Monday, September 14, 2020

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 5 “Strange Case” (B-)

While a continuous narrative does exist on this show, it’s not consistent in who it’s focused on and what threads it embellishes in each hour. There’s something new and supernatural in every installment, and that barely touches on anything we’ve learned before that. For instance, Montrose killed Yahima at the end of the previous episode, and all that happened here was that Atticus showed up to give his father a beating and then made it clear to Letitia later that he hadn’t simply let her go. We did learn more about Montrose and the lifestyle that he leads, which indicates mainly that he’s not open and honest with his family in the way that he can be with his secret community. With Atticus and Letitia given minimal screen time, Ruby got to be in the spotlight as she experienced perhaps the trippiest of all unexplainable occurrences yet. Waking up one day to discover that her skin was white gave her immediate insight to the way that white people pass in the world – both hers and ours – and how easily she was able to get hired to an assistant manager position at the department store when the Black employee who had told her that she “applied on a whim” evidently didn’t have nearly the same technical qualifications as she did. Much of this episode was uncomfortable to watch, both thematically and visually, with the transformation process including disturbing sights and sounds. Getting her revenge on the manager was reminiscent of a similar scene from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” though this was assisted by the bloody rebirth she experienced as she returned to her real skin. The biggest reveal of the episode was that William doesn’t actually exist but has been Christina the entire time. That’s an intriguing development that at least shows that she goes to tremendous effort to accomplish what she wants, putting on a skin that she knows will serve her better than her own even if it’s not her race that has put her at a disadvantage. I will credit this show and Ruby with explicitly confirming the twist that had just unfolded so that I don’t need to go pouring through recaps to understand what transpired.

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