On the hottest day of the summer, the characters of Lovecraft Country face the creepiest monster yet as all the secrets and plotting of the past seven episodes come together in preparation for the end. And hanging over it all is the recent brutal murder of Emmett Till and the shockwave that this horrible crime sends through the Black community.
The episode opens at Emmett Till’s funeral, as huge crowds gather outside, waiting to enter and pay their respects. For one of the first times in the series, the whole family is there (save for Hippolyta, who is still missing somewhere in time and space). The focus of this episode is on Dee (Jada Harris), daughter of Hippolyta and George and the artist behind the Orynthia Blue comics. They’re initially uneasy about bringing her to the funeral, where the sun is beating down and the stench of rotten death is in the air. But as Montrose tells them, the sad truth is that it’s a right of passage for children in America. Dee is clearly hurting however. Her father is dead, her mother is missing, and her best friend lies mutilated in the church in front of her. It doesn’t take long before she runs away.
The streets are empty, with all the shops closed “For Emmett”. Dee sees a group of girls laughing and having a good time, and shouts at them to stop. After all, to her there is nothing to laugh about. Before long, Son of Adam and Chief of Police Lancaster shows up. He’s found the comic left behind by her mother before she disappeared through time. Sensing that he’s not going to get anything out of her, he spits on her. It’s a gross moment and uncomfortable to watch, but it becomes apparent that he has in fact cursed her. And this is where things get really creepy. As she continues on, angry at the world, she sees that she’s being followed by two girls. There’s no way around it, these girls are pure nightmare fuel. I found them incredibly unsettling, and I don’t scare easy. It feels like a creepier version of It Follows. Wherever Dee goes, it doesn’t take long for these two caricatures to catch up.
The pair are a couple of old racist stereotypes. The main girl is Topsy, a character from a anti-slavery book (seen here in the episode) who went on to become a character of ridicule in minstrel shows around the country. It’s the stigma of being a black girl, following Dee around, showing that no matter how hard she tries, she can never really escape this idea that society has for people like her. She also is unable to tell anyone about it, or risk choking. So Dee is left entirely alone, trying to figure how how to survive this nightmare. And eventually, they do catch up to her, despite her best efforts. Dee’s story ends on a cliffhanger, as she is attacked by the ghouls that only she can see. Luckily, the rest of the family has experience in this area, as we saw elsewhere this week.
Tic’s in trouble this week, with the return of Ji-Ah – his succubus lover from Korea. She comes to warn him about his impending death, though she has little to offer in the way of details. And discovering Tic’s run-in with magic pisses Leti off – after all, couldn’t he have said anything? To be honest, I’m on Tic’s side here. There’s nothing he could have said that would make sense, especially as he didn’t understand it fully. I do, however, think he could have mentioned something when things started getting weird in Ardham. I’m not sure it would have helped, but he could have said something. As for, Ji-Ah, she has very little to do in this episode. I can only imagine she has a bigger role to play in the final act, but what that is is unknown to me. She’s original to the show. Maybe she’ll steal the soul of Captain Lancaster? Or even Christina (might be the only way to defeat her with the invulnerability). We’ll have to wait and see.
Tic also has a long overdue chat with his father. Montrose is the most complicated character on the show. He’s done some really dastardly things, but it’s difficult not to feel sorry for him and his struggle with his sexuality. And it’s clear that he loves his son, even if he’s never really been able to show it. Here, he offers to cast the spell of invulnerability on his son, knowing full well that it could kill him in the process. It’s the ultimate sacrifice of a parent, and it goes a long way to redeeming the character, even if his murder of Yahima still looms large. Despite their best efforts, however, it appears that the spell doesn’t work (or does it!?).
The magic is developed quite a bit in this episode, and it’s clear that it’s not going to be easy for Tic to learn. But Tic needs to be invulnerable. That book he retrieved at the end of last episode, the one titled ‘Lovecraft Country’ is written by his son in the future. Hippolyta wasn’t the only one who travelled through time. Tic has read it cover to cover and learnt that Christina plans to sacrifice him to gain her own immortality (and he also points out some of the differences to the show; Dee is a boy, George survived, Christina is a man. All cool references for book readers!). They only have until the Autumnal Equinox to figure the spell out, six days away, so they have to be quick.
After Captain Lancaster decides that Dee is not going to be any help, he marches his men to the Winthrop House to claim the orrery himself. But upon arriving, he discovers the house is protected and he can’t enter. It’s a moment of victory over the disgusting police captain, but it’s short lived as he and his men open fire on the house. Tic arrives just in time to have a gun pointed at him. Before he can be shot to pieces, one of the many-eyed monsters from the beginning of the series appears and starts ripping the officers to pieces. It’s a deliriously gory and over the top moment of action, as officers are thrown through the air and torn to shreds. The best moment is when Lancaster loses an arm (and maybe dies?) and his gun fires into a nearby car, blowing it up. It’s a critical failure straight out of the Call of Cthulhu TRPG. The episode ends with the creature seemingly being friendly to Tic and Leti. Was this Christina’s doing? After all, she needs Tic alive so she can kill him herself. Or was his and Montrose’s spell a success after all?
Overall, this episode throws everything it’s got at the wall and for my money it all sticks. Plots come together and character reveal secrets to one another. Ruby comes clean to Leti and everything is in the open. All the pieces are in place for two insane final episodes. But first, they need to exorcise the creepy demon from Dee. Next episode promises to be anything but boring.