What’s bugging Laura Moon?
American Gods episode 4 analysis.
So this was different, wasn’t it?
Episode 4 of American Gods went totally off book, giving the audience a bit more insight into Laura Moon. Reactions have been mixed, but I loved it. It always felt as though Laura was an afterthought in the book, even though it was her death that kicked off the story. That’s not to say the episode wasn’t without fault, but overall it felt like a bit of relief from the weight of the main arc.
The visual effects throughout the show have made me cringe at times, and this episode was no different. The fight scenes are not doing it for me. There is a difference between a comic book look and comical. These scenes are a bit silly and not as dark and sinister and they could be with a slo-mo blood-fest. The glow effect around Shadow also really bugs me. It felt a bit Dr. Who circa 1990.
My other issue is the pacing. We had the long montage of their marriage, the long montage of waiting for Shadow, the rescue, the long walk home, the shower… We only get 10 episodes, so please make them count! Shows like Breaking Bad have a slow deliberate pace and drawn out storytelling, but it works because there is such richness in every detail. This show has the perfect source material and wealth of supporting mythology to achieve that. This episode was the time to pepper in lots of little clues to help us understand what is so damn special about Shadow. Feels like a missed opportunity.
With that out of the way, there was so much to love about this episode. Until now, I’ve been disappointed with Shadow. He’s so passive and has no charisma. I blamed the acting. This episode made me understand that Laura also felt exactly the same way about him.
Pretty but dumb. His casino plan was really not a plan. His attempts at pick up were so lame. She submits to a one night stand, but he can’t even do that right, so she slaps him. But then he’s still there in the morning. You can just feel her pain… he’s so dull.
She saves him from getting run over, he follows her home, she feeds him, and then he just won’t leave. But he’s cute and does tricks, so she keeps him. Puppy.
We start with thinking that Laura is a horrible person, only knowing the circumstances of her death. She showed herself to be selfish and somewhat vain, but she laments the choices she’s made. By the end of this episode, I understood her loneliness and desperation.
What we know about Laura:
- She has been working at the 26th Dynasty Casino in Eagle Point, Indiana for 4 years when she meets Shadow
- The only joy she has in her work is being taken away by technology; the introduction of automated shuffling machines and plenty more cameras watching her every move
- She is a recovering Catholic that doesn’t believe in anything anymore
- She’s lived in Eagle Point all her life, and now lives alone in her grandmother’s house
- She has a cat she calls “Dummy” who loves to watch Woody Woodpecker
- She really has no patience for flies
The fly first shows up when we see Laura alone at home. She exterminates the fly with “Git Gone” and then has the idea to do the same to herself. We see the fly again when Shadow first goes to prison, but flies don’t show up again until Laura crawls out of her grave. It may just be a symbol for Laura being dead on the inside. When she is proper dead, the flies multiply.
Loki, the Norse god of trickery and notorious shape shifter, once disguised himself as a fly to distract the dwarves who were trying to forge the hammer of Thor. What if Laura’s fly is Loki, planting the idea of Git Gone as a way to ease her pain?
When Laura meets Shadow, she sees right through him. He was cocky with no substance to back it up. He didn’t even know her, and he was asking for her to be his inside man. Ugh.
She takes him in as a stray, I suppose thinking that she could train him, but Shadow was happy in his little routine. He had no ambition, no point of view. He only knows that there are things he doesn’t know.
They get married, 4 years pass and Laura is unhappy. She brings up the idea of robbing the casino with a wonderful circular argument. She tells Shadow he’s too good for her, because she is the girl who brought home a thief, but Shadow’s not a thief anymore…. that is the problem. He’s not a thief, he’s boring. So she’s trying to fix it… or is she. There seemed to be a subtext that maybe she set Shadow up to get caught, at least on some sub-conscious level.
Here is Laura’s theme from this episode. Enjoy.
When Shadow gets caught, he refuses the deal. It would have cut his sentence in half but in trying to protect her, he actually sentenced her to a longer term of imprisonment as well. She went back to her old shitty life, but now she also has this added burden.
Then Laura’s cat dies. Just before she notices, she turns off the TV and sees Woody about to walk the plank; a method of execution designed for maximum humiliation to amuse the spectators. Media has a dark sense of humour.
Laura sleeps with Robbie, and starts down the path to her eventual death. Laura dies in the most compromising way possible, almost as if someone were trying to sever all bonds that Shadow had and totally wipe the slate clean. Shadow believed in love and in Laura. Ironically, it was all based on lies. Yet this he had total faith in. He was so blind to the truth then, and now he won’t believe in the incredible things that are happening right before him. What a dolt!
