TV Recap: American Gods — Git Gone (1.04)

25 May, 2017 TV Recap, TV Reviews 1 comment

TV Recap: American Gods — Git Gone (1.04)by Bryan Fuller, Michael Green
Illustrator: Craig Zobel
on 21st May 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
four-half-stars

In flashback, Laura Moon's past is explored to explain how she came to be alive and waiting for Shadow at his motel. As it turns out, there's a lot more to her than her simply being the 'dead wife.'

From her first meeting with her husband to her death, Laura's motivations and secrets are revealed, with a few other familiar faces showing up along the way.

*

I’d like to be believe that there’s something magical about the first few episodes of a new television series, during which the fans more or less share a consensus: this new thing is great, we love it, we want more. There’s a lovely camaraderie to it as we all get excited over this shiny, fresh plaything.

 

Of course, that never lasts. People are people. We all have our own sets of expectations, likes, dislikes, and preferences. No matter how short-lived or consistently good a show is, there inevitably comes a time when the fanbase fractures: here comes a something — be it a whole character, an entire episode, or a single scene — that splits opinions down the middle. And it’s all downhill from there, as the longer the show rolls on, the further splintered the viewership becomes.

 

Which certainly isn’t a bad thing. I love discussion and debate (to a point) on things that aren’t necessarily black and white. Still, I’m going to miss these last few halcyon weeks when everyone just kind of got along.

 

 

All of this to say that “Git Gone” is probably going to be remembered as the episode that first divided the fans. Regardless of whether or not you’ve read the book, I can tell that it’s going to be a controversial one. Partially, this is because it’s something of an experiment: though it’s only three episodes deep at this point, the show has already developed its own particular rhythm and feel, and this week definitely changes the format. The other reason is the fact that it’s entirely focused on a very contentious subject, and that subject is one Laura Moon.

 

You know, this person.

 

I’m not entirely sure about this, but I’m under the impression that Laura was a fairly divisive character from the start, even when she was regulated to a side role in Gaiman’s novel. Her involvement is sort of tricky to analyze: she doesn’t get much focus, but her few moments have a lot of implications and arguable importance to the overarching storyline, particularly near the end. Given her complicated involvement with Shadow (who has his own issues), it wouldn’t surprise me if many people had fairly strong opinions of her despite her supporting status already — especially because so much of her is left unexplained, which left readers having to come up with their own theories and overall impressions of her. Since the author didn’t tell us a lot of evidence to decide whether or not she is a good or bad person, somebody to like or dislike, we were free to choose our own side without it contradicting canon.

 

Making her a much more prominent character in the adaptation, then, was a choice just about guaranteed to cause strife. This week’s episode is entirely devoted to Laura, and is told via flashback. It begins with her first meeting with Shadow, and traces their relationship and her place in it — their courtship, their marriage, Shadow’s arrest, her involvement with Robbie, her death — right up to the ending of “Head Full of Snow,” when Shadow finds her waiting for him in the motel. The final scene, in fact, is a recreation of that moment.

 

But first: an Ocean’s Eleven homage.

 

You could say, then, that nothing really ‘happened’ this week, because the main plot doesn’t move forward at all. That in and of itself is probably going to rub some people the wrong way, and I can understand why: The writers decided to hit the pause button and spend an entire hour on a character that many aren’t going to like, which will make the whole exercise feel pointless. Considering how short the season (and, likely, the show at large) is going to be, allotting so much time to this may seem something of a waste, when there are plenty of other, arguably much more fascinating characters and storylines that need to be explored.

 

And if you read the book, having so much new material not found in the original text is probably going to be off-putting, regardless of how you feel about everything else.

 

Let’s get my opinion out of the way, then: I like Laura. I liked her in the book — I thought her and her relationship with Shadow odd and uncomfortable but also sweet, and consider the conclusion of their story together a highlight of the finale — and I like her here, too. I like what they did with her character, and I think it’s an admirable expansion of her original persona. Make no mistake: I don’t like her as a person, as I did in the novel, and I don’t think that we’re supposed to, at least not at present. But, as an idea, as a concept, as a potential for dramatic potential? I think that she’s great.

