American Gods takes us back on the road again and we meet two challenging people — the real Laura Moon and the slimebag, Robbie. This is “Git Gone.”
“I believe the shit out of love.” Shadow and Wednesday’s conversation at the end of episode 3, “Head Full of Snow,” reveals one layer of what Laura did for his life. But what did Shadow ever do for Laura?
“Git Gone” bottles up the world of American Gods and gives over control of the narrative to Laura. Wife, daughter, friend, Laura’s story tells the tragedy of complacency. In death, Laura comes alive, and so do our recappers, Natalie and Brittany.
Ahead of the premiere of American Gods, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green made sure fans new that they were expanding the roles of several characters. Laura Moon stuck out to both creators in every read of Neil Gaiman’s novel. What was her story?
In this week’s conversation Natalie and Brittany unpack the untold chapter of Laura Moon’s story.
Natalie: So this episode, the Laura episode, is very different to what we have seen so far, for a bunch of reasons.
Brittany: What did you think of how much time we spent following Laura around through her daily life?
Natalie: You mean before death?
Brittany: Yes. I personally enjoyed it immensely as a fan of bottle episodes in general. The way it was shot with such focus on her face and the lack of light in her eyes, really made you sink with her. It also made the literal light of Shadow that much more prominent when she came back.
Natalie: I’m not sure — it was certainly a lot of focus on a character who is ultimately quite an unpleasant person. I think that it did what it needed to do, in terms of getting inside her head and showing what she’s like and why she did what she did, and why there’s now a fundamental change in her. What’s going to motivate her from here on out. But even though I knew we were getting an episode going back over Laura’s life and death, I really didn’t expect it to be this one-track, with no interspersions of Shadow, Wednesday or any other gods.
Brittany: It’s a great place for this episode to happen. While I want to the world to unfold and see everything, it was nice to pump the brakes a bit. Especially if Laura and Audrey are going to play a larger part in the series.
Natalie: Yeah, and I am 100% okay with that.
Brittany: I really enjoyed the direction, too. Emily Browning played the hell out of Laura.
Natalie: Yeah, it’s such a unique take on a character, this behavior and attitude. I’m not too sure I’ve seen a female character with this kind of personality done so shamelessly before.
Brittany: The only other that comes to mind is Nora Durst in The Leftovers.
Natalie: But yeah — this is such an expansion of Laura, who we only meet after death in the book, where her mind is a little skewed and addled already. There was always kind of the vibe of the imbalance in her relationship with Shadow, but this was a whole new world.
Brittany: Do you think it was too early for this story to unfold? Either in terms of the reunion or the amount of time the show gave Laura?
Natalie: Not when the season is only eight episodes.
Brittany: Yeah, I agree. It’s frustrating to know that this is the halfway point. Because I already want more.
Natalie: Originally, I thought it was going to be ten (it was ordered as such, and then cut back for story reasons that the showrunners seem to approve of) and now knowing that it’s actually eight is so stressful… because this is like such a huge television event, I can’t believe it’s so short.
Brittany: I’m personally enjoying the shorter series that have been taking place. The stories are tighter, the cuts are better, there is no room for filler. With a series like American Gods, I appreciate the specificity. If we’re going to spend 45-50 seconds watching blood rain down while Shadow hangs from a tree, it will pay off in more than just cinematic beauty. And in this episode it did.
Natalie: For sure — I predicted that this was Laura’s doing back in episode 1, and here it is. In terms of book canon, I think this was their way of getting in a scene that happens later on – which we won’t get to, story wise, this season, in which she saves him in a very violent manner, but that is after she’s been dead a while. This one is first thing, starting off her new life this way… pretty intense. Not to mention her undead superpowers — confused whether that’s the power of the coin, or something to do with the reality or unreality of the new gods’ lynch mob, or what. But either way, all the blood.
Brittany: She seems to adapt quite well. Carrying around her arm and what not! I like that there is still some room for questions and that even after we spent an entire hour with Laura, we still don’t have all the answers.
