Lovecraft does nothing without reason. I knew with “Bobo’s” repeated appearances we were going to face what happened to Emmett Till. The title warned me that this episode would be intense, but I was not prepared for how deep they were going to go.
“What’s that smell?”
Diana’s question and Ruby’s struggle to respond was like a backhand to the face. In a real interview, Mamie Till’s own words described that because of the heat, Emmett’s body was indeed detectable for a two to three block radius prior to reaching the funeral home. Therein lies the brilliance of this show’s team. That one detail lent itself to helping me fathom the horror of losing your child to such brutality and the subsequent disrespect and injustice of our flawed legal system in one fell swoop. All I could think about was a mother having to smell the decay of a child she brought into the world. The devil is always in the details.
A Loss of Innocence
With all the adults wrapped up in their own individual dramas, the group looses sight of Diana as they wait to view Emmett’s body. Diana’s father is dead, her best friend is dead, and her mother is missing. (Imma need Orynthia Blue A.K.A. Hyppolyta to come on back!) Diana is overwhelmed by all that is going on so she wanders away from the large crowd and into the neighborhood. She releases her anger on two unsuspecting Black girls who are laughing and enjoying ice cream by pelting them with rocks. Then, she’s approached by that old raggedy Captain Lancaster and one of his goons. When I tell y’all I was afraid. They didn’t do what I feared they would, but that did not negate the terror she endured because of that encounter.
Captain Lancaster curses Diana, causing her to hallucinate being followed by two impish jigaboos with long nails. As a result of the curse, Diana’s behavior appears erratic and she’s running the majority of the episode. However, there are two places we get to see Diana face her fears and take a stand. The first, when she confronts Lancaster, tells his deputy off, spits on him, curses him out and declines the deal of turning over the orrery for relief from the curse he’s put on her. The second, when she grew tired of the jigaboos and decided to fight back. I cheered for her when she screamed before taking off on her bicycle. I pumped my fist in the air when she went to the shop and corralled the jigaboos so she could be in control of the showdown. Diana, like the other women in this series, is a force to be reckoned with.
PSA: Lovecraft folks, can we get a respite from spit for the remainder of the show? Ew. I digress… The use of the jigaboos definitely gave off Jordan Peele vibes and also felt like a nod to a few of the classic horror characters we grew up with. Kudos to Jada Harris who plays Diana Freeman! That was a lot of emotional weight for a young actor to carry and she was amazing!
Topsy was a character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book many of us endured as required reading in school. Her character was the quintessential jigaboo. If you are unfamiliar with the term jigaboo, it was a derogatory word used to mock the physical features of African Americans, like the term pickaninny. They were characterized by hair that was strewn all about the head, dark skin, and big, pink lips. And they were always portrayed as unintelligent. For the purposes of the show, they added Bopsy, Topsy’s friend (maybe sister).
I don’t know about y’all, but I was creeped out behind those two little demons!!!!! From their stalking of Diana, to the way they always stayed just out of her reach, to their jerky and often comical dance moves… they were the stuff of young nightmares.
I felt for Ruby as she stood at the gate of Christina’s house, hands shaking from pent up rage, tears of exhaustion streaking down her face. I wasn’t afraid of what the man questioning her was about to do… I was afraid of what may be unlatched in Ruby if he kept questioning her. She was on the precipice of loosing her proverbial shit; a place many of us recognize in this constant pressure cooker of racial tension.
William smoothly arrives in time to save Ruby from herself. He’s tender with her as he performs the very intimate act of giving her a bath, a gesture we’ve seen from him before. He kisses Ruby, which she initially enjoys, but then rebuffs. She chooses, for the first time, to become intimate with William as Miss Davenport instead. She uses sex with William to numb the pain and to make her forget, if only for a moment. The ending of that scene was… weird, and powerful, and beautiful, and… It was just as Christina said… like we were watching Ruby be reborn. But that conversation she had with Christina right after!!!!! Ruby spoke for many of us in that moment.
Despite how many people feel about their complicated relationship, Christina and Ruby connect because they can identify with one another’s pain and loneliness; trauma bonding can be very strong. They have both experienced being invisible and trying to achieve a full life while being confined to the space of someone else’s shadow. However, Ruby is at a crossroads. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Christina – Straight. No Chaser.
Speaking of Christina… she has some of the rawest lines of the show. She’s the bad “guy,” (no pun intended) but she’s always dropping truth bombs. “No, I don’t care… I don’t think that you really do either… You wanted to hide from the fact that even on today of all days, you were a woman who wanted what she wanted.” Also, “Most men with God complexes wanna live in heaven but not hell, failing to understand that God is both.”
