Old and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
M Night Shyamalan is far from my favorite filmmaker, but I’m always interested to see whatever it is he’s made whenever his name flashes by on a trailer with this film being no exception! The conceit seemed decent enough in a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits sort of way which is definitely in his wheelhouse, but there was A LOT going on here that made this look both laughable and disturbing. I guess that’s why we all keep giving him more and more chances as no matter how bad he burns us with movies like The Happening, Last Airbender, and After Earth, there’s always something to his thrillers that makes them unique among everything else that makes it to theaters. Does he manage to knock it out of the park once again with this ghastly tale of time gone haywire, or will this tank so bad that he’ll have to make another low budget found footage movie as penance? Let’s find out!!
A family of four with parents Guy and Prisca (Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps) as well as the young kids Trent and Maddox (Emun Elliott and Embeth Davidtz) are vacationing at a resort THAT THEY JUST SO HAPPENED TO FIND ON THE INTERNET where they cater to your every need in the most beautiful tropical paradise you’ve ever seen! Not only that, they have a secret beach that is PERFECT for spending a day at, so the four of them head out there along with another family of four (Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Kathleen Chalfant, and Kyle Bailey) as well as a nice couple (Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird) to enjoy the day swimming relaxing! Things go sideways fairly soon however as Trent finds a dead body which some mysterious guy who was already there (Aaron Pierre) seems to recognize, and not long after that the oldest among them start to get sick. They try to leave but something is causing them to black out as soon as they try to step through the cavern that led them here, and to make matters worse the three kids all start to age rapidly. Trent and Maddox (now played by Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) and reaching adulthood within hours and everyone who has a medical condition is getting worse and worse as the seemingly fast passage of time is leaving their conditions untreated to rampage through their bodies. With only hours to go before the adults grow old enough to die from age alone, can they find a way to escape this beach before losing all the time they have left? What possible reason could there be for the beach being this way, and why were they put there in the first place? If they get out of this alive, do the kids get like twenty birthday presents in a day?
It’s been quiet the wild ride, but it’s time for us to say goodbye to this smartly written, wackily executed, and strangely put together show. The final episode is upon us and with so much at stake for our heroes, will they manage to survive whatever challenge they face, or will this tangled web of ideas and plot threads fail to come together in a satisfying way? There’s only one way to find out, so let’s get started!!
With this being the final episode (no word yet on if this well get a second season), there’s not as much to build up and discuss as there are things to pay off and bring to a conclusion, so for this I’m going to change up the style a bit and tell you right now what I think. I’m… conflicted. Bold statement, I know, but as much as I’ve struggled to get on the same wavelength of this show in some of the previous episodes, I just feel like I’m too far out of the loop for it to work for me. How much of it is my whiteness and privilege butting up against a series primarily created and aimed at a different audience with its own perspective? How much of it is the show’s already troubled pacing and narrative coming to a head as it tries to tie everything up? Is it just a disappointing ending or one that’s SUPPOSED to leave me feeling empty and tired? I’m not sure the answer to any of those questions, but the bottom line is that from my point of view the show doesn’t end on a bang but on a squib as things definitely DO happen that wrap up the story but none of it feels particularly cathartic and it’s all muddled with the show still trying to explain itself up until the last minute. I’d be hard pressed to say if I’d be any more confused watching this episode if I HADN’T closely watched the previous ones leading up to this point because it’s lore has been a tangled mess from the beginning with the whole Sons of Adam thing being its biggest bugbear, and there’s nothing else the show has left to do but try and wrangle all of that into something watchable. Giving it as much benefit of the doubt as I can, I understand the EMOTIONAL beats of the episode, the importance of a lot of its decisions, and how it could definitely work for someone else, but for me I found the mechanics of it all poorly explained, the lessons to be somewhat suspect, and the ending particularly dour in a way that the rest of the show really hasn’t been even at its. It’s not the note that I personally would have wanted it to go out on, but perhaps what I would have wanted would have missed the point entirely.
