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  • Lovecraft Country

    Just wanted to alert everyone with an HBO account that Lovecraft Country premieres tonight in the US and Canada. I'm not sure if it's the same internationally. Here's the HBO blurb:

    Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michaal Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.

    Lovecraft Country is executive produced by showrunner Misha Green along with J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, Bill Carraro, Yann Demange, Daniel Sackheim, and David Knoller.
    I think it sounds a bit like Buffy in its use of monsters to represent real psychological terrors. The review that I read says that it's not as heavy as it sounds. It's actually a lot of fun while dealing with important themes and, yes, there are witches and vampires in the mix:

    "Lovecraft Country" is set in 1950s Chicago, where Atticus (Jonathan Majors), learns he is the descendent of the Braithwaites, a family of white wizards who summon various evils like Shoggoths inspired loosely by the works of prolific cosmic horror author H.P. Lovecraft. Atticus and his family and friends end up fighting demons, ghosts, potion-toting mad scientists and power-mad white people.

    The series is based on a 2016 book of the same name by Matt Ruff. The novel is a deliberately and ironically low-key affair, which juxtaposes Lovecraft's pulp cosmic horrors with the everyday cruelties of racism: police terrorizing motorists for driving while Black, the Tulsa Race Massacre, housing discrimination, employment discrimination. - NBC review
    I think it sounds really promising.

    Maybe have a rewatch on this, too? There are ten episodes. I see it premieres in the UK on Monday, August 17th on Sky Atlantic and NowTV and on FOXTEL Showcase in Australia. Trying to figure out if it's in other countries like Germany, but my iPad is being fussy. It looks like it might be available on some form of HBO or Sky TV or similar.
    Last edited by American Aurora; 16-08-20, 08:46 PM.

  • #2
    before committing to sustained commentary,
    i would want to watch at least the first episode-

    a tad wary in the wake of Watchman's excessively
    controlled neatness-

    yet most excited by the premise, by, as you
    draw out, American Aurora, its lineage:
    both its Lovecraftiness-i devoured his books
    in grade school, and while ever precise, he
    was was never neat-and its Buffyness-

    so put me down as wavering but most, most
    definitely interested, tending....


    ???????

    Comment


    • #3
      It's on Sky Ticket and Sky Q (pay tv) in Germany. Unfortunately, I don't have Sky but I keep hoping it'll be on amazon prime sometime in the future.

      flow

      Banner by Brendan

      Comment


      • #4
        Happy to give this a go, I've set it to record on Sky Atlantic. Might not get to watch it until later in the week though.

        Comment


        • #5
          American Aurora
          I think it sounds a bit like Buffy in its use of monsters to represent real psychological terrors.
          Yeah but The Gothic was doing this way before Buffy . "Atticus Freeman" is a bit on the nose.

          I've set it to record (it's actually on at 2.00am and repeated later) but I'm distracted this week 'cos Lucifer's back on Friday.

          flow - I've just finished what's probably my 30th rewatch of 1-4 (I lost count somewhere in the low 20s).
          Last edited by TriBel; 17-08-20, 12:13 AM.
          sigpic

          Comment


          • flow
            flow commented
            Editing a comment
            My hubby is still on his first watch - he finished season 3 yesterday!

          • TriBel
            TriBel commented
            Editing a comment
            flow - if I was still married that would be grounds for divorce!

        • #6
          Originally posted by TriBel View Post
          American Aurora
          Yeah but The Gothic was doing this way before Buffy . "Atticus Freeman" is a bit on the nose.
          Yes, TriBel, that is very true.

          But I'm hoping because of the name that it doesn't take itself too seriously and the name is intentionally eye-rolling. I'd love a big, crazy, sloppy, picaresque Lovecraftian neo-Southern Gothic TV show that flips the lid on a lot of closed barrels. God knows, the US needs something like that.

          I agree with StateofSiege that the Watchman series was a little too constrained and controlled. Jeremy Irons was fun, though.

          Lucifer - from the Sandman series, right? I always mean to watch that show because my dad is a fervent fan and has seen it a dozen times. He's excited for the new season on Netflix and I guess I should watch the first four seasons at some point so I can watch it with him.
          Last edited by American Aurora; 17-08-20, 01:35 AM.

