Lovecraft Country: A History of Violence   Show Only 
September 6, 2020 7:29 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

After Christina mysteriously shows up at her doorstep, Leti confronts Atticus about his plan to surreptitiously return to Florida. Later, in search of missing pages to a crucial text, Leti, Tic, and Montrose head to Boston, with Hippolyta and Diana (Jada Harris) along for the ride. Back in Chicago, a handsome stranger nurses Ruby's disappointment over a squandered job opportunity.
posted by oh yeah! (27 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This one was A Lot. Amazing and suspenseful, but also frustrating in how little I understood sometimes, which was why I was following Twitter to explain what just happened. This may be my own fault for being unable to turn on the CC for this one particular show for some reason.

That ending hit hard. The only hope is that they'd already been dead, so they might be able to get out of it again, but I doubt it.

William seems to be Christina in a magical disguise, but I (and the internet) could be wrong.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:42 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


My spouse called Christina as William back during Episode 3 when we discussed enjoying Christina's vibe as a villain and I mentioned kind of missing William because he'd had those weird touches of humanity and empathy out of nowhere in Episode 2. (I had mistakenly remembered him being present during the scene when Tic asked Christina if he was her boyfriend and so it hadn't occurred to me.)
posted by Scattercat at 11:57 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]


That ending, man. What?! This episode was a total indiana jones / pirates of the caribbean theme park ride. The score was very meta. I most enjoyed Montrose and Hippolyta's moments this episode.
posted by eustatic at 2:08 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I'm in it for the actors, but the rushed plot is really grating after the slow-burn of the first episode

also, wtf with Yahima... i can't even put words to my rage that they thought introducing the character was a good idea if that's where they were going
posted by kokaku at 5:38 AM on September 7 [8 favorites]


I think the Vulture recap articulated what was wrong with the Yahima plot pretty succinctly:

"And this brings me to the most upsetting part of the episode. To be introduced to Yahima — an Arawak person who exists outside of the (colonial and constructed) gender binary — who then only ten minutes later is violently killed, feels wrong. The characters use she/her pronouns for Yahima (and the show doesn’t seem to indicate this as a misgendering) but we simply don’t get that validated from Yahima themself, so I’m using they/them pronouns in this recap. Even Yahima’s introduction feels too gazey: We watch the characters look at their genitals, the camera lingering on body parts more than it ever has. In Yahima’s words — though, translated through Tic — they are “woman, man, Two-Spirit.” Because we don’t get subtitles, because even their own words must be filtered through another character, it’s impossible to get Yahima on their own terms. It just didn’t have to be like this.

I thought a lot about the documentary Disclosure after watching this episode. That film discusses, among other things, how people learn how to react to others by the media they consume. In Disclosure, the documentarians are talking about trans characters — how for so long trans characters in film and television were met with horror or disgust or humor at the expense of their dignity, how that taught people in the real world to react in the same ways. It’s fucked up, plain and simple. And while Yahima’s Two-Spirit identity complicates Disclosure’s framework, what happens to Yahima fits this trope — they’re introduced and killed shortly thereafter. It fits into a history of violence. And a show engaging with the violence of white supremacy should not be doing something like this."

posted by oh yeah! at 6:47 AM on September 7 [6 favorites]


William seems to be Christina in a magical disguise, but I (and the internet) could be wrong.

Someone theorized this in the last thread and with the theory in mind this episode, I’m pretty sold on it now. That scene where Christina goes around a corner and then William pops out two seconds later? But I haven’t told my roommates, who were speculating about what his deal is and haven’t thought of that possibility. I hope it’s true so I can see their reaction.

And - agreed that I hope Yahima isn’t really dead. I mean it seemed like they were pretty damn dead already before being brought back - why would a simple throat-cutting kill them for real?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:57 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


PS: we’re watching on the Hulu HBO channel and this episode was available from Friday on. We watched it Saturday. Wondering if that was a mistake, or it’s going to continue being available there early.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:00 AM on September 7


This Red Carpet Report interview with Monique Candelaria, the actor who plays Yahima, is pretty interesting. It includes Yahima's complete dialogue, with the original Arawak and direct translation. No hints about whether Yahima appears in future episodes or not.