 

 

I’m also a big fan of unconventional storytelling, so the concept of an episode’s worth of backstory is in and of itself appealing. I do, of course, love Emily Browning, so regardless of what one may think of the part she is playing, I think she acted it well. Personally, I see this week as being something that was needed; no matter what your opinion of Laura is, she plays an important role in both Shadow’s character and the grand scheme of the story, so giving her a big set-up to more fully incorporate her into the plot is, if nothing else, a necessary evil to better prepare viewers for her ongoing involvement. And since the show has more time to explore the book’s secondary material, I don’t think it would have made sense to simply throw her in for a handful of brief scenes here and there, as would have been the case with a more faithful adaptation. Like it or not, she gets first crack at more screen time purely by necessity.

 

So, yes, I enjoyed this episode. A lot, in fact. Granted, I was very put off the first time I saw it, due to how different it was. Rewatching it, however, has made me appreciate it quite a bit more; so while it’s possibly my least favorite of these first four outings (though only narrowly — this show is too consistently good for that distinction to mean much), I think it’s still very much a worthwhile installment, and an important one that will pay off down the line. The sticking point comes with its subtlety: a lot of the plot relies on little details to make its impact felt, and it’s easy to miss a lot of them if you aren’t looking closely. Given a bit of time and retrospect, though, it stands as an excellent next step for the show, and a great hour of television in general.

 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what happened a bit closer:

 

Spoiler Warning

Below are spoilers for both the episode and the book, so continue at your own risk. Going forward, I’ll try to avoid too many mentions of later events, so as long as you’ve watched, you should be okay. Hopefully. No hard-and-fast promises, though.

 

*

Some Years Ago

 

Laura works in an Egypt-themed casino as a card dealer. She is annoyed to discover that she will no longer be able to shuffle her cards by hand, as the house has received new, automatic shufflers.

 

She comes home after work to a house empty save for her cat (named Dummy). She boils an egg for dinner. When she notices a fly buzzing about the kitchen, she pulls out a spray and viciously applies it to the offending bug until it’s dead. Looking at the can gives her an idea: she gets into the Jacuzzi out back, closes the cover to trap herself inside, then sprays the insecticide around until she’s forced out, choking.

 

 

Okay, so we’re starting off weird already. A lot of this episode is hard to wrap my thoughts around, because it’s hard to decide whether or not the characterization is subtly intelligent or simply off-kilter. (Which arguably makes the case that, if nothing else, it’s done well. If it makes you think without any obvious conclusions, that has to count for something, right?) Laura’s preference for hand-shuffling her cards and her willingly breathing in poison, for instance: are they carefully placed establishing moments that come to make more sense in hindsight, or are they just bizarre gimmicks that don’t actually, properly explain her motivations and personality? Do they do a good job at demonstrating her glassy-eyed apathy towards her life and desperate desire to feel (something we’ll see more clearly later), or are they simply ridiculous attempts at uniquely tackling a routine trope? I honestly believe you could argue these either way, and I would fully support both interpretations. For my part, I’m going to with option ‘A’ on both (though with a caveat or two leaning towards ‘B’ — again, it’s a confusing episode).

 

 

One night finds her with no takers at her table until Shadow shows up. He’s a smooth talker and charming, but Laura quickly notes that he’s attempting to scam her when he switches out the chips. She calls him out on it, warning him that he’ll be caught and prosecuted, and tells him to cut his losses and leave. He does.

 

…only to creepily wait for her to get off of work. C’mon, Shadow. You’re better than this.

 

As she leaves her shift that night, he comes up to her in the parking lot. When he asks her why she helped him, she doesn’t seem sure, first saying that he was sweet, then telling him that he was cocky. (This kind of ambiguity is a recurring thing with her, which is partially what makes her so interesting to me.) He suggests that he would do better with an inside man and propositions her involvement. She considers it, then turns him down. Shadow offers to get her a drink, which she also declines. When he offers to go home with her, however, she agrees. As they begin to make out on her couch, she is unmoved by his foreplay. She slaps him a few times, and he gets rougher as per her wish.

 

This is probably the most contentious part of the episode for me. This new, not-book-Laura is already notably different from what I’ve been expecting (although only in the sense that she’s getting a lot of brand-new stuff at this point), but Shadow is suddenly off, too: rather than being a quiet man with a clear moral center, he’s a silver-tongued con-man who shows plenty of panache when flirting. It’s jarring, and I don’t particularly like it, but I’m also not terribly upset by it. Why? Thank you for asking, because this segues nicely into my Big Point this week:

 

No, watching them make out is not the Big Point. Shirtless Ricky Whittle is nice, though.

