Lovecraft Country Episode 5 ‘Strange Case’ Recap and Review
Well shit it seems to be the body horror episode of Lovecraft Country. Catch up on the back episode recaps here.
Ruby wakes up as a white lady. It’s like a reverse Black Like Me. Speaking of the book. It is very relevant this episode. Ruby covers up and wanders down a Black neighborhood. A young Black teenager offers to help when cops show up and beat him up. She tells the cops he is innocent and they load her up to bring her back to her “husband”. She arrives back at William’s house but not before she starts to turn back to the Ruby we know. She is in a ton of pain as she lays on the plastic tarped floor and finishes her change shit looks freaky. He takes out a knife and slices her open. I think as he cuts her open we can see an eye in her throat. YIKES.
Meanwhile Montrose is in the dead women’s room. Leti and Atticus come into the room and they realize what he has done. Atticus completely loses it and beats the shit out of Montrose. It takes two other dudes to pull him off. He runs down stairs and demands to see pictures of the dead women.
We get a soliloquy from William about butterflies molting. He ties it all back to Hiram. Ruby has changed back and shakes under the covers in his room as he continues to get ready. William recites some Latin and suddenly the room is filled with butterflies. She seems entirely enthralled with his magic. She tells him that she was terrified of her new white skin but she also noticed how other Black people treated her when she was white. She also told him how much it hurt to change back. He tells her next time it won’t be so bad. She says there won’t be a next time. He says she can do whatever she wants and drops off a vial and a fat stack of cash on the table. We get a beautiful homage to Ntozake Shange’s great choreo-poem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf. As we hear bits of the poem get a series of scenes of what white Ruby is up to.
Leti and Atticus are talking. When he lost it he scared her. He tells her it is war related and asks her to please not be scared of him. They share a tender embrace and are into doing it. It is VERY HOT.
Normal Ruby is singing in the bathtub. William shows up. She says cut the shit she knows she isn’t special enough for his attention. He says she is very special but that they only thing he asks in return is a small favor when the time comes. He asks why she didn’t take any of his money when she was out as a white women. She told him the only currency she needed was whiteness. He asks what is next for Ruby.
In the next scene we see a white Ruby applying for a job at Marshall’s. He seems very open to her and asks to hear her story. She tells him her story and they have a brief discussion about working with “coloreds”. She seems open to the idea. Oh shit now her body is breaking down and she has to run out but not until she drops the vial of whiteness elixir. She gets in an elevator just in time.
A very beat up Atticus shows up at shady apartment and is greeted by a handsome small framed man. They quickly get down to business and I assuredly did not see that coming. They clearly have a long standing and passionate love affair.
White Ruby (her name is Hillary which is good because it all was starting to feel icky referring to the differences by race and race alone) has her first day on her job and she is already up the ass of the Black sales girl. She tells her she needs to be at her counter. They discuss the Black sales girl education or lack there of. She is pissed and tells her to put on some lotion her hands are ashy. Later the white sales people are all having a good break, dancing and trying on clothes. They start talking about the Black sales person. EWWW they are super racist and suddenly Ruby knows what’s up and ain’t having it. William picks her up after work and the other white sales people are smitten. William is there to tell her that he needs her to do a favor but specifically as Ruby not Hillary.
We see her passing out canapes at a fancy party. She does not look thrilled about it. Oh hey it’s Lady Braithwhite. Braithwhite asks Ruby to hide some sort of stone marker in the sheriff’s office. Braithwhite then tells her how the Sheriff tried to have William killed. Lady Braithwhite helped heal him and Ruby is going to help him get revenge by planting the token (it’s an eye token) in the office.
Atticus and Leti are trying to read hieroglyphics. They focus on an emblem of an eye. It looks familiar. They discuss the merits of what Montrose did. Leti did not realize that he actually killed her. Leti freaks out and calls everything evil. She ants to be done with it all. Atticus thanks there may be a way to use the magic to protect the house.
Ruby makes her way to into the office. She plants the token and hears something in the closet. In the closet is some poor tortured guy. She has to hide as the sheriff comes in with his goons. He is covered in tats as he changes shirts. They mention that the guy in the closet is a stool pigeon.
Montrose and his lover are hanging out with a few other drag queens as they get ready for the evening. He seems both very much in and out of his element. It is quite a scene. Montrose and his boyfriend seem very comfortable as his boyfriend performs at a drag show and they dance afterwards. It is pretty great and reminds me of a my favorite scenes (The Can-Can) from Moulin Rouge. Montrose is clearly happy in this environment. It feels like a coming out party and has so much joy and so much happiness it seemed like a light in the bleakness of this series and of 2020.
Later Hillary is ripping Tamra’s ass about not being good enough. Her boss comes over because she is making a scene. She tells him that Tamra is going to take them out to the southside for dancing. Later while they are dancing Hillary makes the decision to change back into Ruby. After a gruesome and fucking rad transformation Ruby witnesses her boss try to rape a Tamra. He calls her a racial slur when she escapes.
Ruby still bloody from the changeover is hanging out at William’s house. Christina comes into the house and tells Ruby that turning into Hillary gives her the ability to do whatever she wants not just be white. Hilary got the message and we see her the next day putting that to work. She puts in her two weeks and tells her boss that she wants to fuck him. She ties him up and then right before she changes back into Ruby she sodomizes him repeatedly with a stiletto heel. She then flips him over so he can see her as Ruby. She tells him she wanted him to know who raped him.
Leti is in the bathtub now and Atticus comes in and they have a bit of a heart to heart. She wants to know where they are in the relationship. He mentions he had a girl back in Florida but it ended weirdly. He tells her he isn’t sure if he loves her because he has never really had an example of what love is supposed to be like. Leti tells him she needs a man who is confident and knows what he wants. He tells her their relationship is special.
Now William is home and he is going though his own change. The molting scenes are fantastic. Sick and gross and rad as fuck. Ahhh now we see Christina is William. Living in a mans body offers up a whole different set of priveleges.
Atticus has a breakthrough on the hieroglyphics. He runs upstairs and uses the phone to call a mystery number. The female voice on the other end tells him he should have known. He asks her “Well is it…? We see that he decoded a phrase that said DIE. FADE TO BLACK.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.