TV Series Lovecraft Country: Season 1/ Episode 5 "Strange Case" – Recap/ Review (with...
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Lovecraft Country: Season 1/ Episode 5 “Strange Case” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Just when you think Lovecraft Country can’t get more bizarre, Ruby wakes up in a brand new skin, William’s secret is revealed, and Montrose goes to see Sammy.


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Director(s)Cheryl Dunye
Writer(s)Misha Green, Jonathan I. Kidd, Sonya Winton-Odamtten
Aired (HBO)9/13/2020
Introduced This Episode
HillaryJamie Neumann
Captain Seamus LancasterMac Brandt
TamaraSibongile Mlambo
PaulDavid Tanbra
SammyJon Hudson Odom

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Recap

Beating Some Sense Into Me – Sammy, Montrose, Leti, Atticus

With it being clear he killed Yahima, Atticus nearly beats Montrose to the point of killing him, and if it wasn’t for Leti having multiple men drag him away, Montrose could have died. However, all he ends up with is a battered eye and seemingly being sent back to his childhood. Well, that and into the home of Sammy, who you may think he has sex with to feel dominant and powerful, but that might not be it.

Remember, Montrose was beaten by his dad for being sweet and far kinder than he ever was to Atticus. So could it be his father discovered his son was a homosexual at a young age? Heck, did George possibly impregnate Dora for the sake of cover? As was made clear, Montrose and Sammy’s relationship isn’t necessarily a secret. However, the question of how long it has been going on and if it is Montrose’s first is worth asking.

You Gotta Let Go Of What’s Weighing You Down – Leti, Atticus

Leti in the tub talking to Atticus.

It’s one thing to see a man use his strength to protect you but a whole other to see his rage unleashed and he nearly kill a man, never mind his father. This scares Leti, and it makes her wonder if Atticus continuing to research and try to decipher the pages of Titus’ book is a good idea. After all, this magic doesn’t seem anything beyond the devil’s magic and with seeing a whole new side to Atticus because of it, aiding this seems wrong.

Yet, it may not just be the fear of his anger or ambitions getting to Leti. There is also the fear of getting too close to Atticus as well. For with him seemingly ready to pack up and leave once he has answers, investing in him, tolerating and dealing with his anger and developing madness, is it worth it? Unlike her mother and sister, love doesn’t come easy for Leti, but she does recognize her feelings are developing just like her pictures.

This she expresses to Atticus and while it is clear Ji-ah, back in Korea, still has some sort of hold on him, it seems he is ready to love again. If not, since he never had a good example growing up, learn what love with and through Leti is.

Life As A White Woman/Man – Ruby, William, Christina, Paul, Hillary, Tamara, Captain Seamus Lancaster

Hillary (Jamie Neumann) who is Ruby's white alter ego.
Hillary (Jamie Neumann)

Okay, so to get the big surprise out of the way, Christina has been masquerading as William for quite some time. It isn’t clear when she started to do this, but it seems to be so she could have access to the Sons of Adam and use William’s skin to usurp Captain Seamus Lancaster and be the head of his sect. Now, how Ruby plays a role in this is that, since Christina wants allies, no matter the color, she gives Ruby the same potion she uses, and this allows Ruby to become a white woman – one named Hillary.

This leads to not so much eye-opening moments as much as confirmations for Ruby. It confirms to her that her credentials, as a white woman, would lead her to heights barely imaginable as a Black woman. Life as Hillary confirms what white women say and think about, and how they act behind closed doors. The same, of course, goes for how white men act when amongst their own, or when they assume they can take what they want.

For Ruby, this is a bit overwhelming at first, intoxicating at a certain point, then frustrating. Yet, perhaps what really angers her is Tamara. Truly, Tamara got her job on a whim and not because of her education. She was at the right place at the right time, and you can see Ruby hating her for it. At least until she realized it isn’t Tamara who she should hate, but men like Paul. The gatekeepers who keep those like Ruby too afraid, no matter how much education or experience they have, to even try.

Paul (David Tanbra) being seduced.
Paul (David Tanbra)

So, after Ruby as Hillary, Paul, and Tamara go to the southside, and she sees Paul nearly rape a girl, Ruby decides to take Christina’s advice and be uninterrupted and basically sodomize Paul with her heel. Mind you, this happens before Ruby learns Christina has become Paul. Yet, considering how Christina gave Ruby freedom, how long can she really stay mad?

