Lovecraft Country: Rewind 1921   Show Only 
October 11, 2020 7:13 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

I'm not entirely sure what this is, but this is something amazing.
posted by porpoise at 11:28 PM on October 11, 2020

God damn.
posted by eustatic at 12:15 AM on October 12, 2020

I think that this was my favourite episode since the premiere.
posted by confluency at 2:57 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Longer thoughts: I'm not African American, but portrayals of the Tulsa massacre elicit the same emotional response in me as portrayals of the outbreak of WW2 in my country of birth. I think that this is why I find them so horribly, morbidly compelling.
posted by confluency at 3:05 AM on October 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh man that scene in the alley between Tic and Montrose was just...I honestly don't have the words for it.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:17 AM on October 12, 2020

That was a hell of an episode. Leti walking through fire after praying with Hattie. Tic rescuing the kids. As soon as Montrose mentioned that there had been a mysterious stranger, I knew it was one of them, but at first I wasn't sure if it was going to be Tic or if Montrose would go save his younger self. As Montrose stood in the window and delivered his monologue, I wondered if he was going to stay in Tulsa and bring his life full circle, but I'm glad he made it back with the others so we can see the after-effects of all that exposition and plot between him and Tic.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:30 AM on October 12, 2020

We watched and then just sat quietly through all the credits rather than doing the usual run-down.

Absolutely peak television—ugly, tragic, and sad…but beautifully rendered storytelling.
posted by sonascope at 7:15 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

God, I was so triggered by that scene with Montrose getting whipped by his father. Brought back so many unpleasant memories: pick a switch, move your hands, other adults ignoring what was going on. Goddamn.

Add another goddamn for Michael K Williams' acting. I mean...that is some heavy weight on his character, and he carried it and made us feel it too. (Also, in a meta-reference to the Book of Names, apparently the names he recites at the end of the episode are black people who were murdered by white rioters in Tulsa.)

And another goddamn for Sonia Sanchez's Catch the Fire. I have no idea how this amazingly powerful and moving poem flew under my radar for so long, but I am grateful to this show for introducing it to me. (She reads it here.)

This show can be maddeningly uneven, but when it gets thing right, it gets things right. It better get a ton of awards and entire courses dedicated to it in colleges and film schools across the land.

And, finally, great article about the song at the end:
posted by lord_wolf at 8:45 AM on October 12, 2020 [9 favorites]

Amazing. Tied with episode 3 ("Holy Ghost") for tops-of-the-season so far. I don't see any way this wraps up in one more episode - have there been any rumors/news about a second run?
posted by jquinby at 9:41 AM on October 12, 2020

This is the first horror series I could reasonably see being used to teach 20th century U.S. history to high school students, and it's also crucially informative entertainment.

It's one of the few series where I'm dumbstruck by how much the writers manage to pack into every episode. Not a single shot, line of dialogue or historical reference seems wasted. I'm honestly speechless.

It's like the writers said, "let's take the Strong Black Woman trope and dial it not just to 11, but to 111 -- and let's do that for two episodes in a row." Add that in with Montrose and Tic's painful reckoning scene, and what these characters have been through in just 7 short episodes feels truly incredible.

Really hope that we don't see Tic choose to sacrifice himself so Christina can have 100% of his blood to complete that immortality magic spell. I know it's very likely we will, but I'm holding out hope this isn't a one-and-done like HBO's other recent standout series, Watchmen. Here's hoping Ruby intervenes to save him, but it sure looks like it could go either way right now!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:16 AM on October 12, 2020

This episode was fantastic, but my favorite episode thus far was I Am. That episode so perfectly expressed a brilliant definition of what we mean when we talk about Afrofuturism. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and when people ask me what Afrofuturism is, what does it look like, I now have something contemporary that I can point to and say, it's this.

But beyond aesthetics, the story line and narrative of this series has been exceptional. I thought Watchman couldn't be topped, but this series is younger and responding to more recent injustices, and it's brilliant. I love this show, and I want more shows like this.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:53 PM on October 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

In trying to find words to talk about this episode, I found a new one: katabasis. I’m familiar with the trope in Greek, Roman, and several other mythologies that heros must journey to the underworld, but I didn’t know this word.

