Monsters and Black stories dominate HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’

Two words: the range.

The range this sci-fi thriller brought to the table from cowboys to spaceships to portraying Black stories during the Jim Crow era in a thriller is far-reaching. The HBO series originates from Matt Ruff’s novel, Lovecraft Country. Lovecraft Country is produced by Misha Green and co-produced by J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, Bill Carraro, Yann Demange, Daniel Sackheim, and David Knoller.

Without giving away too many spoilers, we are going to visit the most iconic, thrilling, bright moment in each episode of the series. The parallels between character stories and underlying themes seem to nod to greater meanings. The show has you hooked from the beginning with an extraterrestrial introduction that is sure to set the tone for the story that lies ahead. The series drops key clues in graphic sexual content that lays down aspects of a greater mystery. 

Episode 1: Sundown

“Lovecraft Country” star Jurnee Smollett in the season one premiere of the HBO series. Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

“Letitia fucking Lewis,” or “Leti.” The first five minutes of this episode brings you everything you need to know about the rest of the series. The artistic drive to paint a picture in a motion of pure confusion, and lastly, the strong Black female role of Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett), or as she likes to say, “Letitia fucking Lewis.” The series starts off with a cross country road trip that brings the trio, Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors), Uncle George Freeman (Courtney B. Vance) and Lewis into a rocky beginning. 

The three crusaders have their hands full dealing with the oppressive Jim Crow era as they seek clues on their journey. Here we see Leti take control over a road rumbling encounter with the law. Leti then high-tail it behind the wheel of a high-speed car chase out of a passing town making it a perfect picture for the strong Black female lead.

Episode 2: Whitey’s on the Moon

Courtney B. Vance, Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors in “Lovecraft Country.” Season 1, Episode 2. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

The mystery grows in Episode 2. The trio of Uncle George (Freeman), Leti, and Atticus is instantly thrown into a mystic reality they see, but questions abound. The three are left with a decision that changes the direction they embarked on from the beginning – or so the direction they thought they had embarked on. What they find out is that their journey had been decided for them from the very beginning. The road trip leads the triplets to a mysterious house that holds the answers to all of the questions thus far. 

Episode 3: Holy Ghost

“Lovecraft Country” stars Wunmi Mosaku and Jurnee Smollett in Episode 3 of the HBO series. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Leti once again energizes the scene with a riveting role to the screen, giving off “Rosie the Riveter” vibes when she purchases her own home in a white neighborhood and challenges the status quo. When the police get involved, they unwittingly unleash a darker secret about the recently purchased house that leads Leti to eventually uncover as a missing puzzle piece in this ongoing mystery.

Episode 4: History of Violence

Wunmi Mosaku in Episode 4 of the HBO series “Lovecraft Country.” Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

In this episode, the group is forced to embark on a treasure hunt in order to get some kind of answer to the remaining mystery of “the order,” a high-end social sacred society to which they owe their fortunate or unlucky circumstances. The answers are found in one missing component when Leti and Atticus set their minds to finding it. Meanwhile, Leti’s sister Ruby Baptiste is given another answer to the same question not knowing the two occurrences go together.

Episode 5: Strange Case

Jamie Neumann stars in Episode 5 of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” in its first season. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Ruby faces a transformational moment with the metamorphic transition from the Black woman she once was to the white woman she now is. The sawdust moment between Ruby and William (Jordan Patrick Smith), the gentleman who romantically befriends her, comes to an ugly head. In a roundabout sinister way, William gives Ruby the option of choosing to remain in her Black world or have the opportunity to live life as a privileged white woman.

For a while, Ruby seems to enjoy the fringe benefits her whiteness allows her to have. But there is a caveat to all of this, one that forces Ruby to re-think everything, including her relationship with William. To her credit, Ruby comes to the same conclusion Leti had when her sister bought her house: a racial component is in the mix of all of this. From her perspective, Ruby questions why is the metamorphic transition from black to white a pain that she as a black woman had never faced before? She realizes that the pain that comes with freedom. 

Episode 6: Meet me in Daegu

Lovecraft Country
Jamie Chung and Jonathan Majors star in Episode 6 of “Lovecraft Country.” This HBO series is in its first season. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

The introduction of Atticus’ mistress brings a painful introduction to Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung), a Korean War nursing student. Her induction into Atticus’ world includes a violent, yet sensual moment of the pair. The historical context of their meeting connects the two in the world of magic while showing the missing component of a potential blossoming relationship. 

Episode 7: I Am. 

Lovecraft Country
Michael K. Williams goes through a series of emotions in Episode 7 of “Lovecraft Country.” Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Relationships grow tired throughout the characters. The tension between Atticus and his father in his accidental discovery as a gay black man – reaches a boiling point. Ruby catches Leti in a web of lies. What this episode reveals is that sometimes relationships can grow stale. The exploitation of this relationship dynamic leads them to bumbling and stumbling in the way of one another as they try to answer the remaining questions to their puzzle in the mystery of their individual histories. 

Episode 8: Jig-a-Bobo

Jada Harris in "Lovecraft Country"
Jada Harris stars in Episode 8 of “Lovecraft Country.” Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

The perspective of mystery is brought by George Freeman’s daughter Diana (Jada Harris), or Dee. With the pressure of living as a black child in the Jim Crow South after the murder of her best friend Emmett Till, the horror of her family’s lives brings a reality that throws her into the mix. Dee’s self-realization brings an impactful moment with her and the generational impact that was implied in Episode 2. 

Episode 9: Rewind 1921

Will Catlett in Episode 9 of “Lovecraft Country.” Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

The series takes a trip into time travel. The year is 1921, thus bringing the range of this series to the front line. Lovecraft Country’s ability to transform one story into another time zone, and in other instances other realities bring a consecutive strand to the characters when Dee is in need of help from her family. The travel back in time brings more revelation of truth to Atticus’ father-Montrose Freeman-than the trio had expected. 

Episode 10: Full Circle

Jurnee Smollett in “Lovecraft Country” Season 1, Episode 10. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

An end that brings answers to a series-long treasure hunt. The Book of Names, the book that holds the answers to generations of family trauma against monsters, ghosts, and the unknown, uncovers the hidden gems.

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