Candelaria refers to Yahima with the pronoun ze, but it's unclear if that is canon or how the actor thought of the character or what. I don't know anything about Arawak and virtually nothing about Two-Spirit people, and so I couldn't even begin to speculate about what the best / least-inaccurate English pronoun might be.
posted by jedicus at 8:32 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


When HBO has a popular Sunday show, and there's a holiday over the weekend (Labor Day in this case), they tend to make the episode available on Friday.
posted by Sibrax at 8:53 AM on September 7 [1 favorite]


Candelaria refers to Yahima with the pronoun ze, but it's unclear if that is canon or how the actor thought of the character or what. I don't know anything about Arawak and virtually nothing about Two-Spirit people, and so I couldn't even begin to speculate about what the best / least-inaccurate English pronoun might be.

I'n not Native and so I only know what I've read, but I believe the specific term two-spirit is a modern umbrella term encompassing a lot of divergent ways of thinking about gender beyond the binary. So it's not necessarily likely that a direct translation of that term would have been used by pre-1990s Arawak speakers. But so far I haven't found a clear answer on what they might have used instead.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:55 AM on September 7 [4 favorites]


My wife also suggested Wm and Christina were the same person. However, one problem with that is that the hoodoo mezuzah on Leti’s door kept Christina out, but it seemed to me that William and Ruby had retired to Leti and Ruby’s house for their Adult Fun Times. If the magic kept Christina out, and William is Christina, then how does that work?

I’m also mildly — okay, a LOT — vexed that they soft pedaled the fact that Our Heroes were transported via magic tunnel from Boston back to Chicago, and nobody really mentioned it.

I’m used to generally good shows having weaker episodes that exist mostly to move pieces around to set things up for later episodes, so I’m not as upset about the drop-off in compelling-ness this time as others have been, but it was still a let down.

In re: the trans or intersex issues here, yeah, we noticed that they used feminine pronouns for Yahima. How much of that kind of thing is excusable because, in the era of the show, the use of they/them for nonbinary folks wasn’t yet a standard?

Pronouns are a minor sin though, compared to the headlong rush into a bury-your-gays end for Yahima. That was jarring and really gross, unless there’s some huge narrative reason why it needed to happen. This show so far has made me feel like few words or gestures are not laden with multiple layers of meaning, and right NOW it feels like they failed this character entirely.

I really hope they’re not going to whiff this.

(I know nothing of the source material, though.)
posted by uberchet at 5:20 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


Our Heroes were transported via magic tunnel from Boston back to Chicago, and nobody really mentioned it.

Hippolyta is so pissed off by it, she is inspired to fuck off to Ardham. It was mentioned. It's her "last straw" in the show's escalation of her being pissed at the others for lying to her, which has been a dramatic arc in multiple scenes for two episodes.
posted by eustatic at 5:50 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


Pay or Wait recap
posted by eustatic at 5:57 PM on September 7


Yeah, annoyed by things with Yahima. I can't tell how much of Monstrose's behavior is him freaking out because he's scared by what's happening or because he knows things that haven't been revealed yet. But... dude. What the actual fuck.

I was kind of annoyed by the underground tunnel space until they saw the neighbor and the elevator and it was clear that, okay, we're going through dimensional things, and nobody's saying any of this is something that literally exists under Boston, which really doesn't have the geology to support all that.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:34 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


However, one problem with that is that the hoodoo mezuzah on Leti’s door kept Christina out, but it seemed to me that William and Ruby had retired to Leti and Ruby’s house for their Adult Fun Times. If the magic kept Christina out, and William is Christina, then how does that work?

I'm actually not sure it was Leti's house. I thought it was at first, but then it's pretty goddamn rude to fuck in the lobby of a house you share with almost a dozen other people. So I figured it must be the house we saw Christina go into and William come out of in that one scene earlier.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:22 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]


The phrase "hoodoo mezuzah" makes me very happy. Partly because it's so lovely to say and partly because it's such a perfect description of something that would otherwise take a couple of sentences to explain. Nice work there, uberchet!
posted by Paul Slade at 8:05 AM on September 8 [9 favorites]


So I figured it must be the house we saw Christina go into and William come out of in that one scene earlier.
In this thread I realize that was also an option, and since I'm becoming more convinced of the William/Christina thing I suspect that's the correct one.
Nice work there, uberchet!
Thanks!
posted by uberchet at 9:02 AM on September 8


Something Sepinwall noted, that I totally missed in confusion over what the conversation was about (I was a little distracted during the scene:
* While Montrose is exploring the museum during business hours, the family’s traveling companion Tree notes how close Montrose and his favorite bartender Sammy have grown since he returned from Ardham — in a way suggesting the two are more than just drinking buddies.
Curious how that's going to play out and if it's even remotely connected to the Yahima killing.

