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  • #16
    Not the moment to say, I'm looking forward to watching episode 3 then. In all seriousness, the historical truth can be more than ghastly enough to out do fictional horror. I've really appreciated how the show has woven it into the supernatural stories so far and would be hopeful that it does so as well again.

    I'm committed to watching Sleeper tonight though so that I can finally get to reading Tiny Tabby's review on it. I do hope to watch the next episodes of both Lovecraft and Wentworth before the end of the week but it'll depend on how much time I manage to get to put aside for reading the review. Everything should free up more next week when both kids return to school. As unwanted and nerves inducing a prospect as that is.

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    • TriBel
      TriBel commented
      Editing a comment
      Nope...I'd kick the cat or dog...if I had one.

  • #17
    I'm going to need to do some serious catching up on this as I think there has been three of four episodes since I last watched. I'm going to watch the next Wentworth tomorrow but will then start trying to catch up to these. Is anyone else still watching it?

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    • #18
      I do enjoy this programme but I'm still often having trouble hearing what the characters are saying and have to run it back. I think it's just unfortunate that there are limits to how loud I can turn it up when the kids are asleep and there might be monstrous noises and shouting suddenly.

      Anyway, I'm a little behind but hoping over the next week or two I'll be able to catch up...


      Episode 3 - Holy Ghost

      The focus on Leti in the church at the start, disconnected from what is happening around her, straight away leans into a sense of isolation and personal impact. The opening line asks her, 'what did you do to make a mark on this world?' The idea of facing challenges, overcoming obstacles and achieving something seems to inform her choices through this episode and it follows on well from the experiences she's so recently returned from, the brief touches with death she's had and the ongoing grief she's experiencing.

      When you frame her choices and reactions in this episode with what she has just experienced the sense of acting in the context of trauma is apparent. Just as it is for others such as George's widow, Dee participating in the foolishness with the ouija board in the basement and Tic too. I think this works excellently as a plot to run alongside the haunting of the house. A haunting by ghosts of people who were experimented on and murdered, unable to rest. Leti's desperate need to stay there drives her to investigate the truth behind what happened and fires the desire to try to fix it.

      The actress who plays Leti really knocks it out the park in this episode as her visible emotional responses to the victimisation she is subjected to by her white neighbours is reflected also by the fear elicited by the hauntings. But it isn't just the social issues of the times or the supernatural, the emotional reactions are also on display continuously between her and Tic and Ruby too. The strains that challenge character dynamics runs wild in this episode and rarely lets up. For Leti there is a lot of negativity seen with both of these two key relationships, as well as the potential to strengthen and support each other.

      So many characters are seen around the periphery struggling to process the past and their current emotions. From George's widow tearing up his favourite book, Dee's clear awareness of her father's absence, Ruby's memories of her mum and even between those who are holding the secret of George's death to themselves as we witness Monrose's withdrawal and anger when Tic goes to visit him (probably in great part because of the raised question over Tic's parentage that happened between Monrose and his brother). A sense of consequences runs around the plots and characters and as Leti explains to Tic that she is terrified but wants to face the truth of this new world head on, there starts to become a sense of ownership for what it has all done to her. Alongside the repetition of things that are hidden there is a continuous theme of power, as well as the corruption of power, in this episode too. From the brutal experiments and corrupted cops, within the character dynamics, and also down to the power within the individuals themselves.

      The moments when people are pushed over the limits of restraint feel very apt in an episode where even the house feels like it is going to burst and explode. When Leti hits capacity on the abuse and victimisation from her neighbours at the point they add the burning cross on her lawn to the days of continuous blaring car horns, you're more than understanding of why she's had enough. And appreciate that this is a decision she took despite her clear understanding of the consequences there would be. Understanding shown in Ruby's hiding of the guns and Leti's ready preparation for the inevitable responding police presence. Sure enough, the authorities that had no interest in being there for her for days on end, despite her reports, rapidly arrive .

