Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Lovecraft Country…
Symbolism is rife, transformation graphic and repression just part of life in Lovecraft Country. Although this Strange Case might not be the old fashioned smash and grab from last week there is still plenty going on. Now more than ever it becomes apparent that everyone is hiding something, while clashes in ideology go a long way towards grounding events.
Starting with something akin to rebirth William unlocks Ruby’s ethnic alter ego, indulges every transformative whim whilst burdening her with unwanted knowledge. This blatant exploration of race and personal identity might seem heavy handed, but there is a twist in the tale. Attitudes, upbringings and individual prejudice all fall under the microscope. Downtown department stores might seem like a distance planet to ladies from the South side, but these writers do much to reveal both irony and ignorance.
Elsewhere Montrose hides a desire which would doubtless end in harsh retribution and blinkered savagery if discovered. He is equally trapped by convention, attitude and opinion when the alternative might see him ostracised, isolated or worse. This more than anything is where Lovecraft Country lingers as drag queens cavort, inhibitions are cast aside and for one moment Montrose feels the weight lift from his shoulders.
In many ways our obsession with personal image is conveyed daily through the faces we decide to show people. Each of us has a persona dependent on the person whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. What this episode does is explore several sides of the same coin simultaneously, whether we are talking gender, ethnicity or personal opinion. Shedding skins, hiding in plain sight and recognising that colour rarely gives you the advantages it might at first suggest, remains a corner of this show. Abrams, Peele and Green are more than well aware of this but you get the impression things are even now just getting warmed up.
Whichever side of the line you sit on the subjects everyone has their struggles. Lovecraft Country merely shines a light on our misconceptions, miscommunications and knee jerk judgement calls. It uses magic, mystery and literature to enlighten those who might otherwise be kept ignorant. In this world in my experience a little bit of knowledge goes a long way towards informing and hopefully changing opinions. Beneath the multitude of monsters both real and imagined Lovecraft Country does just that with no renewal agenda in mind.