          Comment


          • flow
            flow commented
            Editing a comment
            You have four days left to catch up with your dad.I'm sure he is eagerly waiting for August 21st:-)

          • American Aurora
            American Aurora commented
            Editing a comment
            Ah, that quick? Well, I'm sure he'll watch it again with me when I get caught up!

        • #7
          Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
          I agree with StateofSiege that the Watchman series was a little too constrained and controlled. Jeremy Irons was fun, though.

          Oh yes-

          As ever-


          Comment


          • #8
            Looks great, music's even better (Simone/Sinnerman) - but I think I need to invest in a sound bar. I always understand Buffy's politico aesthetic as belonging to the realm of the uncanny - it's probably the thing that attracted me to the series. With this my reference point would be Mark Fisher's "weird" (the presence of something which doesn't belong) and/or "eerie" (produced when something is absent) https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/z...eird-and-eerie

            TBH, it reminded me of Supernatural (and for some reason Carnivale) rather than Buffy. It was...uncomfortable viewing in parts...and not because of the creatures.

            American Aurora
            Lucifer - from the Sandman series, right?
            Yes - though you'd never know. Re: Sandman - have you heard Audible's production of Vol 1 (James McAvoy as Morpheus and Gaiman as the Narrator)? Awesome.
            Last edited by TriBel; 18-08-20, 01:47 AM.
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            • #9
              Originally posted by TriBel View Post
              Looks great, music's even better (Simone/Sinnerman) - but I think I need to invest in a sound bar. I always understand Buffy's politico aesthetic as belonging to the realm of the uncanny - it's probably the thing that attracted me to the series. With this my reference point would be Mark Fisher's "weird" (the presence of something which doesn't belong) and/or "eerie" (produced when something is absent) https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/z...eird-and-eerie

              TBH, it reminded me of Supernatural (and for some reason Carnivale) rather than Buffy. It was...uncomfortable viewing in parts...and not because of the creatures.

              American Aurora

              Yes - though you'd never know. Re: Sandman - have you heard Audible's production of Vol 1 (James McAvoy as Morpheus and Gaiman as the Narrator)? Awesome.
              TriBel, curious to hear what felt uncomfortable to you. I thought the dramatization was a bit off because they were obviously trying to push as much action and exposition as possible into the first episode, but I think it has a lot of promise and I see that it's a huge hit on twitter with African Americans. I really like the chemistry between the lead actors. I was going to post something, but I'm reserving judgment until the next episode where we actually get an explanation as to what's going on. Lots of meta commentary and hyper-awareness of its own revisionism through a different lens, I thought.

              Regarding Sandman, I am woefully behind with the times as always. Did they do a dramatization of it or are they literally reading the comic script?

              If you're looking for a sound bar, I highly recommend Zvox as a brand. I had two before that which were much cheaper (Pioneer and Denon - spell check keeps trying to change the name to Demon which fits), but they kept dropping the connection to the TV. I've found that spending a tiny bit more really makes a difference.
              Last edited by American Aurora; 20-08-20, 04:33 PM.

              Comment


              • Stoney
                Stoney commented
                Editing a comment
                I've not a clue what a sound bar is. I'm such a hermit.

            • #10
              Stoney, a sound bar is just a fancy name for an external speaker for a TV set. Usually, it is a small bar that rests in front or above or behind the TV. In my case, it's a flat disc that the TV sits on that's called a soundbase. It's kind of surround sound without the surround It really amplifies voices to hear dialogue in a crisp and vibrant manner and film/TV scores sound fantastic with one.

              They generally run between 50 - 200 dollars with the better ones going up to a thousand.

              https://www.cnet.com/news/the-best-s...-buy-for-2020/

              Here's the brand I have which I love - I think mine is a 36 inch

              https://zvox.com/collections/soundba...-sound-systems
              Last edited by American Aurora; 21-08-20, 01:56 AM.

              Comment


              • Stoney
                Stoney commented
                Editing a comment
                Ah thank you. My inlaws have a surround sound system but it's all speakers and more 'trad', I've never seen these before.

            • #11
              Stoney - it's basically a speaker in the shape of a bar. I can't hear a bloody thing on the telly unless I turn the volume right up and even then it's tinny. ?

