Sunday, May 21, 2017

American Gods 1x04 Review: "Git Gone" (She’s Not There) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Git Gone"
Original Airdate: May 21, 2017

[Warning: The following review contains spoilers.]

This week, we take a break from Shadow’s journey toward understanding his new reality. “Git Gone” is the story of Laura Moon before she met Shadow, before she married Shadow, and before and after the events that sent Shadow to prison and resulted in her death. It’s the story of a fundamentally unhappy person who tries her best — in some harmful ways — to stop herself from being unhappy, and how she affects the lives of the people around her in her quest to find something to believe in.


We get none of the usual vignettes to start the episode. Instead, it opens on a flashback of Laura before she was Laura Moon, back when she was working as a dealer in an Egyptian-themed casino. She’s living alone and working a job she doesn’t like, and it’s only getting worse — represented by the casino’s introduction of a shuffling machine that means Laura doesn’t have to shuffle cards anymore, even though she likes shuffling cards.

Laura’s life after work is boring routine: she drops her keys in a dish, turns off the television she’d left on for some reason, pushes her cat out the door, and eats a small dinner. The first time we see her, she also kills a fly with an insecticide called Git Gone — which seems like overkill for a fly, but Laura is apparently feeling destructive, since she also takes the Git Gone with her into a covered hot tub and nearly chokes to death on the fumes.

The next time we see her at work, Shadow Moon sits down at Laura’s card table. It’s fun to see what Shadow was like before he went to jail and Laura died. He is, as Laura labels him, cocky: he’s talkative, flirty, and charming. He has thoughts on how to order drinks and has good-natured reactions to his bad card game. He also proves that those sleight-of-hand coin tricks he’s interested in aren’t just for entertainment or idle fingers when he uses his skills to cheat some casino chips off a waitress. Laura — because she’s charmed by him, or because she just doesn’t like her job enough to protect her employers at Shadow’s expense — warns that the casino is heavily monitored and he will get caught if he tries anything bigger than switching out a couple chips.

After Laura’s shift, she’s walking to her car and Shadow stops her to flirt a little more. Hey, Shadow? I know you’re a nice person, but maybe don’t walk up to lone women in dark parking lots? You’re lucky Laura wasn’t wielding some Git Gone to spray in your face. Instead, she sorta flirts back and smirks when Shadow tells her she would make a good thief, hinting that she could be his “inside man” to rob the casino. Instead of establishing a crime partnership, Laura invites Shadow back to her place for what I assume was meant to be a one-night stand. However, Shadow is still there in the morning, and he’s still rather charming while he teaches Laura card tricks.

Their relationship grows to the point where Laura and Shadow are going on double-dates to barbecues with friends and Audrey, Laura’s best friend, notices the googly-eyes Shadow sends in Laura’s direction. Of course, we know that Laura and Shadow eventually get married. Scenes of their wedding are intercut with a past conversation between them, in which Laura tells Shadow that she doesn’t believe in anything, and all that happens after death is rotting. As Laura puts it, she wants to believe in everything, but “life is just not that interesting.”


After they get married, Shadow is happy — but for Laura, Shadow is just another part of her routine. She’s not alone in her house anymore, but she’s still alone in her head and in the universe, so Shadow’s presence changes nothing. From the tale of how she lost her belief, I gather that the character of Laura represents how belief doesn’t just power the gods, but also people. For human beings to truly live, they must believe in something, even if it’s just vague beliefs like the agnostic assertion that there may be “more” out there, or belief in love, as Shadow’s primary belief seems to be. There is nothing for Laura to believe in, which means that, even though her marriage to Shadow is a happy one on the surface, she still gazes out at the covered hot tub and asks Shadow to buy more Git Gone bug spray when he goes to the store.

Desperate to find a way to make herself happy, Laura sits Shadow down and tells him that she wants to rob the casino like they talked about the night they met. At this point, Shadow and Laura have been together for years, Shadow thinking all the while that he was in a great marriage where both he and Laura were happy. But Laura tells him that she is not happy. In fact, she resents that Shadow is happy. Her life is in a rut — she lives in a house she inherited, in a town she inherited, and works a crappy job that she hates — and she thinks her happiness can be found in piles of stolen casino money.

We don’t get to see Laura’s “perfect” plan play out. We only see the aftermath: Shadow in jail, telling Laura that it was all just bad luck and that he’ll be fine if she can wait for him on the other side. Laura’s life becomes a different routine, but still a routine. She gets calls from Shadow in prison, hangs out with Audrey and Robbie, and occasionally visits Shadow. She’s still not happy.

