Lovecraft Country Episode 5 is titled Strange Case, which could be a nod to the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, an allegory about the duality of human beings and how there's a lightness and darkness in all of us.
In the book and subsequent movie retelling, Dr Jekyll, when he drinks a potion, manifests into the brutish murderous monster Mr Hyde to a point where Mr Hyde takes over completely.
In the show we see the characters all dealing with their dualities, from Ruby all the way to Atticus so let's dig in...
We start with the main character for this story: Ruby, played with such ease by Wunmi Mosaku.
Her embrace of her dark side is presented as a journey in the episode. The evidence of it is how she embraces the magic/wish fulfilment moment of being a white lady.
In great Lovecraft Country fashion, the wish fulfilment trope, which we have seen in many films like Freaky Friday is not glossed over as just a fun take ala There's a Zulu on my Stoep but it's part of the social commentary that the show does well.
The show comments on how being white gives Ruby access and a level of normality that as a black woman she does not have at all.
From being able to get that job she wants, to being able to sit in a park, to sitting in a restuarant and having the police have your back. It's summarized by William Nice's line of interruption.
That white folks are not interrupted as much as black people about where to live, work, wear, the police etc.
If you needed a lesson in white privilege, the episode shows you that. While we saying "Amen" to the show's visualizing of white privilege, the show reminds us that we are in a horror/fantasy series.
The more Ruby uses the potion, the more of her dark side comes up, as she starts to be comfortable with the power of passing for white and what magic gives her, which is crystalized by the Cardi B-scored scene where she violates the manager for trying to sexually assault Tamara.
I will never see stilettos in the same way.
Although a powerful scene, affirming Ruby's power, it also shows her leaning more to her dark side and makes me wonder where will this lead Ruby as a person. For what we do changes us more than what we say... so I'm keen to see where it goes.
Ruby's story also gave us a confirmation of an interweb theory on William and Christina being one person.
William being the male idolized white male figure for Christina. Christina uses William's male privilege to get into spaces that she can't as a white woman. So her and Ruby have a lot in common
William is clearly Christina's projection of the wholesome all American dapper dude whilst she is the embodiment of the dark/villain.
That being the case, it makes one wonder what Christina's entanglements with Ruby will do to Leti's sister. Will she also end up as the bad guy?
Talking about bad guys, Montrose ended last week's episode on a very bad note. For that he gets a few punches and exiled from the trio.
He gets to finally embrace what he probably sees as his dark side, which is his sexuality. The quiet dance scenes were powerful and we got him to see him smile for the first time.
Yet, does that excuse the abuse, lies and murder he has committed? The series has clearly shown that this duality of passing for straight during the day and going Brokeback Mountain at night is rooted in some of his violence.
Now that he seems to have accepted who he is, where to next? This is an interesting development for Montrose but will Atticus accept him?
Atticus has showed his shades of Mr Hyde in this episode and previous one, especially when in comes to his anger and use of violence. Poor Leti saw a very monstrous side to Atticus and the question persists: will his rage be dealt with or will it come to destroy Atticus?
Episode 5 gave us some answers and some great monster transformations that would make Bruce Banner go green with envy.
There are some breadcrumbs plot-wise that were dropped: Lancaster (the police captain) vying for leadership of the Chicago chapter has a re-animated dead body in his closet and black skin attached to his torso!?!
Looking forward to getting some answers on what this is all that about.
The plot between Atticus and his Korean friend over the phone is deepening and in next week's episode it appears we are going to find out more about their relationship. I'm intrigued.
I don't know what the reveals will mean to the budding romance between Leti and Atticus but colour me intrigued.
I was happier with this episode than last week's 'cause it felt less episodic and it didn't require us to do too many giant leaps of logic. Also, more threads are starting to come together.
Although there was no acknowledgement of Hippolyta's absence or whereabouts or the fact that the house has tunnels that magically teleport folks but I guess that's still to come.
It felt like: American Werewolf meets Pretty Woman meets The Fly in Chicago. If last week it was all Action Adventure, this week it's all about body and psychological horror. The game is afoot and I'm really intrigued to see where it's all going.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------* junk ** ja nee ***not bad ****almost perfect *****instant classic