      Likewise in reaching capacity, I can see why her history with Leti pushes Ruby to verbally lash out when she learns (incorrectly as it turns out) that the funding of the house originating from their mother. And, as unpleasant and a huge leap from romantic as it is, Tic's jealous claiming of Leti after watching her dancing with another man and struggling with his own responses to his recent and more distant past. Experiences he makes it clear have been drawn to the fore by the mental torture of the persecution in addition to his grief. The sex is far from gentle and although Leti tries to cover for her bleeding as being her period, we later learn it was her first time. But she clearly cares for Tic and this combines with that wish to just feel something that has been driving her to lose the numbness she has been trapped in since escaping the Braithwaite mansion. And Tic is acting on his wish to reach out but then is also pushing her away, unable to break some of his self isolation and be open with her or himself about his feelings.

      The repeated use of photography as a visual link between past and present is an interesting element that crops up. That the truth was hidden in the room that becomes Leti's dark room, symbolically draws the current to the past alongside ideas of revelations and evidence and it works so well that the final confrontation happens there. As Leti successfully manages to use the knowledge that she gains of what happened in the house to call forth the combined spiritual strength of those who lost their lives there to help her, naming them and giving them presence again, it allows them to win over the malevolent spirit within the house. As she had described feeling like a ghost herself since their return, there is a real sense of ownership and power to the moment, of coming together to fight. Perhaps significantly though, with Tic playing the role of the possessed evil. And this happens alongside the deaths above them of three of the neighbours that broke in (disappearances which may build some wariness in the community that might hold off the open abuse for a time, if not the underlying hatred). At the end we see Leti is being interviewed by a reporter from the local Black paper about the guesthouse. Coupled with a picture taken of her this could be seen to link to the starting line and that sense of making an identifiable mark. This leaves her on an ending tone that leans to a sense of connection and that this could possibly be a building success for Leti. But we are left unsure if Leti and Tic even knew the murders of their neighbours happened in the house as the creepy elevator goes down to show their bodies amidst other bones somewhere even lower under the house. More secrets lying beneath the surface.

      To bring again the sense of the past not being over and it having such a lingering and important impact on the present, we end with the very unsurprising reveal that Christina Braithwaite survived. But, in a more surprising moment, that she has in fact been tied into this episode all along as the true source of Leti's sudden financial security.

      The teasers for an ongoing story were given from there as Christina overcame Tic very easily with magic (so that's twice in quick succession for him, now that feels ominous). She made it clear that he is in a far more fragile position and she is in command as she explained about some pages Winthrope stole from the Book of Names that Christina wants. Appropriately, with the previous connections to the garden of Eden, we're given the sense the apple may not have fallen too far from her father's tree here as a seeming desire for power appears the clearest motivation. The offer made to Tic is to discover more family history together, but he would definitely be wise to continue to not trust her readily.

      I actually found Tic quite wooden in this episode and so it was harder to connect with the character's emotional struggle. I think this was made particularly hard with Leti being the main focus of the episode and conveying so much whilst his interactions with her ran hot and cold. I'm hoping that the next episode gives something to get into his character a bit more.

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      • #19
        TimeTravellingBunny American Aurora Have either of you continued to watch the series? I'm hoping to watch episode 4 before Monday so that I'll have managed a couple over a week and am inching towards catching back up (although I think it's episode 7 that is airing Monday, so I'll probably only catch up as it completes all 10 episodes!). I just wasn't sure if anyone else continued watching.

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        • American Aurora
          American Aurora commented
          Editing a comment
          Sorry I haven’t caught up! Yesterday was six hours at the car repair shop day. Today after an eye appointment, I’ll have time to finally get to a lot of things and will post in the next few days.

        • Stoney
          Stoney commented
          Editing a comment
          You have my total sympathy, everything always takes me double the time I expect it to and then when other pressures rear up too, plans just go down the drain. It was really just to see if other people were still intending to watch.

      • #20
        Episode 4 - A History of Violence

        I enjoyed the way the title of the episode repeatedly played alongside the actions of the characters and situations they were in. There can of course be a history of violence that is specific, as well as in considering a wider history of violence more generally too.

