Sunday, October 11, 2020

REVIEW: 'Lovecraft Country' - Montrose is Forced to Confront the Trauma of the Past to Save Dee's Life in 'Rewind 1921'

HBO's Lovecraft Country - Episode 1.09 "Rewind 1921"

With Hippolyta at the helm, Leti, Tic and Montrose travel to 1921 Tulsa in an effort to save Dee.

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.

"Rewind 1921" was written by Misha Green, Jonathan Kidd & Sonya Winton and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Tic has had a tumultuous relationship with his father for his entire life. He had so much love elsewhere. However, he had to completely upend everything just in order to get away from Montrose. That's how visceral and traumatic that relationship was. And now, they have been forced to rely on each other because of the simple idea that they are family. However, this relationship has been the most inconsistent part of the season. Tic and Montrose being on good or bad terms depends entirely on the demands of the plot in that particular episode. They have frequently gone back and forth between finding some kind of understanding and wanting nothing to do with the other. Here, Tic goes so far as to say that he is done with his father the moment that they save Dee's life. It's a mere escalation of a mountain of secrets that have continually come out. Montrose has done his best to protect his family. He cares about his son. He has simply repeated patterns that were monstrous and destructive. He refused to break the cycle of abuse. It was much easier for him to lie to himself than confront the very nature of his being. He is forced to do that in a profound way here. In order to save Dee, Montrose has to return to 1921 Tulsa a few hours before white men burn down the historic Greenwood district also known as Black Wall Street. It's miraculous to see a black community celebrate with prosperity and opportunity. All of that is tragically taken away because of the discrimination and hatred from others. It's a trauma that infects so many people - even those generations removed from it. That confirms how people can never truly run away or forget about the past. We have to acknowledge it and learn from its mistakes. We have to make things right. And yet, the trio who travel through time do so knowing that they can't fundamentally change anything. They can't do anything that could cause dramatic ripples through time. That's so agonizing for Montrose. He is forced to confront the abuse and the decisions he made long ago that formed him into the man he is today. He proclaims that everything in his life was worth it because he was a father. He would do whatever it took to protect Montrose. He resents Leti now because her deal with Christina for invulnerability may ultimately cost Tic his life. Leti and Tic are trying their best to protect their son. They have to secure his future. They want to break free. The world has gotten increasingly more chaotic and dangerous. Magic ensures that all of this could be taken away at any moment. Dee was completely innocent in this war. And now, she may be the next one to deal with the lethal consequences of it. That's the worst possible outcome when it comes to denial of one's past. Montrose can't sit on the sidelines. He has to be an active proponent in the protection of his family. He has to be the man he never allowed himself to be. His father beat into him a sense of what was right for a man to do and be. As such, Montrose internalized so much of that homophobia. He feared ever letting it out. That just meant he let out his rage on his son. It's such a cruel thing for Montrose to say that he had to make numerous sacrifices in order to be Tic's father. It makes it seem like such a massive burden. Tic understands more of the pain and fear his father has endured. It helps that he gets to see it all play out right in front of him. He becomes an active part in the story as well. He is the savior who helped a young Montrose survive this massacre. His action ensured that the family legacy could endure. They have to fight to ensure the survival of a better future. It's the only viable option. They may not be able to change anything in the past. However, they can do whatever it takes to create a more prosperous future.

Leti learns a similar lesson as she retrieves the Book of Names. She knows that Tic's mother, Dora, will be the only survivor when the family home is burned to the ground. Leti escapes the violence of the street to the safety of this building. She knows it's a condemned place though. It's full of people with hopes and dreams. They have a willingness to fight back for the continued right to prosper. It ends tonight. She almost has to be cruel and disregard all of that to find what she needs to secure her own future. This is an action of profound love. Tic is a member of this family. Her unborn baby is part of this legacy as well. That creation of life is the only piece of faith that this family has about the future hopefully being better. This community was destroyed because the racists wanted to deny them the ability to succeed. Communities of color always had to be less than. They had to be demeaned and broken down. They can't aspire for anything more. Tic's family has to accept that they will die here fighting for what they rightfully deserve. Dora's grandmother is the guardian of the Book of Names. She knows that Leti doesn't belong here. She has to give it over to her. She has to do so while accepting that there is nothing she can do to save the family as they burn in the apartment. Instead, it's simply powerful to dream and have faith about Leti's son growing up to fulfill the promise that was denied to his ancestors. That's the only amount of peace that can be found here. These sacrifices were made in the hopes of being told and recognized. That solemn responsibility rests on all of us to ensure tragedy like this doesn't happen again. In the moment, all Leti can do is hold this dying woman's hand. She can't protect her. She can't save her life. Leti won't burn down with the family. She will survive. She is built to last. She has that protection. It makes her walk strongly down the streets of Tulsa as it is destroyed. It's freeing in a way. She has the confidence to do so. It simply took magic and otherworldly gifts for her to have as much power as the white people causing this much destruction. And yes, that too is a potent theme throughout this story. So much has been put into motion by Christina's quest to become immortal. She is willing to kill Tic to achieve that goal. She views it as her accepting what was always denied to her simply because she was a woman. She must show that her brilliance far eclipses her own ancestors who tried and failed in their own magical endeavors. She too is trying to build her legacy. She simply does so on the backs of communities that have long been experimented on and treated as inferior. Captain Lancaster was spared from death because his body could be replaced by limbs taken from Black bodies. Ruby believes that Christina loves her and will make sacrifices for her. However, that comes with its own form of exploitation where Ruby also gives into the devious by choosing what kind of white body she would like to inhabit. This story is coming to its conclusion. Sacrifices will be made. Tic has armed himself to the best of his ability. His family has made tons of sacrifices to save themselves and protect the future. It may be enough. And yet, the promise of something better for the next generation may continue to be the only faith they have at this point. They confront the past hoping to make that a reality. But death may still be the inevitable sentence for Tic because of Christina's ambition.