 

Just about all of the characterization in this episode — from Laura and Shadow to Robby and Audrey, who we’ll see later — doesn’t strike me as inherently different from what Gaiman did, but just more involved. The problem, I think, is that the book doesn’t really spend a lot of time digging into the details of these people and their personalities beyond what we see on the surface: their shaping is based almost entirely on what they say (and, in Shadow’s case, sometimes think) during the story’s present events. By going back and trying to elaborate on their pasts, the writers aren’t necessarily changing them — they’re just filling in more shades of grey to round the cast out better, using their characterization in the present as the final product of a series of developments and growth.

 

That sounds confusing, doesn’t it? I’m not explaining this well. Let me put it this way, instead: Rather than the novel’s versions of the characters being the status quo — the way that these people have always been — Fuller and Green seem to have used them as the culmination of years’ worth of gradual evolution. People change as time passes, after all. And that especially holds true when incarceration, death, resurrection, magic, and living gods get tangled into your day-to-day so quickly.

 

 

Granted, Shadow is definitely different. He certainly did not originally have a past as a petty criminal — the novel makes it clear that the crime that sent him to prison was a single, stupid mistake — but other than that fact, I’m not sure his overall personality is that out-of-sync in the main, present plot. Who’s to say that he wasn’t so charming when he and Laura met? The novel doesn’t give us much of anything about his past, either, and his hand tricks are a natural extension of his coin shtick; so, while the ‘life of crime’ angle is an undeniable change, it isn’t necessarily sacrilege.

 

Ultimately, then, while he may be slightly off from his original incarnation, he isn’t by default a different person altogether — he’s simply a more believably complex one. What’s important is the fact that his self in the present rings mostly true — as the honest man who wants a quiet life. Since that’s the only Shadow that the book really gave us, then, I don’t see much wrong with making his past a bit more complicated. It turns his book personality into something he eventually achieved, not something that he’s always had.

 

(I do wonder at how their flirting would have played out had a woman been the one writing the scene, though, because the whole thing is very obviously done by heterosexual men. Do women actually respond to this kind of talk, or is it absolutely unrealistic? I certainly don’t know.)

 

Does that make sense? I’ll try to explain this better a bit later.

 

Back to the episode. Laura wakes up the next morning to find Shadow still there. He shows her a few card tricks, and she asks him to show her how he does them. So begins their relationship, and during a cookout some time later, Audrey — friends with the pair along with her husband Robbie (Dane Cook) — notes how in love Shadow seems to be with her. Laura gives a rather weak smile in response.

 

 

One day, while lying in bed, Laura notes that her grandmother believed that cats could see ghosts and warn of thieves. She asks Shadow if he wonders about what will happen if he continues his conning — he believes she’s referring to the afterlife, but she means something more practical, like jail. Laura explains — in between flashbacks of her and Shadow’s eventual wedding — that, though her parents have all manner of beliefs, she does not. As a girl, she was willing to believe in ‘something more,’ be it God or Santa Clause, but eventually, she realized that it was all nonsense; things that try to make the world bigger than it is are just stories. She wants to reclaim that magic of belief, but she cannot. After her speech, she tells Shadow that the look he is giving in response makes him seem like a lost puppy — hence, her nickname for him.

 

During another get-together, Robbie convinces Shadow to visit his gym, where he begins to take boxing classes and lead a class. A montage follows as the months drag on: Shadow works out, Laura goes to the casino. She comes home to find him asleep most nights. They sometimes have sex, but she simply looks out the window at the hot tub. She asks Shadow to pick up more bug spray.

 

I can’t believe they own such a voyeuristic hot tub. Gross.

 

One morning, she sits him down and tells him that she wants to finally take him up on his initial offer: she wants to rob the casino. She explains that she is not happy, despite Shadow’s obvious love for her, and she resents that lack of feeling on her part.

 

They both work bad jobs and live in her grandma’s old house in the same, small town she grew up in. It feels empty, and she wants more. Pulling off a heist, she believes, will let them get more. When Shadow angrily points out that he would be happy living in a cardboard box so long as he was with her, Laura views that idea as a kind of failure. She entreats him, noting that she knows the ins and outs of the casino, and that he will never get caught.

 

Surprise. He gets caught.

 

Oops.

 

Going back and rewatching these moments makes it clear how important these conversations are to the episode’s whole point and Laura’s entire character. The linchpin in Laura’s personality is her practicality: she takes the world purely at face value, and as a result, her quiet little life ultimately feels hollow. Nothing seems to matter in the long run, and so she does not feel invested in anything.