We also see ravens in 2 places in the episode. First at Robbie’s bbq (on the roof across the street), and then again just before the accident (flying over the car).
Odin had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, his eyes and ears. The other vehicle in the accident was never found and the driver didn’t come forward. Plus, the accident happened in the early hours of Wednesday according to the newspaper report. Is it safe to say that there was interference of a supernatural nature?
We also see the seven of spades recurring. (I thought it was the 7 of clubs in episode 1, but now it is clear)
The significance of the 7 of spades is still questionable, but here is a starting point.
If the point is to show that Laura was inherently faithful, it would explain why that card was flying in the accident. It was the ultimate betrayal. The other point here is the “secret service”. She has been co-opted as Shadow’s guardian angel, but she shows herself to him at the end of the episode, so it’s not really so much of a secret. I’m a bit stumped.
We know that at the time of her death, she had known shadow for 7 years (4 years of marriage + 3 years of prison) and her obituary also was on page 7.
Laura in the afterlife meets Anubis. This time, he’s wearing black robes. Is that because Laura had already been condemned even before the weighing of her heart?
She also didn’t have any stairs to climb. Laura was surrounded by egyptian symbolism in the casino, so it makes sense that Anubis would come for her, even though she doesn’t really believe. Her eternal fate is the hot tub and bug spray, which is probably why she foregoes Git Gone in the final scene.
Laura gets yanked back to the world of the living, supposedly by Mad Sweeney’s coin. Speaking of which, the coin was conspicuously absent throughout the episode. Not a single mention. Odd.
As zombie Laura, she can now see a beacon of light around Shadow, like supernatural GPS. It’s probably just that simple, but she makes a comment about him being her “sunshine”. Further, in the same story where Loki disguised himself as a fly, one of the other treasures that he was trying to obstruct was Gullinbursti, a boar with bristles that glowed. Shadow’s more of a dog than a boar, so maybe not.
From another story, one of Odin’s sons, Baldr, was known as the shining god, whose death is a signal of Ragnarok on the horizon. Baldr is always depicted with a glowing halo. He was adored by all, except Loki, who was ultimately responsible for his death.
However, Baldr was pretty perfect. Shadow is just pretty.
A connection here could explain why he is so important to the story.
Laura saves Shadow from the Children, realizing that one of the perks of death seems to be superhuman strength. I didn’t really get a lot out of this scene. It was another one that was too long for the sake of style, but didn’t much enhance our understanding of the characters. I would like to point out that Laura’s dress does not seem to have pockets and there is still no gold coin in sight.
I quite liked that Laura hid in the hot tub, her fated afterlife, when Shadow arrived to pack up the house. I’m not sure who would’ve emptied out the hot tub since her death, but nevertheless. So, she was hiding in there the whole time Shadow was packing up and while Wednesday was waiting for him outside. I hope this ties together at some point. Perhaps there is more meaning to the dandelion, than just making a wish. Possibly a heads-up to Ibis and Jacquel.
Enter Audrey. The toilet scene was so funny yet still touching. I was waiting for Audrey to open the window. Audrey got fucked over massively, cheated on by her hubby and bestie, and left completely alone in a small town full of gossip. It’s not so much of a stretch to think that she would still help Laura, after she got her head around the whole zombie thing. It’s not like she had anything else going on.
Oh, and the fly is back.
“Many is the man who would take any version of his lost love rather than leave his love lost. He will thank whatever god sent you back to him.”, Mr. Ibis
Everyone seems to be vying for Shadow’s attention. Ibis and Jacquel turn up to help Laura out. It’s a win-win. Anubis ensures that he doesn’t lose this soul and they gain favour with Shadow. Laura gets a free makeover. Everyone’s happy.
She finally turns up where we left off at the end of episode 3, in Shadow’s hotel room. By this time, Laura’s fly problem is a bit out of control, so she uses fly paper. I suppose once she imagined an eternity of Git Gone, it lost its appeal. She is wearing the same dress that she wore the night that Shadow taught her card tricks. It’s possibly the only time she truly felt love for him.
Notice how the aspect ratio also changes. The entire episode up to that scene is in the past and is shot in widescreen. When we get back to where we were in episode 3, it reverts to the normal format. You see this convention throughout the show. The “Coming to America” and dream sequences are also in widescreen, but the scenes with the Jinn and Salim and Mrs. Fadil are in the normal format, indicating that they are in the present.
That’s it for this week. Be sure to check here for Easter eggs and other imagery. I’ll keep it up to date with anything new I find.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and some of the recurring symbols that we have seen. Please comment below or come find me on Twitter @jezzie_bell