Another week, another American Gods episode (with a slight delay in the review, so my apologies for that!)
Don’t get me wrong, it was a terrific episode… but it felt weird. The story hasn’t advanced at all because this episode focuses only on Laura Moon, catching up to the ending of episode 3. The title card should say Emily Browning’s Power Hour rather than American Gods, because that’s what this episode was.
“Why did you help me?”
“Because I thought you were really nice!”
Both Gaiman and Fuller had said that the show would have an episode about Laura, and it’s a welcome thing. In the book we only see her in relation to Shadow, and only as a dead person. They almost had me when the episode began because I thought we’d get a Coming to America segment set in Egypt, but it was just one of those tacky Egyptian themed casinos.
This episode changes that because it’s all about Laura. Everything else takes a backseat, Shadow only appears a bit and you don’t even see Mr. Wednesday at all. True that the gods appear because we still get Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel but that’s different, their appearance makes sense here.
The interesting thing here, is the changes in the character. In the book we’re told that Laura is a travel agent and that she was Audrey’s best friend, so her and Robbie set her up with Shadow and they hit it off. Here they meet in entirely different circumstances, because she’s working in a casino and Shadow tries to pull a con on her so she catches him.
The change of work in comparison to the book helps, because Laura seems to be quite annoyed with life. I mean, it looks like she tries repeatedly to kill herself with bug spray just to see how it feels! Shadow provides a small breather but in the end he’s happier than she is and she just feels bored. There’s a brilliant montage scene showing their married life. And with a Shirley Manson song too!
“It’s like you’re a lost puppy”
The circumstances behind Shadow’s imprisonment and his crime also change slightly. But they make even more sense; from the start it’s evident that Laura isn’t happy in the casino, and a comment that Shadow makes when they first meet gives her the inspiration to mastermind a heist.
The fact that Shadow was already a bit of a criminal and good at sleight of hand before he ends up in prison is a good thing. There’s probably something in his backstory that explains this change and I’m looking forward to it. It gives him more character than just being a goody-two-shoes that gets roped into a crime because his wife talked him up to it.
One can understand the boredom that leads her to this, and it gets worse when Shadow is imprisoned. You have the feeling that not even her affair with Robbie helps, that it’s just something that happens, even if Robbie sees this in a different way. Robbie is a massive douchebag, though, so good riddance to him.
The flashback portion takes about half of the episode, and after a confusing (for him) encounter with Mr. Jacquel, we finally see what Laura has been up to since episode 1. This episode also confirmed that it was her who saved Shadow in the pilot, so I’m happy I was right about it.
There’s something weird about seeing her character come back into life and start kicking ass. I mean, she kicks one of the Technical Boy’s Putty Patrollers (or whatever he calls them) so hard that she makes his spinal cord fly! And the whole bit with her own arm feels like some sort of black comedy.
Especially when you add Audrey to the mix. Their scene together plays different to how that Audrey and Shadow scene from episode 1 played. This whole thing of “I cheated on your husband and died, but now I’m back and trying to sew my arm together” is slightly surreal.
Laura has no idea why she’s back, but she knows it has to do with Shadow. It’s interesting how now that she’s dead he’s a literal bright light, especially since other characters point out to her that she didn’t really love him when he was alive.
Still, when I thought we’d have that encounter, the episode finished on the exact same point that episode three finished. So we’ll have to wait a week to see how it plays off.
With only four episodes left of American Gods this season, I can still say this is one of my favourite shows of the year. I hope the remaining episodes are as good as these ones have been.
What do you think? Did you watch the episode? Let us know in the comments!
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.