              American Aurora - Initially, because of the sound problem, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. I habitually watch films/shows on the laptop and the physical distance between me and the TV seems to manifest itself as conceptual or emotional distance. I think I need to wean myself back into the bigger screen (at the moment, it's just something that's "there" and I dust occasionally and use as a mirror when drying my hair).

              Okay, so I haven't connected with the characters yet...to the extent that I can't even remember their names (really nothing new there)...but I think I like them. I wasn't disappointed - just slightly disengaged but it's because of the above and not a flaw in the programme. I'm actually not very good with new shows...I need to feel immersed. I'm not interested in plot...I hate having to follow it...I prefer to google the end and I can't with this.

              The discomfort was because of the historical racism...I know that it happened but I hate that it happened. I know the story needs to be told but I hate the telling of it. It makes me sad-angry with the world (as opposed to just angry, which is kinda my default).

              Thanks for the soundbar info...I wondered whether to spend the kids inheritance and go for a Bose (probably more than I paid for the telly).
              sigpic

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              • #12
                Okay I watched the first episode this evening. Well, the early hours of the morning. And on my own, so I didn't want to look outside the curtains afterwards!

                I'm not familiar with HP Lovecraft and my knowledge of the Jim Crow laws and that period of history is pretty sketchy. It wasn't something we covered at school but my eldest has this year, so my knowledge has been recently expanded a little beyond what I've previously seen in films. A lot of the segregation and racism depicted I was aware of having occurred but seeing it dramatised is always difficult to watch. I totally agree that it's a story that should be told and I expect my understanding will be greatly increased, but it isn't easy viewing and is very emotionally affecting. The fear inducing victimisation was really well acted and I felt incredibly tense through an awful lot of the episode. That this tension culminated in a truly scary 'dark wood terrorised run for their lives' from literal monsters preying on them in the woods that sat alongside the human ones who had been doing the same, was really well done I think. The creature (Lovecraftian possibly?) that was covered in eyes that abhorred the light, their perception being restricted to the dark as they tore apart and devoured, felt very appropriate. But not ideal 2am viewing on your own maybe.

                After the earlier conversation in the thread about soundbars/bases it was interesting that I actually had a lot of trouble hearing what the characters were saying at first and had to crank up the volume quite a lot. So the early part of the episode was a bit disrupted for me and I would probably benefit from re-viewing it up to the point where Leti reunited with her sister at the street party. But I did get into the swing of it all and I really enjoyed the character dynamics and the family vibes between them all. I hope we get to learn more about Leti's background too.

                Very intrigued by the plot of Tic's father's disappearance and what the ancestral truth is that is going be revealed for Tic. Really looking forward to seeing the next episode and will at least be better prepared to turn up the volume and also not be so shocked by the scarier parts!

                Comment


                • TriBel
                  TriBel commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thank you! I'm relieved the discomfort and the sound wasn't just me.

              • #13
                I'll put my thoughts on the second episode under spoilers in case anyone else is going to post on the first, I can always remove them later...

                Episode 2 - Whitey's on the Moon
                Spoiler:

                I was really taken with how this episode started and instantly suspicious of Uncle George and Leti's jubilance and the too perfect rooms. Their behaviour didn't fit as a response following the experience they had just had, and lo and behold it was a manipulation as a spell was used to affect their memories.

                But not Tic. So his distinction from the other two is felt from the start again. It felt like this underlined that it is his mission to try to find his dad in response to the letter he got from him which paved the way for where they are now. And during the course of the episode we get some answers as to why the letter was sent, why it sounded strange and what the real purpose was. The reveal being that Samuel Braithwaite planned to use him and the connection of his ancestry for his own purposes.

                The level of intrigue in the episode was again great and a lot of the strangeness of the lodge and its occupants really appealed to me. The attempt to draw them into fantasies that captured them emotionally were excellent, as well as really nice points of character exploration. The whole strangeness and attempt to make them forget why they might want to leave reminded us of Cromm Cruac, an episode of the 1980s show Robin of Sherwood where sorcery is used to try to not only trap the characters but provide them with such a sense of contentment that they don't want to leave. Even including bringing a dead loved one back to make a character want to stay (as we saw with George and Tic's mum). But Tic's ability to remember his experiences and feel how wrong it is stops this working as well as it might and Christina's seeming willingness to negatively affect her father's plans helps to return the memories of the others.

