Lovecraft Country – Strange Case (S1E5)
Mind = Blown. That is all. That is this week’s review.
Just kidding. And for the record, The BlackWithNoChaser Facebook Page is bomb. We have some smart folks who are really figuring things out before they are actually revealed! If you’re not a member, you might want to like the page.
Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! First of all, can you imagine waking up de-melanated? I know that’s not a word, but y’all! Ruby is initially frightened by the transformation and later horrified at the process of returning to herself, AS WAS I! (Kudos to the make-up and special effects crews!) She then takes some time to enjoy the perks of her newly-found whiteness; traffic is stopped for her, she’s given free ice cream, and instead of working herself to the bone, she has the leisure time to read the paper. Initially, she sees this as an opportunity; one that leads her to that job she really wanted. She later understands that while her whiteness gets her things and attention, her blackness won’t really allow her to enjoy it. Not yet, anyway.
There are soooooo many nuggets in this episode when it comes to Ruby in the white woman’s skin. 1) Though Ruby tried to be nice to Tamara, there was a certain disdain she had for Tamara because she was not as educated or skilled as Ruby felt she should be. They stepped on some toes, because we showl do that to one another. 2) Mr. Lowe was attracted to Ruby even though she appeared to be white. He had not ever flirted with the other white, female employees. Her skin was white, but that essence was still made of magic and could not be hidden. 3) Its interesting to watch as Ruby gets to hear the private conversations and attitudes towards Blacks when the white employees believe her to be Miss Davenport. It makes her angry and sick to see how they talk about Tamara, but then how they behave on their “safari” to Denmark Vesey’s Bar. There are more, but those were the ones that really stood out to me.
That red-bottom shoe rape scene. There are no words.
Black Boy Joy and Pain
Both Tic and Montrose run through a gamut of emotions in this episode. First, Montrose receives a well-deserved @$$ whipping from Tic for killing Yahima and destroying the pages. Tic’s rage is so explosive when he unleashes years of pent-up resentment for his father that Leti becomes afraid of him. Later, a calm Tic apologize to Leti for his behavior in both word and gesture. Tic and Leti have a tender moment while she is in the bathtub and we are lulled into feeling all is well.
Montrose with a posture of sadness and shame throughout most of this episode. He turns to Sammy after Tic lays “dem hands” on him. Sammy soothes him and then takes him to the local gay bar for the drag ball. This is the first time we see Montrose smile and let loose. I wonder how many people, not just those who are battling with their own sexuality, walk around unhappy and angry because they do not feel okay to just be who they are…
*Sidenote: I’ve seen numerous posts asking/discussing if Michael Kenneth Williams (Montrose), Nicco Annan (Uncle Clifford from P-Valley), and J. Alphonse Nicholson (Lil Murda from P-Valley) are gay. To you I say, if you are worried about what consenting adults are doing in their own bedrooms, you need to find some hobbies. It’s a show. They are actors who must be doing a damn good job to make you wonder. Who cares otherwise?
At a lodge party, we learn from Christina that William was actually the heir to the lodge located in Chicago. Ambition causes Captain Lancaster to make an attempt on William’s life and he believes he has succeeded. However, William is “saved” by a serum developed by Hirem Epstein and used by Christina. This serum is also what allows Ruby to transform from herself to the crazy lady with the dogs that we saw in episode 2.
As Ruby is completing the favor William has asked of her, she ends up in the Captain’s closet with the prisoner. As she tries to prevent herself from becoming sick at the sight (and probably smell) of the captor, she watches the Captain from her hiding place. Captain Lancaster is nervous that he is sweating at the party. One of his lackeys expresses that he can’t smell “it”. When the Captain removes his shirt, we see that some of his skin has been replaced with the skin of a Black person. He douses himself in cologne and puts on a fresh shirt. Obviously, he was not only supplying victims for Hirem, but was also participating in the experiments.
- As William is getting dressed after violently helping Ruby out of her white skin for the first time, Christina’s clothes are hanging right next to his in the closet space.
- Sing a Black Girl’s Song from Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf is playing as Ruby is enjoying taking her new skin for a whirl.
- The vanilla ice cream is significant. In the Jim Crow South, Black people were not allowed to eat vanilla ice cream publicly. (Thanks, Delorise L.!)
- The term “ofay” is used for the first time. Ofay is an offensive term for white people used by black people. The origin has often been attributed as having roots in Gullah/Geechee language; however, the origin is unknown.
- The symbol on the stone Christina gives Ruby to place in Captain Lancaster’s office is also the symbol on the protection spell Tic shows Leti.
- Sammy lives in Cabrini Green, the notorious housing projects where Candyman is from.
- The drag ball features Sammy as Sarah Vaughn
- The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is playing on the television when William is transforming back to Christina in front of Ruby. This is the book after which the episode is named. (Shout out to Nicole H. for posting that. You saved me some research time again.)
- Is the woman from the village (Miss Davenport) dead? Why was she killed?
- Are the people used in the metamorphosis (William and Miss Davenport) still alive with their own consciousness, or are they simply a shell? Also: William got swag, y’all.
- Is the serum used to transform Christina and Ruby made of blood?
- What “loot” did the closet prisoner steal? Is the guy in the closet dead, but being kept animated?
- Hannah appears to Tic in a dream. She has the book and she mouths something to Tic that we cannot understand. What is Hannah trying to tell him?
- Why did Ruby seem so surprised at what was happening to William, having been through the transformation several times? (Not that William was actually Christina; she should have been surprised at that.)
- We see Tic has discovered the words “suffer” and “die” from the pages. What prompts him to call Ji-Ah and what did she supposedly know before this moment?
- Tic asks Ji-Ah, “Well, are you?” She hangs up. Is she what? In the previews for next week, we see some strange tentacle-like appendage coming from her ear. Could she be an… (wait for it) alien?
Bonus: Montrose is also the name of a “gayborhood” in Houston, TX that was founded in 1911 by an oil tycoon. (Thanks, Tangala S.!)