Natalie: So going back to her life before Shadow, and then their life together before death. Some of those conversations were really confronting.
Brittany: I think that was necessary. We are only getting a glimpses into their lives. But you get the sense that outside of those more confrontational moments, it was Shadow living in the sun and Laura living in the darkness.
Natalie: Yeah. Did you take the hot tub scene as a suicide attempt, or a weird thrill, or what? Because that is an implication that changes a lot.
Brittany: But I agree, their conversations, especially when they were lying in bed together and the robbery proposal were all very confrontational. I think it was suicide. I didn’t read it any other way.
Natalie: No, I didn’t really either, but it just seemed so bizarre.
Brittany: Especially when she dies and the way she was going to be sent into the darkness was via hot tub and Git Gone.
Natalie: Either way, she seems to be just full of nothing. That is really the clincher here, that she feels nothing and is nothing, and that is what she faces when she dies. Like, I don’t want to go as far as to say sociopath, but there’s emptiness there.
Brittany: She says to Shadow in that kitchen scene, “I’ve thought about every other option,” and before that she asked him for more bug spray. I think we are meant to assume that another option besides robbing the casino was for her to try again.
Natalie: Oh man, I did not pick up on that, but you’re probably right.
Brittany: I wouldn’t go as far as saying sociopath either. Because she does weigh Shadow in all of this, even if it doesn’t seem like his presence would matter either way. There is that little burst for hope that robbing the casino will bring her something. A ticket out of her hometown and her grandmother’s house at least. She doesn’t know what exists outside of her bubble. Maybe there is something in America that will be able to fill her. Shadow was a nice shot of something, but it was and would never be (as long as she was alive) enough.
Natalie: Yeah, it’s like she matter-of-factly does care, or has the awareness of why the consequences are important, but she just doesn’t process her emotions the same way. And it is interesting to think about Shadow in that circumstance, if he was aware of it, accepted it, had no idea, whatever it was, or just thought it was the best he could ever hope for?
Brittany: It was an interesting contrast to see Shadow feel at home with a routine. Wake up, kiss Laura, take off ring, go to work, come home, etc. They were never truly “at home” together for very long. A day here, a day there due to their conflicting work schedules. So while I want to say it would be easy for Shadow to lose sight of what Laura was feeling, he didn’t see it from the start.
I don’t think he was trying to give her anything, but taking what he needed from the relationship. And that’s not to say he is a bad guy. He couldn’t see the bigger picture. He adored her and gave her love, but that wasn’t what she needed. And I don’t think Laura knew what she needed either. If she asked for it, I am sure Shadow would have given it to her. I didn’t get the sense that anything fulfilled her. The most animated we saw her was when she took charge of the conversation to rob the casino.
Natalie: I feel like fans aren’t going to be stoked that they changed the history of the “puppy” nickname – it served the same purpose in the book, in terms of it getting used against him to mean pathetic and stuff, but its origins were not the same as here, they were much sweeter and in general Laura, while there was definitely the implication that she was also involved in the set-up of the crime that got him put in jail, was just not this harsh. Or maybe she was, but we didn’t see as much of the before.
They have such a different dynamic to what I was expecting due to their meeting and stuff as well, like there is actually a huge shift from the book in terms of their relationship that leads to the robbery. In the book, Shadow was not a professional petty criminal. He may have had some shadiness in his past, but it’s not addressed. He already worked at the gym with Robbie, he had a normal life. This circumstance, of him coming in as a thief and going home with her and never leaving, is so different and has such implications of like, of course this is all he needs to be happy.
Brittany: I did not mind the change. I liked that Shadow was more lost here than in the series. In fact, the idea that Laura was his only tether to happiness and stability gives him more to lose. Everything was tied to her — his job, his friends, his home. Nothing in that house or town or life was his. Everything leaned on her. It gives the relationship greater stakes. Why not return to a life of unpredictability with Mr. Wednesday?
