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This week we return to serialization in Lovecraft Country after the brief sojourn into haunted house territory. Unfortunately though, narrative shortcuts and sloppy attention to detail doom this Goonies-lite exploration episode.

Read on, if “ye” dare.

Christina tangles with a representative of a local Lodge

The story so far…

Our A-plot this episode, “A History of Violence,” focuses on Atticus, Leti, and Montrose on a trip to Boston to seek out the missing pages of the Book of Names. Atticus is convinced he can re-purpose the magic in those pages to project everyone in his life. Leti expresses intense frustration at Atticus’s compartmentalizing of information after Christina Braithwhite pays her a visit. Lastly, Montrose, drunk and reeling, studies the book of information from the cult given to him by a dying George and then proceeds to burn the book, hoping to protect Atticus and the others.

Atticus, Leti, and Montrose travel to Boston in the woody, joined by Hippolyta, Diana, and Tree. Later that night, Tic’s Trio returns to the museum, let in by a guard who also seems to be a contact of Montrose’s, and they uncover the hidden series of chambers and tunnels seemingly constructed by Titus Braithwhite. The Trio encounters a number of challenges and traps and also somehow find themselves just under Leti’s recently acquired haunted house in Chicago until uncovering a ship of corpses and an undead Arawak guardian, Yahima, who happens to be an intersex “two-spirit.” They discover that they were being compelled to translate the pages by Titus, and their people were killed to force the issue. Tic’s Trio manages to retrieve the missing pages, escape the flooded tunnels, and find refuge in Leti’s home with Yahima in two.

Then Montrose slashes the throat of Yahima is a dazzlingly self-destructive choice.


The rest of the episode revolves around the other women of the show. Hippolyta has clearly taken the orrery from Leti’s house, the same orrery that Christina Braithwhite seems to be seeking in the episode. The orrery also seems to model a distant solar system. Hippolyta and Diana share a cute moment in a star-dome, where Hippolyta reveals she had discovered and named a comet, but the credit was given to a white girl. Later the pair are returning home to Chicago, confused at how Tic’s Trio got there without them. Hippolyta notices that Diana is drawing on George’s atlas, noticed the route to Devon County, where Ardham is found, is marked, and decides to head that way for answers.

Christina, trying to meet her own magical goals attempts to strong-arm Leti but is kept at bay by the magical energies of Leti’s house. Christina drops that Atticus attempted to kill her, as asks Leti for the orrery in the house. Christina spends time in the neighborhood, waiting on the orrery or some other purpose, and is targeted by the same cops who went after Leti last episode. It becomes clear that these cops are tied to another one of the many (maybe even 35?!) magical lodges. This time, however, Christina vanishes and is instead saved by her servant, William. Could Christina and William be one-in-the-same? That might complicate the next bit.

Meanwhile, Ruby, Leti’s half-sister, makes the unfortunate discovery the department store position she craved was filled by another woman. Ruby goes to Sammy’s bar to let off her blues in some fantastic singing that doesn’t seem to inspire many reactions. She then gets introduced to William who seems to promise her the world before seducing her.

Magic has its price, however. Let’s hope the price is not too steep for Ruby.

The ring seems to be the key, here, but I am sure the blood helped.

How it worked out…

It takes about 15 or so hours to travel from Chicago by Boston, according to Google maps. I only mention this because, within the span of two hours, Tic, Leti, and Montrose somehow manage to use an underground passage from a museum in Boston and arrive at the secret tunnel beneath Leti’s new house. Spatial anomalies are fine and welcome in creating unsettling weirdness in Lovecraftian works, but the key is that it needs to be established first. There is no indication that the laws of time and space are warping around Tic and company in the tunnel, all that there is is the rising tide. So unless there was some sort of time and space shenanigans that were established prior to their arrival at Leti’s elevator then the episode absolutely went off the rails, very badly.

It might seem a bit cynical and unfair of me to latch onto a continuity error such as this, but it is a perfect example of some of the narrative leaps that “A History of Violence” took. So many puzzling choices just to set up circumstances in non-organic ways. Why does Montrose burn the book? Because it makes it easier to set him up to tag along. Why is everyone pissed off at an obviously traumatized Atticus for trying to protect their lives? What happened to Tree? Does the hidden trigger in the museum ever get activated when someone is cleaning the alligator statue?


Even worse, the strength of the show, the themes of the existential horror faced by people of color, was largely absent. We get references to colonialism, Hippolyta being unable to take credit for the cosmic object she saw, and a made-up story about a knot. We do get something with Rose, but it’s all a set-up for next week’s episode.

Instead, we end up with a lukewarm riff on Journey to the Center of the Earth only even more nonsensical than that pulp adventure. Solid performances across the cast can’t even really save it, either. We’re now just mostly hitting the same notes on the characters with a slight thawing of the relationship between Atticus and Montrose.

Lovecraft Country‘s adventurous return to serialization moves the story forward, technically, but seems to be mostly moving pieces around to get the players where they need to be for something more significant to come. Sloppy attention to detail, however, sinks what could have been a fun romp. There is little terror, Lovecraftian or otherwise, to be had, however.

I give the fourth episode, “A History of Violence” two and a half Cthulhus. 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

This sequence was pretty fun.

Miskatonic Musings

What do we have of note in this edition of the Miskatonic Musings?