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Considering what Ruby did to Paul’s anus, shouldn’t there have been some kind of disclaimer and not just the usual, stuff? She did the kind of things that, if things were the other way around, would get that kind of disclaimer.
  2. Was Christina masquerading as Paul when seducing Ruby? If not, when did Captain Lancaster specifically kill William so he could be the head of his local chapter? Also, taking note William probably learned from Christina, how was he vulnerable enough to be hurt?

Review

Highlights

The Larger Themes You Can Extract

Ruby really gets to step up this episode and touches upon so much of the Black experience. For whether it is her reprimanding Tamara for not being twice as good, being anxious over lack of perfection, and not one of the most educated in the room, it is shedding her whiteness. These themes, as a Black person, hit you while watching Ruby live her life as Hillary and really pushes you to think.

Tamara (Sibongile Mlambo) being chastised by Hillary
Tamara (Sibongile Mlambo)

One example being Ruby, as Hillary, being angry at Tamara for not living up to the twice as good speech many of us get. Tamara had a 7th-grade education, knew how to speak properly, and dress – that was it. Yet, here is Ruby, with a high school diploma, certificates up the wazoo, and her own hesitation led to her not getting a job she made herself overly qualified for.

It really speaks to how many people of color, especially if they feel like they are integrating a space, being the one who could allow for more diversity, feel pressured if they allow themselves to be. Because seeing Ruby freak out about Tamara’s lack of perfection reminds you how, as much as racism exists, the stress that comes from it is partly internalized by the expectation of it.

Mind you, this isn’t us saying racism doesn’t exist. However, I think one of the takeaways from this episode can be that, in prepping for the worst and hoping for the best, often you can lose opportunities due to overthinking a situation. If not the fear that, to compensate for not being thin, or for being dark, a woman, or other reasons you can be seen as less than, you don’t seek, or demand, what you deserve. Thus leaving the thought, are you, due to expecting the worst manifesting it if not a more terrible scenario?

Montrose Is Free?

Not to be outdone, Montrose too stirs up a few thoughts as we find him in an unexpected environment. Granted, it was hinted Montrose did mess around with Sammy, and it might have been that, previously, he messed around with Sammy just for some ass and to feel like a man. Yet, considering how much Montrose was abused and how he abused his son, you have to wonder whether Montrose being gay had to deal with it?

Could it be his father caught him in his mother’s shoes? Maybe Montrose being too affectionate with boys? Heck, as noted above, when it came to Dora, did she discover Montrose with a man and between George, Montrose, and her, something was worked out? Maybe with her being a beard or George giving her a child so she could be happy?

Sammy (Jon Hudson Odom) in drag.
Sammy (Jon Hudson Odom)

Also, taking note of Sammy, what’s his story? Never mind, what was the gay/ drag scene like back in that day? Sammy clearly has found a rather notably sized community, and while his actual drag might be him at the bar, it seems he is very in tune with his feminine side.

So taking note Sammy and Montrose seem to be more than screw buddies now, could this mean Montrose is free from the shackles of his childhood or have we spoke too soon?

Christina Remains Hard To Pin Down

Being that Christina is blonde-haired, has light-colored eyes, and is in pursuit of power, there is this desire to see her as something evil. Yet, her actions do conflict with this. She gave Leti money to buy a house, saved her, and Atticus’ life, allowed Ruby the chance to experience life as a white woman, and has rarely asked for much or shown herself as trifling.

But, there is always this feeling the shoe could drop any minute. That creates this sort of anxiety that we appreciate, for it makes Christina truly feel unpredictable.

On The Fence

Leti and Atticus’ Relationship & How Magic Plays A Role

With Ruby, Christina, and Montrose stepping up, Atticus and Leti playing the same back and forth game since we’ve met them led to them losing their luster. For as cute as they remain, now their romance feels like it needs more than sex and some basic level intimacy. Unfortunately, it seems they have set the bar to where they need an adventure and their lives to be threatened for the quiet moments, they just seem boring in comparison.

Add in this whole Ji-ah situation, and it makes you wonder who and what Leti can be without Atticus at this point? Also, how can they keep this search for magic and discovery interesting for a character who, if they aren’t doing some life-risking adventure, doesn’t bring much interest to their research?

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Amari Allahhttps://wherever-i-look.com
I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and from movies, TV, the occasional book, play, and Broadway show, have been trying to bridge the gap between a critic and an avid lover of various forms of media.

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Review Summary

With huge leaps for Montrose, Ruby, and Christina, it makes Leti and Atticus taking a beat understandable, yet also disappointing.
The Larger Themes You Can Extract
95 %
Montrose Is Free?
87 %
Christina Remains Hard To Pin Down
89 %
Leti and Atticus' Relationship & How Magic Plays A Role
74 %

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