We’re coming at you with another recap of the beautifully weird horror series, Lovecraft Country. This week’s episode, “Jig-a-Bobo,” is one of the scariest, teeth jittering experiences we’ve seen of the entire horror series! When last we saw the credits roll, Hippolyta reached the apex of her spiritual journey, coming to terms with her multidimensional experience and decided to come back to be a mother to Diana. Diana is portrayed by Jada Harris (The Resident, See Dad Run), and the young artist gives a career-making performance. The bloody vibes are back in “Jig-A-Bobo” as we peer into the saga of Hippolyta’s daughter, Dee
The episode opens on a dark day for South Chicago as Emmet Till has just been murdered—For those who may not know, in real life, Emmet Till was a 14-year-old black child who was murdered in Chicago in the summer of 1955 for allegedly whistling at a passing white woman. Till’s case was a national event and arguably wouldn’t have received as much widespread publicity if his mother hadn’t agreed to an open casket so reporters could see what these men had done to her child—On this day, a record-breaking heat wave for Chicago, Till’s body has swelled and puffed, causing the aroma of his body to fill the funeral home and surrounding area. Outside, a woman vomits from the stench as other’s look on in bewilderment. Little Diana Freeman is also bewildered, staring on into space as tears slowly trail down her cheeks.
Hippolyta has been gone for a week, prompting Tic and Leti to worry about informing Diana about her mother’s fate. Diana wanders the town in her bewildered state, window shopping and taking on the South Chicago sun. Behind her, two young black girls are eating ice cream with glee on their faces, seemingly ignorant of the sorrow felt on the other side of town at this moment. This angers Dee into throwing rocks at the pair, shouting “There’s nothing to laugh about!” Officer Lancaster and a subordinate immediately approach in a squad car and begin questioning Dee on her knowledge of magic and the previous night. This catches her off guard as she has no clue that he learned her name from the Orythia Blue comic that Tic and Hippolyta left back at the observatory. Lancaster immediately begins mishandling and taunting her while asking questions about the missing pages or her knowledge of magic. He draws two stars on either side of her feet and recites an incantation that quickly warps his tone into a demonic voice. He spits into his hand and brings it up to her forehead, she loses her breath, and maggots begin emerging from the ground beneath her.
And then it’s done. Lancaster and his subordinate retreat casually to their car like nothing happened. As she runs down the alleyway to safety while the eyes of Rastus, the Cream of Wheat guy, on a nearby poster follows her.
A Cruel Day’s End
Meanwhile, Leti finds Ji-Ah waiting in her dining room when she returns from Till’s funeral. Few words are spoken between the two, likely because of Tic, who follows in shortly after. Leti is upset at Tic for his previous dealings with Ji-Ah but their relationship is complicated even further by Ji-Ah’s warning of her vision to Tic. She recounts all the details of her affliction, including the nature of the Kumiho spirit and what it means for Tic’s life. Tic totally blows Ji-Ah off, telling her that what they had was not real and that she needs to leave. This is the last we see of Ji-Ah in this episode and, as aforementioned in episode seven’s recap, this truly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Tic and Ji-Ah shippers.
Diana finally gets home to a raging Montrose, who scolds her for being out by herself for so long. This causes Dee to fly into a rage about Montrose not being her father and the lies that they’ve told her to keep from the truth. She storms into the bathroom and locks the door. She turns the radio on to drown out Montroses words though he continues his speech. While this is happening, Diana’s attention is averted to a book on the shelf entitled Uncle Toms Cabin, written by Harriet Elisabeth Beecher. Beecher was an abolitionist in the mid to late 19th century, and her work in Uncle Toms Cabin would provide a great source of vigor and energy to northerners angry at the south. The book’s cover depicts a white child playing with a Topsy-Turvy doll that seems to stare maliciously at Diana from across the bathroom.
Diana sneaks out of the bathroom window away form Montrose and wanders the south side until she reaches a train station. A chilling violin plays as Diana seems highly unsettled. Her skin is practically raining sweat and her breathing is abnormal. She turns to face the staircase and notices a life-size Topsy doll walking up the stairs backwards. She seems to dance and gyrate in her own rhythmic fashion before freezing at the top step. Keeping her back turned, another doll peeks out from her side, this time looking right at Diana. These girls resemble a Topsy Turvy doll, though they maintain separate bodies. Adding to the weirdness and creepiness of it all, neither girl ever looks at Diana at the same time. Their dancing is a combination of aloof improvisation and classic dances of the minstrel era, breathing new, horrific life on multiple levels into their presentation as apparitions.
The pair jig and gyrate in an unsettling manner as the creepy violin continues to fill the room. Diana shrieks in fear as the two dolls creep ever closer to her through the crowd, extending their black fingernails as “Stop Dat Knocking” chimes in the background. The tone of this sequence is masterful, and most horror series simply don’t reach this level. The suspense becomes even more intense when we realize that Diana is the only one who can see these two apparitions.