                I adored the moment when they tried to drive away finally and the car met the barrier that had been created to prevent them leaving. I'm assuming that Christina, and possibly William, have also survived and would be interested to see more of both of them. I found the alignment between Christina and Tic interesting as inherent sexism featured heavily in the episode alongside the racism theme. I really liked the tie to the abolition act of 1833 with the burning down of the original lodge, the freeing of his ancestor Hanna, who was pregnant by Titus Braithwaite, and how the explained tie to Hanna played through to such a key moment at the end of the episode. There was definitely a lot to like.

                But so much happened in this episode that I felt like it should have been two and so had less of a balance leaning towards heavy exposition throughout. I also felt like the cult society and Samuel Braithwaite were underexplored. I appreciate with the possibility of more of Christina we might get more on this but likely still within the context of them as defeated already. I'm hoping that we will also learn a lot more about Tic's father (whether biological, or truly his uncle), something that it did feel right that they have left to develop further later, and within the strain of the loss of George.

                The most disappointing aspect for me was actually how they managed to make the loss of Uncle George feel underwhelming. Although still fatally wounded, the initial moment of him being shot felt eased by Leti's resurrection and the possibility that they would get out because of Tic's agreement to do the spell (that's how I took it). Leti's struggle to deal with her death and return was excellently done though. If it had been her that had died at the end after seeing both her original death when they tried to escape, Tic's grief when she died, her pain on her return, to then feel some futility to it all through her second/actual death and Tic's return to grief, would have been really impactful. Instead George's shooting, his weakness and then death just lacked an emotional punch. Perhaps if we had even just seen his shooting and Tic's response at that moment it would have put more weight on his loss. As it is, George's discussion with his brother and the potential for that moving on ended up being the highlight of his exit. This could play out to gain a lot of layering even in the ripples of his absence, but at the moment it feels like a bit of a waste of a very interesting character. Although I can see how the belief in having broken free, in having managed to save them all and realisation that wasn't true put a good deal of emotional impact on Tic that is likely to also play forwards in his responses. It is a loss that I may well view differently in hindsight of all that follows.

                Although I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as the first episode, I do still think it was great. The reciting of "Whitey on the Moon", pulling the social injustice of a totally indulgent and unnecessary act of sending a white man to the moon above helping the ground level needs of the black people, leading in to Tic overtaking the spell which was an act for selfish personal gain from Samuel Braithwaite above the lives and needs of others again, was excellent. Interested to see where it goes next.

                Comment


                • #14
                  Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                  I'll put my thoughts on the second episode under spoilers in case anyone else is going to post on the first, I can always remove them later...

                  Episode 2 - Whitey's on the Moon
                  Spoiler:

                  I was really taken with how this episode started and instantly suspicious of Uncle George and Leti's jubilance and the too perfect rooms. Their behaviour didn't fit as a response following the experience they had just had, and lo and behold it was a manipulation as a spell was used to affect their memories.

                  But not Tic. So his distinction from the other two is felt from the start again. It felt like this underlined that it is his mission to try to find his dad in response to the letter he got from him which paved the way for where they are now. And during the course of the episode we get some answers as to why the letter was sent, why it sounded strange and what the real purpose was. The reveal being that Samuel Braithwaite planned to use him and the connection of his ancestry for his own purposes.

                  The level of intrigue in the episode was again great and a lot of the strangeness of the lodge and its occupants really appealed to me. The attempt to draw them into fantasies that captured them emotionally were excellent, as well as really nice points of character exploration. The whole strangeness and attempt to make them forget why they might want to leave reminded us of Cromm Cruac, an episode of the 1980s show Robin of Sherwood where sorcery is used to try to not only trap the characters but provide them with such a sense of contentment that they don't want to leave. Even including bringing a dead loved one back to make a character want to stay (as we saw with George and Tic's mum). But Tic's ability to remember his experiences and feel how wrong it is stops this working as well as it might and Christina's seeming willingness to negatively affect her father's plans helps to return the memories of the others.

                  I adored the moment when they tried to drive away finally and the car met the barrier that had been created to prevent them leaving. I'm assuming that Christina, and possibly William, have also survived and would be interested to see more of both of them. I found the alignment between Christina and Tic interesting as inherent sexism featured heavily in the episode alongside the racism theme. I really liked the tie to the abolition act of 1833 with the burning down of the original lodge, the freeing of his ancestor Hanna, who was pregnant by Titus Braithwaite, and how the explained tie to Hanna played through to such a key moment at the end of the episode. There was definitely a lot to like.

