sits Shadow down for a talk ("....are we pregnant?" he asks initially), and announces that she wants them to rob the casino where she works. I LOVED this scene, how Laura was articulate and inarticulate thought by thought, and how laser-sharp the scene cut to the heart of how sometimes being with someone and being in love with them isn't quite enough if there's a separate kind of want that's not being met.
"I see that you're happy, from this side of it, from the wrong side of it, and I think maybe I resent being not being happy. Not resent you, just resent."
"Do you still love me?"
"Yes, I still love you. I'm just not happy."
"Yeah, I still love you. I'm just not happy."
"Robbing the casino will make you happy?"
Obviously, despite Laura's confidence at having a foolproof plan, things go extremely wrong, Shadow refuses to let her share the blame, and so Shadow is in prison and Laura starts an affair with Dane Cook on the understanding that it's just sex and she's waiting for Shadow, but Dane Cook falls in love with her, and a few days before Shadow's release they take the fateful car drive (was that Hugin and Munin following overhead) and Laura commences the fateful blowjob and next thing she knows she's looking down at her broken body beside a turned over flaming car, and then she's in the middle of a desert with Anubis wanting to rip out her heart and weigh it against a feather.
On why Laura is seeing Anubis after her death when she's clearly explained how she doesn't have any real belief system: the way I rationalised it to myself while watching was that all these gods are up in Shadow's business for various reasons, and Laura's connected to Shadow, and that will be good enough for now. I understand if you feel that's a bit flimsy though, and I guess we'll find out more as the show progresses.
Anyway, Laura is having none of Anubis' afterlife nonsense, but before they get a chance to debate this in full, Mad Sweeney's lucky coin pulls Laura back into the land of the living, she claws her way out of her grave, senses Shadow shining like a golden beacon in the distance, and arrives just in time to save him in a sequence displaying incredible feats of waif-fu unseen since River in "Firefly", losing an arm in the process. She makes the sensible decision not to let Shadow see her like this, but her own home turns out to be no haven as he (understandably) goes there too, so she hides under the bed until he's gone and then heads to BFF Audrey's place, because Audrey is into arts and crafts and has materials that could be used to sew an arm back on.
Guys, the scene between Laura and Audrey is absolute gold and Audrey (and Betty Gilpin's portrayal of her) is actually currently my favourite thing about this TV series. Love might mean never having to say you're sorry you died with your husband's friend's cock in your mouth, but friendship means letting your best friend use your toilet when she needs to suddenly void all the embalming fluid in her body, and giving her a ride even though she is a zombie whore. It was very generous of Audrey to admit she tried to fuck Shadow on top of Laura's grave and Laura can only agree that this was fair. Truly this is the standard by which all friendships should be measured.
I would be perfectly happy with a spin-off series about Laura and Audrey driving around America, but they are interrupted by Anubis/Mr Jackal and a character we met in the very first episode, Mr Ibis. They take Laura to their funeral parlour, repair her arm, give her deathly pallor a touch-up, and get her looking almost okay so she can follow her beacon and wait for Shadow in his motel room, bringing us to where the last episode concluded. This is going to be awkward, isn't it.
*This sex scene was incredibly hot and amazing but fucking hell, Shadow and Laura, you've just met, use a fucking condom!