In the sixth episode of Lovecraft Country, we head back in time on another detour from Leti (Jurnee Smollett), Tic (Jonathan Majors) and Montrose’s (Michael K Williams) encounter with the Braithwhite clan. In Meet me in Daegu, we gain expository information for the cliffhanger presented in Strange Case as we are introduced to Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung), a nurse amid the Korean War. She forms a strong relationship with Tic during his time served in the War, yet she holds another terrible secret. Despite some exhaustion at experiencing another deviation from the trio, Meet me in Daegu is a fantastic episode. Here, Lovecraft Country utilises East Asian folklore for frightening kills whilst maintaining a sturdy focus on the trauma these characters witness, and commit onto each other.
This series is proving to be a glaring floodlight for producers wondering what strong, well-written female characters look like. Developer Misha Green (Underground, Heroes) has found a powerhouse in Letitia Lewis. Yet, by gifting both Ji-Ah and Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) their own episodes, she produces heartbreaking scenes that explore the pain that rape victims endure and the identity of black women in a society that rejects them, respectively.
By all means, Lovecraft Country is a challenging but essential watch.
It’s not very well known that victims of sexual abuse sometimes undergo a period of hypersexuality. Whether it was intentional or not, the use of the ‘kumiho’ (a nine-tailed fox which takes the form of a woman to seduce men) is an ample metaphor for hypersexuality within the episode. You see, Ji-Ah is a kumiho, who must seduce and kill 100 men before she can return to her human form. This seemingly endless transaction of sex and murder is the result of shaman possession, and a request asked by Ji-Ah’s mother so that she could kill her abusive stepfather. Lovecraft Country‘s approach to this mythic legend grants representation to a lesser-known symptom of sexual trauma, whilst also shocking audiences with gore to spare in buckets.
The connection between Ji-Ah and Atticus is tremendously strong because they both perceive themselves as monsters. The war-time horrors Tic commits, alongside the alluring murders Ji-Ah must complete, builds a lot of similarities between the two. Unfortunately, it is made even more grievous for Ji-Ah as she starts to experience feelings for Atticus, who she initially planned to kill. Her mother repeatedly warns her that she’s not herself and that she cannot experience emotion, because she is possessed. So after what feels like a lifetime of disassociation from reality, and being called a monster by your own mum, feeling love for someone you might have to kill is just adding salt to the wounds.
Sometimes, the power of cinema is a kind reminder that we are still human. The film Meet me in St. Louis (the Judy Garland film that the title plays on) is one that Ji-Ah adores. We open the episode to her watching the movie in a barren theatre, imagining herself dancing towards the screen. The romance that blossoms between herself and Tic is a floodlight to the darkness inside her, a touching suggestion that she is allowed to feel love, and experience romance. She is not the monster that she thinks she is. It strengthens upon the Drag scene in Strange Case which also adds to the moments of human breathlessness, pure euphoria, even in a world built on cosmic horror.
Lovecraft Country is getting stronger, and stronger. The marriage of conflict, bloody horror, and genuinely moving moments seen in Strange Case is one that Meet me in Daegu replicates successfully. I am looking forward to episode 7, anticipating a continuation of this marvellous formula.