A whole episode about Laura Moon! Whether you read the book or not, you probably have conflicting feelings about Laura. She’s the love of Shadow’s life, but she is no saint, which this episode reaffirms.
In fact, what I loved seeing in this episode was Laura’s life and mindset before Shadow. She went through the motions making a living, but was clearly unhappy – the episode title refers to a bottle of bug spray that she half-heartedly poisons herself with. Neil Gaiman himself has come out in praise of this episode because it makes Laura’s “implicit” behaviors and attitudes from the book now explicit. Better still, Laura’s apathy about life isn’t cured by her relationship with Shadow.
In a previous episode, Shadow mentioned a weakness for casinos. It’s at a commercialized Egyptian-themed casino where he meets Laura, a dealer who has an eye for sleight of hand. This is a deviation from the book, where Laura was a travel agent who met Shadow through mutual friends. Despite their passion and love, settling down doesn’t satisfy Laura’s thirst to feel alive. Cue the robbery that lands Shadow in jail, despite a supposedly perfect plan crafted by Laura.
She promises to wait for Shadow, which she later refers to as the umbrella lie for many of her subsequent actions: namely sleeping with Robbie and dying while performing oral sex. Despite “believing in nothing” about the afterlife, Anubis appears to Laura, saying the circumstances of her death warrant his service.
I love seeing that an individual’s personal choices and beliefs affect their interactions with the Gods. Compared to the last person we saw meet Anubis, Laura’s path to the afterlife is dreary and barren. She rejects the trial of Anubis, refusing to let him weigh her heart. She’s in the middle of cussing out the god of death when she is suddenly whisked away, much to the shock of Anubis.
Laura climbs out of her grave, disoriented and seeing the world differently. A bright beacon of light catches her attention among the gray, and she finds Shadow in a tree as seen in episode one. As I surmised, the unseen force that saved Shadow from hanging was his zombie wife.
This was not an easy episode for the faint of heart – besides vomiting embalming fluid, Laura’s arm gets dismembered in the fight and she tries to reattach it herself. Cue the best scene that never happened in the book: Audrey and Laura coming face to face since the latter’s death. Even in the most absurd circumstances, Emily Browning and Betty Gilpin make the exchange between former best friends believable.
Misters Jacquel and Ibis, (Anubis and Thoth) track down Laura and give her a makeover. Jacquel lets Laura proceed with her journey, but promises that he will be waiting for her when her task is done. The episode ends exactly where the last one did, with an expectant Laura greeting Shadow in his hotel room.
Future speculation: two ravens are seen in this episode – anyone who knows Wednesday is Odin can theorize that the god was watching Shadow (and by extension, Laura) for some time before their first meeting. I have a sneaking suspicion that Laura’s insistence on her perfect plan may have been true, and that a certain old hustler intervened to ensure Shadow was put in jail.
Thoughts on American Gods? Feel free to share in the comments!