American Gods: Laura Moon Explained

Before she goes on her journey to reclaim Shadow, she sees him hanging from the tree, lynched by the faceless Droog-style goons of Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), as witnessed in the pilot. In a fit of passion, Laura single-handedly rips them limb from limb in a blood-stained display of vengeance. It’s the most emotional and active we see Laura in the entire episode, and it is in an act of defense of her husband. Until now, she has viewed him almost out of pity, calling him “puppy” because he follows her around adoringly, but her massacre brings clarity to her life, and so she goes forward to find Shadow once again, but not before she has her dismembered arm sewn back on by a terrified and bitter Audrey.

On the journey to find Shadow, guided by the blinding light he omits that only Laura can see, she is stopped on the road by Anubis and Mr Ibis (Demore Barnes), the Egyptian god Thoth. They take her back to the funeral parlor they run and help make her look less corpse-like in a moment that evokes the black comedy Death Becomes Her. Even as she lies naked on a mortuary slab, watching a stranger sew her arm back on and paint her skin, she is mentally detached from the proceedings. Anubis promises that one day he will finish the job he started and guide her to the next life, but Laura has other plans first. The episode ends as the previous one did, with Laura in Shadow’s hotel room, waiting.

Even in the prestige TV era, it is rare to see female characters defined so abrasively and explicitly as unlikeable. It’s a word often used to dismiss characters unfairly – such as Skyler in Breaking Bad – but with Laura Moon, her disinterest in the “shitty life” she led and fight to make it worth something is developed beautifully by her refusal to fit narrow definitions of likable. She is a passive passenger in her own life, and it is only in death that she desires to hop into the driver's seat, offering an intriguing subversion of the “women in refrigerators” trope. Her death is a means for her to tell her own story – her death is her character development, not Shadow’s.

Laura is the epitome of modern millennial apathy – the perpetually dissatisfied and bored stiff young woman who finds no relish in her mediocre career and feels undeserving of the husband who loves her. Suburbia holds no charm, and she doesn’t even lust after Robbie, the man she cheats with. She’s just relieved to have someone who wants to take a risk with her. Hers is not a story of redemption or pity – she doesn’t seem truly repentant for her misdeeds, even when she apologizes to her former best friend Audrey – and it may not even be one of love. She simply hungers for something that isn’t death or the life of mundane purgatory she lived during Shadow’s incarceration. For someone who has spent her life looking for a reason to care, Laura may have finally found something worth living for.

Laura plays a major part in the novel of American Gods, and will undoubtedly do so in the rest of the season. Emily Browning will also play Essie Tregowan, the Irish immigrant who brings Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) to the new world, offering a fun parallel with Laura given that her lucky revival from the dead is partly his doing. Now that Laura is reunited with her husband, she will be a crucial cog in the unraveling tapestry of the upcoming battle of the gods old and new. For Shadow, that war may pale in comparison to the difficulties of his own marriage.


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