        We start with Montrose and realise that he is clearly suffering from some past trauma alongside his grief, the political threat looming and worries about Russia and nuclear war. The book that George gave to Montrose seems to tie to everything that links Titus/Tic and the ongoing events so far, all of which has plenty of violence in its history. Montrose's reactive/emotional burning of the book also fitted this overall theme and was an act that drew to mind George's widow, Hippolyta, ripping up his favourite book as well as the search for the missing pages that is the current focus. The extract itself that we see Montrose glance at in The Bylaws and Precepts of the Order of the Ancient Dawn, speaks of Adam and Eve with aggressive overtones. And the passage is something recalled later when Montrose uses what he read to get them through the door as they explore the tunnels searching for the vault and the missing pages. This could be seen to show not only the power of what was and the written word, the library of the past that can inform and influence the present and future, but also that trying to destroy things you wish to be erasable may be wrong or perhaps even impossible. The past leaves its trace on the present and the fragility of attempts to keep it buried, no matter how completely you may think you have, falls in line with the rediscovery of Yahima and the revelations of more of Titus' dark hidden past.

        Violence is an intrinsic part of this show with the focus on the racism that consistently features. It's also there repeatedly in the events that the characters reference and raise. From Christina questioning who helped them evict Hiram when she finds her way blocked from entering Leti's house; in Tic's attempt to try to kill Christina; in the vicious, sexist way Captain Lancaster spoke to Christina; in Montrose's explanation linking the history of the knot to slavery, abuse and oppression (whether true or not for his family); in Ruby's belief of the limitations on her because of her colour; in the eventual reveal of Yahima's imprisonment, slavery and the murder of their people; and of course the shocking end where Montrose slashes Yahima's throat. The character so briefly there that represented both male and female and crossed boundaries is brutally killed. So much violence feeds the events that flow around these people all the time.

        And there is within this that aspect of who writes history. Not only are there the constant elements of the written word and of the truth being uncovered about the family ties, but with Montrose offering a past which Tic doesn't feel was truthful and the museum presenting Titus as a celebrated explorer on the surface whilst the truth of the violence committed to try to gain power lies beneath. In this way I really liked that the entrance to the vault and the truth was through the plinth that his statue was mounted on, the truth of what his 'achievements' were built on. This reveal of the violence underneath works with the tunnels eventually leading back to Leti's house and being linked to those that we saw at the end of Holy Ghost and the body of one of her neighbours being revealed (although the geography of all of this from Boston's museum somewhat confuses me). There was also a suggestion that Montrose is hiding his sexuality, which would definitely be another factor which would have connections to a history of fear and violence.

        Exactly what William is up to is interesting as we assume he is following instructions from Christina but he could be playing his own angles. Again displaying practiced violence in how he dealt with the police following Christina. I also assume seducing Ruby was to gain access to the house/group after being blocked and was another very calculated move. Tasting her blood could have been superfluous but it also feels ominous. I like having his actions often hanging as unexplained threads that we are left to piece with the overall action and have enjoyed how his character has been used as a player on the Braithwaite side alongside but separate to Christina.

        The significance of the 'missing' orrery is interesting and Hippolyta's connections to astronomy. The idea given with the orrery as something that needs to be fixed, that 'everything has its key' is an interesting element. Obviously it sat well with the search for Titus' vault and the need for Tic's blood to be used to unlock it. Once again tying history, blood and violence to the present in the whole set up of the vault and it residing within a museum that celebrated Titus' exploits. The predictive nature of the movement of the solar system (which played its part in the reveal of the switch for the vault), the desire to gain power, the repeated use of magical means to control already established, and a reference even to a time machine, all feels to fit well together for possible rituals and ceremonies to come. This link to space reminded me also of Tic's dream in the bus at the very start as spaceships attacked and I wonder where this thread may be taking us.

        Again Tic and Leti are shown to have a very troubled dynamic. Montrose assumes that Leti is Tic's girl but she is understandable angry to feel shut out by him and with his references to making sure they are all safe before he leaves. There isn't really a sense of an actual relationship there yet, it is very dysfunctional, but it still feels like there are indications that they both truly care for the other.

