Laura Moon is one of the most intriguing and complex characters on American Gods and the show has taken a big detour in the direction of her character. She isn’t the most likeable character in either the book or the television adaptation, but her character’s story has certainly become one of the more interesting ones.
Laura Moon, played by Emily Browning in the television adaptation, is the wife of Shadow Moon and died in a car crash while having an affair with Robbie, one of Shadow’s friends. This betrayal is revealed quite early on in both the novel and the show, however it is not the end of her story (obviously). Reincarnated by a magic coin, Laura Moon finds herself on a journey parallel to Shadow himself. In the novel, she continuously appears to help Shadow on his journey, saving him a couple of times and holding only the space of an important side character.
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have, with the permission of Neil Gaiman, explored and expanded on the character of Laura Moon to great appeal. It was in episode four, titled ‘Git Gone’, that Laura Moon finally featured in an episode dedicated to her. ‘Git Gone’ showed a new side of Laura, not just the loving wife that Shadow introduced us to. Laura was a complex multi-faceted character that begged for attention.
Laura was a lethargic and depressed casino worker before Shadow came into her life and had at one point even tried to kill herself. With mental illness becoming a more and more pressing issue, Fuller and Green have truly created a character representative of our modern times. She is still portrayed as a fully functioning individual, as is not always the case, but Laura appears to show little care for the affection Shadow shows her or the way her actions are affecting others. Fuller and Green paint Laura as though she is just drifting through life, more a viewer than an actual participant. But it is this that allows them the greatest benefit with her story post-mortem.
After her abrupt and unusual resurrection, Laura becomes more whole than she appeared before death. She seems to view her life as it was in a new light and sets about attempting to change and fix this. It seems that her story, as Neil Gaiman puts it, is about her truly falling in love with Shadow Moon.
None of her journey to the House on the Rock is featured in the novel and this allowed Fuller and Green to explore her relationship with other characters. The reveal that it was in fact Mad Sweeney that killed her and not a random accident also helped to progress her story past the novel. This reveal added to the depth of their relationship, explaining why Mad Sweeney saved her at certain times and was so willing to help her be bought back to life.
Laura Moon truly is a standout character in the show and Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have done a tremendous job of playing with the canon and lore that Neil Gaiman originally setup to bring Laura into the modern world. The lethargy she feels combined in opposition with her story post-death provides a more detailed character that moves away from the label of cheating wife that the novel ascribed to her initially.
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