  • Of course, the Freemans were never enslaved. It’s in the name… Free Man.
  • We also see a little bit more of the kid who we assume will be history’s very own Emmett Till.
  • Speaking of tragedy, Montrose references Tulsa as he burns the cult’s book.
  • Yahima Maraokoti is said to be from Guyana and is a two-spirit. There is a history of “two-spirit” intersex individuals in Native American culture and a fascinating example of differing perspectives on sex and gender in indigenous culture.
  • So, Montrose is gay. His friend from the bar, Sammy, in episode one, was caught receiving oral sex. Tree seems to hint at this in the episode.
    • With that said, Montrose killing Yahima feels gross and unnecessary, but it may also make a perverse sense to him; he may be grappling with his own queerness and Yahima represents an uncomfortable blurring of boundaries for him.
  • Literary references in this episode specifically revolve around Journey to the Center of the Earth. The episode borrows heavily from that sort of pulp adventure storytelling. Not entirely successfully, mind you.
  • There is also a rather laconic retelling of the events of “Genesis.”
  • My music pick for this episode? Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

What did you think about “A History of Violence?” Let us know in the comments!


David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Movies n TV

You Reap What You Woe



Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.

First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood. 

Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured. 

While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there. 

Family therapy scene from Wednesday

Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday. 

Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why. 

While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting. 

Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem. 

The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.

Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place. 


I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around. 

This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.

Lucius Hoyos

But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Solace, a Film Review

Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.



Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.

As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.

Anthony Hopkins stares with a blue tent over his right eye. Colin Farrel behind him. The background is blue with several faces.
Solace Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.

As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.

Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.


Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.

A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.

Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.

Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrel separated by a knife.
Solace International Cover Art

What I Dislike

There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.

Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.

This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.


Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.

Final Thoughts

For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Woe What a Night



Episode four of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was one that plenty of people have been talking about. And now that I’ve seen it for myself, I can see why. It was memorable. Just not always in good ways.

We start the episode with Wednesday and Thing breaking into the morgue for clues. They discover that each of the monster’s victims has missing body parts. If you’ll recall, a homeless man was murdered at the end of the last episode.

While investigating, Wednesday finds Xavier’s secret art studio. He’s been drawing and painting the monster over and over. So, at least someone else has seen it. 

Of course, Xavier catches her skulking around his studio/abandoned building on school property. 


I honestly don’t understand why this school has so many buildings around campus accessible to students without teacher supervision. I wonder what the teen pregnancy rate is at this school.

Cornered, Wednesday invites him to the RaveN dance. This, of course, pisses off Tyler, who has a thing for her. An unrequited thing, might I add.

Not surprisingly, Wednesday doesn’t care about the dance. She cares more about getting information about the monster. She goes to Sheriff Galpin, who does seem to be an ally. At the very least, it seems like the two of them are the only ones taking the literal monster in the woods who is eating people seriously.

They agree to work together, to a point. She brings him concrete evidence of the monster, and he agrees to do a DNA test for her. 

Of course, we couldn’t just focus on that. There’s a dance to go to. 


If you haven’t seen a single episode yet of Wednesday, you at least know about this goofy dance the title character does in this episode. Everyone was doing it, from morning shows to teenagers on Tik Tok. And it’s fine. It reminds me of some dance scenes in Addams Family Values. It was awkward and a little funny. It wasn’t worth the hype, but it was charming.

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday.

Of course, while the kids are dancing, the town kids are planning to prank them. I mean, I guess this is a prank. They pump paint into the sprinkler system and set it off during the dance. Of course, everyone but Wednesday is wearing white. 

In the resulting chaos, Wednesday has a vision of Eugene, who went into the woods looking for the monster’s lair. This, of course, is exactly what she told him not to do. She runs out to find him but doesn’t beat the monster there. Strangely, she’s not the only one running around in the woods covered in blood. So is Ms. Thornhill.

Overall, this was a rather cliche and dull episode. But it wasn’t without its moments. One thing I appreciated was Bianca’s response to Xavier at the dance. Even though she was pretty desperate to go to the dance with him, she doesn’t allow herself to be disrespected. I appreciate that. She didn’t take her anger out on Wednesday, either, which was nice. It’s 2023. We don’t need girls being cruel to each other over boys.

I also like Wednesday going to Sheriff Galpin, and him believing her. We did not have to suffer through the cliche of a teen who doesn’t trust the adults around her. Neither did we see the pompous adult who doesn’t listen to the teens when they bring evidence to them. And this was so refreshing. I loved to see it. 

Now, let’s talk about what didn’t work here. Specifically, there were too many teenagers with moody, angry brooding moments. Everyone has a crush on everyone else, and nobody is handling it well. Shocker. 

Emma Myers in Wednesday

I am not entertained by teenage love triangles. Tyler likes Wednesday, who doesn’t care. Bianca likes Xavier who likes Wednesday, who still doesn’t care. It’s an irritating subplot and could have been replaced by any number of good stories. And yes, I understand that this is a kid’s show, intended for kids. Kids deserve smarter subplots. Kids are worthy of smarter subplots. If Disney can realize not every story needs a love component, everyone can.

All in all, this wasn’t a great episode. But it wasn’t terrible. There was way too much focus on dances and teenage relationships. But at least it moved the mystery forward. So there’s hope for the episodes to come.  3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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