Spoilers for episode 4 of American Gods follow! You have been warned.
American Gods has only aired three episodes so far, but that doesn’t mean the show can’t already start breaking its own formula in new and interesting ways. “Git Gone” does exactly that by focusing not on Shadow’s perspective but that of his dead wife, Laura, which the book never quite got the chance to do.
However, while this episode is a fascinating, complicated portrait of a woman who lacks belief in anything, there’s not quite as much in the way of God-related shenanigans as we’ve encountered up to this point, so hopefully it’s a little bit less confusing. Still, if you need some explaining, you’ve come to the right place:[Content warning for discussion of suicide]
Laura and ShadowFrom the very beginning of the episode, it’s clear that Laura is fundamentally unhappy, which would explain why she goes into her hot tub with a can of Git Gone insecticide and tries to asphyxiate herself. I suppose she might just have been trying to get high off the spray, but the close-up of the label (“Kills Bugs On Contact!”) and the hot tub’s appearance later in the episode (we’ll get to that) leads me to believe that this is a suicide attempt. And even after she and Shadow have fallen in love, Laura is listless, unfocused, has trouble emotionally connecting with others, and knowingly makes very poor decisions—all classic signs of clinical depression.
While Laura and Shadow’s relationship is pretty devoid of any supernatural intrigue, there are lots of interesting little details to pick up here and there from what little we see of the casino where she works. For example, it’s called 26th Dynasty, presumably named for the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquests. The cards she’s shuffling are from a limited edition luxury set called the Anubis Deck, which was designed by Steve Minty in 2016 and is still available on his website. So, probably not something you’d find at a chintzy casino near Eagle Point, Indiana, but props to the set design team for keeping in with the aesthetic. But speaking of Egypt…
Visiting The Afterlife
Laura’s encounter with Anubis seems to lend further proof to the idea that religious piety doesn’t much play a role in how the Gods interact with belief; after all, she doesn’t believe in Gods and yet here one is ushering her to the land of the dead. Perhaps it’s possible that maybe all the Egyptian paraphernalia she was surrounded by every day was enough to secure his presence at her death? In any case, Laura now has confirmation that all the stories she stopped believing in as a child did hold some power after all—so when Anubis tells Laura that her afterlife is nothingness, using the symbol of her attempt to attain that nothingness, she rebels.
Lucky for her, she gets to return to the land of the living, because Shadow dropped that magic coin on her grave and somehow pulled her back into her body. The bad news is, she has to claw her way out of her ground and spends an uncomfortable amount of time violently expelling all the formaldehyde and other burial fluids from her.
Again we see the lynching scene from the first episode, but now we know why all of the Technical Boy’s henchmen basically exploded like Mortal Kombat characters before they could finish the job—it’s because Laura Moon laid into them with her newfound superhuman strength. Somehow she knows where Shadow is at all times because she can see light radiating off of him, although even in the book it’s unclear exactly why that happens. Did throwing the coin link them together somehow? Is it his dormant belief in her that she senses?
After enlisting her ex-friend Audrey’s help in reattaching her arm and driving her in Shadow’s direction, Laura runs into her old pal Anubis (briefly in the form of a big black dog), and Mr. Ibis, who if you haven’t figured it out this point, is Thoth, the Egyptian scribe of the underworld. Now that they’re officially together, I want to point out here how interesting it is that both these characters are depicted as much darker skinned than they were in the books (Shadow literally says that he’s known white guys and black guys who look like them). I suspect that this was done as a deliberate reaction to the constant whitewashing of Egyptian culture in Hollywood—and it certainly is nice to see some Gods of Egypt who aren’t played by Jaime Lannister, that’s for dang sure.
Anyway, big surprise: Ibis and Jacquel, as he’s known on Earth, run a funeral parlor! Together they stitch Laura up properly and give her a new paint job so she doesn’t look so… you know, dead. And Jacquel tells her, just before she gets gussied up to go see Shadow, that one day he will come back to take her to the darkness where she’s supposed to end up. Guess he and Czernobog can start a club for people who have unfinished business with the Moons; the list just keeps getting longer every episode.
What did you make of Laura’s story? Any other burning questions that need answers? Drop ‘em down here in the comments below.
The encounter with the Technical Boy’s goons leaves Laura covered in blood with one arm missing, which, despite how it matches her zombified personality, is not really a great look. Although, it’s interesting that she seems no longer quite as hollowed out as she was when she was alive—being dead has made her a little more energetic, and a lot more appreciative of Shadow.