 

These sequences play up this angle very well, and I’m really impressed with how Browning acts it out: cold and aloof, but in a way that makes me feel sad for, not angry with, her. She is numb to the world but not completely cut off from it. She wants to be happy, but she just cannot seem to be pull herself from her haze. During sex with Shadow, she stares at the ceiling in apathy. Her grocery request makes it clear that she continues to submerge herself in her Jacuzzi and attempt feeling-by-poison. Several scenes during the montage cut repeatedly to her walking into work again and again, reinforcing the routine of it.

 

 

Granted, using Brian Reitzell’s “Queen of the Bored” throughout the scene is a tad on-the-nose, what with lyrics like I lean in but then I check right out / I don’t flinch because it doesn’t hurt / And what is god if it’s no one there / And there’s no proof that you ever cared about me. But in an episode that’s arguably a tad too subtle for its own good, having something so obvious helps. My first time watching “Git Gone,” I was left wondering if I really understood much about Laura at all (as well as what that hot tub thing was about); going back and rewatching it made thing much clearer, and leaves me with a better appreciation for Green and Fuller’s script not being so heavy-handed with its themes (well, aside from the musical choices).

 

One last note: changing the origin of Shadow’s nickname makes for some interesting analysis. In the book, the moniker stemmed from the pair not being able to adopt a dog in their first apartment, and so Laura decided that her husband was ‘her puppy.’ Sort of cute, right? Here, though, the explanation makes for a darker understanding of her views of her husband. Considering that she named her cat ‘Dummy,’ it’s clear that Laura views Shadow as a pet: a novelty that she adopted in an attempt to experience something new and lively.

 

Like with Shadow’s earlier personality, it seems to be a distinct change from the novel. Perhaps I didn’t read enough into it, but I was always under the impression that, despite her infidelity, Laura genuinely loves Shadow. Here, however, she’s become a puppeteer: despite his clear devotion to her, Laura ultimately appreciated Shadow only because he was a gimmick that changed her monotony. Once a new routine replaced the first, she falls right back into her disinterest.

 

 

Now is a good time to follow up on my earlier point. See, I can’t decide if this is a genuine change from Gaiman’s vision, because, again, we knew so little of her from that. Considering that the source material did make it clear that Laura was the one who talked Shadow into the robbery that put him in jail, this version of her isn’t completely incomprehensible. If anything, she did come off as cold there, too, so it actually seems sensible. The difference comes from the fact that, without much backstory, one was likely to simply assume that Laura’s aloofness came from Gaiman wanting her to be mysterious and otherworldly (she is dead, after all), and therefore wouldn’t think much of her personality, since her involvement in the story is so limited. In consequence, she was more or less a basic plot device (as The Spooky Dead Wife) that was there to either deliver foreshadowing or deus ex machina Shadow out of trouble when needed. By going back and filling in that vague outline of a character with an explicit explanation for why she is like this — that’s there’s a deliberate reason behind it, not simply a general aesthetic — the writers have forced us to examine her actions more closely and accept a particular vision of her as a complicated human being, rather than as a hazy archetype that we were able to ‘fill in’ with our own interpretations based on a handful of clues. With the book, you could read Laura as many things, because you almost had to if you were wanted to take her at something beyond face value. With the show, you can still do that to an extent, but with a great many more canon restrictions and nuances to work around.

 

Plus, with Gaiman apparently working fairly closely with the crew to adapt his material, I can’t imagine that these new ideas were completely alien to his ideas, if he okay-ed them. I haven’t heard anything about him criticizing the writers’ decisions here, as he did with Shadow’s behavior back in the pilot. Who knows? Considering how much backstory an author creates that ultimately can’t be included in the final product, perhaps this context was something he always planned, but could never actually bring to light.

 

Here, then, is where the fanbase is going to get messy, beyond simple cries of “This wasn’t in the book!” Is Laura a good or bad person? Should we like her or not? Is she somebody to be sympathized with or hated? Should we even care about her at all? I could see each side argued with equal merit, and so I don’t think it’s a conflict worth having. Rather, I’d like to believe that Laura is, at this point, something of a base for personal interpretation: what you think of her is going to depend largely on your own experiences and beliefs.