I think it’s part of what is going on here; Tulsa on that night is Montrose’s personal hell, but I think it’s possible to read any of Montrose, Leti, or Tic as the hero going on the journey that can’t be completed until they go through hell and back.
posted by nat at 12:33 AM on October 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I’ve been wondering, since both are HBO productions, if there was some sharing of research or resources between “Lovecraft Country” and “Watchmen” with regard to both shows’ depiction of the Tulsa Massacre. Somewhat like the Great Influenza of a few years earlier, this event has found a resonant moment after lying in obscurity for so many years.
posted by hwestiii at 4:06 AM on October 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Katabasis, OK, but it's part of the theme that bearing witness changes things. Montrose revisits his trauma with his son, and Tic is inspired to save their lives.

Leti bears witness to the horrors of Tulsa, and she wins the book.

It is how faith makes flesh. Tic is angry at JiAh, but she can't but come witness for him.

Anyway, it's an appropriate theme for a TV show, that observation changes everything.
posted by eustatic at 5:34 AM on October 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Really great episode, but damn could they take any longer to get the damn book and get out? Maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard on Hippolyta if she hadn’t been doing it for hours!

But fuck yeah Hippolyta. Comes back and doesn’t waste a minute to get shit done. Felt a bit rushed, but only because I would like to see more of her taking charge in this group. Maybe now they’ll finally appreciate that she can help and actually bring her in.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

> Really great episode, but damn could they take any longer to get the damn book and get out? Maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard on Hippolyta if she hadn’t been doing it for hours!

I did feel a little frustrated at Leti slooowwwwly striding down the street. I know it was also in slow-mo, but even so she was STILL obviously walking slowly. Uhhhh, look, the dramatic moment with the flames and the tension is legit and all but after a few seconds of that, wouldn't Leti, being Leti, fucking run?
posted by desuetude at 9:10 PM on October 13, 2020

Moments like that pop up fairly frequently in movies and TV, I find. A character does something that makes no sense whatsoever within the world of the story, but simply because the director knows it will look great on screen. That's why Leti walks rather than runs.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:14 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ok actually, I could believe Leti walking there because

1) she just had super duper confirmation that she's invincible
2) just watched a person burn to death
3) had no idea that Hippolyta was tiring out

I really have more of a problem with the apparent time lapse. After Leti and Tic split up, for her to get the book and him to get his dad, there was a jump of a few hours. What were they doing that whole time when they know what is going to happen in Tulsa? The only conclusion I can reach is that it took hours because the writers wanted all the drama to happen during the fighting and they only way they could think of was a pointless time jump of a few hours that had no explanation.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:21 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

had no idea that Hippolyta was tiring out

Physically holding a door open takes effort. It's reasonable to extrapolate that holding open a time door for several hours would be a huge strain on a person

Honestly even without that, I would want to get back through that door as soon as possible.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:01 AM on October 14, 2020

Leti looked a little traumatized by the whole massace plus witnessing the family of her partner burn alive.
posted by kokaku at 3:31 PM on October 14, 2020 [4 favorites]

It's reasonable to extrapolate that holding open a time door for several hours would be a huge strain on a person

Yes it's reasonable for us to extrapolate, but I think for TV rules, Leti wouldn't know unless she was either told beforehand that it would be hard or if she saw it herself. I'm not saying this show isn't good (its really good and I like it), but I would say that one sign of good writing is when the characters can extrapolate without the audience having to be explicitly shown that.

One thing that would have cleared this all up is if before anyone went into the portal, they decided that Hippolyta would open it at certain times. That seems like basic sci-fi portal logic, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they haven't had decades of sci-fi shows to point this idea out to them.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:00 AM on October 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

They have got a good few years of reading science-fiction novels behind them, though. Wouldn't those have taught the same lesson?
posted by Paul Slade at 7:03 AM on October 15, 2020

That would have put a countdown timer on the episode, though. I expect the writers considered it and discarded it as an option as it would have altered the pacing.

