When I first watched episode 4 of American Gods, I absolutely hated it. After re-watching it and talking to Tokusatsu Network Editor-in-Chief Paula Gaetos in this week’s episode of our TV podcast, I’m starting to come around. Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried that our main characters are terrible people.
This podcast contains spoilers.
We talked at length about what it meant that this week’s episode left Shadow and Wednesday behind and focused entirely on Shadow’s dead wife, Laura. Paula loved what the show did with Laura’s character. We talked about how Laura has been revealed as incredibly flawed—aimlessly depressed, apathetic, sort of a user—but, at the same time, she has a no-nonsense attitude that allows her to be brave in ways that Shadow isn’t. Unlike Shadow, she completely accepts that the world is full of weird magical things and takes control of it. She even tells Anubis, the god of death, to “fuck off.” That’s pretty badass.
The new backstory for Laura’s character also puts her in a redemption arc. After all, she’s burned Shadow twice, pretty badly: it’s her fault that he’s in jail (no matter what he says), and then she cheated on him in such an irresponsible way that she got herself and his best friend killed. So she has a lot to make up for. And maybe death has given her the perspective that she needed to break out of her suicidal apathy to become a relatively good demigod.
It was great to have Paula on this episode because she’s an expert in tokusatsu, or Japanese science fiction and special effects stories. She saw myriad tokusatsu themes in Laura’s story. First, there’s the style: Laura’s incredibly graphic, gory fight scenes would be recognizable to anyone watching tokusatsu regularly. (Love that moment when she punches the bad guy’s skull and spine out of his head.) But a whole subgenre of tokusatsu is devoted to women becoming zombies and having to deal with what that does to their bodies and social lives. We see a lot of that played out in Laura’s zombie comedy scenes with her former best friend. We talked about that humor and the idea of female friendship transcending death and poop and severed limbs.
We also talked about why the heck Anubis and Ibis are now helping Laura with her after-death makeup. Why, why, why? We don’t know. We have some theories.
But the real question of this episode is how we, as an audience, can continue to like Shadow and Laura, now that we know Laura is, as her friend says, “a shitty person.” What does Shadow see in her? Are they both basically losers who have been given a second chance by a bunch of loser gods? Should I just shut up and stop wanting likable protagonists?
American Gods airs on Starz in the US on Sunday night, and the same episode is available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and other territories on Monday.
- Direct Download URL: Decrypted: American Gods, ep. 2: A man got f**ked.
- Listen or subscribe on Stitchr
- Subscribe via RSS
- Subscribe via the iTunes store
Decrypted is Ars Technica’s weekly podcast about the TV that obsesses us. Currently we’re dissecting American Gods. Listen or subscribe however you please above and let us know what you think—thoughts, questions, or your favorite theory about what really made Shadow fall in love with Laura—through the comments section, on iTunes, or via e-mail.
Powered by WPeMatico