                  But so much happened in this episode that I felt like it should have been two and so had less of a balance leaning towards heavy exposition throughout. I also felt like the cult society and Samuel Braithwaite were underexplored. I appreciate with the possibility of more of Christina we might get more on this but likely still within the context of them as defeated already. I'm hoping that we will also learn a lot more about Tic's father (whether biological, or truly his uncle), something that it did feel right that they have left to develop further later, and within the strain of the loss of George.

                  The most disappointing aspect for me was actually how they managed to make the loss of Uncle George feel underwhelming. Although still fatally wounded, the initial moment of him being shot felt eased by Leti's resurrection and the possibility that they would get out because of Tic's agreement to do the spell (that's how I took it). Leti's struggle to deal with her death and return was excellently done though. If it had been her that had died at the end after seeing both her original death when they tried to escape, Tic's grief when she died, her pain on her return, to then feel some futility to it all through her second/actual death and Tic's return to grief, would have been really impactful. Instead George's shooting, his weakness and then death just lacked an emotional punch. Perhaps if we had even just seen his shooting and Tic's response at that moment it would have put more weight on his loss. As it is, George's discussion with his brother and the potential for that moving on ended up being the highlight of his exit. This could play out to gain a lot of layering even in the ripples of his absence, but at the moment it feels like a bit of a waste of a very interesting character. Although I can see how the belief in having broken free, in having managed to save them all and realisation that wasn't true put a good deal of emotional impact on Tic that is likely to also play forwards in his responses. It is a loss that I may well view differently in hindsight of all that follows.

                  Although I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as the first episode, I do still think it was great. The reciting of "Whitey on the Moon", pulling the social injustice of a totally indulgent and unnecessary act of sending a white man to the moon above helping the ground level needs of the black people, leading in to Tic overtaking the spell which was an act for selfish personal gain from Samuel Braithwaite above the lives and needs of others again, was excellent. Interested to see where it goes next.
                  I'm not entirely convinced
                  Spoiler:
                  that Uncle George is really dead-dead and gone. It's a supernatural show, after all.
                  You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

                  Comment


                  • Stoney
                    Stoney commented
                    Editing a comment
                    That's a fair point and I hope you're correct.

                • #15
                  I haven't watched the later episodes yet but I've just had a phone alert about a Guardian article on Ep 3 entitled "History is more horrible than fiction". I haven't read it but it's kinda the point I was making in my first post about feeling uncomfortable. I suspect that if I do watch it I'll want to hit something...or someone. I'm feeling hateful enough about the world as it is...the UK and the US rabidly making their way back to the 1950s. I suspect watching it will push me over the edge...
                  sigpic

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                  • #16
                    Not the moment to say, I'm looking forward to watching episode 3 then. In all seriousness, the historical truth can be more than ghastly enough to out do fictional horror. I've really appreciated how the show has woven it into the supernatural stories so far and would be hopeful that it does so as well again.

                    I'm committed to watching Sleeper tonight though so that I can finally get to reading Tiny Tabby's review on it. I do hope to watch the next episodes of both Lovecraft and Wentworth before the end of the week but it'll depend on how much time I manage to get to put aside for reading the review. Everything should free up more next week when both kids return to school. As unwanted and nerves inducing a prospect as that is.

                    Comment


                    • TriBel
                      TriBel commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Nope...I'd kick the cat or dog...if I had one.

                  • #17
                    I'm going to need to do some serious catching up on this as I think there has been three of four episodes since I last watched. I'm going to watch the next Wentworth tomorrow but will then start trying to catch up to these. Is anyone else still watching it?

                    Comment


                    • #18
                      I do enjoy this programme but I'm still often having trouble hearing what the characters are saying and have to run it back. I think it's just unfortunate that there are limits to how loud I can turn it up when the kids are asleep and there might be monstrous noises and shouting suddenly.

                      Anyway, I'm a little behind but hoping over the next week or two I'll be able to catch up...


                      Episode 3 - Holy Ghost

                      The focus on Leti in the church at the start, disconnected from what is happening around her, straight away leans into a sense of isolation and personal impact. The opening line asks her, 'what did you do to make a mark on this world?' The idea of facing challenges, overcoming obstacles and achieving something seems to inform her choices through this episode and it follows on well from the experiences she's so recently returned from, the brief touches with death she's had and the ongoing grief she's experiencing.

