‘Lovecraft Country’ Review: Into the Fire

‘Lovecraft Country’ Review: Into the Fire
‘Lovecraft Country’ Review: Into the Fire
A review of “Rewind 1921,” this week’s episode of Lovecraft Landas soon as I tell you the ingredients for “street rash” …

“I’ve got you, boy.” – Tic

“Rewind 1921” debuts about a week before the one year anniversary of the Guardian Series premiere that put the Tulsa Race Massacre at the center of half the cultural conversations many of us have had in the past 12 months. That two HBO shows in mid-October should devote episodes to restoring the same historical atrocity is a coincidence of timing – and a reflection of HBO’s dedication to telling black stories – but one that can inspire comparisons.

Guardian started in Tulsa with no context or warning, and after a brief silent film prologue, threw us into a haunting, terrifying replica of the violence that burned the Greenwood neighborhood, known at the time as Black Wall Street. “It’s not a long sequence but the POV style and the feeling of total chaos created the illusion that we were trapped there for ages with young Will Reeves. It gave an impression of the scope and horror of the fire and blood, and then told a story shaped by that nightmarish moment.

“Rewind 1921” spends significantly longer in and around Greenwood and has a direct reason for our characters’ plot to go there. Diana dies from the curse that Captain Lancaster put on her, and Christina informs our heroes that the only way to undo this is by The book of namesthat burned in Tulsa along with most of Tic’s mother’s family. So the episode returns to the crime scene as part of a quest narration. In addition, much of the time we spend there is dedicated to Montrose facing the demons of its past, partly related to the greater violence of that day and partly not.

Characters facing extremely personal troubles against the backdrop of a historic moment are a proven narrative tool, from Jack and Rose, who fell in love before the sinking of the Titanic, to Rick Blaine’s ex-girlfriend who started his bar in Casablanca goes days of World War II. If you tell your story correctly, the broad factual event and the intimate fictional event complement each other seamlessly, and it doesn’t matter that the troubles of one or two people in this crazy world don’t lead to a mound of beans.

With “Rewind 1921” – written by Misha Green, Jonathan Kidd and Sonya Winton and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff – the merging of the two works wonderfully at times, while with others it seems to be saying so Lovecraft Universe and our own at odds.

As so often LovecraftThere’s a lot of exposure and movement before we get to the episode’s big journey. Christina agrees to temporarily reset the curse to buy them more time, but only in exchange for Atticus willingly going to Ardham with her so she can use his blood to cast her immortality spell. Montrose admits to Tic that George could be his biological father; Ruby encourages Leti to find safety with her and Christina; and Hippolyta returns from the many lives of “I am” to save her daughter by all means necessary. After Hippolyta uses her newly discovered superpowers as a literal motherboard for Hiram’s broken time machine, Tic, Leti and Montrose enter the hotel where Montrose’s father Verton (Will Catlett) took his mother out for a special night once a year. It is only when our time travelers have stolen clothing to look inconspicuous that we get to the heart of this week’s story.

Montrose leads Tic and Leti to the block where he and Tic’s mother Dora grew up in neighboring houses, and is directly confronted with a memory we’ve heard him wrestle with in the past: Verton in the front yard calling on young Montrose to pick a switch his father can hit him with. Verton is furious that Montrose tried on George’s expensive prom jacket, but seems even angrier that he caught his younger son with a prom corset in his hair. The adult Montrose has internalized his father’s homophobia so thoroughly that upon observing this formative moment of abuse, he murmurs, “I deserve it.”

It’s a powerful moment – almost too powerful. The Tulsa excursion will soon split into two separate missions: Leti goes to Dora’s house to find the book, while Tic tries to stop his father from changing the past. He believes Montrose will warn George about this death for over 30 years. In fact, Montrose tries to prevent the murder of his first real friend Thomas in the early hours of the massacre.

