HBO’s Lovecraft Country: Jig-a-Bobo (Episode 8) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country, Jig-a-Bobo, all of the pieces that have been building throughout the series start to come together as the black Chicago community deals with a tragic loss.
After Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) has gone and disappeared, Dee (Jada Harris) is now all alone and unfortunately the new target for Captain Lancaster (Mac Brandt) as he searches for answers within Leti’s (Jurnee Smollett) house. As we jump back into things, we see that Dee, who’s left in the group at this point, and the entire black Chicago community is mourning the murder of Emmett Till – a fourteen year old African American boy from Chicago who was lynched in Mississippi after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s store. Admittedly it’s kind of strange thing to be thrown into since there has been no mention of this character, especially as a friend of Dee’s, but it still hits a strong emotional chord as Till’s murder is based on real events. Till’s murder is still a case that’s heavily discussed to this day and it’s another way that this series continues to excellently acknowledge historical injustice against the black community. Like I said, the connection is a tad strange at first and a little forced since we don’t get any of the events leading up to it, but the impact still hits hard – especially with Dee and Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku).
Losing her close friend, father, and now her mother being MIA, Dee is completely distraught, frustrated, and full of anger about Emmett’s murder. She feels as if her life is being ripped away from her and that she is systematically next to go simply because of the color of her skin. She’s even so upset that she yells and throws rocks at two young giggling girls because of how Emmett’s death has heavily impacted her, and it ends up coming back to bite her in a horrifying way. However, she is about to face much bigger problems with Lancaster and the police as they corner her in an alley. The second they pull up behind her and you see where she is, you can instantly feel your stomach drop as it feels like a scene that’s happened too many times. It’s an example of targeting that vindicates everyone in the black community’s frustrations towards the police that’s touched on even more with Ruby and Christina (Abbey Lee) later in the episode.
Feeling equally frustrated and angry as Dee, Ruby returns to Christina’s house to find her in William’s (Jordan Patrick Smith) skin and the two have sex in the most horrifying fashion imaginable. With Ruby taking the potion again, we get some skin-crawling visuals that makes their sex scene graphic for a very different reason. As they have sex, the potion on Ruby wears off and her white skins starts to rip apart. It’s gory as hell and carries a strong connection to Ruby’s frustrations with how she’s unable to exist peacefully and be accepted as a black woman. Transforming herself into a white woman doesn’t offer Ruby any sort of comfort – it actually disgusts her. She’s become truly sickened by a system that lets murderers of fourteen year old boy walk free, that makes her and thousands of other black families suffer from the injustices they face and attend funerals they shouldn’t have to, and that she cannot walk the North Side without garnering hate from the white folks around her. As she says all of this to Christina in a fit of rage, you can feel her anger and sadness that this is her reality and that it’ll never be Christina’s simply because she’s white. It’s an absolutely amazing performance from Mosaku, who is one of the strongest supporting characters of this series, and it perfectly captures the frustrations many black Americans are currently facing with police brutality and racism.
Christina’s manipulative personality also comes into big play here as she sets up her endgame goal of gaining what the Sons of Adam couldn’t – immortality. While it’s unclear what she’s exactly planning to do with that power once she has it, the seeds are planted for her to gain the power that she desires. Realizing that she’s about to become quite a powerful threat, Atticus (Jonathan Majors) looks to get some help from her, before the option is gone, and ends up getting in the form of a spell of protection. Leti is also offered some protection from Christina since she is pregnant with hers and Atticus’ child. It still seems like Ruby is still a part of Christina’s plan as well since their big blowup didn’t change much and it’s likely that Ruby still fits into a greater future that Christina has planned. Now, while our main heroes now have protection, it looks like Christina has found the immortality that she’s been searching for as we see her survive a gruesome beatdown and drowning with a devilish grin.
Getting back to Dee, her encounter with Lancaster makes her encounter magic for the first time in a way that’s absolutely horrifying as she’s been given a curse that makes her followed by two creepy spirits. Everything with these two spirits is absolutely perfect as they feel incredibly reminiscent with Us, which makes sense given that Jordan Peele is a producer, they carry incredible screen presence. The two spirits take the form of two demented girls, one white and one black, that resemble the two girls on the front cover of the anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The historical tie that leads to some incredibly creepy visuals as the two girls are just creepy as hell and every time they come into the frame things get tenser. The use of “Stop Dat Knocking” by The Early Minstrel Show is excellent and really adds to their appearance in a uniquely chilling way. However, the best aspects to Dee’s stuff this week is Harris’ performance as she really evokes this sense of power that makes her eventually start to fight back and fight for herself. Hopefully, the end of the episode doesn’t signify her end as she really just came into her own strengths and definitely has more to offer.
As for Atticus and Leti this week, they feel the need to get some protection as Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung) makes a return but is more like a foreboding presence for Atticus rather than a loving reunion. Honestly, Ji-Ah’s return was underwhelming since there isn’t a whole lot that comes out of it. It just acts sort of a kick in the ass for them to start doing stuff and it just leads to a major conflict between Atticus and Leti that has them thinking about their future. Nothing too crazy happens with Leti other than her visit from Christina, but a lot happens with Atticus that changes everything we’ve come to know so far.
First of all, Atticus actually went to future while Hippolyta had an inter-dimensional journey and the book that I thought was written by Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) was actually written by his son in the future who is obviously named after Uncle George. It’s an interesting little twist that actually helps mend Atticus and Montrose’s (Michael K. Williams) relationship. Although Atticus is still angry with him for being gay and for his relationship with his mother being a sham, the two bond over Atticus being a father of his own. Montrose is ready to make a sacrifice, if necessary, for Atticus to see his boy be born and be there for him in the future. It’s a nice father/son moment that shows how their relationship has come a long way. Things aren’t exactly perfect and there’s certainly some resentment that will come to light I’m sure, but it’s very heartwarming to see Montrose want to step up and accept what’s happening around him. Also, it’s cool to hear Atticus actually talk about some differences between the show and the novel, like Dee actually being a boy named Horace in the novel and Uncle George surviving Ardham, for a delightfully meta nod to the source material.
The big thing that happens though is the magical moment that stems from Montrose and Atticus trying to use a spell that gives Atticus protection. Although they don’t think it works at first, it ends up being the thing that saves them when the Lancaster and the police come knocking on Leti’s door. Honestly, there’s so many awesome things in this sequence that I don’t know where to start. The fact that the protection power on the house from episode two still works on Lancaster is amazing moments that happens so suddenly, Christina’s protection on Leti working is very cool as bullets bounce off of her, and the best part is that the creatures from the first episode make a reappearance as Atticus’ new protectors. It’s hard not to have the biggest grin when seeing Lancaster and the police just get demolished by this creature, which has black skin now likely to represent Atticus as its master, as it’s just gory horror at its finest. With Ji-Ah and this creature now at Atticus’ disposal and the group having some protection, they’re looking like a stronger squad that could give Christina a formidable match.
This week’s episode finally puts the pieces together in one of it’s best episodes yet as it’s finally able to do what I’ve wanted it to for weeks – reinvigorate my interest in the series. There’s finally a good direction within the main story, the side stuff with Dee is awesome without it having to consume the main plot, and there’s so much amazing horror and historical aspect to Jig-a-Bobo that embody everything great this series does. Finally, it’s nice to be watching Lovecraft Country.