Laura Moon is (was? is again?) not a good person. And that's what makes her such a compelling character.
American Gods Season 1 Episode 4 took a major narrative risk, especially for a season that has only eight episodes. "Git Gone" spent a full hour rewinding the story for an in-depth look at a single character. Technically, it didn't advance the plot at all.
But it was an outstanding hour regardless.
If you've read the book, you'll know that the events of "Git Gone" were largely not depicted in Neil Gaiman's original story. Most of everything here was the wonderfully bizarre creation of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.
Though the Laura stuff wasn't part of the source material, it fit really well and deepened the character introduced in the book. Most importantly, it deepened her without excusing her admittedly shitty behavior.
"Git Gone" rewound the story significantly, back to the time before Laura had even met Shadow. With a montage of Laura at work at the casino, it was immediately made clear that she had a deeply unfulfilling life. As the hot tub scene showed, she was also suicidal.
Her job as a blackjack dealer was a dead-end and stale. The only thing she liked about it was shuffling cards, and even that was taken away from her by the introduction of the shuffling machine.
In a more straightforward, cheerful (and honestly, boring) story, Laura meeting Shadow would've been the standard rom-com meet cute that changes her life, inspires her to do more. They'd have fallen in love, and day by day, Laura's life would've gotten a little bit brighter.
Of course, that's not what happened at all. (Thank god[s].)
Starting from the very moment they first hooked up, it was clear that Laura and Shadow were not looking for the same thing. Shadow initiated sex softly and tenderly. She slapped him in the face. Hard. Twice. He quickly got the idea, and they had rougher (and really smokin' hot) sex, watched by Laura's cat.
Obviously, people like rougher sex for all kinds of reasons. But in Laura's case, this seemed an obvious choice to emphasize the fact that she just desperately wanted to feel something – anything. Laura's life (and intended afterlife) was a deluge of nothingness and emptiness.
For Laura, Shadow was meant to fill a hole in her life. On the flip side, Shadow clearly worshipped his wife while she was alive.
In various fan forums about the novel, I've seen a particularly interesting take on the Shadow/Laura relationship that I do think applies in the show.
While alive, Laura was a kind of deity to Shadow – he completely idealized and idolized her, to the point where he literally took a longer jail sentence in order to keep her out of trouble. And that was after he was only in jail in the first place because he went along with her "foolproof" casino robbery plan.
The idea of "Laura as fallen god" (metaphorically) for Shadow also fits when you consider what he said to Wednesday on American Gods Season 1 Episode 3 about not believing in love until he met Laura. She made him believe in it. Sounds pretty god-like to me.
When Laura and Shadow married, she could hardly bring herself to look excited. Same deal at the first barbecue scene with Audrey and Robbie. It was visible to everyone (except, apparently, Shadow) that she didn't really love him. She even admitted it to Audrey in the car, after her resurrection. She was using him, in a sense.
While Shadow was away in jail, Laura quickly engaged in an affair with Robbie. She didn't explain much of her reasoning aloud, but it was clear that she didn't have feelings for Robbie either – she shut him down pretty harshly in that car scene right before she died, when he tried to convince her to leave Shadow for him.
Again, the Robbie affair was just sort of a time filler. She didn't care whether she hurt Shadow, or Audrey, or even Robbie.
Anubis was right on the money when he judged Laura shortly before condemning her to an eternity of nothingness: she believed in nothing.
Anubis: In life, you believed in nothing. You will go to nothing. You will be done. There will be darkness.
Laura: And peace?
Anubis: There will be darkness.
This atheistic perception led her to live a callous life, uncaring of the effects of her actions on others.
Obviously, this makes her pretty much a shitty person. But it does provide a decent explanation for why she'd so callously cheat on someone who adored her so much. Shadow, for all his faults and questionable thievery choices, seemed like a pretty fantastic husband in the flashbacks.
Though "Git Gone" didn't forward the narrative in any sense, it did fill in the blanks. Besides taking Laura's story straight through to where we left off on American Gods Season 1 Episode 3, we also found out that it was Laura who saved Shadow from Technical Boy's goons back on the American Gods Series Premiere.
Aesthetically, everything about this hour was flawless and visually just stunning. But the scene where a newly preternaturally-strong Laura literally rips the faceless goons to pieces, even sproinging up to cut Shadow down from the tree, was brilliant. She kicked a dude's spine clean out of his body. Amazing.
In general, the buckets of blood soaking both Laura and Shadow = such a Bryan Fuller image. Very Hannibal.
Even a moment as small as Laura floating above the wreckage and her own body after the car accident was beautiful.
Laura's scene with Anubis, after she's passed on, was a stroke of seriocomic genius. Obviously, there's nothing funny about a god telling you you're about to go into a bug spray-filled hot tub for the rest of time. Yet, Laura's palpable bitchiness and Anubis' complete lack of tolerance for it was so funny.
Unlike the woman on American Gods Season 1 Episode 3's "Somewhere In America" opening sequence, Laura knew full well that her heart would not be lighter than the feather. She was hard-hearted (and heavy-hearted) in every since of the phrase.
Audrey isn't much in the way of a fully fleshed out character, but I enjoyed seeing her again. Her reunion with zombie Laura was hysterical.
Get out of my house, you zombie whore!Audrey
From Audrey's over the top reactions, to her gradual and eccentric acceptance of what was going on, to Laura letting loose with embalming fluid on Audrey's toilet, all of it was excellent.
Overall, "Git Gone" was a great use of the show's limited screentime for its first season. Largely, this is thanks to Emily Browning's strong, nuanced performance as Laura, which does so much work in making Laura a compelling (if not exactly sympathetic character).
Because think about it: We get these kind of unrepentantly selfish male antiheroes all the damn time, and people eat that shit up. Why can't we enjoy a female character suffering from a pervasive existential dread and being a generally bad person because of it?
I know I am. And I can't wait to see the fall-out of Laura's reunion with her husband. Especially since Shadow is now, quite literally, the light of her (un)life.
- The cards at the casino say Anubis, which was a pretty smart way to foreshadow the god of death's later appearance. Also, of course, the entire casino was Egypt-themed.
- Speaking of Anubis: He's increasingly one of my favorite minor characters. I was glad to see him show up as "Mr. Jacquel," and his promise to claim Laura once she's "done" was really intriguing. The whole sequence where he and Ibis cleaned up her body and made her look alive again was interesting (though I honestly had no idea why they were bothering to help her).
- The hour gets its name from the bug spray that Laura uses to kill the fly / to almost kill herself / that shows up again when she's about to meet her eternal "darkness and nothingness" fate.
That shot of the dead fly falling near the beginning was really morbid and wonderful. I'm consistently blown away by the unique cinematography and direction of this series (really, in anything Fuller gets his hands on).
Dane Cook was a great choice for the role of Robbie, because man, that dude just looks like the kind of "best friend" that would screw your wife in a hot minute while you were in jail.
Visually, I love how they've represented Shadow as a sort of lighthouse in the darkness for Laura. It just looks really cool.
Laura's cat's name was Dummy, and he was always watching that same cartoon. Maybe he died of boredom.
What did you think of "Git Gone"? Share your thoughts by commenting below, and remember that you can watch American Gods online here at TV Fanatic anytime.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.