I was apprehensive about this week’s episode, partly because of the title and partly because of the subject matter. It was clear from the promo that this was the episode based on the Horace (Diana) story and that was one of my favorites. So how did they do?
Well. The inclusion of Emmett Till in the story gave me pause from the beginning. His story is still an open wound in the history of this country. What happened to him is almost incomprehensible. Almost. Because it did happen, and we have to confront that.
In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till was visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi. On the afternoon of August 24, he and some other boys went to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market to buy candy. They were children, after all.
What happened at the market is still unclear, but maybe he whistled at Carolyn Bryant, the 21yo co-proprietor of the store. Maybe he was just whistling in her vicinity. But Carolyn would tell people that this child had come on to her.
Someone told Carolyn’s husband, Roy Bryant, about the incident. We still don’t know who told him or what they said happened. She had been spreading around her version of events, though, so it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what happened next.
Roy Bryant and his cousin John Milam took Emmett from his relatives’ home. Again, it’s hard to know the exact locations and sequence of events. However, at some point during the night, they beat him, shot him, and then tied a 70lb fan to his neck with barbed wire, before tossing him into the Tallahatchie River. His body was found three days later.
As we see on the show, his mother held a public viewing, with his body on display. As she said, “There was just no way I could describe what was in that box. No way. And I just wanted the world to see.” You can see it, too, if you want. But before you do, and before we get back to the show, you should see him as he was, before two men stole his life.
As they wonder whether it’s right to bring Diana to the viewing, Tic calls it a “rite of passage.” And perhaps it is–I’m not Black, so it’s not my lane. Still, I can’t help but feel for Diana. Her father was murdered, her mother is still missing, and now her friend, sweet little Bobo, has also been murdered, and in the most gruesome way possible.
It’s no surprise then when she runs off. Like Bobo, she’s still just a kid, and she shouldn’t have to bear this. But running off puts her in the crosshairs of Captain Lancaster, who’s connected her to the comic book. He questions her and then he marks her, leaving her to spend the episode stalked by two terrifying little racist caricatures.
It’s emblematic of her struggle that even in her own episode, her fears and concerns are largely ignored. Christina and her unempathetic ass get more attention from Dee’s family and friends, for instance. (On that note, Christina’s reenactment of Emmett’s death, seemingly the only way she can feel it, was…something that happened.)
Ruby, Tic, and Leti all go to her for help, while little Dee must help herself. We’ve seen a lot of monsters on this show, but nothing in this episode, at least, made me more nervous than Dee charging into Lancaster’s office. I don’t know where she found that strength, except that maybe she already instinctively knows that that’s what the world expects of her.
But she’s already a non-issue to Lancaster. So she takes it upon herself to fight the monsters. I don’t know “what happens if they get” her, but they have to get her first. And maybe the magic tide is turning.
Because while Tic’s first attempt at his own incantation seems to fail, we learn at the end of the episode that he was spectacularly wrong. When Lancaster launches a siege on Leti’s house, Tic seems vulnerable. But then a massive shoggoth emerges from the ground and lays waste to a good chunk of the police force. Afterward, it rests at Tic’s feet, just like any other good dog. So Tic’s got that going for him, which is nice.
8/10 – Although this episode was packed with stuff and lots of questions, I wanted to devote my narrative mostly to Emmett and Diana. It was their episode, after all.
But I would like to know how the h-e-double hockey sticks Ji-Ah got all the way over here from Korea. I’m also curious why none of Leti’s neighbors seemed disturbed by all the nonsense happening outside, but I’m guessing the answer is “magic.”
And on a final note, while George Freeman’s Lovecraft Country shares some similarities with the real-life book, Tic’s fate isn’t the same, so you don’t have to worry that you’ve been spoiled.