Laura Moon was a shitty person during her life, as her former friend Audrey tells her during the fourth episode of Starz’s American Gods. Even aside from the fact that she cheated on her husband, she lived in a state of perpetual apathy. But in “Git Gone,” the television adaptation takes its biggest departure yet from Neil Gaiman’s novel to expand upon Laura’s shittiness. The result is surprisingly the most human episode yet.
“I thought you were kind of a dick. Very cocky and kind of unlucky”
Although Laura takes center stage in “Git Gone,” Shadow is naturally a large presence in her life. Intriguingly, the man Shadow was before prison was wildly different from the downtrodden and frustrated man we’ve seen in the first three episodes. As Shadow flirts with Laura in the casino, he’s downright charming.
In fact, you can see shades of Mr. Wednesday in his smooth talking about how “all the best drinks have self-defining names.” Recall that drinks were also the subject Wednesday waxed poetic about to Shadow on their fateful plane meeting in “The Bone Orchard.” Before he was an ex-con or a bodyguard; before magic was part of his life, Shadow was already embodying the spirit of the American Gods brand of hustler-gods.
“When you die, you rot. It’s a fixed system”
When Laura tells Shadow that she believes in nothing after death, this confirms how belief systems work in American Gods. In “Head Full of Snow,” a Muslim woman was spirited away to an Egyptian afterlife because she believed in Anubis as a young girl. With Laura’s version of the afterlife (a hot tub and can of bug spray that will take her into nothingness and darkness), “Git Gone” confirms it. The afterlife in American Gods is not universal but tailored very specifically to each person’s deepest belief system.
But even though it’s individualized, Anubis’s presence and the repetition of the feather and heart scale system adds an element of universality. The afterlife experience is individual; the gods who pull the strings are not.
“You have a shitty obituary because you had a shitty life. You were shitty”
“Git Gone” does not try to provide an explanation for why Laura is such a shitty person — that’s just how she is. (Though to be fair, Starz goes a lot more in-depth than the original book did, since she wasn’t featured on the page nearly as much. Almost every element of this episode is television-only.) This could easily make her a tiresome or deeply unsympathetic character, but the episode lays enough groundwork to show that she isn’t a sociopath. After Shadow goes to prison, she’s genuinely devastated when she finds her cat dead.
In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the dead cat is the pinnacle of her character. It sparks her affair with Robbie; it’s something that would have happened even if Shadow’s casino robbery had been successful. Laura was already depressed, and living what she felt was a dead-end life when she met Shadow. Where Shadow feels that love conquers all (“I would be happy living in cardboard box under a freeway if it was with you”), Laura’s sense of self-worth comes from an abstract notion of success that she hasn’t achieved. (“That would represent failure to me,” she says of Shadow’s box fantasy). By standing up for herself to Anubis, Laura finds the gumption in death that she never had in life.
“He was like a pet. There was a reason you called him puppy”
“Git Gone” circles back to the lynching scene in the first episode. At first it seemed like a confusing plot hole that Shadow escaped so easily — recall that in the second episode, he even asked Wednesday if he chased the faceless goons off. But now it’s revealed that Laura was his bloody defender.
There’s a delicious irony in the fact that when Laura was alive, their love was uneven. Shadow was infatuated with Laura, while she existed in a perpetual state of ennui. But now that she’s dead, Laura describes Shadow as “the light of my life.” Cleverly, the visual effects make this literal, as Laura sees Shadow as a column of light. Laura called Shadow “puppy” as a mindlessly condescending endearment, but in her zombified state, she’s his guard dog. Her story with Shadow is one of karma — even if she doesn’t believe in it.
“What we provide is continuity”
“Git Gone” sees the return of Anubis, also known as Mr. Jacquel. He runs a funeral parlor with Mr. Ibis, who narrated the Viking saga in the first episode. Mr. Ibis is an incarnation of Thoth, Egyptian god of writing and wisdom. His line “what we provide is continuity” is slyly meta. Although he means it in terms of life and death, Ibis and Jacquel also provide the most narrative continuity in American Gods.
While Bilquis, the Jinn, and the Zorya sisters exist as narrative islands for the most part, Ibis and Jaquel interact with more characters than any other god. American Gods is a sprawling patchwork story, but as “Git Gone” begins to show, they provide the narrative threads of continuity.
American Gods Season 1 is currently airing on Sunday nights on Starz.