I just discovered your podcast while I was searching for opinions on the American Gods show. A small back history; I have read the book (many times) and listened to the full cast audio book. I really love this story and most of Neil Gaiman’s work.
I was very excited to hear what you guys had to say about this episode and very much appreciate that you aren’t just 3 bros sitting around counting boobs.
I was bored with this episode until Shadow came in to play off of Laura’s character. Once their relationship developed a bit, it became clear where this episode was supposed to stand in context. I think it was a good idea to give Laura her own back story. For their entire relationship Laura was a light for Shadow. He wanted to better himself for her, he did time for her. Then suddenly, she’s yanked back to life presumably by the lucky coin Shadow dropped in her grave, and now he is her beacon. Her hope for something other than darkness.
It seems we as show viewers are just as much trying to figure out our place in this world as much as the characters. And I like that. It keeps me hooked. In on of your first episodes one of you talked about those episodes where nothing seems to happen, no action. But things to advance plot do happen and I feel like this was a great set-up episode. Also really loved the humor and emotion in the Audrey/Laura scenes and feel like the actress playing Audrey was a good choice. Still not buying the actress that plays Laura completely, but that could change.
Keep up the insightful (and feminist) commentary. I look forward to listening to you guys more.
I think the interesting thing to not that didn’t really get talked about this episode, is that the guy that anubis is with says something about it being ibis and jackel funeral home. Which might mean this guys name is Ibis. Doing some research I found out that Ibis is related to the Egyptian God Thoth. And that in Egyptian mythology thoth is credited with the invention of writing. Which brings us around to episode 1 because this is the guy who is writing in the book about the first coming to America story. Love what you guys are doing even tho I don’t always agree.
I was surprised at Gene & Big D’s dislike of the episode–for Gene, it came down to acting and pacing; for Big D it was the qualities of the character herself. For me, it formed a coherent backstory that added much-needed context–Shadow’s affinity for coin tricks, why Laura cheated, and the nature of their love. I felt the acting was good, the bathroom scene believable, and wondered if this episode was done with the female audience in mind. I liked the humor in the Audrey scenes–the tenderness tempered the absurdity of it. BTW, Audrey tolerated her b/c she was looking for closure (I would, too). Maybe she even misses her a little.
To address the acting, pacing, overall feel of episode 4:
“The female glance is deeply attuned to textures, to shades of light…It’s an almost synesthetic mode of filmmaking, focused not on plot, or narrative, but the capacity of an image to convey a feel. It forces identification with, and empathy for, the way women experience the world — an experience that’s often marked by passive observation and the rhythms of the domestic world…It’s an accumulation of moments, experiences, and revelations that not only go unsaid, but might actually be unspeakable.”
Examples include: the bloody shower scene, the lighting in the bedroom scenes, Laura turning off the TV, looking out the window at the hot tub in the middle of sex
2) Emily Browning made good use of body language, micro-expressions, and tone of voice to convey emotion. (Her eyes are so expressive.) The POV scenes illustrated her mundane observations. The framing and juxtaposition of important events (Laura falling in/out of love, her spiraling depression vs. Shadow’s ascendance) were shot well. We feel her depression and we live her lackluster life.
To address her character:
1) She’s like so many other sullen-eyed young girls stuck in Smalltown, USA. (I’m surprised she’s not a druggie.) Girls like that attract men who want to take care of them/save them. (It’s up for debate whether Shadow has a savior complex.) She goes through life as a spectator. Her interaction with Anubis was the first time she showed real agency–she refused what the circumstances offered and wanted to change them. She panics as she realizes that an afterlife was a possibility, which negated her worldview.
2) I like that she’s NOT a saint. Gaiman chose an unceremonious death for humorous effect, but most importantly to set her on a redemption arc, which justifies her role in the story. This is made more obvious by having her as the reason for his incarceration (a significant departure from the book).
3) Her trepidation at revealing herself to Shadow speaks volumes. She obviously doesn’t want Shadow to see her as a monster. There’s a fear of rejection and an element of vanity. Also, she isn’t ready yet to face the emotional fallout. I think she realized what true love was when she had to break out of her passivity and act to save his life. This new discovery–this new love has transformed her (hinted at by her conversation w/Jacquel). She’s essentially reborn as a zombie love interest, baptized in the rain and blood (I thought of born-again Christians). In the end scene, did you notice that she wears the same dress she had on when Shadow first taught her his tricks? I thought it was romantic in a way.
4) Her cold rationality is a good setup for the absurdities that happen to her.
On Robbie: -Where was his ghost after the crash–is it to imply that he has no soul? -He’s a pet-killer.
Thoughts on the gold coin: -The Egyptian sun god Ra’s main symbol is a sun disk. He’s also associated with the Tree of Life.
Vee, from Chicago
P.S. Gene, I don’t know why you think a black guy with a hippie name would be hot property in 90%-white Indiana (looks notwithstanding) given the racial segregation and low-level xenophobia in the general Midwest.
This take off on the Laura Moon story was revealing, but I agree with the hosts in that it did not really advance the story for me. Zombie visitations bring nothing good basically.
My takeaway is “you gotta serve somebody” to quote the great Bob Dylan song. Laura expected to rot. So why did she hope for “peace”? That was not even her lifestyle. If she wanted to obtain peace, she should have sought it when she was alive. If religion was not an option, she at least had the love of a good man. Obviously, that too was not enough.
So it had to be a divine set-up in my opinion- a long range Mr. Wednesday plan. Laura is so basic and miserable. Shadow staying in a relationship with her doesn’t seem plausible. What’s the attraction besides sex and Laura’s not even into that in a way a hot blooded female like myself would be. Who, I say who would check out during sex with a stud like Shadow?! Disgusting. I feel Neil Gaiman who is a Scorpio like myself was making a statement in writing in that character trait in Laura. It’s a cardinal sin to have unimpassioned sex. And though people have emotionally remote sex all the time, it’s telling that Laura had it first time they had sex. No new sex excitement…pitiful.
So why did Shadow chose Laura when she obviously didn’t choose him (Laura sure looked sad and detached on her wedding day)? Apparently Shadow had the ability to advance himself by reading up on tax preparation and giving up on crime. What was he thinking by just going for her criminal plans….so as not to lose her? I’m bringing more questions than opinions, so I’d better stop here.
I read the book, listened to the audiobook before the show and I’m enjoying the show.
I also enjoy the Shat on TV podcasts following your reviews and amazing commentary through “Westworld” and “Taboo”.
I posted this as a comment on your website before I saw your email address. I’d love to hear your feedback to this.
One of you guys had posited that maybe one of the Gods had a hand in the accident that killed the two smuts birds. I looked at the scene a couple times and what struck me was that other than the oncoming lights, there was no evidence that another vehicle was involved. You don’t see it during the crash scene and even when she’s floating above the scene there’s no one or no car visible. Wouldn’t you think that if there was someone else in another car they would have stopped to at least check if they can help?
While I know that’s not definitive I do believe it points towards divine intervention of some kind.
Love your guys shows keep up the great work,