This review contains spoilers.
1.4 Git Gone
Laura Moon has filled the first season of American Gods without actually being on screen all that much. She was all Shadow wanted to have back when he got out of jail, and her phone calls clearly kept him going while in jail. The loss of his wife and best friend in the same moment of betrayal took away his post-jail life and put him directly into the service of Mr. Wednesday. Shadow’s been consumed with Laura, and with his grief over her, this entire time, but we haven’t really heard or seen anything from her, aside from the occasional delusion. Or what might have been assumed to be a delusion.
As it turns out, Laura Moon has been watching over Shadow all this time. Even now, after an affair, a horrible traffic accident, and death, Laura’s still keeping an eye on her puppy. Fortunately, it’s not a literal eye, it’s just a detatched arm, which she can sew back on by borrowing Audrey’s arts and crafts supplies.
Git Gone is an interesting episode of American Gods. We’ve seen every event in the episode thus far from the point of view of other people, specifically Shadow. We find out that his last call to Laura from jail interrupts an evening with Robbie (Dane Cook) and we learn that in spite of her infidelity, Laura does continue to love Shadow, though Audrey (Betty Gilpin) says it’s more like the love of someone for a pet than the love of a person for another person. We learn about the beginning of her affair, and how she ends up apologising to Audrey for it after smashing in her locked bathroom door but before ruining her washroom plumbing. It was also Laura who saved Shadow from being lynched by Techincal Boy’s droogs.
In her own way, Laura was as lost as Shadow is now when she was alive, but after death, she finds a purpose. Shadow is, quite literally, the bright spot in her world, and we see Shadow less as a person and more as a point of light in the distance, drawing Laura to him. Prior to that, we see her sleep-walking through her job at the casino, feeding her cat, and attempting to kill herself with a can of insecticide in the hot tub. The attempt fails, leaving Laura a coughing, hacking mess.
It’s not until Shadow comes into her life that she finds something to smile about; after all, she believes in no afterlife, so all she’s got is life. She and Shadow make friends with Robbie and Audrey, and ultimately, she comes up with a plan to do more with her life by having Shadow rob the casino. They’d bonded over his failed attempt at fraud, and her catching his attempt at fraud, and it was that growing urge to misbehave that sent Shadow up the river for three years and that ultimately caused her death in the car accident. Laura is both Shadow’s happiness and his downfall. Shadow is her pet and her beacon in undeath.
The cycle of this behaviour is enforced strongly by the symbolism of the bug spray (the Git Gone of the title). She uses it to kill a fly, she uses it to try to kill herself, and she uses it to continue to kill flies after she returns from beyond the grave. No doubt because of her body’s decay and the death of her nerve cells. Craig Zobel has a lot of fun with zombie Laura. She tears the door off Audrey’s bathroom. She pulverises the droogs, slamming her fist through chests and kicking one so hard his head pops off and takes the spine with it, like filleting a fish. This comes at a cost; her body will no longer repair itself, hence the arm falling off after getting hit in the shoulder with a crowbar.
Emily Browning is so tiny that it makes her zombie strength all the more funny, but she imbues Laura with a lot of inner strength, particularly in the scene where she essentially yells at Anubis (Chris Obi) and gets sucked back down to earth and pushed back into her autopsied body. She might not have had a purpose when she was alive, but after death, Shadow is her reason for sticking around. Her scenes with Audrey are also particularly funny, with Betty Gilpin feasting on the phrase “You zombie whore!”
Michael Green and Bryan Fuller, as they have all season, get the credit for the script, and it’s good to see that an episode without Shadow or Wednesday can still be something noteworthy. Laura’s morose nature comes through, and the dry humour throughout works. Anubis’s brief, angry response to Laura’s request to go back to her body is a little sprinkling of brilliance, the high-mindedness undercut by her rapid disappearance and the hilariously confused look on his face. The punchline to the scene comes later in the episode, and hits like a truck. It’s a brilliant bit of call-back comedy.
The Gods come to America because they’re brought their by their believers. Is Laura brought back because Shadow believes so strongly in her? Or is she brought back because she believes so strongly in Shadow? Maybe America’s continued love of zombies is what brought Laura back, with powers inspired by Return Of The Living Dead 3? No doubt that secret will be revealed in time; Laura Moon must be something special to surprise even the God of the Dead.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan loves a good zombie, especially when it overlaps with great writing and top-notch special effects. You don’t get a lot of that on TV anymore. Find more from Ron daily on Popfi.com.
American Gods is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, with new episodes on Mondays.