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Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet seen Lovecraft Country's latest episode.
So far, each episode of HBO's Lovecraft Country has been an adventure unto itself, from the literary monsters of the premiere to the haunted house horrors of "Holy Ghost" to the race-swapping insanity of "Strange Case." That streak continued with "Meet Me in Daegu," a war-torn flashback that finally introduced Jamie Chung's Ji-Ah, whose previous appearances fell outside the bounds of reality and proper context. Suffice to say it's obvious why Lovecraft Country held back: Ji-Ah is a completely different kind of fucked-up monster than what we've seen before.
This episode also gave viewers a more clear notion of what sent Jonathan Majors' Tic over the edge during his Korean War stint. But instead of rehashing the main plot points, let's just dive straight into the jaw-dropping lunacy that makes Lovecraft Country the most unpredictable show on TV. (For anyone who missed my earlier features, check out the biggest WTF moments from Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4 and Episode 5.)
The Trolley Song
Given a million chances to guess how Jamie Chung's mysterious character would be introduced in full, I would never have landed on "short musical dream sequence inside a movie theater set to Judy Garland's 'The Trolley Song' from Meet Me in St. Louis." In hindsight, it was a pretty brilliant way to suggest the joyful humanity still embedded in Ji-Ah, despite the otherworldly creature also lurking within. But in the moment, it was yet another way Lovecraft Country used music to subvert expectations in meaningful and head-scratching ways.
Hairy Tentacle-Tail Sex Blood Explosion
Had something more benign followed Ji-Ah's speed-dating experience, that scene might have made it into this list. However, it led directly into what will no doubt remain one of Lovecraft Country's Top 3 WTF moments, with Ji-Ah going from sexy seductress to pure nightmare fuel as a bunch of snakelike tendrils exited her body and violently inserted themselves into her post-coital victim, played by Heroes vet James Kyson. The whole thing was fascinatingly gross, and I can't quite tell why, but the most disturbing element to me was how Ji-Ah mimicked the memory of the dude's celebratory yell right as she turned him into a blood bomb. I didn't even think that was a thing that COULD bother me, so thank you, Lovecraft Country.
With Ji-Ah, Lovecraft Country delivered its signature take on the mythical creature known as the kumiho, which in this scenario seems to be a shapeshifter who can supposedly achieve true humanity after seducing and sacrificing 100 men. The mystical entity originated as a 1,000-year-old fox with nine tails, with the latter concept surfacing in live-action as Ji-Ah's toothy appendages. Not only is Ji-Ah killing all these men, but she's also ingesting all of their memories (and then some), which becomes especially important once it's revealed that she killed her father, who molested her when she was young, Then that reveal is made all the more unnerving by her mom's twisted investment in Ji-Ah's gore-soaked mission. Could this storyline possibly exist in any other show beyond Lovecraft Country?
Tic Losing His Virginity To Ji-Ah
Note that the WTF-ness here is not at all tied to Tic being a virgin in the first place, since that's perfectly natural. Rather, it's tied to that moment happening at all, considering Ji-Ah's ostensible hatred for Tic in the beginning over her best friend's death. It did seem obvious that they would end up becoming an item, no matter how temporary the relationship, but it's still a weird-as-all-the-fucks coupling to say the least. (Good on Uncle George for setting up that movie screening, though.) Looking back, it certainly adds a new layer to Leti losing her virginity to Tic a few episodes back, as well as Tic's unease regarding certain sexual references earlier in the season.
The Tails Seeing Tic's Future
Of course this moment was going to happen eventually. You can't just set all these WTF dominoes up not to have them come crashing down accordingly. But while it was obvious Tic would survive his introduction to Ji-Ah's tails, I didn't foresee their prophetic abilities, which revealed to Ji-Ah the mysterious way that Tic will die. Ji-Ah did try to thwart the omen by telling him not to go home, but Tic wasn't exactly in the most willing state to take advice from anyone who just had tails sticking out of their eye sockets. (Good on both of them for those instincts, I suppose.) Still, that moment provided context for the unsettling way Episode 5 ended, with Tic calling Ji-Ah and asking how she knew about the "D-I-E" message he'd found. As well, now we know why the all-red Ji-Ah appeared in Tic's series-opening dream sequence.
For one, it was shocking to see Ji-Ah's mother lovingly embrace her after Tic's befuddled exit, and it was even more surprising that she took Ji-Ah back to the mudang (shaman) who could actually provide answers for this supernatural situation. Not that they were particularly encouraging answers. After locking eyes with a brilliantly red-hued fox, Ji-Ah was told once again that her mortal desires don't mean anything, and then the mudang offered this ominous warning:
You have not even become one with the darkness yet. You will see countless deaths before your journey is done.
I'm not sure why I expected this episode to be a one-and-done installment for Jamie Chung's Ji-Ah, but it seems obvious now that my assumption was extremely wrong. So what will Ji-Ah's life be like between the end of Episode 6 and the point when Tic calls her? Hopefully we'll find out even more in Episode 7 and beyond. And if it all happens without seeing any more fuzzy tails squeezing out of anyone's ear canals and nostrils, that would be pretty cool.