                      When you frame her choices and reactions in this episode with what she has just experienced the sense of acting in the context of trauma is apparent. Just as it is for others such as George's widow, Dee participating in the foolishness with the ouija board in the basement and Tic too. I think this works excellently as a plot to run alongside the haunting of the house. A haunting by ghosts of people who were experimented on and murdered, unable to rest. Leti's desperate need to stay there drives her to investigate the truth behind what happened and fires the desire to try to fix it.

                      The actress who plays Leti really knocks it out the park in this episode as her visible emotional responses to the victimisation she is subjected to by her white neighbours is reflected also by the fear elicited by the hauntings. But it isn't just the social issues of the times or the supernatural, the emotional reactions are also on display continuously between her and Tic and Ruby too. The strains that challenge character dynamics runs wild in this episode and rarely lets up. For Leti there is a lot of negativity seen with both of these two key relationships, as well as the potential to strengthen and support each other.

                      So many characters are seen around the periphery struggling to process the past and their current emotions. From George's widow tearing up his favourite book, Dee's clear awareness of her father's absence, Ruby's memories of her mum and even between those who are holding the secret of George's death to themselves as we witness Monrose's withdrawal and anger when Tic goes to visit him (probably in great part because of the raised question over Tic's parentage that happened between Monrose and his brother). A sense of consequences runs around the plots and characters and as Leti explains to Tic that she is terrified but wants to face the truth of this new world head on, there starts to become a sense of ownership for what it has all done to her. Alongside the repetition of things that are hidden there is a continuous theme of power, as well as the corruption of power, in this episode too. From the brutal experiments and corrupted cops, within the character dynamics, and also down to the power within the individuals themselves.

                      The moments when people are pushed over the limits of restraint feel very apt in an episode where even the house feels like it is going to burst and explode. When Leti hits capacity on the abuse and victimisation from her neighbours at the point they add the burning cross on her lawn to the days of continuous blaring car horns, you're more than understanding of why she's had enough. And appreciate that this is a decision she took despite her clear understanding of the consequences there would be. Understanding shown in Ruby's hiding of the guns and Leti's ready preparation for the inevitable responding police presence. Sure enough, the authorities that had no interest in being there for her for days on end, despite her reports, rapidly arrive .

                      Likewise in reaching capacity, I can see why her history with Leti pushes Ruby to verbally lash out when she learns (incorrectly as it turns out) that the funding of the house originating from their mother. And, as unpleasant and a huge leap from romantic as it is, Tic's jealous claiming of Leti after watching her dancing with another man and struggling with his own responses to his recent and more distant past. Experiences he makes it clear have been drawn to the fore by the mental torture of the persecution in addition to his grief. The sex is far from gentle and although Leti tries to cover for her bleeding as being her period, we later learn it was her first time. But she clearly cares for Tic and this combines with that wish to just feel something that has been driving her to lose the numbness she has been trapped in since escaping the Braithwaite mansion. And Tic is acting on his wish to reach out but then is also pushing her away, unable to break some of his self isolation and be open with her or himself about his feelings.

                      The repeated use of photography as a visual link between past and present is an interesting element that crops up. That the truth was hidden in the room that becomes Leti's dark room, symbolically draws the current to the past alongside ideas of revelations and evidence and it works so well that the final confrontation happens there. As Leti successfully manages to use the knowledge that she gains of what happened in the house to call forth the combined spiritual strength of those who lost their lives there to help her, naming them and giving them presence again, it allows them to win over the malevolent spirit within the house. As she had described feeling like a ghost herself since their return, there is a real sense of ownership and power to the moment, of coming together to fight. Perhaps significantly though, with Tic playing the role of the possessed evil. And this happens alongside the deaths above them of three of the neighbours that broke in (disappearances which may build some wariness in the community that might hold off the open abuse for a time, if not the underlying hatred). At the end we see Leti is being interviewed by a reporter from the local Black paper about the guesthouse. Coupled with a picture taken of her this could be seen to link to the starting line and that sense of making an identifiable mark. This leaves her on an ending tone that leans to a sense of connection and that this could possibly be a building success for Leti. But we are left unsure if Leti and Tic even knew the murders of their neighbours happened in the house as the creepy elevator goes down to show their bodies amidst other bones somewhere even lower under the house. More secrets lying beneath the surface.

