Super Recaps: Lovecraft Country – Episode 5 (Strange Case)

Lovecraft Country is owned by HBO

Directed by Victoria Mahoney

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!

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Super Recaps: Lovecraft Country – Episode 4 (A History of Violence)

Lovecraft Country is owned by HBO

Directed by Victoria Mahoney

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.

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Super Recaps: Lovecraft Country – Episode 3 (Holy Ghost)

Lovecraft Country is owned by HBO

Directed by Daniel Sackheim

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.

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Super Recaps: Lovecraft Country – Episode 2 (Whitey’s on the Moon)

Lovecraft Country is owned by HBO

Directed by Daniel Sackheim

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!

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Cinema Dispatch: Assassin’s Creed

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Assassin’s Creed and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Justin Kurzel

We all knew it was only a matter of time until they took a stab at making the next great video game movie, and since Warcraft turned out to be such a disaster there’s a nice big opening for Ubisoft to take the throne as the first company to get this right.  Now the trailers really don’t inspire much hope as it looks like a bunch of overqualified actors in a routine action film, but then maybe that’s enough to make this a GOOD film (a feat unto itself at this point) even if it can’t quite be a great one.  Does this manage to be the sign of things to come as studios begin to buckle down and seriously try to crack the code on adapting video games to the big screen, or will Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat still be the high bar that no one else has inexplicably been able to reach?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Cal Lynch as a young boy (Angus Brown) walking in on his mother (Essie Davis) with a stab wound in her neck and his dad (Brian Gleeson in the flashbacks and Brendan Gleeson in the present) with a bloody Assassin’s blade and wearing a very uncomfortable looking coat considering the scene seems to be set in New Mexico or something.  Little Cal doesn’t have long to contemplate this as a whole bunch of black vans with hired goons rolls up on the house and tries to kill the both of him, but Cal manages to escape.  Well, not for TOO long as we jump to present day where Little Cal is now Handsome Cal (Michael Fassbender) and is on death row for… some reason.  Except not really!  Apparently a super science corporation named Abstergo arranged it so that the state would PRETEND to kill him and then hand the poor sap over to Sofia and Alan Rikkin (Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons) who want him for their nefarious ends… I think.  Apparently Cal is the Great Great Great Great Great Great (and so on) grandson of some Assassin from the fifteenth century and was ALSO the last known person to have the McGuffin of ultimate power… I mean the Apple of Eden.  Using this giant crane device which is supposed to the Animus, they’re gonna send his brain back in time to live out the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha and find where he left the damn thing so they can find it and use it for whatever the hell it is they want to use it for.  This of course is assuming that NO ONE MOVED IT OR FOUND IT IN FIVE HUNDRE YEARS, but I’m sure This all makes sense if I played Brotherhood or something.  Will Cal be able to locate the Apple and gain his freedom in the process?  What about all these OTHER assassins that Abstergo has collected and are housing in this Science Gulag?  Are they gonna be all that happy that Cal is working to help find this artifact?  Is there ANY reason this fucking thing had to be so damn complicated!?

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The guy jumps around and stabs people.  It’s not that hard!!

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