Laura arrives home one night to find her cat dead on her kitchen floor and asks Robbie over to deal with it. He buries the cat while Laura drinks wine and mourns a pet she claims she didn’t even like. Robbie offers a hug, and the hug turns into more, and Robbie comes back for more again the next day. Laura turns him down at first, because she doesn’t want to start anything with Robbie while Shadow’s in prison for something she asked him to do, but — as we all know — that rejection doesn’t last.

Something so bewildering about Laura in the book (why she would continue her affair with Robbie when she’s so close to being reunited with Shadow) makes perfect sense in the show, where they carefully flesh out Laura’s character and the unhappiness that defines her. Laura doesn’t see Shadow’s release from prison as a return to wedded bliss, and she doesn’t even see the affair with Robbie as a distracting bit of fun while her husband is away. They’re both the same to her. She’s unhappy no matter what, so what does it matter if she cheats on Shadow? What does it matter if Shadow even returns? Everything is the same to Laura Moon. There is nothing to believe in, the world is not that interesting, and all we do after we die is rot.

We know what happens next: Laura and Robbie die in a car accident. Laura learns she was wrong about the afterlife, as she is confronted by Anubis — introduced to us in the previous episode as the bearer of bad news and weigher of hearts. Perhaps indicative of Laura’s lack of belief, the cosmic desert she finds herself on is not the bright, glorious landscape that Mrs. Fadil traveled to in last week’s episode. It’s dark and foreboding, and Anubis is decked out in black instead of white.

Laura questions Anubis about her destination. He tells her, “In life you believed in nothing. You will go to nothing. You will be done. There will be darkness.” Laura asks if there will be peace, but Anubis repeats that there will be darkness. There is no peace in nothing, no peace in a lack of belief, and no peace for Laura Moon — in life, or in death. There is only darkness. For Laura, the path to her darkness is represented by a covered hot tub and a can of Git Gone bug spray, the tools she used in life when she was tempted by death.

When Laura resists, Anubis has some strong words for her and orders her into the darkness, but before she can do more than swear at him, she’s torn away from Anubis’s world and back into her buried coffin by the power of a leprechaun’s lucky gold coin.

After crawling out of her grave, Laura looks out and sees a glowing gold light. She follows it, and finds that the light is centered around Shadow, who has just been hanged by Technical Boy’s henchmen. It turns out that Laura was the preternatural power that had saved Shadow from certain death in the first episode. She tears through the faceless henchmen with inhuman strength and speed, then cuts Shadow down from the tree and disappears before he can see her.

Since she’s covered in mud and gore, Laura trudges back to her house to clean up. Since her arm got injured in the fight, she’s carrying it around with her like, no big deal. Just a severed arm, y’know? Laura is clean and re-dressed when Shadow arrives to pack up her house, and she spends that entire sequence of episode two hiding out in — of course — the covered hot tub. Shadow, by the way, is the only thing Laura sees in glorious, glowing golden color now. Everything else in her world is hazy and muted.

To get her arm sewn back on, Laura visits Audrey’s house, which is stocked with craft supplies. When Audrey arrives home and sees her dead ex-best friend — sans one arm — standing there, she understandably freaks out and runs into the bathroom to scream obscenities through the door. Laura follows her and she and Audrey have a disturbingly normal chat about how Audrey’s handling the death and betrayal of both her husband and her best friend. I would say that Laura’s inability to recognize how strange things are or feel any strong emotions about her life is like how she can no longer see colors, but it would be inaccurate. Laura is just as numb while dead as she was alive — the difference is that, while dead, she finally has something to follow and believe in, and that something is the gold-glowing Shadow.

Laura manages to persuade Audrey to drive her in the direction of Shadow’s light, but they’re stopped on the road by Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel — the latter of which Laura recognizes as Anubis. Mr. Jacquel/Anubis also recognizes Laura. Hard to forget a spirit who up and disappears from your cosmic deathscape right after you went on a rant about her insignificance.

Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel are proprietors of a funeral home, which is convenient for Laura because Audrey’s job at stitching her arm on with common thread probably wasn’t the best. They re-assemble Laura and paint her up, and Mr. Jacquel tells her that when she’s done with her mission, she will be delivered into darkness.

Meanwhile, Laura is drawn to the light. She dresses up nicely and hangs flypaper in Shadow’s hotel room to catch the flies that have been buzzing around her ever since she died (and, significantly, before her death as well). Then we see her waiting patiently, until the door opens and glowing Shadow is there, and we’re back where we ended in the last episode.

  • I think Laura’s experience with technology ruining something she enjoys might be a mini-parallel with her future husband’s problems with the New Gods of technology, especially since her casino takes its inspiration from one of the Old God religions.
  • “My grandma always had cats. She said that they could see ghosts when we can’t, and warn you of thieves.” “Yeah?” [Shadow, a thief, pokes at Laura’s cat.] “I think your cat’s broken.”
  • I love the ravens that follow Laura around. For people who know what they mean, it implies some interesting things.


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