 

 

You could make the point, for instance, that she likely suffers from depression. Her life may be rather good, despite the routine of it all, but depression certainly doesn’t have to be ‘justified’ by your circumstances to be legitimate. It also, however, doesn’t justify her cheating. Or is she simply selfish and greedy, too self-centered to look beyond her own demands and appreciate the man who loves her? Did she make bad decisions for the right reasons, or the other way around? I’m not going to claim that there is a ‘right’ answer here; only that I think that Laura is too complex of a character to be rigidly defined as a single thing. And I think it’s a disservice to the writers to turn it into a simple complaint of “She cheated on RICKY WHITTLE with DANE COOK?! What an ungrateful b****!” Look, we all know that nobody in their right mind would give up a sensitive and considerate Ricky Whittle, especially not for a comedian who starred in Good Luck Chuck. The point, I think, is that “Git Gone” is ultimately meant to make Laura interesting. Not necessarily likable or sympathetic, mind you; just interesting. Because she’s not going to go away anytime soon (if they follow the novel, she’ll be sticking around to the very end), and so we need to have some kind of solid ground to start her off on.

 

 

Laura visits Shadow in prison. You’ll note that we don’t actually see how the heist went down, which makes for a great transition: “You will never get caught” immediately cuts to “How did you get caught?” She is convinced that her plan was flawless, so somebody must have ratted them out. (We never see any indication of who else may have been involved with the plan, so I’m not sure if this a future mystery to be explored or not. My guess, however, would be ‘yes.’ Explaining why would lead to some very big spoilers, however, so I won’t say anything more. I’ll leave it at the fact there’s some greater things afoot during this time in the couple’s life.) She is willing to take their lawyer’s deal to confess her involvement so that they could split the time served between them; no more than three years each, she believes. Shadow refuses to let her take the fall, despite her being the instigator. He asks if she is willing to wait for him, given his six-year sentence. She hesitates, but says that she can.

 

Time passes. Phone calls from the prison come, and she eventually starts to ignore them. Robbie and Audrey keep her company. She visits Shadow, but they have nothing to say. One night, she comes home to find Dummy dead. She calls Robbie, who comes over and buries the cat. He offers to let her crash on his couch for the night, but she insists on staying home. Drinking, she tells him that she “didn’t even like him.” A sympathetic hug turns into a kiss, and when Robbie apologizes, she asks if he’s truly sorry. They have sex, but Laura once again seems uncaring.

 

Hm. I wonder if that bird is supposed to mean anything.

 

When Robbie comes over the next day, Laura tells him that the fling was a one-time thing, and that she’s waiting for Shadow. Then she invites him in.

 

We see her phone call with Shadow back in the pilot, but from her perspective: she’s at home with Robbie in her bed. As they take a drive that night, Robbie tells Laura that he’ll leave Audrey for her, but she rejects the idea. He accuses her of not loving Shadow, but she claims that she does. She may, he points out, but not the way that he loves her. She confirms that they’re done, but decides to give him a blow job as a goodbye present. As a car approaches, Laura accidentally hits the shifter, and they crash.

 

Hm. I really wonder if those birds are supposed to mean anything.

 

In the aftermath, Laura floats in the sky above the wreck and her own body. She appears in a star-filled desert and meets Anubis; because she had no religion, he has been given dominion over her death. (Interesting concept. I want to see what some of the other afterlives look like, then.) He takes her to his scales, but when he attempts to pull out her heart, she slaps him away.

 

Some pretty significant downsides to having sex while driving.

 

He explains the need for judgement, but Laura tells him point-blank that the measurement will not be in her favor. In response, he leads her to a hot tub and a can of bug spray: she must “pass through” and return to nothing, because she believed in nothing. Laura asks if there will be peace, but Anubis states that there will be only darkness. When she refuses to get into the tub and asks to “go back,” Anubis tells her that her body has already been prepared and buried. She asks if she gets a say in the decision; Anubis angrily tells her that death is not a debate, and that she is ultimately insignificant to him and his duty. He will very quickly forget her.

 

She answers with a ‘fuck you,’ but before she can say anything else, she is suddenly yanked into the sky and disappears.

 

 

What an enjoyable scene. Beyond it being nice to see Anubis again so soon, I like this bit because of the emotional complexity: on the one hand, there’s something very enjoyable about watching Laura outright refuse to engage in the rituals of the afterlife, to attempt to take some control. (Get him, girl.) On the other, it’s also rather nice to hear Anubis call her out on her attitude — somebody definitely needs to at this point, given how manipulative and callous she’s been with Shadow and Robbie up until now. I get that the whole ‘using sex in attempt to feel’ bit is an extension of her character, but you certainly don’t have to agree with her choices.