I assumed Christina and William retired to somewhere else, just because the furnishings looked a lot nicer than anything at Leti's house. I can just see the conversation "So should we go to my place?" "Uh...can we go somewhere else? I'm not...really welcome there." (Also, I'm not sure Christina is still living at Leti's?)
posted by General Malaise at 11:36 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


My theory since the Christina/William conundrum first presented itself is this: Christina/William was born intersex, thus technically excluding them from joining the Sons of Adam. If that's the case, Christina/William may use spells to shapeshift into a more "acceptable" male physical form around non-family SoA members.

Now that Samuel's apparently turned to stone (much like Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt), C/W might expect to rule over the SoA -- but with those horrific bylaws we saw when Montrose burned the book, it's unlikely that C/W could do that without alchemical interventions.

I don't know if I'm right about this, but the idea of shedding an intersex or female identity to adopt the cishet white male form that conveys total privilege in Western society is... something. Fraught, at the bare minimum. There's a lot still left to unpack, if that's where the show is heading.

This whole episode had a distinctly Jules Verne vibe to it, right down to traveling far distances underground in a short timespan and emerging in a totally different part of the world. I was thrilled to see all the Journey to the Center of the Earth references, which has been a lasting influence in my own life. (I don't recommend reading it now for the simple fact that it's horrifically colonialist in tone, which is almost certainly why it showed up in this episode.)

That said, Tim Curry's audiobook recording is worth listening to if you're a fan. He could read almost anything aloud and I'd love it!

Hippolyta's name may shed some light on where she's headed, story-wise. I'm extremely worried for Ruby; she's had a lot of unearned pain and rejection in her life already. Hooking up with William will likely just bring her more of the same, and almost certainly worse, before this season's over.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:33 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


the idea of shedding an intersex or female identity to adopt the cishet white male form that conveys total privilege in Western society is... something
There's a word for that: Passing. And it was absolutely a Thing in the US for Black Americans, so I wonder if they're going to use that concept in these stories, too.
posted by uberchet at 3:18 PM on September 8 [5 favorites]


That's a good point, uberchet.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:25 PM on September 8


If that's the case, Christina/William may use spells to shapeshift into a more "acceptable" male physical form around non-family SoA members.

At the castle, did we ever actually see William in the same scene with anyone who wasn't one of Our Heroes? I'm wondering of her dad even knew the William persona existed. I could be wrong though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:00 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


>At the castle, did we ever actually see William in the same scene with anyone who wasn't one of Our Heroes?

I remember him being in the background at the dinner scene with the order. He was standing off in the entry area with a lower ceiling. I had thought it was interesting at the time that he was able to be present there, but was not a member of the organization.
posted by past unusual at 7:16 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Past + Showbiz, that's basically where I twigged to this idea in the first place. It's absurd to think that William wouldn't be groomed to take over the SoA by his father, if he were in fact an actual Son and not a magical construct of Christina's in creating a solely male-presenting identity.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:52 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


William was definitely at the dinner. The reason I was sad he was "dead" from the fire and explosion (and thus voiced this during Ep2 and had my spouse tell me they thought he was Christina) was because of the weird unprompted reassurance he gave to Tic in that scene. I thought it was an odd touch of humanity for the creepy Trump-like family dynamic that had otherwise been established.

I really like the narrative complexity gained by having Christina, more or less one of our primary antagonists, be struggling with her own battle against oppression and coming up with her own answers and responses that can be contrasted with everyone else's.
posted by Scattercat at 12:48 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I like this show a lot and yet I feel like every other episode is kind of a mess in the pacing or storytelling department. For this one, I agreed with a lot of that Vulture review. Too much Pirates of the Caribbean plus Indiana Jones water flume ride without bringing us along. Some real weird choices to amp up drama -- why are Tic and Montrose stopping to discuss Tic's mother in the middle of this tunnel? What on earth was the point of dropping the scroll just as they get into the magic elevator to make Leti frantically swim for it -- what, was there not enough suspense already? I hated the way they introduced, fetishized, then killed Yahima. I'm not so mad about the characters' use of female pronouns so much as I am perplexed by why Yahima was made intersex twospirit in the first place.

Also, are we to assume that Ruby went home with William because of magic? Because honestly, even drunk, why would she put herself in the dangerous position of leaving the bar with a weird white man she'd never seen before?
posted by desuetude at 3:12 PM on September 14


This episode was a total indiana jones / pirates of the caribbean theme park ride.

That and a Dungeons & Dragons session, with puzzles, undead, etc.
posted by exogenous at 3:38 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]


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