We’re back with more Lovecraft Country intrigue, and it has certainly been an interesting journey hasn’t it? We’ve had great episodes, bad episodes, and all the tones that you can possibly imagine somehow crammed into this very strange tale of magic and horror wrapped in the not so strange but still horrifying exploration of racial issues in this country! With only two episodes to go are we heading towards a climactic conclusion that will make it worth whatever stumbling we went through getting to this point, or should we expect more of the same issues that have plagued this series for some time now? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Diana (Jada Harris) in a near comatose state as all the adults in her life (at least the ones that are still around) start yelling at each other about how this could have happened in the first place. Frankly I’m not sure what they’re fighting about as ALL of them are terrible guardians with Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) having disappeared, but the more interesting revelation here is that the Evil Twins from the last episode didn’t want to kill Diana with their razor sharp nails; they just wanted to… poison her with a magic disease or something? In any case, Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku), being the only one with any idea of what to do, calls Christina (Abbey Lee) to try and make heads or tails of this, and while she DOES have some good news, it’s mostly bad. She can reset curse essentially; giving Diana more time before it overtakes her, but to remove the spell completely will require The Book of Names, and we learned that it was burned during the Tulsa massacre of 1921, so there’s not much hope. Still, Christina agrees to do the reset on the condition that Atticus (Jonathan Majors) joins her in Ardham on the night of the Autumnal Equinox. They’ve mentioned this whole Equinox things a few time and I still don’t have a clear explanation on what it is, why it’s so important, and why Christina wants to do some sort of immortality spell on that night (especially since her dad EXPLODED when he tried it back in episode 2), but Atticus agrees so I guess that’s what the tenth and final episode will all be about. They all start putting up transmutation circles all over the place while Christina goes to run an “errand of some sort” which his actually just her transforming into William (Jordan Patrick Smith) and gloating about Captain Lancaster’s untimely demise in front of him. No, William doesn’t go to a grave, apparently the cops are trying to Frankenstein their way out of this little fiasco, but they aren’t having any luck and Christina gets a front row view of this jerk bag breathing his last breath. Couldn’t happen to a nice guy in my opinion, but he may end up getting the last laugh if they aren’t able to stop his curse from killing Diana.
We’re back with another episode of everyone’s favorite Monster Mash just in time for the Halloween season? Yes, I’m a bit late at putting this up as I’ve fallen behind on… well basically everything the last few weeks, but it was hopefully worth the wait as I have quite a bit to say about this particular episode! Is it an improvement over the last few episodes that didn’t quite capture the tone that this series works best at, or will this show continue to go all over the place until the very last minute and tries to cram everything into a satisfying conclusion for the final episode? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins on a very somber note as everyone in this Chicago community are marching to the funeral of a young man named Bobo was a character who showed up, albeit briefly, in previous episodes as a friend of Diana (Jada Harris), and as it turns out he is in fact supposed to be the real life Emmett Till; a fourteen year old boy in 1955 who was shot and then strung up around the neck with barb wire which was then tied to a cotton gin fan before being thrown in the river; shooting him, cutting him, choking him, and drowning him on the flimsiest excuse of him supposedly flirting with a white woman who later in life recanted the story which his killers presumably knew to be false at the time. I’m dubious about putting an actual historical figure and victim such as him in a big budgeted HBO fantasy series to make a point, but aside from that it’s a sobering introduction that definitely reflections the tension and shared trauma of the current state of police and white supremacist violence in this country; violence that was always there but has gotten much more of a spotlight in recent years. Diana is certainly having a hard time of recently, especially with the recent death of her father George Freeman (Courtney B Vance) and the disappearance of her mother Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis), and it’s just too much for her to take with grace and restraint, so she runs off and starts yelling at other kids who aren’t in mourning over the loss of a child to such senseless violence. As cathartic as this is for her, the good feeling ends up being quite fleeting as a cop car immediately pulls up behind her and she may end up being the next kid to have a funeral. It’s not just any cop however as it’s Captain Lancaster (Mac Brandt) who is the leader of The Sons of Adam in this area and he has a copy of the comic book that was found at the Time Machine at the end of the last episode with her name written on it. They interrogate her to try and figure out where her mother went, but when they don’t get the answers they want the captain puts a curse of some sort on her which involves spitting on her head and putting her in a chokehold. The show is back to what it does best which is infusing tropes of horror and other genres with the real life terrors that people of color have to experience, and I’m glad that things are finally starting to get back on track after the last few episodes felt like they losing focus.
We’re back with everyone’s favorite extremely ambitious SyFy original series! With the last episode leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth regarding our main character Atticus, it’s perhaps time that we get back to his storyline instead of going off on these tangents with other characters; if for no other reason than for the main plot of this story to not consistently get overshadowed by everything else that’s going on around it. Does this find a way to bring the whole Book of Names nonsense to the forefront in a fun and interesting way, or are we in store for more distractions? Let’s find out!!
Okay, so not looking to spoil things TOO much right off the bat, but this is a lot like Episode 5 (the one that was mostly about Ruby in a racially reimagined take on the Jekyll & Hyde story) in that this is another episode where one character’s story takes center stage while everything else is pushed to the margins. To that end, we’ll just speed by all the stuff that happens in the first part of the story which is once again where Atticus and the whole Sons of Adam thing get a brief spotlight, and then focus on the ONE BIG thing that happened during the rest of it.
