Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of American Gods…
Convention kicks in for twenty minutes before ‘Git Gone’ gets a dark arse swagger on, reminding anyone with doubts that American Gods is far from finished making headlines. Re-conditioned corpses, Egyptian deities and boatload of bug spray keep this relationship origin story away from genre territory. Visual flair and photographic showboating are kept at bay, with only the occasional insect suicide in slow motion to remind us where we are.
Death, resurrection and oral decapitation are all thrown into the mix as American Gods attempts backstory, from within the consciousness of an astral plane inhabitant. By creating an emotional blank canvas in Laura, devoid of conscience, indifferent to others and merciless in her manipulation for personal gain, we are asked to cast judgement. There are still elements of the fantastic here but if anything episode four is more a redemption story than anything else.
Watching Laura and Shadow get together is a sordid, slutty, sharp and sassy experience, uniquely twisted within meet cute scenarios of late. Seeing that relationship slowly deteriorate irrespective of promises made, keeps these people damaged and true despite their heightened reality. Free for the first time from any appearance by Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle and Emily Browning do well filling his absence.
Their chemistry is evident, subtlety understated and never played for anything other than plot purposes. Browning is a fully fledged pint-sized temptress with scant regard for anyone or anything which gets between her and an objective. Not so much the harlot, more a woman who sees men as a means to pass time, here is someone with sociopathic tendencies and an emotional fail safe. Never veering over the line, she remains likeable in spite of her behaviour lending Laura an endearing quality and recognisable moral centre.
However where Gods truly excesses is in the flashes of black and white imagery, fluorescent horizons and detaching body parts. Here is a show deep on philosophical underbelly, cloaked in carnal qualities and shrouded with visual motifs. Here people are painted carefully with little time for generalities and even less for wasted screen time. Complexities whether concerning death, deities, afterlife or lack thereof are all given equal time to state a case. Where matters beyond the mortal flesh are offered ample opportunity to fulfil a chosen destiny.
That the opening intro chooses to wrong foot you with something expected shows how strongly these showrunners have their hands at the wheel. Morally questioning, perpetually challenging and still one of the most original programmes currently on air, American Gods has scorched earth, moved mountains and made seismic strides in raising the bar for anyone else. Right now there are few things that come close.