                      To bring again the sense of the past not being over and it having such a lingering and important impact on the present, we end with the very unsurprising reveal that Christina Braithwaite survived. But, in a more surprising moment, that she has in fact been tied into this episode all along as the true source of Leti's sudden financial security.

                      The teasers for an ongoing story were given from there as Christina overcame Tic very easily with magic (so that's twice in quick succession for him, now that feels ominous). She made it clear that he is in a far more fragile position and she is in command as she explained about some pages Winthrope stole from the Book of Names that Christina wants. Appropriately, with the previous connections to the garden of Eden, we're given the sense the apple may not have fallen too far from her father's tree here as a seeming desire for power appears the clearest motivation. The offer made to Tic is to discover more family history together, but he would definitely be wise to continue to not trust her readily.

                      I actually found Tic quite wooden in this episode and so it was harder to connect with the character's emotional struggle. I think this was made particularly hard with Leti being the main focus of the episode and conveying so much whilst his interactions with her ran hot and cold. I'm hoping that the next episode gives something to get into his character a bit more.

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                      • #19
                        TimeTravellingBunny American Aurora Have either of you continued to watch the series? I'm hoping to watch episode 4 before Monday so that I'll have managed a couple over a week and am inching towards catching back up (although I think it's episode 7 that is airing Monday, so I'll probably only catch up as it completes all 10 episodes!). I just wasn't sure if anyone else continued watching.

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                        • American Aurora
                          American Aurora commented
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                          Sorry I haven't caught up! Yesterday was six hours at the car repair shop day. Today after an eye appointment, I'll have time to finally get to a lot of things and will post in the next few days.

                        • Stoney
                          Stoney commented
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                          You have my total sympathy, everything always takes me double the time I expect it to and then when other pressures rear up too, plans just go down the drain. It was really just to see if other people were still intending to watch.

                      • #20
                        Episode 4 - A History of Violence

                        I enjoyed the way the title of the episode repeatedly played alongside the actions of the characters and situations they were in. There can of course be a history of violence that is specific, as well as in considering a wider history of violence more generally too.

                        We start with Montrose and realise that he is clearly suffering from some past trauma alongside his grief, the political threat looming and worries about Russia and nuclear war. The book that George gave to Montrose seems to tie to everything that links Titus/Tic and the ongoing events so far, all of which has plenty of violence in its history. Montrose's reactive/emotional burning of the book also fitted this overall theme and was an act that drew to mind George's widow, Hippolyta, ripping up his favourite book as well as the search for the missing pages that is the current focus. The extract itself that we see Montrose glance at in The Bylaws and Precepts of the Order of the Ancient Dawn, speaks of Adam and Eve with aggressive overtones. And the passage is something recalled later when Montrose uses what he read to get them through the door as they explore the tunnels searching for the vault and the missing pages. This could be seen to show not only the power of what was and the written word, the library of the past that can inform and influence the present and future, but also that trying to destroy things you wish to be erasable may be wrong or perhaps even impossible. The past leaves its trace on the present and the fragility of attempts to keep it buried, no matter how completely you may think you have, falls in line with the rediscovery of Yahima and the revelations of more of Titus' dark hidden past.

                        Violence is an intrinsic part of this show with the focus on the racism that consistently features. It's also there repeatedly in the events that the characters reference and raise. From Christina questioning who helped them evict Hiram when she finds her way blocked from entering Leti's house; in Tic's attempt to try to kill Christina; in the vicious, sexist way Captain Lancaster spoke to Christina; in Montrose's explanation linking the history of the knot to slavery, abuse and oppression (whether true or not for his family); in Ruby's belief of the limitations on her because of her colour; in the eventual reveal of Yahima's imprisonment, slavery and the murder of their people; and of course the shocking end where Montrose slashes Yahima's throat. The character so briefly there that represented both male and female and crossed boundaries is brutally killed. So much violence feeds the events that flow around these people all the time.

