Lovecraft Country Episode 1: Birth of the black horror genre

Quick recap

HBO

In the series premier titled ‘Sundown’, Atticus Freeman, a war vet, is returning home to Chicago after receiving a troubling letter from his estranged father, Montrose. While on the bus he has a strange sci-fi war dream, featuring several iconic monsters from Lovecraft novels. The most mysterious being a woman with red skin floating down out of a flying saucer. She embraces him yet tells him to suffer. In Chicago, Atticus visits his dad’s favorite haunts in search of clues, but no one seems to know where to find him.

With help from his uncle George, and childhood friend Letitia Lewis, he sets out on a road trip to find his father in a place called Ardham. The trio stops in Simmons Ville to eat, but this being the Jim Crow South, they promptly get chased out by shot gun toting racists in a pickup. At the last minute they’re saved by a white woman in a silver car, when the pickup slams into an invisible barrier surrounding the silver sedan. Unfortunately, this is only the start of their bad luck, though they get a brief reprieve at Letitia’s brother Marvin’s place.

HBO

Marvin gives them the rundown on Devon county and none of it’s good news. They end up spending most of the next day driving in circles looking for a bridge. Eventually they stop to get their bearings, and as if on cue the local bigoted sheriff shows up to chase them out of Devon County, because the entire county is a sundown county, meaning that black folks are not only unwelcome after dark, but also unsafe. They make it across the tracks just in time, only to be stopped and arrested just over the county line. Things look bleak as the trio are led into the dark woods at gunpoint by the racist cops, but just when things seem to be coming to a heartbreaking conclusion, they are saved by a man eating monster.

All hell breaks loose as Tic and Leti run screaming through the woods, George is unable to due to his shattered knees. The duo finds refuge in an abandoned cabin and are joined by the surviving cops. George makes his way there as well and the group prepares to make their final stand. Leti runs for the car and manages to save Tic and George by crashing into the cabin, but they’re soon surrounded by the beasts. Just when it seems all hope is lost, A mysterious whistle calls them away. The weary trio walks along the road and finally cross the bridge, soon they come to an enormous mansion. The silver sedan happens to be in the driveway. The man who opens the door says they’ve been expecting them.

Review

HBO

This show combines two things I love most when it comes to entertainment: black leads and horror. For decades black characters in horror flicks are usually killed off early if not first. So Lovecraft Country is a much needed breath of fresh air. This fantasy horror show is rooted in some well known history for black Americans, the Jim Crow south was arguably one of the most terrifying places for black people. Under Jim Crow, black folks were treated as second class citizens on a good day, and worse than dogs on a bad one. This real life terror paired with fantasy ghouls makes for an interesting and engaging show.

Tic and his father aren’t very close, he even implies that his father was somehow abusive and his uncle asserts that his father was abusive toward Montrose as well. This, as well as a dead mother, would definitely explain the estrangement between father and son. Speaking of Tic’s mother, George seems to have some history with her. He keeps a photo of her in his wallet, though he seemed to really love his wife, Hyppolyta. You could see him visibly tense when Tic mentions that his father wrote about her in a letter. There must be some history there.

Before setting out on his trip Tic places a call to South Korea, the woman on the other end tells him he shouldn’t have gone home. I wonder what that’s about. It’s not yet clear what his relationship is with the Korean woman, but Tic and Leti seem to have some history of their own, I already stan.

HBO

Predictably, the trio have endured several racially charged encounters throughout their journey. But I didn’t expect to see them saved from one such encounter by a white person, though on the surface that seems like it should be a good thing, I have my reservations. If the invisible shield around her car is any indication, this woman may not be someone they want to get involved with. Especially since we see her car at the mysterious mansion at the end of the episode.

Our trio seems to have good and bad luck in equal measure, because even though they continually get tangled in some race based altercation, they are continually saved by an unexpected party. When it seems they me be executed in the woods, their savior this time is the very beast Tic described to Leti earlier. The shoggoths start devouring the cops one by one, allowing our trio to escape death, if only for a moment, because soon the shoggoths come after them too. At the last minute a whistle calls the beasts away, but who blew the whistle? Does this mean that someone keeps these things as pets?

Hopefully we get some answers next week. Check out the trailer for episode 2 below.

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