 

(On that note: I don’t like Dane Cook, but he was certainly a good choice for the part. I appreciate the attempt to give him some depth beyond ‘the guy that got Laura killed,’ what with his hesitancy to get involved with Laura and his genuine interest in her once he does. He is still, however, a cheating piece of garbage, and plays the sleazy angle that you get from his character in the book, purely based on his circumstances.)

 

Laura digs herself out of her grave. In the distance, a golden glow emanates. She follows it as it begins to rain, and finds it coming from Shadow, who has just been lynched by the Children. Hoping to help him, she attacks one, and discovers that she has gained supernatural strength. She leaps up to the rope and severs it, then proceeds to murder the remaining assailants. When Shadow struggles to his feet and wanders off, she hides behind a tree; and thanks to a blow from one of the henchman, her arm promptly falls off.

 

 

I was actually surprised by this callback to the pilot. I had sort of figured that the Children’s death was going to come from a manifestation of Shadow’s own abilities, as we saw demonstrated in “Head Full of Snow,” but this makes much more sense. It won’t be the first time that Laura kills to protect her husband, but it’s quite exciting seeing Browning run around in the rain and punch holes through grown men while gratuitous amounts of blood fly around. I’m trying to decide what the implications of the scene are now that we know of Laura’s opinion of Shadow, though. Does she save him out out of genuine care for him? A sense of duty? A supernatural compelling? 

 

If you’ve ever wanted to see Emily Browning kick a man in the crotch so hard that he splits in half, this is the show for you.

 

I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with the symbolic implications of the scene, what with it being a white woman saving a black man from what is clearly meant to invoke a hate crime and racist murder, but I won’t go too much into that, as it’s not my place to critique.

 

Laura returns home, which gives us a fantastic shot of her wandering down an idyllic street, covered in gore and holding her severed arm. She showers (more slow-mo!) and changes her clothes, then packs her bag. When she prepares to leave, she sees Shadow about to come in, here to pack up the house. To avoid him, she hides in the now empty hot tub.

 

It’s been a very long day.

 

Another great little tie-in to “The Bone Orchard,” as it gives another layer to Shadow’s visit to the house, knowing that his wife was hiding there the entire time. It gives us a lot of complexity, too: it’s not quite clear what Laura is feeling when she encounters her husband twice so soon. Browning is very enigmatic in all of these scenes — I can’t tell whether she’s meant to be frightened, bored, angry, remorseful, or some combination of the bunch. It’s fitting, though, and gives Laura an enticing sense of uncertainty that I think we’ll see explored later. I’m also happy that the crew was sure to make her look genuinely, well, dead, as in addition to the missing arm, she’s clearly beginning to rot. Thanks, makeup team! I’m glad that they’re not being shy about the unpleasant details of being a zombie. (I don’t see Sweeney’s coin, though…)

 

 

Laura sneaks into Audrey’s house to use her craft supplies, and she attempts to sew her arm back on. Audrey finds her and flees to her bathroom in terror, but Laura easily breaks the door down, and then uses the toilet as she ejects the embalming fluid inside of her. With her on the toilet and Audrey cowering in the shower, the two have a frank conversation about the situation. Audrey calls Laura out on her infidelity, and admits that she attempted to sleep with Shadow. Robbie, she confesses, was buried with his severed penis stuffed up his ass. When Laura attempts to apologize while having her arm sewed back on, Audrey rejects the sentiment, wondering if the woman truly knows what she did. Laura admits that the affair was a lie to cover up the fact that she could not wait for Shadow, then asks to borrow Audrey’s car.

 

This scene is a completely unexpected treat. Despite my distaste for her trying to sleep with Shadow, I liked Audrey during her brief appearance in the pilot due to Betty Gilpin’s excellent acting, and she’s even better here. She completely sells a potent cocktail of emotion: anger at her friend’s betrayal, terror at finding her alive again, grief over the entire, ugly thing. Laura gets the verbal lashing that she deserves for her actions, and you really, truly feel for Audrey’s loss. It was a good opportunity to tack on to the book, giving the two the chance to hash things out, and the writers did a solid job with it. It’s also a hilarious scene — the whole thing is played very lightheartedly, and the banter between the pair is very funny, but not in a way that cheapens the emotional weight of it. Audrey only has one other notable scene in the book, and it’s one that probably won’t be happening until next season at the very earliest (if at all), but at this point, I’m definitely on board with her becoming a more prominent character. (I just hope that her other moment, should it be the only one she gets, is changed so as to not make her seem like a near-hysterical shrew. It may have worked with her on-the-page portrayal, but it would definitely clash here, and Gilpin deserves more than that.)

