HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ is ambitious and astounding and will undoubtedly blow your expectations away. Created by Misha Green, who’s working with Matt Ruff’s 1950s-set dark-fantasy novel as source material, the show counts horror visionary Jordan Peele and sci-fi maestro J.J. Abrams as executive producers. The show is full of literary and musical references, along with monsters, both in-your-face and figurative; we’ll discuss the resulting symbolism on a weekly basis.
Lovecraft Country began as a road trip that highlighted the horrors experienced by Black Americans and then took monster-chomping vengeance upon bad guys. Over the past few months, the show’s explored a cult and a haunted house traveling into the cosmos, and there’s no telling where Hippolyta is right now. In his week’s episode, “Jig-A-Bobo,” the bad-guy-chomping returned, big time, but there’s a lot of layers along the way.
We also learned what happened when Atticus slipped into one of Hiram’s time-machine portals: (1) He briefly journeyed into the future; (2) He learned that his son, George (named after Courtney B. Vance’s late character), penned the Lovecraft Country novel that’s authored in real-life by Matt Ruff (and is the basis for this show). It’s all so circular but still delightfully maddening. On a more serious note, grim plights go down during this episode. We’ll work through that, but let’s begin with the most climactic turn of events.
1. Atticus wanted magic, and as a result, he’s got a new pet:
During the episode’s final moments, a monster burst out of a city street and saved Tic from a bullet meant to kill him. In the process, Leti and Ruby were also saved, and the creature tore down the street, killing a bunch of racist cops. Then the beast nuzzled up to Atticus, all cute-like. Justice served? Sure. And where does this leave Tic, other than looking a lot like Chris Pratt with Blue the raptor in those Jurassic World movies? I hope they take this further, and we’ll see Jonathan Majors toss a saddle on one of these creatures and joyride on the beast through downtown Chicago. It’d only be fitting to see him tame a monster that’s inspired by the virulently bigoted H.P. Lovecraft. I’m here for it.
This is also a fine turn of events for Tic to look like a hero again. After all, he’s been laying low for a few weeks and staring at pieces of paper while Leti, Hippolyta, and Ruby have been getting sh*t done, and while Christina’s been pulling strings. Yes, Atticus the Nerd might rise victorious. He’s been attempting to decipher those pages from the Book of Names and track down the rest of the book, and perhaps it’s all paying off now? It also helped that Tic and Montrose managed to stop trying to kill each other and executed a successful spell. I’ve got more to say about Atticus when it’s time to talk about Christina.
2. Diana only wanted to be a kid, so please leave her alone, ghosts:
In less fun news, Dee (portrayed by the outstanding Jada Harris) needs serious help. She was already traumatized enough by her father’s death, her mother being in the wind, and attending the funeral of her friend, Bobo. (Yep, his nickname not only feeds into the episode title, but he’s representative of the real-life Emmett Till, who was lynched at age 14 in a horribly racist act of kidnapping and murder.) Then Captain Lannister (who tracked Dee after finding her comic-book artistry near Hiram’s time machine) placed a hex upon her, and a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the 1952 novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe) hopped off a shelf. Is that all? Nope.
Poor Dee spent the rest of the episode being terrorized by nefarious ghost twins who resemble the controversial Topsy character (who was described in Stowe’s prose as “imp of darkness” and the “blackest little pickaninny”) from the book. Stowe did not intend for the character to be carried forth as an offensive caricature, but that’s exactly what society did. And Lovecraft Country, of course, isn’t afraid to throw Topsy at its audience in addition to other horrors from Black American history. Also of particular resonance is Dee uttering Eric Garner’s “I Can’t Breathe” plea (now used as a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement). While being put in a headlock, Dee also gazed up to see the Cream of Wheat ad (and original mascot, who has since been declared a racist caricature by scholars, and finally, the corporation itself), which is haunted as well.
Dee’s suffering throughout the episode, and the refusal of any adult to listen to her stories or take her trauma seriously, is heartbreaking. She ended up suffering in silence, and Montrose eventually came to Dee’s aid late in the game. It’s about damn time.
3. Christina wanted immortality, and she’s achieving it:
The absolutely brutal beat down and shooting of Christina by cops was, apparently, done by request (and she survived while cackling over her healing wounds). This lady is absolutely insane and definitely dangerous. She’s also now the biggest wild card of the season with only a few episodes to go and her motives remaining nebulous:
– With Atticus: Christina wants those missing pages from Atticus, but does she also want him (and Black America) to perish? She seemingly revealed all to Tic and even called him “cousin,” but he refused to trust her, and for good reason. Atticus later mentioned to Montrose that his son’s novel included a part where Christina (who was actually a male named Caleb in Matt Ruff’s novel) killed Atticus. Yet Atticus seemed confident while telling his Korean ex-girlfriend (Ji-Ah, the tentacle-sex woman) that her vision was wrong, and he won’t die soon (hey, he did dodge that bullet at the end).
– With Ruby: So, I guess this is really happening now. At this point, the sex scenes in this show are somehow even more memorable than HBO’s True Blood.
Christina is still transforming into William to have sex with Ruby, who transformed into Dell to do the deed, but she reached such, uh, heights that she inadvertently sloughed off Dell’s skin in the process. Christina remarked that Ruby was “being reborn” while they had sex. Well, Ruby’s angry at first at Christina not understanding her own white privilege and acting like all oppression is down to gender. (Note: Christina’s behavior sparks plenty of thoughts over here about intersectionality, which didn’t emerge as a concept until the late 1980s, but I assume the references are intentional.) However, Ruby seemed to start buying what Christina is selling (“You took that potion so you didn’t have to think about being a woman.. Who wanted what she wanted…”), and then things grew more curious when Christina lured Leti into whatever she’s scheming.
– With Leti: Again, it seems like those missing pages are key here. Christina followed Leti to a church, and they did some negotiating, which led to Leti offering photographic negatives to Christina in exchange for protecting Atticus. Leti wanted invulnerability for Tic, but Christina suggested that she’d rather protect Leti. And she gave Leti the Mark of Cain, which should (as it did in the Bible) aim to protect Leti from premature death. The trailer actually made it look like this moment was Leti feeling abdominal pain from some Rosemary’s Baby scenario, but since Tic and Leti’s son is apparently not an alien or devil, all good? We’ll see. (He’s a writer, and writers do love to make sh*t up — and now, I’m being silly.)
On the idea that Christina’s yanking both Ruby and Leti’s chains, are they both being manipulated? Probably, and this tweet sums this situation up quite nicely.
Ruby and Letti calling each other dumb #LoveCraftCountry pic.twitter.com/qNcAelPr5y
— yes•mean (@thee_yasmeen) October 5, 2020
HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ airs Sundays at 9:00pm EST.