During this week’s episode of AMERICAN GODS, “Git Gone”, we spend half of the episode in the past and half of the episode in the present. The entire episode is about Shadow’s wife, Laura, her backstory, and how she ended up sitting in Shadow’s motel room after they buried her. If you aren’t a fan of the show by now: watch this episode!!
Laura is a miserable card dealer at a horribly decorated casino. The first night that we meet her, she goes home and attempts to kill herself by inhaling the insecticide “Git Gone.” It obviously doesn’t work, and the next day she meets Shadow, a thief who attempts to slyly rob the casino. Laura cleverly stops Shadow from robbing the casino, and later invites him back to her place. After a night of passion (which you know this show is good at) Laura and Shadow hit it off and form a dysfunctional relationship.
The show jumps forward, to them getting married, and Laura warning Shadow that he needs to stop stealing. Shadow learns that Laura doesn’t believe in any higher power, and that she’d been disillusioned by history and fairytales that are proven not to be real.
As their lives become more domesticated, Laura becomes more and more unhappy. Shadow on the other hand, appears to be adjusting well, working at a gym and getting his life together – completely oblivious to Laura’s unhappiness and lackluster enthusiasm during sex.
Finally, rational Laura decides to take Shadow up on the proposition he offered her when they first met – to help him rob the casino. Laura admits that she’s not happy and that she wants more. The Laura who I loved during the first 20 minutes of the episode disappeared and suddenly she became the bored girl who wants to destroy someone else’s life because she needs to be irrational and feel alive. She promises Shadow hat he’ll never get caught. And he does.
Laura sits across from Shadow in jail, confused as to how her perfect plan didn’t work. She tries to convince Shadow to let her take some of the blame, but Shadow demands that she doesn’t snitch on herself. “Can you wait for me?”, he asks her, and from what we know about Laura’s trifling way of dying… we know the answer to that question.
With Shadow in jail, Laura now must deal with the tedium of being alone, jail visitations, and answering collect calls from Shadow over and over. A montage of Laura living her new life comes to a crescendo, when she returns home to find her beloved cat, Dummy, dead in her kitchen. She calls her best friend Audrey’s husband Robbie to help her bury the cat and… ya’ll know where this leads. Trifling Laura and trifling Robbie begin their affair on the eve of Laura’s cats death. Shadow and Dummy deserved way better.
We then cut to where we started during the first episode: Laura telling Shadow that everything will be all right – 5 days before he’s released from prison. This time, we see that Robbie was there the whole time, naked in her bed. The two of them drive off, and Robbie tells Laura that he loves her. Laura tells a distraught Robbie that they can’t see each other anymore and offers him a car blowjob as a consolation prize. They crash.
A shocked, now dead Laura’s soul enters into a weird spirit world dreamscape where she meets Mr. Jaquel, who returns to judge her life on the scales. She refuses to have her heart weighed on the scales, knowing that it would lose against the feather. Since she believed in nothing, Mr. Jaquel let’s her know that for her afterlife, “there will be darkness.” I’m assuming that means Laura is not supposed to get an afterlife. However, before he can seal her away forever, she suddenly is taken from the spirit world, and wakes up from her grave.
Confused, she follows a light, and sees Shadow begin killed by the new gods from episode one. She kills each one of he new god’s henchman in a pretty epically shot fight scene, and saves Shadow from his hanging. She’s got some sort of superhuman strength, and appears to now be untouchable – although she loses an arm during the fight and doesn’t seem to flinch.
After she breaks into Audrey’s house to get crafting supplies to sew her arm back on, she’s stunned when Audrey discovers her. After the initial shock of finding a dead person in her bathroom, the two have a strange and timid reconciliation, and Audrey helps Laura sow her arm back and borrow her car to find Shadow. Laura, can’t see anything in color anymore and sees Shadow as a beam of sunlight. She uses that light to find him.
On her way to Shadow she’s stopped by Mr. Jaquel and Ibis (who is also the narrator during the “Coming to America” vignettes, and an Egyptian God). They tell her that they’re responsible for her care and maintenance since her skin will no longer be able to regenerate. Jaquel tells her when she’s done with whatever she needs from Shadow, she’ll be delivered into darkness.
Once she’s all fixed up, good as new, she waits for Shadow to find her in the motel room.
You know what? I don’t even care that this week ended at the exact same moment as last week. I don’t even care that we literally didn’t get any real new information that pertains to the protagonist’s story (at least for now). This was a great episode. First of all, it felt refreshing to watch a story on this show that was followed a more traditional style of storytelling – it’s weird how you come to appreciate things once it’s not overdone. It seems like American Gods knows when to give us what we want. On a sidenote, I would probably encourage people who haven’t watched American Gods to start with this episode, as I feel it’s a really good introduction to what the show is about.
Laura’s backstory also felt surprising and gripping to watch. American Gods has this fantastic ability to not just create new characters, but make you feel characters. In a relationship where I figured Shadow was the bad guy and Laura was the bored girlfriend who made a mistake, this episode really blurred the lines of Laura’s character. I HATED her, and it was her rational contempt at everything in life and her entitlement (even in the afterlife) that makes her feel more like an antagonist than someone we want back in Shadow’s life. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that her return won’t necessarily be good for Shadow’s journey.
Also: the best friends reconciling while one of them poops out embalming fluid scene? I wish we could’ve stayed in the moment longer because I loved it.
So far this show really can do no wrong for me. I honestly feel like I’m becoming a smarter storyteller and person because of this show. At this point, I don’t really care if we finish the overarching story – I love how different every episode is and how there’s no way to predict each week.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
American Gods airs Sundays at 8pM on Starz
Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
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Vanessa Jay | Contributor