Ruby and Christina (Wunmi Mosaku and Abbey Lee) are in the mysterious basement where we find the corpses of William and Ruby’s White Lady (Jordan Patrick and Jamie Neumann); seemingly dead though being held here to harvest blood for the transformation potion. Ruby is certainly upset about all this, particularly the lies of omission that Christina/William have been tactfully avoiding, but she’s not quite mad enough to leave the situation entirely. After all, she’s got a pretty good deal going on here with all this magical nonsense, but she wants Christina to be straight with her about what’s going on. It’s not clear because the scene cuts as soon as she mentions it, but Christina seems to inform Ruby about what’s going on with Atticus and Leti (Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett) with the whole Book of Names thing, so I guess we’ll be seeing that confrontation at some point in the future. I genuinely do hope that Ruby doesn’t leave all this magic stuff behind because despite a few moments in that episode that made me cringe (the stiletto heel comes to mind), I really do like her as a character and am curious to see how far she goes and if she may even become an antagonist to Atticus and Leti in her pursuit of power.
We’re back with even more of everyone’s favorite gory soap opera! Last episode found a fun and interesting setup to carry the episode, but sooner or later they’re going to have to make the Sons of Adam stuff be the least bit interesting if it’s what will ultimately carry this show to its conclusion; not to mention how much they have to make up for the utterly dour note that the last episode ended on. Does the show finally find its footing and give us a cohesive narrative? Let’s find out!!
We’re going straight to the nitty gritty right off the bat; half this episode is pretty good, some of the other half involving Montrose (Michael K Williams) is pretty underwhelming, and the rest involving Leti and Atticus (Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors) is quite insufferable. If you’re expecting any real consequences or even acknowledgement of Montrose killing the two spirit woman from the last episode (apparently her name is Yahima while Arawak is her tribe I suppose?), you’re out of luck because Montrose ALSO burned the pages from the Book of Adam they found, and they are discussed with FAR more prominence than her. Atticus beats the living hell out of Montrose for what he did and spends the rest of the episode sulking while Leti looks concerned which is not a particularly compelling thing to sit thru; especially since the whole purpose of these pages remains vague at best.
Still, as banal as that part of the episode is, it’s more of a subplot occasionally popping its head into a much better primary plot line about Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) which focuses on what this show does best; reframing genre tropes in terms of racial issues and making it both very real and very tongue in cheek. In case the title wasn’t a giveaway, the episode is more or less a racial exploration of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, and though it’s not the FIRST piece of media to do so, I think it has a bit more going on under the hood than Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde. Ruby wakes up from her night with William and finds herself in the body of a white woman (Jamie Neumann) which is not how she expected to start the day. Convinced she’s lost her mind, she throws on a bathrobe and starts wandering the streets of her neighborhood where no one recognizes her and everyone seems slightly on edge that this random white woman is wandering down their streets. It turns out to be a GOOD instinct because as soon as a young Black man comes up asking if he can help her, a patrol car screeches in and two cops start menacing him; threatening to beat him if he doesn’t confess to molesting her. Realizing the terrifying power of her own whiteness, she starts pleading with the cops to let him go and that he didn’t do anything which they eventually do and they take her back to William’s house as the cops were told that she ran away from there for some arbitrary reason (she forgot her medication that morning or something). Ruby’s not happy about this but it’s not like she has anywhere else to go (I think she’s still mad at Leti?), and as soon as she gets in the house she starts to feel VERY sick; almost like her skin is crawling off of her flesh! As it turns out… yeah, that’s basically it. She’s carried into the house by William and is laid on the flood (which is covered in plastic wrap of course) to writhe in pain until William comes by with a big butcher knife and carves the white skin off of Ruby who pops out and sheds it like a butterfly coming out of a very bloody cocoon! See, THAT’S the kind of goofy nonsense that makes this show work! You don’t see Robert Lewis Stevenson writing anything like that, do you!? Seriously, after what I just saw, Dr. Hastie Lanyon can talk to the hand!
We’re back with even more haunted shenanigans against the backdrop of the ACTUALLY terrifying 1950s, and after the last episode ended up being a refreshing change of pace by telling a straightforward ghost story I’m once again optimistic that this show will live up to the potential I saw in that first episode! Is this another great story that continues the upward momentum of the series, or is going to be like The X-Files where we alternate between the awesome monster of the week episodes and the less interesting government conspiracy ones? Let’s find out!!
