American Gods: “Git Gone” Season 1 Episode 4 Review

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Episodes of television like “Git Gone” are becoming fairly regular occurrences. Fargo just did its first single character spotlight a few weeks ago, while The Leftovers has perfected the formula and uses it for each practically perfect episode. What these episodes take is confidence and a full understanding of the character from the writer. To put it simply, if you’re going to interrupt the delivery of recurring things audiences like about your show, you better have a damn good reason. That’s why it takes a certain confidence, something American Gods absolutely displays in Laura Moon’s backstory. These episode hardly ever fail because they’re typically a special passion project from an already great series. Until now, I don’t think I even knew what a failure of an episode like this would look like,

Well, it’s ugly, as “Git Gone” never finds a way for us to connect with Laura, and the results are an absolute bore, a hard thing to say about an episode of television where a character spends a large chunk of time trying to reattach her arm. Laura’s return used as a cliffhanger was exciting, opening an avenue to let Shadow really work through some stuff. That’s slightly delayed, as American Gods takes us back to before Laura and Shadow has ever met. She’s a dealer at an Egyptian-themed casino when Shadow comes to her table. They hook up and the rest is history. We find out what put Shadow in jail (Laura wanted to rob the casino she worked at), how she felt about sleeping with her husband’s best friend (I have trouble buying any show where a character’s struggles revolve around consciously sleeping with Dane Cook), and get the vague details on how she was resurrected. It all would be centered by Emily Browning’s performance, were it not so inhumanly stoic.

American Gods‘ version of character development here is a lot of blank stares and unjustifiable coldness. Laura never seems happy, likely part of the episode’s goal, but with so little variation in her mood, Laura comes across as robotic, with Browning’s performance similarly detached. The most we get into her psyche is when she tells Shadow her view on the afterlife, which she says doesn’t exist. Laura’s militant atheism is perhaps the most relatable thing about her, regardless of personal views of the viewer, the point being that she’s obsessively logical.

She’s proved wrong after her death though. Mr. Jacquel approaches her after the car accident and she refuses to give her heart. This interaction has some interesting bits, but it’s all kind of taken away with Mr. Jacquel, also the ancient Egyptian God of Death, Anubis, taking such issue with Laura’ reaction to her death. In all his centuries as the God of Death, he hasn’t grown wiser to world’s population and the likely wide variety of reactions to their deaths? At this moment, there’s nothing that makes Laura a special case, so why is she treated this way?

Of course, something inexplicable happens, and Laura is ripped back into the realm of the living, even gifted with super strength. We learn that she’s the one that ripped apart Technical Boy’s faceless goons who tried to hang Shadow. This is potentially interesting for the future of the series, and the gore was the classic level of Bryan Fuller beauty, but it also sadly means that Laura will likely be sticking around for a while.

The best thing about this episode, surprisingly, is the peak we get of what Shadow looked and sounded like when he was happy. This helps to round him out, which was very necessary due to the first three episodes’ disinterest with making him connect with the audience.

Still, there’s something so alien about American Gods that I’m not sure there’s an easy avenue to fully investing in this series. This extended dive into Laura’s psyche was disappointing proof of that. The purpose of single character spotlight episodes like this one are to give us a deeper understanding of one character and make us love them. This show isn’t interested in us loving its characters. It wants to beautifully display blood and gore centered around literal gods and toss in some black humor whenever it sees fit. That’s fine, the show can be entirely watchable on that basis. But “Git Gone” feels like a deep dive just for the sake of having one, with no real heart to it. The sad truth about Laura’s conversation with Mr. Jacquel is that she barely has a heart to give. The show itself doesn’t seem to either. Grade: C

By Matt Dougherty

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