The halfway episode of Lovecraft Country’s debut season, “Strange Case,” may be its most radical, powerful episode yet.
This episode opens with a white woman laying in her bed, examining her skin and eventually jumping up horrified. On the surface, this is just weird, but it’s truly bizarre once you realize that the woman, Ruby Baptiste (Wunmi Mosaku), was Black the day before.
Perhaps in other shows, but in Lovecraft Country, this is just another night. This premise is executed by having Ruby take a metamorphosis potion that William (Jordan Patrick Smith) gives to her, making good on his promise to change her life in the last episode.
The main problem with the potion is that it doesn’t last long and transforming back into her body is gory. When she reverts, her white skin literally falls off of her, showing her Black body underneath in bloody, unnerving scenes.
The most engaging aspect of this premise is the show allowing Ruby to see the ugliness and corrupt nature of the white workers at the department store she applied to previously. As a large Black woman, she was denied but as a smaller white woman with the same resume, she was given the assistant manager position.
These interactions along with being protected by police officers, being treated well in public spaces and other events, underpin this arch’s successful execution that ends with a bloody act of retribution towards her racist manager at the end of the episode.
While the main plot is engaging, the other plotlines in this episode weren’t slouches either.
Tic (Jonathan Majors) and Leti (Jurnee Smollet) work on deciphering information from the pages from the Book of Names, and Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams) is revealed to be homosexual.
Tic and Leti don’t get much screen time in this episode, but it’s a welcome departure because developing Montrose was crucial. This week’s reveal gives a hint into why Montrose is so secretive, abusive and an alcoholic. As a middle-aged Black man in 1955, there was no coming out of the closet.
His arc focuses on him finding love with drag queens and his secret lover in an underground drag-bar. This is where he finally showcases a deeper version of himself, albeit without dark magic to assist him.
Still, Montrose’s sexuality wasn’t the biggest reveal this week.
At the end of the episode, Ruby was waiting for William to come home and confront him, but as he entered through the door, he fell to ground, his body bursting at the seams like hers was in metamorphosis scenes.
Lo and behold, William and Christina are the same person! His blonde “sister” emerged from his body. In living rooms across the world, jaws dropped.
This week’s episode was slower than previous weeks, but was essential for continuing to build the lore and world of the franchise. It brought Leti and Tic closer together, showcased Montrose’s true self and introduced Ruby to the bottomless world of dark magic.
“Strange Case” is a must watch.