Shadow has this need to show his hand. He thinks he is more clever than he actually is. He can do a bit of card and coin magic, but his slight of hand is seen through by the people who are about to change his life. I think he needs to be with people who have the ability to see through him. He sees that with Laura and puts himself entirely in her world. He sees that with Wednesday and gives himself over.
Natalie: Yeah — it makes a few more aspects of how Whittle plays him make more sense as well, like his comfortability and speech. He’s way less awkward than book Shadow, which is necessary if you’re a bit of a con man. But it very much hammers home that he has nothing that is his. So, aside from all that, we got to actually meet Robbie, what a fun guy.
Brittany: Super fun. 2/10 would hang out with him.
Natalie: But Brittany, he could teach you krav maga.
Brittany: To quote Shadow, “I can fight.”
Natalie: I seriously, seriously want a scene which explores what Shadow actually thought about Robbie, pre-affair, because can you imagine those dudes just chilling?
Brittany: Robbie is really intense. I don’t think he meshes well with Shadow’s quiet intensity.
Natalie: I kind of liked Laura testing him, being like “okay so I need to make sure you 100% get this,” about having the affair, and then like her patient nonchalance about his Sad Man Feelings. She is just so unmoved by everything.
Brittany: Robbie really hammered that point home. The interactions were important to show that it wasn’t just Shadow. Any thrill did nothing for her.
Natalie: Yeah, like the fact that she didn’t even get angry about him making a scene, it’s just all the same, just whatever.
Brittany:Also we finally know where his penis ended up.
Natalie: Oh my god, yes, yes we do, and this woman, Audrey, this woman is a gift. I am obsessed with everything about this situation. I love her because she is the only person we have seen reacting in any way normally or appropriately to any of the events of this story: namely, to scream WHAT THE FUCK a lot.
Brittany: She is cathartic, for sure. I love everything about her.
Natalie: That conversation in the bathroom was the most delightful part of the show so far I think, like just gleefully amazing. “I don’t know what either of you are up to now.”
Brittany: It’s up there with the bank heist.
Natalie: And I love how quickly it became normal, like after the acceptance that her zombie whore BFF was there, it was like, normal chat. i mean, addressing the issues at hand, but super normalized.
Brittany: She even sews Laura’s arm back on!
Natalie: Yeah that was very #friendshipgoals sweet. I’d be curious how much more of her we’ll see with Laura, like if this show does include an element of exploring female friendship and what they’ll do for each other even despite their man trouble. But right now she appears to have vanished – Laura getting taken by Ibis and Jacquel was a clever inclusion, I think, to use those characters and the funeral home in that way. And now Laura has a “when this is over” debt or grudge or obligation, like Shadow and Czerneborg.
Brittany: That bit of tension is going to be particularly interesting to witness. We couldn’t read anything from Laura for nearly an hour in this episode. But in death she comes alive. Now that there is more hanging over her head, I can’t wait to see how she reacts/discover what her motivation will be.
Natalie: Yes, she’s much more alive now that she’s dead. Much more reactionary, much more emotional. And her love for Shadow has come alive as well, they address that – her and Audrey, talking about how she openly admits that she loved him like a pet and now it’s real. Her vision is also very different, when we see through her actual eyes – she isn’t seeing the world in the same way, literally. It’s like she’s sensing it. And maybe that makes things clearer about what matters.
Brittany: Nothing at home mattered. Maybe it never did. But Shadow certainly does.
Natalie: You really have to wonder how much is at play here – like is Laura a total wildcard? Even if everything that lead Shadow to Wednesday was orchestrated – I don’t know if it was or wasn’t, just theoretically, like if Wednesday put all the pieces in play to get Shadow to him, even Laura’s death… he can’t have factored in Shadow bringing her back accidentally. Or is her need to find and help Shadow now some divine plan too… or just love, given the lesson we just got last week about that form of belief.
Brittany: I think it is going to lean on belief. We are seeing the divine in the flesh and know at least from Wednesday that belief and remembrance is key to his existence. For a show that focuses on these larger than life characters, it is very grounded. Which, I think, makes it that much more impactful.