Sunday, October 4, 2020

REVIEW: 'Lovecraft Country' - Diana Remains Isolated in Her Rage While Tic and Leti Try to Protect Themselves in 'Jig-a-Bobo'

HBO's Lovecraft Country - Episode 1.08 "Jig-a-Bobo"

A distraught Diana finds herself in Captain Lancaster's crosshairs. When a visitor from his past arrives at the boarding house, Atticus and Leti each take steps to protect their future.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Lovecraft Country.

"Jig-a-Bobo" was written by Misha Green & Ihuoma Ofordire and directed by Misha Green

From a young age, African Americans are forced to accept that they could die at any moment. It can happen for absolutely no reason. It can happen with no justice being pursued afterwards. The system is not set up to protect them and hold those accountable for hurting their bodies. Their suffering and pain is simply viewed as invalid and not worthy. This episode blends real-life events with the horror of monsters. It's devastating to experience the brutality of Emmett Till's murder again. He was a child taken from this world far too soon. He was lynched by police officers based on a lie. He did nothing wrong. And now, he is dead. A community mourns. His mother is brave for showing the body to the public. Ruby notes that he looked more like a monster than a sweet boy. That's how society can so often treat people in marginalized communities. It's easier to view them as something different altogether. People who don't experience the world in the same way that those who are white and powerful do. It's despicable and crushing. It's also isolating for the protagonists. They start off as a unified family unit going to pay their respects. And yet, they are all dealing with their individual pains. They can't sympathize or connect because they have their walls up. They are guarded. Montrose accepted long ago that he would die at the hands of a white man either through a bullet or rope. That was the only fate he could envision for himself. It was the only prominent narrative that could be given any legitimacy. That was the tragic end for his brother, George. It became even more daunting in that instance because magic was also involved. Montrose had to hide parts of himself in order to protect his family for as long as possible. Tic is stunned to hear his father talk about the majestic wonder of this family and how much it meant to him. Montrose and Dora's marriage wasn't built on romantic love. Instead, it was all a desire to have a family. That fuels Montrose to protect it for as long as he can. That's his driving motivation now. He has had to work so much harder for things that seemed natural to his brother and son. His dyslexia prevented him from enjoying the pleasures of books as easily as they did. He was forever meant to feel like an outsider. He is deserving of love and appreciation though. It's devastating when the father and son cast a spell and believe it doesn't work. It's only later on that they realize just how powerful they have become in this war. That's a key insight. It channels rage and fear over this entire situation. Tic and Leti understand their family lineage will continue. Leti is pregnant. But they remain terrified over what that means. It offers more to love in this world but it also creates a situation wherein another Black body has to be terrified of what might happen to him. Tic sees greatness in the future. He went through the time portal with Hippolyta and saw a brief glimpse of how this story ends. That could offer him some clarity. But he is still terrified the moment a monster burrows out of the ground and attacks the police officers threatening Leti. It's a massive assault. One that brings this war closer to home than ever before. Tic and Leti can feel some sense of protection. That doesn't extend to the rest of their families though. Everyone believes that Hippolyta is dead. Montrose and Ruby are seemingly at the mercy of the magic around them. And finally, Diana is being chased by monsters.

Diana had a personal friendship with Emmett. She is the one left behind to try to figure out how to keep living. She is similarly full of rage. These emotions come bursting out. She is never given the freedom to express them though. It's not long before she too is abused by the police. It's sickening as she is forced into a chokehold declaring "I can't breathe." That statement holds so much resonance to the audience. These are fights that have been happening for a long time. People are still being attacked, abused and killed by the police. The system still fails to hold them accountable when they take part in these heinous actions. It's completely trivial to Captain Lancaster as well. He only gets a few details about Hippolyta. Diana's whole world changes in that moment. Her innocence was already robbed from her. Her young age never protected her from the monsters of this world. That's depressing. She is still brave and formidable though. She fills up space in a way that is deserving of so much more. This family battles adversity every single day. It's exhausting. Magic seemingly stacks the deck even more against them. Diana is haunted by two monstrous figures who are essentially stand-ins for what the white mind perceives her to be. She is a disgusting creature not of this world. She can't exist behind a simple function. It's demeaning. But it's also enraging. Diana's mind is every bit as brilliant as her parents. She fights against these creatures instead of giving Lancaster what he wants. She spits at him and proudly declares her mother's name. This is honorable to her. She will fight for herself and her identity. It's just devastating when her own family fails to see her pain. In this instance, she is very clearly in danger. Monsters are attacking her. From Montrose's perspective though, his niece is swinging a pipe in the air. She is having a breakdown after all the loss she has experienced lately. He tries his best to comfort her. That vulnerability can be cathartic. In this instance though, it just ensures more destructive latches itself onto her. That means this family will be even more traumatized by those who wield magic. The police may be punished at the end of this hour. However, the horrors already run so deep. Tic is trying to outrun his fate of near certain death. He and Leti are both willing to make deals with Christina to protect themselves. And yet, no one can trust her. Ruby believes that Christina will ultimately teach her magic. That is never certain. Christina remains an enigma. Ruby lashes out needing her to feel something about Emmett's murder. She instead approaches the situation as someone with a godlike complex who doesn't want to concern herself with details she views as trivial to the overall fabric of the human existence. However, she also cosplays Emmett's death. That's a visceral and striking sequence. One that highlights how black suffering and pain is foreign to so many. Christina has to experience it herself in order to understand all of the rage and trauma happening in this community. In the end, it may still be a mystery as to what she got out of it. It's unclear just how true the feelings are in the relationship between Christina and Ruby. They may both be lying to themselves. They force the other to be more truthful. That doesn't seem to change them very much. More opportunities may be apparent. Those may be short-lived. More insight could be gathered. That too may not be beneficial in the end. It's complicated storytelling that offers no easy answer. Ruby knows that she deserves to take up space as the beautiful and strong Black woman she is. She still takes the potion to become Hilary once more. Christina remains focused on her core mission. And yet, she too has different responses and interests when living as William. And so, it's curious to see what exactly will occur next as these various plot points start to collide for the end of the season.