After last week’s reprieve of a bottle episode centering Hippolyta and her galactic adventures, the eighth episode of Lovecraft Country returns to its overarching horror theme.
Dee, like the adults around her, has had to grieve the death of her father despite it largely being a mystery to her. Her mother, Hippolyta is nowhere to be found after she was thrust into an otherworldly realm in the previous episode and in the opening for Jig-a-Bobo we see her in the long line for her best friend, Bobo’s, funeral. Bobo, the episode soon reveals, is in fact Emmet Till, and the opening scene is an enactment of the open casket funeral Mamie Till requested. Needless to say she has had the most difficult summer out of all the characters, but until now not much attention has been paid to her. The adults around her do not really ask how she is doing and when the young girl asks about her father, they are not sure what to tell her and how much of it to reveal- instead, choosing pacifying her with vague responses.
Unlike the other characters, she has not yet had a chance to experience an alternate reality to escape the awful one she currently has to endure, and the introduction to magic she experiences in this episode is nowhere near a balm. Dee storms off, overwhelmed by the funeral, only to get cornered by two police officers who question her about her comic found next to the body of a dead Kansas police officer. Thereafter, the police officer puts a curse on her to stop her from recounting the event to anyone.
For the rest of the episode, Dee is haunted by the ghoulish twin figures, Topsy and Bopsy, resembling the black girl on the cover of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin she sees in her apartment. Topsy, the first appearing picaninny and her counterpart Bopsy chase Dee as they perform a terrifying minstrel-like dance. She is the only one who can see them, and because of the curse, she cannot tell anyone about them. The show has thus far endeavoured to home in on just how violent racial terror has been for black people, and the show’s choice to brazenly turn what was an infantilizing racial caricature into murderous antagonist does just that. The result is a genuinely terrifying hunt that leaves the audience scared for Dee’s life.
While Dee is having what must be the most harrowing day of her life, the adults in her life are too distracted with their own problems to notice. This is the first episode that expansively shows the narrative arcs of nearly all the characters, although we are led to believe that Dee is the focus of this episode. And with the audio from Naomi Wadler’s speech at the March for Our Lives rally in 2018 playing in the background as Dee rides away from the precinct, we are hard pressed not to reckon with the heartbreaking fact that Dee, and the lives of black girls at large, often fall through the cracks.
Ruby returns to Christina’s home seeking comfort from grieving Bobo’s murder before confronting Christina about her apathy to the horrible event. She responds with a blunt “I don’t care,” which is neither disappointing nor surprising. We later on see a re-enactment of the gruesome lynching of Emmet Till on Christina’s body. This was likely the show’s way of forcing the audience to reckon with the violence, without playing into the twisted, voyeuristic normalcy of viewing black trauma on our screens. But the tension of watching this brutal murder that still looms over America’s conscious performed on a white body fell flat, because it was exactly that, a performance. Christina survives, and although she cries after dragging herself out of the water, it is not clear whether she feels any different from her initial commentary.
Tic and his father have a tender moment as Montrose reveals a little more about his choice to have a family with his mother instead of living life as who he was, a gay man. Ji-Ah returns to reveal that she had visions of Tic’s death causing tension between him and Leti, as Leti suggests that her turn could only be because she loves him. Tic is aware that Leti is pregnant, although she has not revealed it to him. The couple seems to think protecting each other means hiding information from each other as they both go behind the other’s back to seek advice from Christina. We get a small glimpse into how the show might end as Tic figures out that the book Lovecraft Country, authored by his future son George Freeman, might reveal what is to come. According to the text, Christina sacrifices Atticus at the Autumnal equinox for immortality. The show is no stranger to toying with time; it will be interesting to witness what twists and turns lead up to this ending.
By the end of the episode, Dee has taken control of the chase as we see her confront the racist police officers with an anger filled “fuck you, pig!” She then rides her bike to her basement where she draws pictures of Topsy and Bopsy- her way of communicating to people what has been happening to her. Dee’s horrific day comes to a close as she bravely swings at the murderous twins with a metal rod, refusing to no longer let them haunt her. Her grandfather comes in to find her fighting with what seems like nothing to him. Her dress is stained with blood and there are gashes on her arms. What is the scariest episode of the show thus far leaves us at a cliffhanger wanting the answer to the question Dee posed to the police officer: “What happens if they get [her]?”