Meanwhile, Tic and Leti argue over Tic’s history in Korea and the fact that he never informed her of this part of his life. Tic believes he was only keeping secrets to protect his family, which confuses Leti because since Tic has been back, people only seem to die around him. Tic charges toward his room, informing Leti that he intends to perform his casting tonight. Diana gets back to Leti’s place only to find she’s been followed the whole way by the Topsy twins.
Montrose dishes more about his sexuality as he bonds with Tic over a flash of whiskey. Tic asks him if he’d ever cheated on his mother, to which Montrose reassures that he never acted on his desires until after her death. He begins recounting a tale about his childhood pastor, a man who’d been caught with another man in the park; this situation sadly led to the pastor being put in an “insane asylum,” where they cut out half his brain. Montrose then explains that he chose to live a “life” instead of ending up in the asylum. Montrose explains that he and Tic’s mother just wanted a family, and this initiative was all they needed to have him. Tic then hands Montrose a copy of Lovecraft Country, only it is written by a man named George Freeman, “That’s my son,” Tic finishes.
Stop That Knocking
Leti confesses before God at a church that she has no clue how to proceed with the present knowledge and she worries for Tic’s mortality as he doesn’t seem keen on approaching this as a team. Christina soon joins her with a diatribe on the hubris of modern mages and their God complexes. To her, most men in such powerful positions often conflate their beliefs with actions and prophecy to make themselves seem more than what they are. Leti considers this as she slides negatives of Titus’ final pages over to her, bargaining that she wants an invincibility spell to put on Tic for her safety. Christina denies this request, saying she’ll perform the spell on Leti. Once they agree, Christina recites an incantation and Leti’s abdomen begins to burn in the Mark of Kane.
Meanwhile, Tic and Montrose discuss the issue with Hippolyta’s disappearance. Though they can’t surmise if Hippolyta is trapped or not, they do seem to understand the possibilities of an eminent return. Tic recounts his experience through the portal; a chaotic riot of white Americans that he couldn’t specify what for. A woman in a dark hood with a robotic arm apparently handed him a copy of Lovecraft Country before shoving him back into the portal. Could this woman be Hippolyta? It is a starkly fleeting piece of information that is not fully elaborated on further in the episode.
Tic reveals that his son, George Freeman, wrote Lovecraft Country as a homage to Tic’s life, whom George considered a hero. Though some details of the story are skewed, ultimately, Christina does sacrifice Tic in the end on the autumnal equinox. Montrose’s eyes set back uncomfortably as he realizes that this event will take place in only five days.
Ruby reveals to Leti that Christina has been supplying her with transmutation potions, urging Leti to learn alongside with her. Before Leti can discuss her disdain however, a loud banging is heard from her front door over the screams of a sheriff demanding to be let in on a warrant. When a magic mark prevents Lancaster from entering on ill intent, he gives the order for them to immediately begin firing on the house. Wood and metal bounce off Leti’s immediate space, signaling that Christina’s spell is working. She sits up to dry the tears and surveys the house. Tic arrives shortly after in the middle of the street to guns pointed at him, the police officers urging him to put his hands up. However, before the bullets can reach him,a grotesque monstrosity surges from beneath the ground in front of him.
The monster’s black eyes are dotted all over it’s back as it charges headfirst at its would-be meal. The creature charges forward and rips through, biting and impaling them all as Tic runs to secure safety for Leti. Showers of blood rain on Leti and Tic as they greet the many blinking eyes of the creature’s head and back. Lancaster desperately screams and fires on the quadruped as it devours his torso ripping his flesh asunder and grotesquely spreading his parts all over the street. Cars explode from ricocheted gunfire as bodies fly across the screen. The whole thing is a great scene that finally takes the horror series back to high-octane terror rides, and we here at HMH are all for it.
Meanwhile, Diana is on her last leg as the twins have tracked her back home, trapping her inside. Though she fights them off initially with a lead pipe, their vitality is infinite and they eventually overtake her. Montrose arrives too late as the creepy-ass twins slit Diana’s forearm. The screen fades out as Diana’s screams grow faint, and we’re left to our imagination on her fate.
Back at Leti’s place, the slaughter has calmed down a bit and the creature approaches Tic and Leti, both now completely covered in blood and holding onto each other for dear life.. Tic throws his hand up in defense to not be devoured, and the creature stops right there in front of him and obliges. Like a pet, it rests its head comfortably on his palm as its breathing calms down. “The spell worked,” Leti whispers. The credits roll.
“Jig-a-Bobo” is a deceptively uncomfortable addition to Lovecraft Country, displaying a truly frightening rendition of Topsy Turvy dolls. The contextual presentation of the dolls provides frights without the need for gratuitous violence, and the result is a terrifying thought experiment for young black children. It will be interesting to see what Episode Nine in this horror series gives us as Lovecraft Country inches closer to its finale.