Last week on American Gods, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) referred to the difference between believing in ghosts and believing in gods. He also said he “…believe[d] the shit out of love” so, when his love, Laura (Emily Browning), is a ghost or “something else” as Robbie’s widow, Audrey (Betty Gilpin), puts it in “Git Gone,” this is consistent with what we know of Shadow’s belief system.
“Git Gone” fills in the missing pieces of Shadow’s story, specifically the Laura-shaped ones that led her to his room at the end of episode three. However, this is Laura’s episode, taking on her perspective and starting, not from the moment she met Shadow, but before, when she was dealing cards at an Egyptian-themed casino. Some conversations get recycled (Shadow’s phone call from prison). Others provide backstory (the job that landed Shadow in jail). Even our featured god is a repeat, as Anubis brings Laura to the Scales like he did with Mrs. Fadil.
What’s new is Laura. By folding the plot back on itself, viewers get to meet Laura and realize how little they know about her. She isn’t a story for a worshipping husband and betrayed best friend to tell, but a person, whose actions could be deemed unlikable but never malicious. Laura was unhappy, and none of the characters prepared us for that. Their omission is a product of selective memory but, when Laura was dead, that’s all we had to look to, and depression isn’t something you forget.
Want to ignore. Have trouble understanding. Wish things could go away or just have an explanation. “Git Gone” doesn’t shy away from these aspects of depression. Shows like The Sopranos have looked at male depression before but American Gods is looking at female depression, and female grief in ways that don’t feel talked about or acknowledged with Audrey.
Shadow doesn’t have to think about being happy. Laura does. They’re living the same life but depression doesn’t care about having a reason. It’s not a choice and it doesn’t mean Laura doesn’t love Shadow, or find her life appealing. That’s what Shadow questions, and it’s a reasonable concern, if unhappiness made sense or followed logic. For both the person who has to deal with being unhappy against their will, and the person who loves them, depression is universally unfair.
The Bechdel test gets referenced a lot when trying to declare whether a show, or film, is feminist. Considering how much Laura’s story is enveloped with Shadow’s (and, to a lesser respect, Robbie’s), I don’t think “Git Gone” passes. However, in not erasing Laura’s harsher emotions to fulfil a glorified memory, maybe the Bechdel test shouldn’t get the last word.
Bonus Spiel: Laura’s One Arm
Laura isn’t a god (or presumably isn’t) so she doesn’t associate with a mythology. If she did, it would probably be Egyptian, since that was the theme of the casino where she worked, Anubis greets her in death, and he’s associated with embalming (which on American Gods means he works at a funeral parlor and Laura gets the embalming fluid version of food poisoning) (Hill).
Norse mythology, though, is where we’ve seen a loss of a body part before, with the one-eye of Wednesday and the Vikings. Tyr is the one-armed God in Norse mythology and the Romans came up with the word Tuesday from his name. Another coincidence: if you believe the wolf in the road last week was Fenrir (Odin’s killer), Tyr’s arm was bitten off by Fenrir (McCoy).
Hill, Jenny. “Anubis.” Ancient Egypt Online, 2016, www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/anubis.html. Accessed 17 May 2017.
McCoy, Daniel. “Tyr.” Norse Mythology for Smart People, norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/tyr/. Accessed 17 May 2017.