                        And there is within this that aspect of who writes history. Not only are there the constant elements of the written word and of the truth being uncovered about the family ties, but with Montrose offering a past which Tic doesn't feel was truthful and the museum presenting Titus as a celebrated explorer on the surface whilst the truth of the violence committed to try to gain power lies beneath. In this way I really liked that the entrance to the vault and the truth was through the plinth that his statue was mounted on, the truth of what his 'achievements' were built on. This reveal of the violence underneath works with the tunnels eventually leading back to Leti's house and being linked to those that we saw at the end of Holy Ghost and the body of one of her neighbours being revealed (although the geography of all of this from Boston's museum somewhat confuses me). There was also a suggestion that Montrose is hiding his sexuality, which would definitely be another factor which would have connections to a history of fear and violence.

                        Exactly what William is up to is interesting as we assume he is following instructions from Christina but he could be playing his own angles. Again displaying practiced violence in how he dealt with the police following Christina. I also assume seducing Ruby was to gain access to the house/group after being blocked and was another very calculated move. Tasting her blood could have been superfluous but it also feels ominous. I like having his actions often hanging as unexplained threads that we are left to piece with the overall action and have enjoyed how his character has been used as a player on the Braithwaite side alongside but separate to Christina.

                        The significance of the 'missing' orrery is interesting and Hippolyta's connections to astronomy. The idea given with the orrery as something that needs to be fixed, that 'everything has its key' is an interesting element. Obviously it sat well with the search for Titus' vault and the need for Tic's blood to be used to unlock it. Once again tying history, blood and violence to the present in the whole set up of the vault and it residing within a museum that celebrated Titus' exploits. The predictive nature of the movement of the solar system (which played its part in the reveal of the switch for the vault), the desire to gain power, the repeated use of magical means to control already established, and a reference even to a time machine, all feels to fit well together for possible rituals and ceremonies to come. This link to space reminded me also of Tic's dream in the bus at the very start as spaceships attacked and I wonder where this thread may be taking us.

                        Again Tic and Leti are shown to have a very troubled dynamic. Montrose assumes that Leti is Tic's girl but she is understandable angry to feel shut out by him and with his references to making sure they are all safe before he leaves. There isn't really a sense of an actual relationship there yet, it is very dysfunctional, but it still feels like there are indications that they both truly care for the other.

                        I found Tic's assumption he would be able to find what he needed to cast spells himself a little surprising. But I suppose in embracing the reality they have now been exposed to and after the experiences so far, there is no real reason to expect that he won't be. It could be a possible explanation for Montrose's action, if he felt that he was protecting Tic by removing the possibility of translating the pages by killing Yahima, and it fits into his earlier sense of them being outnumbered and outgunned to try to get Tic to back off rather than head into a direct clash. But I'm not sure, so many potential truths could be revealed to be the true motivation for his action.

                        As everyone keeps seeking answers and power, exploitation, manipulation and abuse seem rife still and the overall feeling is that things are likely to get messier and more horror-filled as they go. The map of Titus' expeditions and George's atlas all add into that feeling that we're heading purposefully towards... something.

                        I didn't dislike this episode but I had a few more minor niggles. The background tracks seemed a bit jarring against the era/setting at points than I can remember feeling before (especially on one scene where Christina was driving through town). The dramatic surge in the music track for the moment Tic kissed Leti at the end almost felt mocking. Which might have been the case, but I don't think that was the intention. Again, I struggled to hear what was being said at points and couldn't catch it even when reviewing. The set for the tunnels looked really fake, like a set from the Captain Kirk era of Star Trek. In fact, that whole adventure into the tunnels that led to the reveal of the ship just constantly reminded me of Indiana Jones and, even more so, the film The Goonies, which to be honest just really broke any tension and simply distracted me, taking me out of the moment.

                        So there were a handful of things that took the edge off this one in some ways for me. It felt more like a part of a whole than the others have, less strong individually as it opened more questions than it answered perhaps. I could see it being plausible that it is one I'd see more in and appreciate even more when I've seen future episodes. But as I said, I didn't actually dislike it, there were still plenty of things to ponder on. It was just less enjoyable than the others so far for me.

                        --
                        I'm going to try to watch episode 5 during the next week, 6 too if I can manage it in trying to catch up. But I also want to read the current rewatch review of Never Leave Me and watch and post on another episode of Wentworth first, so how quickly I manage to do those will greatly impact whether I manage one or two Lovecraft episodes in the next week.

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