WARNING: This article contains spoilers for episode four of American Gods.
When author Neil Gaiman admitted that his favorite episode of Starz’s American Gods, based on his wildly popular novel, was episode four, which focused exclusively on Laura Moon (Emily Browning), the wife of protagonist Shadow (Ricky Whittle), many fans were surprised. In the novel, Laura is a prickly character who often inspires derision from readers who find her unrepentant coldness towards her husband tough to stomach, even after she’s dead. As last week’s episode left viewers eagerly waiting for the result of the Moon reunion, showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green admitted they were keen to develop Laura further and show fans her side of the story. With episode four, ent itled Git Gone, Laura got the opportunity to show just how deep her complexities ran.
When we first meet Laura, it is at work in a tacky ancient Egypt themed casino in Indiana where she deals blackjack with little enthusiasm. Her home life consists of the same boring routine, including an equally disinterested cat, and toying with suicide by bug spray. When Shadow enters the casino, his original plan is to case the joint and rob it, which Laura catches wind of and advises against. Later, when he catches up with her and suggests the pair work together on a heist, she rejects him, but invites him to her place when he simply asks to go home with her. There, sex ensues, but Laura only takes real interest when the proceedings get rough. Following on from Bilquis and the Jinn, American Gods continues to use sex in interesting thematic ways, with Laura’s desperation for excitement in her life symbolized by how her sexual relationship with Shadow evolves. The first encounter, when the pair are practically strangers and she knows him only as a thief, are fierce and unpredictable. As they settle down and Shadow happily takes on a cozy suburban husband role, things develop into a routine and Laura stops caring.
We find out that Shadow’s fate is sealed by Laura’s yearning for excitement, as it is ultimately her idea to rob the casino after all, a decision that sees him sent to jail for six years. Laura offers to make a deal so the pair of them can serve shorter sentences – possibly another act of desperation for an apathetic woman – which Shadow refuses. All he asks of her is that she wait for him. Of course, knowing her ultimate demise, the audience is aware that she doesn’t plan on doing that.
Quickly exasperated by the humdrum routine of waiting for Shadow to call from jail, Laura accepts the advances of Robbie (Dane Cook), Shadow’s best friend and the husband of Laura’s own friend, Audrey (Betty Gilpin). Their affair is torrid and not especially passionate. While Robbie hopes the pair will be together as a proper couple one day, Laura is insistent that the affair remains what it is: a fun time-waster that Robbie can one day look back on as a thrilling little secret. To bring the affair to a pleasant end, Laura goes down on Robbie as he is driving, which ends messily.
Looking down at her own corpse, we see the first signs of shock in Laura – ironically, death makes her care. Thanks to her cat and her grandmother’s stories of feline power, her journey to the afterlife is guided by Anubis (Chris Obi), who we meet in the previous episode. This time around, his companion is far less willing, and Laura refuses to let Anubis weigh her heart. Previously, the nihilistic Laura admitted to Shadow that she believes in nothing beyond this world except that we will all rot. But her cat, and her grandmother’s sharing of those stories is enough to bind her to Anubis in the next life, much like the deceased Egyptian woman of episode 3. After refusing to be judged on her life’s misdeeds – she knows how bad she has been and makes no excuses for her behavior – Anubis is ready to guide her into darkness, which she refuses. When Mad Sweeney’s gold coin, left on her grave by Shadow, pulls her back from death, she goes after her husband, not necessarily because she loves him – she claims she does but her actions always seem apathetic – but because he adores her so much, and his steadfast dedication to her is like worship. He becomes the literal light of her life.