REVIEW: “Lovecraft Country,” Episode 5-“Strange Case”

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Lovecraft Country Episode 5

Lovecraft Country Episode 5, “Strange Case” deals with transformation, both literal and otherwise. After spending the night with William (Jordan Patrick Smith), Ruby (Wumni Mosaku) awakens to find herself in the skin of a white woman. She finally manages to land her dream job but ends up in the thrall of Christina (Abbey Lee). Meanwhile, Atticus (Jonathan Majors) and Leti (Jurnee Smollett) grow closer and Montrose (Michael K. Williams) learns to accept who he is.

Each episode has offered a new take on a different genre of fiction; this week is a Black femme twist on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Series creator Misha Green is joined by Jonathan I. Kidd & Sonya Winton-Odamtten for writing duties on this episode; they will simultaneously gross you out and keep you glued to the screen. In keeping with the series’ social commentary, the Jekyll and Hyde metaphor is extended to how Ruby is treated as herself and as “Hillary Davenport”. As “Hillary” she’s given free ice cream and given an assistant manager position out of the gate. As Ruby, she’s all but invisible.

Also making the Jekyll and Hyde metaphor stand out are the transformation sequences, which are truly horrifying. Whenever “Hillary” shifts back to Ruby, her body contorts and her skin falls off in bloody chunks. This may be one of the most disturbing sequences in the show so far and given that there have been multi-eyed monsters and literal ghosts that’s saying a lot.

Mosaku holds the standout performance in “Strange Case”; as Ruby, she has to deal with a wide range of emotions ranging from fear to anger (a highlight of the episode is her berating Christina for daring to compare their experiences.) Jamie Neumann, who portrays “Hillary”, also manages to capture Mosaku’s cadence and movements which further underlines the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic.

Another actor who stands out is Williams. In this episode, we finally learn more about Montrose’s love life, which explains his surly behavior and alcoholism. This secret had more or less been hinted at in the previous episode; to see it laid bare brings a new dimension to Montrose. Though he doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, Williams conveys regret and ultimately relief through his body language. Director Cheryl Dune depicts this as Montrose slowly relaxing with every scene he’s in; this finally leads to a triumphant kiss with his lover. This subplot also deals with transformation; in letting go of his fear and uncertainty, Montrose has embraced who he is and hopefully will be the better for it.

Sadly, Atticus and Leti don’t really have much to do. While the chemistry between Majors and Smollett is still electric (leading to a soulful heart to heart and a steamy love scene) their subplot is more or less setting up for the next episode. Hopefully, this will pay off with next week’s episode, which seems to promise answers about Atticus’ time in the Korean War.

Lovecraft  Country Episode 5 features more twists than a pretzel stand and manages to put its own spin on a classic story. With the show officially at the halfway point, I hope that this show continues to weave its special brand of magic for the second half of Season 1.

Lovecraft Country Episode 5 is currently available to stream on HBO Max. New episodes air Sunday on HBO.


Lovecraft Country Episode 5
  • 8/10
    Lovecraft Country Episode 5 - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Lovecraft  Country Episode 5 features more twists than a pretzel stand and manages to put its own spin on a classic story. With the show officially at the halfway point, I hope that this show continues to weave its special brand of magic for the second half of Season 1.