 

Best friends forever!

 

Props to Gilpin, too, for flawlessly delivering what may go down as the greatest line this show has yet given us: “Get out of my house, you zombie whore!” Truly iconic.

 

As Audrey drives Laura towards the beacon once more leading her to Shadow, she asks the dead girl what she plans to do once she reunites with him. Laura believes it will work out, since she loves him, but Audrey calls her out on this, telling her that she never truly loved him — he was like a pet to her. Laura acknowledges the truth in the accusation, but says that she loves him now.

 

(Nice job, writers, in being self-aware enough to point out that, yes, Laura’s a pretty bad person at this point. It’s comforting to know that they aren’t expecting the audience to just roll with her, which gives me hope that they have a definite plan to develop her more in the future.)

 

Also, it’s because of this one line — “Well, I love him now.” — that prevents me from taking too much issue with Laura’s personality. Because of it, this whole episode suddenly becomes a prequel mini arc that evolves Laura into the character we know from the book; by the time we catch up to the present, where the novel is almost entirely set, she’s more in-line with her original incarnation. As a result, it’s not as though the script actually changed her for the adaptation; instead, it filled out everything leading up to her appearance to make her more three-dimensional, to give more nuance to what was already there and provide context. Book Laura, consequently, becomes the end result of a journey of self-discovery for TV Laura, not just the end-all, be-all definition of the character. If that is in fact the case, it’s a pretty damned clever move, as it abruptly makes her so much more tragic, if not outright sympathetic: only now that she’s dead has she found the determination to live and love her husband properly. Whether or not this holds depends on how she comes across going forward — if she sticks to canon from here on out, I’d say nothing has been explicitly contradicted.

 

Anyway! Out onto the road appears a dog and the bespectacled man who we’ve seen writing the ‘Coming to America’ stories. The former transforms into Anubis, who states that he does, in fact, remember Laura.

 

The boys are back.

 

She is taken to a funeral home, which the pair own. Their current names are Ibis and Jacquel (finally!), and they’ve been running the business for 200 years. They then prepare her as they would a corpse, re-attaching her arm more thoroughly and airbrushing her pale skin to give it some semblance of life. She needs to be maintained now that she’s dead, but nothing, Anubis/Jacquel notes, will fix the heavy heart she carries. He asks her if what weighed it down was love; it was not, she says, but it is now. Ibis notes that, despite her being dead, Shadow will thank whatever god sent her back to him. Jacquel tells her that, when she “is done,” he will finish his work properly and take her to the darkness.

 

 

Another smart addition that incorporates Ibis and Jacquel sooner. Their running a funeral home makes for a perfect tie-in with Laura’s increasingly decaying state, which is something mentioned several times in the book but never really addressed beyond its inescapable progression. I like how it’s used to explain why she looks so alive in the motel, as well, and it will give their eventual meeting with Shadow more significance to boot. I’m definitely intrigued by Ibis’s rather smug remark about Shadow ‘thanking the god’ that returned Laura to him, though. It sounds as though they’re attempting to use her as leverage, which hints at some kind of ulterior motive that wasn’t in the novel. (It could, however, just be a justification for a climactic encounter that the pair have with Shadow much further in the plot. If so, a commendation to the writers for sneaking that bit of foreshadowing in.) I’m sad that Audrey just disappears, though. What happened with her, after? I get the feeling we may find out eventually.

 

And though it’s become pretty clear at this point, hearing Laura outright confess to not loving shadow is something of a sucker punch. It’s a natural culmination of the less obvious implications that have building up over the course of the hour, though, and the admission that she didn’t but does now nicely summarizes, I think, the entire purpose of the episode.

 

And, look! Bast is there!

 

Laura sneaks into Shadow’s motel room. She hangs up flypaper to catch the pests that now seem to plague her, then changes into a dress. Sitting on the bed, motionless, the day passes and night falls as she waits. Shadow eventually walks in, and she greets him.

 

I imagine the “Hallelujah Chorus” playing at this point.

