May 21, 2017 at 10:01 PM EDT

“You were alive, Laura Moon. Now you are dead, Laura Moon.”

The first few episodes of American Gods have primarily focused on Shadow and his journey with Mr. Wednesday, with the occasional interlude to check in on Bilquis, Mad Sweeney, or some other fantastical deity. “Git Gone,” however, has a far more human bent, exploring the life and death of Shadow’s late wife Laura, who died in a fiery car crash only to unexpectedly rise from the dead days later.

Not only does “Git Gone” move the plot forward, filling in some of the gaps from the past several episodes, but it serves as a striking portrait of one lonely woman. Laura Moon is a key part of Neil Gaiman’s novel, but the book focuses mostly on her relationship to Shadow. This episode, on the other hand, takes a deep dive into who she is as a person — her hopes, fears, and relationships — and over the course of the episode, we follow Laura Moon from her dead-end casino job to her death and resurrection, culminating in her motel room confrontation with Shadow. The result is a masterful hour of television that raises questions about both life and death… and, in some ways, serves as Laura Moon’s superhero origin story.

When we first meet Laura (Sucker Punch’s Emily Browning, delivering a powerful and fiercely affecting performance), she’s still alive. She works as a blackjack dealer in an Egyptian-themed casino, coming home to an old house that’s empty except for her cat (whom she’s nicknamed Dummy). It’s not a particularly satisfying job… or life. She’s lonely, unfulfilled, and profoundly unhappy — which is how she ends up closing herself in her hot tub and dousing the air with bug spray in a half-hearted suicide attempt. She can’t bring herself to go through with it, but for the rest of her short life, that hot tub lingers in her mind.

Eventually, good ol’ Shadow Moon comes to her blackjack table. He’s handsome, charming, and trying to rob the casino with a little sleight of hand. She’s smart, so she notices him, of course, but instead of ratting him out to her bosses, she just politely but firmly informs him that he should leave while he’s still a free man. He’s smitten, and before long, they wind up back at her place. To her surprise, he sticks around, and a few years later, they’re married.

RELATED: American Gods: Inside the Episode “Git Gone”

Shadow’s head over heels for Laura, and in his mind, he’s living his best life. He even gives up his thieving ways, getting a job at his buddy Robbie’s gym. (Robbie, of course, is played by none other than Dane Cook.)

Laura, however, is still spinning her wheels, feeling unfulfilled and still thinking of that hot tub outside. Eventually, she sits Shadow down and informs him that she’s got a plan: They’re going to rob her casino. By this point, she’s worked there for eight years, and she’s confident that she knows the place inside and out. Shadow is confused, and then hurt: He can’t understand why the life they share together isn’t enough for her. But for her, robbing the casino is her last-ditch attempt to make something of her life. “I think I need to,” she tells him. Besides, she adds, it’s a perfect plan. There’s no way they’ll get caught.

…Except they do. Shadow’s caught red handed, and although Laura offers to take a deal so that they each spend about a year and a half in prison, he refuses to let that happen. The only thing he asks is that she wait for him on the other side. And she promises she will.

With Shadow in prison, her life slips back into the same old mundanity — except this time, she doesn’t even have Shadow around to distract her. When her cat unexpectedly dies, she asks Robbie to come over and help bury him, and before long, they strike up an affair. (Never mind the fact that Robbie is also married… to Laura’s best friend Audrey.) The days stretch into months, and eventually, we see Shadow’s prison phone call from the premiere — only to learn that while Laura’s talking, Robbie’s laying in Laura and Shadow’s bed.

That night, while Shadow’s still asleep in prison, Laura and Robbie are driving together in his truck, and he offers to leave Audrey. As The Band’s “The Weight” plays on the radio, she rebuffs him, thanking him for the time they’ve spent together but firmly telling them that their affair ends now.

And then suddenly, she’s watching her broken body by the side of the road.
(Recap continues on page 2)

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