There's a lot to be said for taking a narrative time out during a story and, as enjoyable as it's been, American Gods has put its audiences to work over the previous 3 episodes. There's been vikings landing in the new world, sexual encounters with Djinn and a vaginal succubus. While show runners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have made the challenge an enigmatic joy, perhaps examining something a little more human is just what's needed to acclimatise and find our bearings.
Even though Laura Moon has only been glimpsed through the visions of Shadow and heard on the end on telephones, her character has been a pervasive element throughout this odyssey. It's true that the circumstances of her passing allow Shadow to up sticks and join Mr Wednesday, it's also meant that he carries some weight - even if not overcome by grief. While her past is more implied than explicit in Neil Gaiman's original tome, Laura is given a whole episode to explain herself, but it struggles to beguile the way previous episodes have.
It will always be hard to offer the audience the same volume of enchantment when dealing with circumstances less ethereal, but in putting Laura under the microscope Fuller and Co. make her quite difficult to like. When we meet her she's a croupier at the local casino. Her unfulfilled existence is punctuated by her cat and trips to the hot tub for understandable suicide attempts. When she meets husband-to-be, Shadow, he's trying to take the house by swapping out chips at her table and the inevitable relationship begins. While it may have elements of fairy tales, fans of American Gods know all to well that a "love's young dream" just wouldn't be in keeping with the stark tone. That being said, at least with Laura finding something that was previously missing in Shadow, would offer something more sympathetic in the character.
It's true that without less likeable characters or even those that challenge the values of the audience, our stories could become benign Disney sketches. However, even with Laura's expectant infidelity and self-absorbed naval gazing, about the most compelling thing about her is her sledgehammer honesty.
It may be that we're going to be offered some redemptive arc later on, but in the meantime episode 4 offers the same sympathy for its character usually saved for a villain of the piece.
3* - Girl Interrupting
Other Episodes in American Gods - Season 1: