HBO’s Lovecraft Country: Meet Me in Daegu (Episode 6) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country, Meet Me in Daegu, we’re, well, just all over the place with this series as we now head back to the Korean War to see Atticus (Jonathan Majors) interact with a character we’ve seen a bunch throughout in small portions – Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung).
Seriously, what the hell Lovecraft Country? Just when it seems like we’re taking some steps forward in learning about Atticus’ fate and Cristina’s (Abbey Lee) plans, we take ten steps back just to introduce another storyline and character that gives no clear indication as to what her role is going to be going forward. Again, it’s a perfectly interesting story on its own, but the little glimpse of a deadly future for Atticus isn’t enough for any real sense of progression. Things really need to get going in these next few episodes and questions are going to get satisfying answers because the series is seriously getting to the point where all these story diversions are going to make the answers worth it. Regardless, we do get another interesting plot thread that makes the episode a solid watch as we delve into the effects of the Korean war.
Now, in a previous review, I might have said that Atticus served in World War II, but I was actually wrong and he ended up serving in the Korean War where he met Ji-Ah – a nursing student. A lover of American cinema and a bit of a loner, Ji-Ah is kind of an anomaly within her small Korean community. She lives with her mother after the death of the patriarch of their family and her mother is insisting that she brings a man of her own home. It’s actually a nice introduction to the issues that Ji-Ah faces as a single Korean woman. Like I said, Ji-Ah feels like she is an outsider in her own community as she struggles to make any male connections and stand out from the crowded female competition in her profession. It’s a really nice way to connect with her, but there’s more to her that’s absolutely horrifying to see.
Upon seeing her bring a man home for sex, a visually disgusting secret of Ji-Ah that makes her someone you’ll never forget. To be honest, this episode, in particular, has a lot of graphic sex scenes, but it puts a horror spin on them through Ji-Ah is a Kumiho. A Kumiho is a mythical creature in Korean mythology that is a nine-tailed fox that can transform into a beautiful woman in order to seduce men and steal their souls. It’s kind of like a succubus, for those that know them, but way creepier with what it does to steal souls. The visual of Ji-Ah’s “tails” just absolutely eviscerating this random guy is disgusting, stomach-turning, and what I imagine tentacle porn must be like. It makes you instantly shudder and is so sudden that it totally catches you off guard. Also, with it ending in a gigantic blood explosion, it’s unbelievable gore like never before.
After this mind-blowing moment, probably one of the best of the series so far, we get some details about Ji-Ah’s “condition.” So, long story short, Ji-Ah was repeatedly raped by her father when she was younger, so her mother asked a shaman to have the spirit of the Kumiho embody Ji-Ah so that she would kill her father. However, Ji-Ah doesn’t contain any memories of her former self as the Kumiho takes control of things and absorbs the memories of the men that she kills. For Ji-Ah’s original memories to return and for her to take control of her body again, she needs to consume the souls of one hundred men – which her mother informs us she is two away from achieving. It’s cool to see the series put a horrific spin on Korean folklore and there’s even some touching emotional turmoil that builds Ji-Ah’s character well.
The Kumiho almost acts like a robot becoming sentient as she begins to question if she really wants to fulfill her mother’s wishes and if there is a greater purpose for her. The dialogue between Ji-Ah and her mom is filled with tension as the terms of their agreement become looser and looser as Ji-Ah begins to feel emotions that her mother claimed she would never feel. It’s a great little arc of someone finally discovering her true self and Chung’s performance heightens all of the building emotion and rebellion. Not to mention, having it all come during the beginning of the American invasion for the Korean War adds so much to both the setting and Ji-Ah’s arc.
Once the American’s invade Korea, you can really feel a distinct change in the tone and attitude of the environment as paranoia and bloodshed begin to infect the land. In a similar vein to The Terror: Infamy, this episode gives viewers a perspective on how life changes during wartime – especially when you’re the one being invaded. No longer is she able to escape into a dark room to watch a movie for a few hours and she, along with everyone around, is faced with the constant worry of accusations of being a communist spy. It gives the war a legitimate presence and some horrifying visuals as we see Ji-Ah and other nurses try to help wounded soldiers. It’s pretty brutal to watch and is also a great example of how racism doesn’t die in warfare as wounded soldiers call the nurses derogatory names and even lashes out at them physically. This example of racism during the war is even further discussed when Ji-Ah begins to develop a romantic connection with Atticus.
Although their initial meeting isn’t as romantic with him being part of a crew that executed nurses in her rotation in order to weed out a communist traitor, the two develop a very real connection. It’s that kind of romance where two people see how they are truly different than those around them and fall in love with that uniqueness they see in each other. Atticus also opens up more as we see him reading Montrose’s (Michael K. Williams) favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, talk about his similar desires for escapism, and just being a much happier and jovial person than we’ve seen him be. Honestly, their relationship is one of the most heartwarming and wholesome aspects of the series thus far.
I will say that their relationship didn’t build up any kind of suspense or have any stakes since it was pretty obvious that Atticus wasn’t going to fall to the same fate as the other men. He’s obviously still alive and it’s really odd that she hasn’t come up at all since he knows about her Kumiho powers and tentacle tails. Like, why does anything he sees now surprise him that much when he gets attacked by Ji-Ah’s tails the last time they have sex – which predictably ends their relationship. Hell, it doesn’t even remind him of that time and its just weird that he doesn’t bring it up. Plot holes aside, it seems like Ji-Ah is about to become a big part of the main story thread, if this series doesn’t want to get distracted by anything else, as she sees that Atticus is going to die and wants to change his fate.
Episode six of Lovecraft Country, once again, nearly derails the series’ story by going back to the past to formally introduce us to a new character and halts any progression or momentum from last week. Although Ji-Ah is a fitting addition and her story is quite nice, next week HAS to be the start of the series delivering something with everything its been setting up and be something more than what it is.