 

A beautiful ending. The music and the timelapse as Laura waits is surprisingly emotional, and the fact that the episode ends with the same line and shot — Laura’s face as she says “Hi, Puppy” and briefly smiles — as last week is a very satisfying bookend, despite ramming home the point that nothing has really progressed. Still, the new context and explanation gives the moment a great deal more weight; and, in that sense, a lot in fact has changed. Somehow, despite everything, it’s a moment that makes me feel for Laura, and genuinely hope that things manage to work out for her. She has a long way to go if she’s going to be able to redeem herself, but the implication seems to be that she’s finally found some purpose, and that’s a story that I’m willing to follow.

 

Final thoughts:

 

  • Tying into the episode’s impressive subtlety is this week’s use of various symbols. For instance, I really like how flies were used as a recurring symbol of the episode. The fact that they follow Laura around when she’s alive is not only ironic given her use of the spray as a way of feeling alive (especially now that they won’t leave her alone as a living corpse), but also reflective of her lack of some inner spark — even when she was breathing, she was dead. And that shot of the flies becoming stuck to the paper in the motel? A representation of her newfound determination to ‘live’ and appreciate Shadow. Clever, or really corny? You decide. (I’m going with a little bit of both. But mostly the former.)

 

  • Then, of course, there are the birds. Did you notice the ravens? The ones that I so subtly pointed out? One shows up outside of Laura’s house when Robbie visits her, and a pair of them follow his car before it crashes. I’m guessing it’s hinting at something else at work. (I’m not guessing; it totally is. What god do we know prominently features ravens in its mythology? Hmm.) I also dug the little Anubis statue that is seen sitting on Laura’s card table at the casino as yet another blink-and-you-miss-it piece of foreshadowing. The set designers are certainly having fun.

 

  • Finally, there’s the fact that Laura constantly has Woody Woodpecker playing for her cat while she’s away. At a guess, I think the cartoon is another nod to her situation: Woody is a character constantly getting into trouble due to his brashness. Like him, Laura continually takes dangerous risks in order to feel. Sneaky, sneaky. (And, along with that, I wonder if her cat and its death are going to be tied to Bast in some way, as we did possibly get another glimpse of her at the funeral home.)

 

  • This is our first episode without David Slade in the director’s chair, but I’m glad to see that the visual style mostly stayed on par. My only complaint is the use of that choppy slow-motion style during Laura’s fight scene — it clashes with the smoother, more stylish variant that the show typically uses, and I’ve always found that it looks silly and cheap. I thought it cool, though, how they used the widescreen format for most of the running time to reinforce the ‘otherness’ of the story’s chronology, just as the other side plots and standalone stories did in previous installments.

*

“Git Gone” takes a risk. It lacks (most of) the supernatural shenanigans and eclectic cast of previous weeks, and has no ‘Coming to America’ or ‘Somewhere in America’ asides to give us a break from the main plot. Which, as I noted, isn’t really the ‘main plot,’ since it’s entirely focused on flashbacks, and is therefore a huge departure from the source material that it has otherwise been following so faithful. Going for such a change this early in the show (though we are, admittedly, already halfway through the season) is a dangerous gambit when you’re still easing viewers into your world, but I think it paid off. It’s definitely better with a rewatch or two, and I’m hoping that further explorations of Laura’s character in future seasons will help vindicate this divisive week.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I’d say that the point of episode four was to make Laura interesting. Not likable, by any means, but you don’t necessarily have to root for her or her relationship with Shadow to be curious about her story. Just interesting. And in that vein, I think they succeeded — with an hour that unfolds like a puzzle, which requires quite a bit of time and effort to solve. Annoying in some ways, perhaps, but definitely rewarding.

 

I just hope that the fanbase isn’t too harsh.

 

Rating

A definite change of pace and focus for the fledgling series, “Git Gone” is at times off-putting, complicated, and frustrating. Given a bit of time and thought, though, it proves that a risky gamble can pay off.

A-

Monteverdi
A reader who doesn't pick up his books nearly as often as he should, but who would like to offer the occasional review when he can nonetheless. Find me on Goodreads here.
Monteverdi
RT @ImAmandaNelson: oh it's almost like staying home and eating sheet cake and ignoring them is a stupid fucking idea https://t.co/EPc1eTws… - 17 hours ago

One Response to “TV Recap: American Gods — Git Gone (1.04)”

  1. Carina Olsen
    Twitter:

    Ahh, you are reminding me that I still haven’t started watching this show yet, haha 😀 But I must. Soooon. Because you just make me more and more excited about it 🙂 Yay for enjoying this episode too. <3 Lovely review of it Monteverdi 🙂
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #290My Profile

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