        I found Tic's assumption he would be able to find what he needed to cast spells himself a little surprising. But I suppose in embracing the reality they have now been exposed to and after the experiences so far, there is no real reason to expect that he won't be. It could be a possible explanation for Montrose's action, if he felt that he was protecting Tic by removing the possibility of translating the pages by killing Yahima, and it fits into his earlier sense of them being outnumbered and outgunned to try to get Tic to back off rather than head into a direct clash. But I'm not sure, so many potential truths could be revealed to be the true motivation for his action.

        As everyone keeps seeking answers and power, exploitation, manipulation and abuse seem rife still and the overall feeling is that things are likely to get messier and more horror-filled as they go. The map of Titus' expeditions and George's atlas all add into that feeling that we're heading purposefully towards... something.

        I didn't dislike this episode but I had a few more minor niggles. The background tracks seemed a bit jarring against the era/setting at points than I can remember feeling before (especially on one scene where Christina was driving through town). The dramatic surge in the music track for the moment Tic kissed Leti at the end almost felt mocking. Which might have been the case, but I don't think that was the intention. Again, I struggled to hear what was being said at points and couldn't catch it even when reviewing. The set for the tunnels looked really fake, like a set from the Captain Kirk era of Star Trek. In fact, that whole adventure into the tunnels that led to the reveal of the ship just constantly reminded me of Indiana Jones and, even more so, the film The Goonies, which to be honest just really broke any tension and simply distracted me, taking me out of the moment.

        So there were a handful of things that took the edge off this one in some ways for me. It felt more like a part of a whole than the others have, less strong individually as it opened more questions than it answered perhaps. I could see it being plausible that it is one I'd see more in and appreciate even more when I've seen future episodes. But as I said, I didn't actually dislike it, there were still plenty of things to ponder on. It was just less enjoyable than the others so far for me.

        --
        I'm going to try to watch episode 5 during the next week, 6 too if I can manage it in trying to catch up. But I also want to read the current rewatch review of Never Leave Me and watch and post on another episode of Wentworth first, so how quickly I manage to do those will greatly impact whether I manage one or two Lovecraft episodes in the next week.

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        • #21
          Well I'm failing to catch up to the episodes as they air but I'm still watching and working my way through. Spoilers for...

          Episode 5 - Strange Case


          Again there were aspects in this episode that I liked, but I struggled with it a lot too. The violence and gore in this one I found excessive. It wasn't that any of the directions or plot points didn't work. I just found the intensity a bit too much and a bit too constant throughout it all. But I'm not sure that wasn't essentially what they were aiming for.

          I don't find sexual violence the easiest thing to watch, as I'm sure is true for most people. I can still appreciate shows/movies that include such scenes, but I do find it tough going and so multiple ones made me feel quite uneasy. The least problematic sex scene for me was between Tic and Leti. More deliberate than their first, which was greatly spurred by Tic's jealousy, but I still felt there is a lack of equality in their regard. Leti is still struggling from finding out the supernatural exists and as she seeks reassurance she seems to get buffeted in the wake of Tic's reactions to events and his personal goals a lot. His aggression about the pictures is a good example and the unpleasant, frustrated edge that can be between them sometimes. They did have a more openly communicative scene later when Leti is bathing and Tic shows a sign that the potential of them actually might matter to him too. Does it outweigh the previous lack of regard for her feelings or his outward displays of violence? The latter something he implied is inherited from his father, after beating him for murder. Rather like history presses violent lessons on social groups we're given the sense of influence and consequence and see this time and again within the episode. The risks Tic'll take due to the drive he has to find out answers and seek the promise of a greater power still feels like his primary focus. So it was a needed scene with Leti, but it also just didn't feel like enough yet too.

          At the moment I don't think the show gives enough focus on Tic to make me understand and care for the character and his struggles as much as I wish I did. The raised likeness in his focus and desire for the magic to protect those he loves as potentially wrong and corrupt as Montrose killing to stop him feels fair. The drive to gain power can come from a positive source, an intent that isn't all about personal gain and power for the want of power. But desperation or fear create poor decision making sources and can swing the balance irresponsibly in what you would do to achieve that aim. Or, as we see with Ruby, what you would do with it if you gain it.

