After this week’s episode of Lovecraft Country there are only two episodes left, and typically the third-to-last episode in a season of a TV serial does a lot of heavy lifting to arrange the deck chairs for the endgame. “Jig-a-Bobo” did a lot of chair moving, an almost surprising amount given the incredible length of ground it was able to cover. In terms of the real-world references and the very real urgency in the fictional story though, it’s hard to think of a better, or more consequential, episode of the series so far.
Casting a pall over this week’s episode is the death of Emmett Till. On August 24, 1955, while visiting relatives in Mississippi, Emmett and a friend skipped church and went to buy candy at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market where he supposedly whistled at Mrs. Bryant. For that, four days later, he was kidnapped, beaten, shot, and had a strand of barbed wire wrapped around his neck and tied to a heavy fan that was thrown in the river. It took a legal fight and nine days for Mrs. Till to get her sons remains home to Chicago to lay him to rest, and the episode correctly pointed out that the smell of decomposition from his remains could be detected well beyond the walls of the church.
“[This week’s episode] did a lot of chair moving, an almost surprising amount given the incredible length of ground it was able to cover.”
But we’ve met Emmett Till before in Lovecraft Country. Decider had a theory that a boy called Bobo in episode 3 “Holy Ghost” was really Emmett Till, because Bobo was Emmett’s nickname in real life. Bobo was one of Diana’s friends that was using the Ouija Board, and he’s the one that asked the spirits if he was going to have a good trip. The board said, “No.” Perhaps that’s why Diana was already amped up while at Emmett’s service. On the other hand her dad also recently died, her mom’s on some mysterious trip, and the rest of her family is acting weird.
Diana was primed to experience some weirdness herself, and it came from Captain Lancaster. After confronting Diana about her comic book, the one left behind by her mom at the abandoned observatory with Hiram Epstein’s machine, Lancaster put a curse on her. Diana is literally chased across Chicago by spirits or demons that take the form of two characters on the front of a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Eva and Topsey. Although the 1852 novel was considered a breakthrough at the time as an Abolitionist narrative, it’s indulgence in racial stereotypes has not allowed it to age well, and perhaps no two characters represent that better than the thieving troublemaker Topsy and the little white girl who goes along with her, Eva.
Ads are Scary
Nightmare on Film Street is independently owned and operated. We rely on your donations to cover our operating expenses and to compensate our team of 30+ Contributors.
If you enjoy Nightmare on Film Street, consider Buying us a coffee!
While Diana was the only one who could see the Topsy and Eva spirits, they were still dangerous. Lancaster later tells Diana that they were meant to stop her from talking about their earlier conversation, but there’s got to be more benign ways of magically keeping someone’s silence. In the end, Diana decided to lay in wait for Topsy and Eva at her parents’ office. Wearing a baseball cap and armed with a long silver-coloured cylinder, it was had not to see the image from the opening minutes of episode one where Jackie Robinson whacked a Cthulhu-like creature.
Misha Green, who stepped behind the camera for this episode as director, did an amazing job encoding so much into Diana’s journey. From hearing her say “I can’t breath” when Lancaster was casting a spell on her, to the voice-over of then-11-year-old Naomi Wadler at the March for Our Lives Rally in 2018, which was used when Diana decides to confront Topsy and Eva as opposed to helping Lancaster to lift the curse, it was a distilled course on resistance from the teenage girl in a week when all her adult relatives are scrambling to make deals with proverbial devils.
Atticus traded the key to the machine with Christina for the missing piece to a protection spell, and Leti traded the negatives of her pictures of the lost pages to Christina for a spell to make her invulnerable. Those deals came in handy when Lancaster decided open fire on the Epstein house when he couldn’t just break in and collect the orrery, which the audience knows is long gone. Under fire, Leti’s new ability to bounce bullets off her face like Superman came in handy, and while it didn’t look like his spell worked, Atticus was still able to reflexively summon a Shoggoth later, who did what Shoggoth do best: eat racist cops.
The newfound urgency in Atticus was aided by the arrival of Ji-Ah on American shores. Never has the sight of a pair of shoes outside the front door been more ominous, but Ji-Ah was there to help, except she did nothing to help the strain between Atticus and Leti, who was mad that her baby’s father had not told her about his experiences with the supernatural before their trip to Ardham. Atticus though was feeling under the gun because of his trip through the porthole.
It turns out that Atticus went to the future, albeit briefly, which is where he picked up his copy of a paperback called Lovecraft Country, which is written by George Freeman, Atticus and Leti’s son. The story is the story that the Freeman family is living through, some details have been changed like Diana‘s a boy and Uncle Georege survived Ardham, but there’s enough to make Atticus believe it’s truth, including the book’s climax where Christina sacrifices Atticus in a spell to achieve immortality on the autumnal equinox.
Adding surety to Atticus’ suspicion that he might meet his end on the first day of fall is when he mentioned the autumnal equinox to Christina, who froze in place concerned that maybe her “cousin” had gotten a step ahead of her. It’s also worth noting that Christina put the invulnerability spell on Leti instead of Atticus, and we know that Titus had to take the spell off himself so that he could do the immortality spell properly. It certainly seems like we’re leading to a definitive end for Atticus, but does Atticus‘ receipt of his son’s future narrative about his story change the game and its outcome?
“Will Christina’s attempt to live for a moment in the shoes of Emmett Till give her any kind of empathy for Atticus and friends? We’ll see in two episodes.”
In a bizarre moment near the end, Christina paid two men to reenact the Emmett Till’s lynching with herself standing in for Emmett. Accused by Ruby of not being able to feel the requisite empathy about a 14-year-old Black kid being killed in a horrific way for what could best be described as a breach of decorum, Christina apparently tested her limits knowing that death for her is not permanent. Will Christina’s attempt to live for a moment in the shoes of Emmett Till give her any kind of empathy for Atticus and friends? We’ll see in two episodes.
Revisit your favorite moments of Lovecraft Country or give yourself a refresher before next by reading our previous recaps of the series HERE. Continue the conversation with us and be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the dark shadow looming over the characters of Lovecraft Country on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.