We start the episode with Atticus’s father Montrose (Michael K Williams) who’s still dealing with the death of his brother George by crawling into a bottle, but on top of that he’s been reading a book he got from George about the Sons of Adam that contains ALL the answers that Atticus and Leti (Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett) have been looking for… and he just burns it; probably in grief but also possibly due to that whole Eldritch Horror thing that Lovecraft liked to do. Perhaps the book was so horrifying that any mortal man with a shred of conscious cannot read it without losing their own mind, but then Montrose’s motivations have ALWAYS been extremely guarded so it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on with him on an episode to episode basis.
Now the big problem I’ve had with this show is the convoluted nature of its Mythology, and I’ll give this episode credit for making at least SOME of it clearer. The Sons of Adam get their power from something called THE LOST BOOK OF NAMES, and there are two sets of deciphered pages. These are the MacGuffins that are driving the narrative throughout the episode as Atticus and Leti are looking for the set of pages owned by Titus (the guy who started the Sons of Adam and is the ancestor of Atticus) which are hidden in some sort of secret vault, while Christina (Abbey Lee) is looking for the pages stolen by Hiram (the ghost in the last episode). It’s straightforward enough that you can focus on this episode on its own like you could with the ghost story, but also mercifully has enough of the Sons of Adam stuff informing it that some of that nonsense can start to seep in and become easier to understand.
Last week’s episode was a major disappointment, but not so much that they can’t find a way to come back from it. The characters are still strong and engaging, the aesthetic has a fun pulpiness to it (not dissimilar from Perry Mason), and we’ve seen how effectively they can handle a difficult tone between horror fun and dreadful reality with aplomb, so there’s no reason they couldn’t pull it off again. Does this show find a way to get back on track after the convoluted mess that was the last episode, or were all their best ideas in that first episode? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Leti in the middle of a church service; staring off in the middle distance with an expression of empty sadness while… um… a Nike commercial is playing in the background. The spoken word monologue on the soundtrack during this scene is from Nike’s NYC Be True Campaign from 2017 (written by Daisy Zhao and narrated by Precious Angel Ramirez) which seems like an odd pick for something like this. Also, what exactly IS this? If this is supposed to be the funeral of Uncle George, then it doesn’t read as such because there’s no casket, no pictures, and certainly no sadness from anyone else there who seem to be singing joyfully with Leti being the odd one out. Perhaps my cultural signifies for what a funeral scene in a show or movie is supposed to look like are too narrow, but for me it started things off on an awkward note as I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on here.
After the funeral we get a quick update on the fallout between the last episode and this one which if you recall ended in the Sons of Adam being destroyed and Uncle George dying of a gunshot wound. Atticus is taking care of Aunt Hippolyta and their daughter Dee now that Uncle George is gone, and on top of that he has to deal with his cranky dad Montrose who seems content to while away his time drinking from his flask and being a dick to his son. Seems they’re apt to pick up their relationship exactly where they left it off; icy and cantankerous. There’s certainly a lot of guilt being felt between the both of them, especially since they decided to not tell Hippolyta and Dee exactly HOW George died opting to go with a hothead sheriff shooting him; a decision that’s certainly weighing harder on Atticus than it does Montrose.
The first episode did a lot of things right with its characters, it’s setting, and its stomaching churning tension, as well as how well it pulled from its various sources of inspiration to create something that we really hadn’t seen before. However, by the time we got to the end I started to worry that what made it so good was going to be pushed aside for something that felt more like a genuine SyFy series instead of an HBO riff on a SyFy series. Does Lovecraft Country keep up the excellent tone and explore its interesting characters in greater detail, or are we already going off the rails only two episodes in? Let’s find out!!
Despite the grisly ending of the last episode, we start things up here as happy as can be as Lita and Uncle George (Jurnee Smollett and Courtney B Vance) are making themselves at home in this LUXURIOUS mansion while The Jeffersons theme is blasting on the soundtrack. Lita is trying on all these fancy clothes that JUST SO HAPPEN to be in her size while George is reading all these books that JUST SO HAPPEN to be his favorites, and all the while Atticus (Jonathan Majors) is brooding all by himself as he remembers over and over again the monstrous creatures that nearly killed them the night before. I mean jeez, buddy! Get over it why don’t ya? You don’t see the other two complaining about the nice clothes, the rare books, and the creepy white dude who pops in all over the place like a very smarmy Batman! White dude by the way is William (Jordan Patrick Smith) who we saw at the end of the last episode that looks like a de-aged Matthew McConaughy, and he is rather cagey with the details of Atticus’s father but is more than happy to go on and on about this magnificent house!