Christina is struck by what Ruby said to her, despite her seemingly unbothered demeanor. Her feelings for Ruby drive her to pay two men to assault, mutilate, and kill her, as was done to Emmett. Was anyone else holding their breath during this scene? It is one thing to have read the account of how his life was taken. It is totally another to see it acted out on human flesh. Then, for the storyteller to flip it on the audience and only allow us to see it visited upon a White woman so that those who only understand whiteness may experience the brutality… those crafty folks in that writer’s room know exactly what they are doing.
Ji-Ah shows up unannounced and Leti comes face-to-face with Tic’s ex-lover. Leti allows Ji-Ah to await Tic’s return; the two of them sitting in awkward silence. After Tic’s meeting with Christina, he heads back to the house. He knows Ji-Ah is inside as soon as he approaches the steps. He enters ready for conflict. Tic asks Ji-Ah if she is a succubus. She confirms she is a Kamiho. Ji-Ah is unable to answer any of Tic’s questions about the cause of his death. Leti realizes that Ji-Ah’s feelings for Tic are what has brought her to America. With Ji-Ah having no real answers and no information of substance to help, Leti storms off, having had enough of hearing about Ji-Ah and Tic’s past. Tic not-so-politely tells Ji-Ah to get out with venom to spare. I was actually a little shocked at how cruel he was to her.
Leti is pissed that she had to learn of his supernatural experience in that way. She kicks Tic out and then asks him where he’s going… (picture me rolling my eyes because sometimes we do some silly stuff). Tic leaves with the intention of casting a protection spell. Unbeknownst to Leti, Tic has gotten the information he needs from Christina in order to do so.
Leti heads off to meet with Christina to make a deal for Tic’s safety, but ends up receiving the incantation for herself. Surely, she made this decision because of the baby. It was a smart one…
Will the Real Montrose Please Stand Up
Montrose IS FINALLY redeeming himself. I loved the conversation they had on the street. Tic asks Montrose if he cheated on his momma. Montrose tries his best to explain why and how he chose the life that he did. Fear drove him to hide who he was. Dora needed someone. They chose to have a family. It was a choice. There seemed to be a moment of healing between the two.
When Tic revealed the Lovecraft Country book in his possession was written by his son, my mouth dropped! Montrose volunteers to help Tick with the protection spell. The two of them trying to cast that spell was hilarious. Montrose said he mixes up words and you are going to let HIM read the spell? After the spell was cast and nothing happened, there was a comical moment between them as they tried to figure out if it worked. Maybe these two will have a great relationship from here on out.
- The Creme of Wheat man’s eyes followed Diana as she ran away from the alley.
- The changing cover of Uncle Tom’s Cabin gives us the first clue that Diana’s mind has been attacked.
- We learn that was Hirem’s arm stuck in the lock in episode 4.
- “Stop Dat Knocking” from The Early Minstrel Show was used to enhance the creepiness of Topsy and Bopsy. (Thank you, CJ Lawrence) Minstrel shows were plays where White actors, in blackface, portrayed Black characters who embodied the most offensive of stereotypes. That was the entertainment of the early 19th century.
- The sing-song rhyme the young, white children sang as they jumped rope was about Topsy. The lyrics are disturbing.
- The speech used while Diana was preparing to go to battle with the jigaboos was given by eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler. The speech was given to remind people about the often forgotten Black women and girls lost to gun violence. (Thanks, Delorise L.)
- While explaining the invulnerability incantation to Leti, Christina mentions that she was the first to realize it can be used to heal. I’ve a feeling she told Leti that on purpose, considering her plans for the equinox.
- Tic is being super protective of Leti. Why hasn’t Leti figured out that he knows about the baby? Why is she afraid to tell him?
- Tic told Leti about Hippolyta going through the time portal, but has seemingly held out about his own experience. Is he trying to protect her from what he knows about the future?
- Did Tic give Christina the key to the time machine because she doesn’t have the orrery with its coordinates to the location of the machine?
- Did Tic know of Christina’s plan to kill him when he met her at the cemetery or did he learn that later from reading the book?
- How did Ji-Ah know where to find Tic? Did the Mudang tell her?
- Why did Christina choose to experience Emmett’s murder as herself and not as William?
- Is there a difference between the invulnerability incantation Christina casts on Leti and the protection spell Tic uses on himself? If so, what is it.
- Are the shoggoths/vampires (whatever the heck those things are) connected to the protection spell and/or Braithewhite blood?
- Why was the shoggoth that protected Tic black, while the others have been grayish/white? (I didn’t even catch that. Thanks, Sarah T!)
- What did the jigaboos do to Diana? Is she dead or in some state of suspended animation? Will Christina bring her back at Ruby’s request?
I swear I try to keep these short, but they throw SO MUCH at us in one episode! I’m sorry, y’all. LOL