          The Montrose and Sammy sex scene again wasn't the worst. But a desperation and desire for connection after Tic's beating and a difficulty facing his own sexuality resulted in a rough and seemingly careless hook up between Montrose and Sammy. But we do see some layers to this relationship as the episode goes on and Montrose finally comes to some acceptance when he's surrounded by so many people at ease with who they are on the outside as well that he is able to approach Sammy and kiss him openly. A line that it was previously made clear hadn't played a part in their relationship.

          Both relationship dynamics are intriguing and fit the description of being 'strange cases' as Tic I think references the relationship he left in Korea. Most relationships have their oddities and we do see a whole bunch of that in this episode and this deliberate consideration to the uniqueness of people's dynamics is definitely a positive of the episode. So I enjoy the exploration of the dynamics in these relationships but have to wonder, would I have thought of these two relationships and these moments as having tones of sexual violence in them if they'd been within any other episode? Well, yes, I think I would still have been aware of that element, but it probably wouldn't have bothered me as much in an episode where they were the only ones. But that certainly isn't the case as the plotline around Ruby featured plenty more. And that really is where the heart of my discomfort in this episode lies.

          There is a lot to like about Ruby's side of the episode. Don't get me wrong, whilst I was left with an unpleasant level of dislike/unease from this episode I definitely still saw themes and character explorations that were intriguing. Ruby waking up to find out exactly how William was going to offer her a different world was fascinating. The fear and displacement that she feels on waking and finding herself magically transformed into a white woman is really clear. Her wandering lost and confused to be faced with compassion and uncertainty by a black youth trying to help her is contrasted starkly by the cruel brutality of the police towards him that come to take her 'home'. My initial impression in the last episode that William sleeping with Ruby had been designed to gain access to Leti's home seems to be proven wrong here. It appeared that it was William's townhouse that Ruby had woken up in as it is there that the police return her to him and Ruby asks 'both' William and Christina during the episode what is in the basement. So it seems to be Christina's place.

          The opportunity to experience the life she can't live as herself is presented to Ruby. But as a bargain. The freedom and power of the magic to turn herself white, for a favour. We don't learn within this episode what placing the item in the office of the Captain will do, but we do hear the motivation to target him. The Captain is accused of having murdered Christina's brother. Is this the first we have heard of this, I don't remember this being mentioned before even though Christina has clashed with the Captain previously. Surely with the later revelation that Christina truly does understand to some degree how Ruby has been feeling, it would suggest that William is the lost brother. Her story has shown that, as a woman, she is rejected and shown sexist prejudice repeatedly. So in wearing the skin of 'William' she also is able to walk in a world that views her differently as her natural self. The magic allows her to transform in a way that means she'll be treated like a whole 'real' person.

          So the question is, is William her brother? Is this a desire for power to avenge him and also to remember him? Is the focus on the planets and timing anything to do with resetting time and the desire to have her lost sibling back? I would have thought appearing as someone believed to be dead would be foolish, so I'm probably not right. It would be interesting to review and see who is around when William is and how they respond to him though. Has he always been Christina? We now suspect so. This is a twist that I really like the intrigue and narrative complexity of, the layers it brings to Christina. I also feel somewhat disappointed to have lost the character of William. But if it is William the Captain shot, that could provide for some really interesting scenes to come. And with whatever revenge is planned will we also find out more about the tortured guy in the closet, or was he just there to illustrate the cruel, casual violence people are capable of?

          The effect of Ruby's experiences of suffering prejudice combined with her jealousy over the unqualified Tamara getting the position at Marshall's was very interesting. Ruby, as Hillary, reprimands Tamara for not being faultless and points out to her that the standards she achieves reflect on her race. To be a credit she has to be better than mediocre. There's an unfair truth in there and her manner is harsh and a little cruel. But the fact is Ruby's own failed applications and experience despite her education suggests that even trying your hardest will be insufficient. I think there is some frustration and bitterness wrapped in how she treats Tamara because of this more significant truth. Then in suggesting that Tamara takes them all out to the South Side, possibly wanting to see their white colleages feeling as out of place and uncomfortable as she often does herself, the door to the sequence of events that steps further into sexual violence is nudged open.