Everything about this passage is incredibly crowded. Montrose wants to undo just one death among so many on this terrible day and perhaps less to shame the younger self for who he is. Tic is afraid that some action could obliterate him (and thus his and Leti’s unborn son) from existence. Soon, Montrose is referring to Thomas’ death as the first in a long list of sacrifices he had to make to be Tic’s father – an amazingly gruesome thing to say anytime, but right now that Tic is considering becoming a father himself to become as well as the question of his own fatherhood. And then there is the tingling, paradoxical moment when Tic realizes that the heroic young man with the baseball bat from the most famous story of his father and uncle … is Atticus Freeman, who happens to see a bat on his feet.

All of this is dynamite and is played so well by Michael Kenneth Williams and Jonathan Majors. But it also feels so specific to Montrose and the complicated, tragic relationships in his life that it is almost coincidental that Thomas was murdered at the start of the Tulsa Massacre, rather than any other night during that time he was black and / or being gay could have killed him.

Leti’s end of things is more fundamentally tied to the story as she has to convince matriarch Hattie (Regina Taylor, great as always) to give her the book and her family at the hands of the white men who have come to destroy to burn to death the neighborhood. But even there it is equally about tragedy and search.

There’s a moment the portal goes down after Tic bounced back to 1955, and it seems like Montrose and Leti will have to travel the slow path through time to see him again. Really, however, it is an opportunity for the episode to set aside Lovecraft– Specific concerns and reflections on the events in Tulsa on May 31 and June 1, 1921. Montrose stands by a window of a hotel room, staring at the death and destruction around him, and starting to hear the names of the victims in real life recite. like surgeon AC Jackson. And Leti marches through the flames, the all-important book clutched to her chest. Unlike Hattie and all the other women whose death she has to witness, none of them can harm her physically thanks to Christina’s invulnerability spells. Because unfortunately, superhuman powers are sometimes the only way out of problems caused by the worst impulses of humanity.

It’s a great climax, but one that doesn’t quite feel like a piece with the rest of the episode. Bringing the action back to Tulsa is perhaps the biggest swing on the show yet. And once, Lovecraft Land does not quite connect.

Some other thoughts:

Eli Joshua Ade / HBO

* It turns out that Captain Lancaster is only mostly dead as a result of the Shoggoth attack, which allows us to explain his black torso: his men murdered black men and used them as “spare parts” every time their leader is seriously injured. Only this time Christina cast a spell that prevents him from healing.

* By the way, what happened to Tic’s new pet shoggoth? As is so often the case, the episode begins in a way that briefly creates the illusion that we skipped material because Green and Company are so intent on just moving on to the next big idea.

* Regarding sketchy details, one of my complaints about “I Am” a few weeks ago was that Atticus somehow made it 500 miles from St. Louis to Mayfield, Kansas in no time without having a car. The chyrons of this episode now place the observatory in Kentucky – which also has a Mayfield and one that is only 200 miles from St. Louis. This is still too far for Tic to travel alone at night, and it’s also confusing that Hippolyta was studying a Kansas map in “I Am,” but at least I wanted to acknowledge the obvious change in venue. Or do these later episodes take place on a parallel earth where the observatory is in a different K-named state? It’s best not to think about it too much.

* Ruby did not seem unduly tempted by Christina so far. But that moment when she starts turning off the comatose Dell’s life support while suggesting that she’d rather be a redhead was pretty daunting.

* More Guardian/.Lovecraft Overlap: This is where the Dreamland Theater marquee appears. Where in the other series the dream land showed a western that is unique to the Guardian Universe, here it shows Buster Keatons The goat.

* Finally, this week’s song list is a little thinner than previous episodes, with Al Jolson’s “Avalon” and “Don’t Kill Dub” by Rob (with the poetry of Sonia Sanchez) as the two notable numbers before Leti’s Walk Through the Greenwood Flames . This last sequence is accompanied by “Tulsa, 1921: Don’t Catch the Fire”, a composition by Laura Karpman & Raphael Saadiq, sung by Janai Brugger of the Metropolitan Opera.

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