Also, the holding open of the door throughout the adventure changes Hippolyta's task from being merely utilitarian to being Herculean - Dr Strange performing a Hulk-like act of strength - her magic becomes not just useful but heroic.
posted by Grangousier at 12:34 AM on October 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

They did already have a countdown timer knowing it was the day of the Tulsa massacre though. But instead the timer was just to get the story into that position.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:55 AM on October 16, 2020

I know that it was emotionally the core of the episode and they have a narrative justification for it and why it was even necessary longer term (the mysterious stranger), but man oh man why the fuck would you bring Montrose on your "We can't butterfly effect anything so be super careful" trip back in time? Especially when he's already obviously drunk? He has repeatedly proven to all of these characters that he is untrustworthy, unpredictable, and prone to making snap decisions based on his own (very bad) judgment without consulting anyone else about the best course of action.
posted by Scattercat at 9:10 PM on October 20, 2020

because he's the one who knew the lay of the land
posted by kokaku at 5:33 AM on October 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

He was the one they could bring who knew what was happening that night as opposed to Leti and Tic who had been told stories about it. It was basically their only choice.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:53 AM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm just gonna point out that maps of Tulsa exist. XD
posted by Scattercat at 8:46 PM on October 21, 2020

Yeah, but knowing "hey, this person hangs out here" is less findable. Also, I wouldn't be sure that the maps available to them now would accurate depict the layout before white rioters ran wild.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes maps of tulsa exist. Imagine how much time it would take for monstrose to mark out what was happening at what time in tulsa that day. It's a lot easier to just bring him with them.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2020

SinisterPurpose: I don't think I'm sufficiently hip to Stoklasa's content or style to understand this comment. Could you explain a bit?
posted by rmd1023 at 2:08 PM on October 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Is there a particular comment you disagree with above? Or a discussion about this episode or show you’d rather have? What do you think was interesting here? Because I’d certainly be happy to more perspectives on this episode.

Otherwise, given that I’ve never heard of this Mike person (and thus am pretty unlikely to be aping his style, and am apparently not alone in that) it might be more productive to have a discussion with the people who are actually here and their actual thoughts, rather than accusing the general internet of Discussing Television Wrong.
posted by nat at 1:17 AM on October 25, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sometimes I wonder if Mike Stoklasa thinks about the kind of damage he's done to the average person's viewing enjoyment when his particular - and now very much the dominant analysis found on the internet - style of analysis is applied maladroitly.

He is the reason people react to character actions as though those actions exist in reality as opposed to the world of the show.

I don't want to make this about Mike Stoklasa, but I don't think its a bad thing that people now expect more of TV if they want it to be good. Good shows are those where the characters react in ways that are expected of their character and the reality (even twists, while possibly unforseen, are only good if they are in character for the show).

To say that expecting that from TV writers is reducing enjoyment of the product...then make better product. Plenty of people thought like this before him, and if his analysis is causing people to ask more from their TV shows, I don't think that's a bad thing.

Also, I think that because this (and the internet) are places for discussion, people essentially analyze and pick-a-part more than if they just watch and then tune into something else. Discussion can get pretty thin if we're not thinking about this stuff in a critical way, which tends to bring inconsistencies to light.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:34 AM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, none of the types of discussion in this post would seem out of place on USENET 30+ years ago.

As to the actual show - we've had this and Watchmen both use the 1921 Tulsa massacre. I would now like my prestige television to find different historical incidents to use going forward, just to increase the overall awareness.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:23 AM on October 26, 2020

I commented to DH that I wondered if they reused sets from Watchmen. I'd be interested in a behind-the-scenes/panel discussion of HBO and Tulsa.

Very well-done episode. I agree with pretty much all of the above. I understand the necessity of bringing Bad Choices Dad along for the ride, and I was half-expecting him to die as he was reciting that litany. This is the second sort of Big Moment he's had, but I don't know that it's really changed how he behaves at all.

I know a decent chunk of is was the shoes, but Letti was clearly wearing a costume, rather than clothes, which is entirely correct for the character.

DH also pointed out that Christina lied, and Dick Cop could have undone the spell. I pointed out that she's not the good guy in this story.

And I know it's the trope of the genre, but if the good guys could fucking communicate and share some goddamn information with each other, that would probably be to all of their benefits.
posted by DebetEsse at 1:24 AM on November 21, 2020

Almost all drama stems from people being incapable of telling things to each other.
posted by Grangousier at 3:55 AM on November 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

So much trauma turned flesh. Like Watchmen, a hard look at the long consequences of violence.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:57 AM on March 16, 2021

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