          First we see a side to her boss which was clearly not known before. When Ruby asked the other employees earlier if their boss Paul tries to get too handsy, they laugh it off. He's a mild family man, that's the impression given. But we see he has a hidden side, as so many people do in this show/episode, and his metamorphosis is into a sexual predator as he tried to force himself on a black woman (possibly Tamara by his later interest in sacking her) outside the bar, witnessed by Ruby. Is the difference that he's socialising and drunk or is it that he feels he should be able to force himself on a black woman without repercussion? Luckily the woman escapes. Earlier Christina emphasised the opportunity that the magic gives Ruby (both of them in truth), the freedom to be yourself uninterrupted. It allows unmitigated freedom. And this comes in particular for Ruby because the person she is when under the potion doesn't truly exist. If she commits a crime, who could be blamed? So the vengeance that Ruby takes on Paul is extreme, cruel and violent. The brutalisation and humiliation of him is very deliberate.

          The humour in the line when Ruby sees William transform to Christina and simply reacts in disbelief and annoyance that she's, "been William this whole f*cking time!" was great and the delivery excellent. It was a needed moment of relief and her disbelief something we can share. Thematically the shedding of the skin, the stripping away of the flesh that makes so much difference on the outside, uncovering the person within whose emotional responses to how they are treated is driving their choices, this I find fascinating. The mixture of emotions that Ruby feels in this episode is a roller coaster as she oscillates from fear and uncertainty, confidence and jealousy to violent anger. It all really emphasises the intensity of the experiences she has just trying to get by in a world that victimises her for the colour of her skin.

          But the actual effects I find incredibly gory. Again, like with the sexual violence, it isn't that it is too much for me generally, in and of itself. But that degree of repetition of it and yes, perhaps also the extent of time the scenes continue for, really pushes the intensity of this side and so increases my unease.

          I would question why there is no police concern about these shed and shredded skins appearing everywhere. Particularly the skin of a white women outside the bar. As with how Tic can treat Leti though, it feels like a very self-focused moment from Ruby. I'm going to assume the skins are getting purposefully cleared away, or perhaps they quickly evaporate with the magic. I also wonder how wise it was for Ruby to show her face to the man she just sodomised in her need to have him realise a black person did this to him. Especially if she is going to leave the skin of Hillary all around him. Again falling back to the evaporating explanation for clear up maybe, or just the certainty that he would seem insane in what he was suggesting if he told. Perhaps the violence of her choices will come back to haunt her, but I'm not sure that is where it will go or that there will be any follow through from the damage that was left in this horrifically violent act.

          Power corrupts and violence breeds violence. And the pain of transformation lessons the more you experience it. If Ruby has metamorphosed, is it truly temporary, and what is it really into? Or was what we saw just years of the existing inner damage? Added to with raw resentment from futilely trying to work hard beyond the restrictions and prejudice unfairly confining her, now outwardly expressed.

          Is it a good episode? If an aim is to make the viewer feel uncomfortable, use the various scenes to heighten a constant state of displacement, fear and insecurity? It does that. Or if they wished to bring to mind continuously the consequences of the negative, corrupt use of power. The harm it does and how much anger and hatred can destroy? Then yes again. To raise themes that are complex and interesting? Again, yes. To make an enjoyable viewing experience that you'd want to rewatch? Not so much. But why should it be comfortable to view a story which rests so much on constant subjugation, violence and prejudice? Perhaps with a little time and distance that final answer about rewatching would change and my appreciation for the thematic representations would outweigh the intensity of the unpleasantness of watching this. But I think the two sadly go hand in hand. At the moment I just feel disturbed. But very aware that a lot of what they are trying to make you think about is, in itself, simply disturbing.

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          • #22
            I’ve been sick in bed for almost a week now - but that gave me some time to actually read the novel the show is based on. The differences are really interesting and I’m looking forward to catching up and talking about the show very soon.

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            • Stoney
              Stoney commented
              Editing a comment
              I hope you're feeling better. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you get some time/energy.
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