Four episodes in and it's time for a detour into the past. Last week we ended on the great cliffhanger of Shadow returning to his motel room from the bank job (of sorts) to find his not-yet-cold in the grave wife waiting on the bed, smiling sheepishly. This episode puts the main storyline on the back burner for a week to make sense of all this. Here, then, is the strange courtship and marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Moon. Kat and Alfie it is not.
Breakout acting turns in American Gods are the norm and this week we get another one in the form of Emily Browning, the Australian actress breathing riveting life into Laura as both a living and not-so living lady of distinctive mystery and allure. Script-wise, it’s a fabulous introduction to a conundrum. A casino croupier by trade, she feels the loss of innocence as an adult harder than most and has done her research into the possibility of an afterlife with no joy. Shadow, the besotted lad, has her all wrong from the off, but love is blind. As their mis-matched union progresses, her creed of making hay while the sun shines eventually spurs her to mastermind the casino con that puts Shadow in jail, whereupon she allows her best friend’s lapdog husband Robbie Burton into the matrimonial bed. Heart of stone? You could say that, but look into her eyes...
The flashback scenes give Ricky Whittle the chance to flex his acting chops and show us the pre-jail Shadow as a smooth-talking chancer. But this episode really comes alive when Laura buys the farm courtesy of the car smash that kills both herself and Robbie. Confronted by the Egyptian god of the dead Anubis (Chris Obi), we get a very different, but no less intriguing version of the scales of justice ritual we witnessed last week when he assessed that nice Mrs Fadil’s soul. Elsewhere, this one is just plain funny. Laura’s bizarre reunion with her betrayed former best friend Audrey Burton (Betty Gilpin) is priceless and reinforces American Gods’ great line in macabre comedy. As a counterpoint, we also get a reprise of possibly the darkest sequence the series has given us to date from a very different vantage point. We’re keeping these reviews spoiler free but suffice to say it makes for kinetic, visually astonishing television. And is very bloody indeed.
So welcome back Mrs. Moon, the woman who came in from the cold.
AMERICAN GODS - EPISODE 4: “GIT GONE” / DIRECTOR: CRAIG ZOBEL / WRITERS: BRYAN FULLER, MICHAEL GREEN / STARRING: RICKY WHITTLE, EMILY BROWNING, CHRIS OBI, BETTY GILPIN / AIR DATE: MAY 21ST (USA ON STARZ); MAY 22ND (UK ON AMAZON PRIME)