Lovecraft Country’s sixth episode, “Meet Me in Daegu,” has enough unexpected horror in its first sex-tentacle-filled 13 minutes to power thousands of shocked-face emoji tweets. But it is the final 13 minutes that change everything we think we know about Lovecraft Country and where the HBO/Sky Atlantic drama is heading in the final four chapters of its first season. Because it is in those minutes that Lovecraft Country asks, “Is Atticus going to die?”
All signs point to “Yes” following a terrifying vision from Ji-Ah (Once Upon a Time alum Jaime Chung), the surprise nine-tailed fox spirit central to the fate of Atticus "Tic" Freeman (Jonathan Majors). Since “Daegu” speeds through this latest revelation, it’s time we slow things down and explain the clues.
This episode stands as our first proper introduction to Ji-Ah, who has had three prior appearances in the series. In the series premiere, Ji-Ah appears in Tic’s pilot-opening Princess of Mars fantasy as the titular blood-drenched princess. In second episode “Whitey's on the Moon,” Ji-Ah appears in another fantasy sequence — this time in the punishing wartime flashback fight Tic is forced to endure at Braithwhite manor. Finally, in last week’s “Strange Case,” Tic tearfully calls an extensive international number. “How’d you know?” He asks. “You believe me now?” the voice on the other line asks. Now we know the mysterious woman is Ji-Ah, a nurse by day, who is hiding the spirit of a murderous fox spirit inside herself following her mother’s summoning ritual.
“You should have listened to me,” Ji-Ah says.
“Daegu” tells us exactly what Tic should have listened to Ji-Ah about. In the final section of the episode, Ji-Ah and Tic are honest about most of their secrets. Ji-Ah admits that she initially started a relationship with Tic to kill him for murdering her best friend. In response, Tic breaks down over the atrocities he has committed under the guise of serving “under orders.” The couple starts a joyful relationship, despite the fact that Ji-Ah is actually a vengeance spirit called a kumiho; she only needs to take one more soul to complete the deal her mother originally made with a shaman. Tic has no idea.
“You’ll kill him sooner or later,” Ji-Ah’s mother predicts.
Ji-Ah's mother is nearly proven correct in Ji-Ah and Atticus’ last scene together in the episode. During particularly pleasurable sex, Ji-Ah’s “tails” begin to escape her body. She attempts to stop them from killing Atticus, but they are too strong. The tails in Ji-Ah’s eyeballs shoot across the bed and attach to Atticus’ own eyes. This type of horrifying development usually connects Ji-Ah to her prey’s memories, as she explains to her mother earlier in the episode. But, this time, Ji-Ah fast forwards through Atticus’ past and winds up glimpsing his future, which is death.
Ji-Ah’s death vision begins by showing Atticus having sex with some unknown woman (we can assume she is the person he was seeing in Florida before the events of Lovecraft Country). Then we see Atticus buy a ticket and board the next bus to Chicago, which is written in huge typeface on the vehicle. Atticus is wearing the same jacket and holding the same large bag as the ones we saw in the series premiere — this is the moment Atticus began his journey back to Chicago from Florida. The next series of instances have yet to happen on Lovecraft Country and are significant because they reveal what details will lead to Atticus’ supposed death. Atticus is baptised in a white outfit by an unidentified Black person, Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) rushes into view (seemingly to help Atticus), and then he is strapped into some contraption. The jumps between these images are harsh, suggesting they are separated by some time.
A triangle of light can be seen behind Atticus in the last portion of the vision and you can hear the sound of gears shifting. Atticus, apparently overcome by this obviously dangerous bondage, tears up before finally collapsing. “Don’t go home,” Ji-Ah says to Atticus after taking in the vision. “If you go home you will die. I saw it!”
While Lovecraft Country doesn’t explain why Ji-Ah has this rare experience when her tails connect to Atticus, there are two options: his magical blood or the fact that she doesn’t immediately kill him.
The closing scene of “Daegu” doesn’t clarify the reasoning behind the premonition, but it does offer more insight. The mountain shaman who put the kumiho in Ji-Ah’s body tells her, “You have not even become one with the darkness yet. You will see countless deaths before your journey is done.” Although that foreboding announcement doesn’t tell us Tic’s specific fate, it heavily suggests that Ji-Ah is destined to be dragged directly into the events of Lovecraft County proper. Between Christina’s (Abby Lee) machinations and Tic’s exponentially increasing interest in the deadly magic of the Sons of Adam, there is no greater centre of darkness in the world than Chicago right now.
Ji-Ah may not be the cause of Atticus predetermined death. Yet, she very may witness it herself before the end of the finale.