It seemed like the end of episode two of Lovecraft Country basically threw out the motivating plot it had started just one episode earlier. The lodge was destroyed, the Sons of Adam were killed, and though Uncle George was also killed, the others were able to make what looked like a clean getaway. Or did they? For much of the hour, it seemed like we were off to another supernatural adventure, but this week’s haunted house drama ended up being a preamble to what we should have suspected all along: no one makes a clean getaway.
In the spirit of last week’s reference to The Jeffersons, Leti and her sister Ruby moved on up to the north side of the Chicago. It’s been a month since the escape from Ardham lodge, and the survivors are trying to put the experience behind them. Leti is doing her best to give her sister a better life after being a sponge for years, while Atticus is looking to leave town feeling like he’s worn out his welcome with his grieving Aunt Hippolyta. Montrose is back home, and he’s back drinking, and though it seems like their trip to Massachusetts might have started to heal the relationship between father and son, it didn’t.
“…this week’s haunted house drama ended up being a preamble to what we should have suspected all along: no one makes a clean getaway.”
Instead, Atticus ended up focusing on his burgeoning romantic relationship with Leti, which involved him staying at her new lodging house when a number of Leti’s new White neighbours decided to express their disgruntlement about having Black people move in next door. One might think that racist White folk in the 50s would welcome Black people in what’s literally a haunted mansion, and given the disturbing history we learn later, but racism trumps even the revitalization of what could charitably called a “motivated seller” it seems.
This is where Lovecraft Country has an unintended crossover with real life events. Who didn’t think about what happened in Kenosha, WI Tuesday night while watching those two cops roll by in their patrol car as some good ole White boys harassed a house full of Black people. And was one of the cops smirking? Then, and now, it seems like White people can get away with anything even while the cops are around.
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To wit, when Leti finally has enough on the evening of her housing warming party after someone sets a cross on fire on the front lawn. Smashing the three cars to finally shut off the horns after a week of non-stop blowing seems like a reasonable reaction to the universal symbol of “We’re the Klan, and we don’t want you here,” but it’s Leti, Atticus, and a few others that ended up going downtown in the paddy wagon for it. It’s here Leti learns about the secret of her new house, or at least a part of it, and of course she learns it from the corrupt cop who was in on it.
What we discover is that the so-called Winthrop House was previously owned by Hiram Epstein, a University of Chicago professor who fired for “ethical issues”, which is code, it seems, for human experimentation, and because of the times, the eight victims were Black. Once again, Black bodies are being used for the advancement of the White man, but we don’t find out this week what exactly Dr. Epstein‘s goal was. Why dismember eight Black people of various ages, body types, and both genders? It’s not said, but special attention was paid to George‘s copy of Dracula this week, so is there a Frankenstein allusion in the future?
“The spirits of Epstein’s victims haunt the house, and so does Epstein’s spirit itself, torturing his victims in death as he did in life.”
For this week though, it was a ghost story. The spirits of Epstein‘s victims haunt the house, and so does Epstein‘s spirit itself, torturing his victims in death as he did in life. If racist neighbours and indifferent police aren’t enough, Atticus and Leti had to recruit a priestess of either Voodoo or Santeria (it wasn’t clear) to exorcise the house, and in a fairly disturbing scene we see the Epstein‘s victims restored in spirit, while Epstein’s ghost disintegrates. Problem solved, right? Well, if the spirits in the house were preoccupied with an exorcism, what other spirits in the house were dispatching the three White guys who broke into the house with baseball bats? Decapitation death by falling elevator is over the top, even by haunted house standards.
Another sign this isn’t over is the sight of a silver Benz pulling into the office of Jerome J. Jackson, the realtor who sold Leti the Winthrop house. Predictably, Christina Braithwhite survived the fall of Ardham Lodge, and Atticus was not about to let her proceed with whatever she’s planning. Christina though is a few steps ahead because she’s using a protection spell that makes her invulnerable, which means that Attitucs can’t shoot her, and it also means that Atticus will have to go along with whatever plans she has to get access to the lodge magic, which is still in play even though most of the lodge is dead. And, in perhaps the most chilling things said in the entire episode, Christina reminds Atticus that he “can’t just go around killing white women.”
So it was all part of the plan! Leti inheriting mysterious money from her mother, and Jerome Jackson purposefully took her to the Winthrop House and incentivized her to buy it. The house’s namesake, Horatio Winthrop, was an original member of Ardham Lodge and apparently had sticky fingers taking pages from the Book of Names. The question is will Christina show the same ruthless brutality as her father to get what she wants, and what does that mean for Atticus and his family?
There are also lingering questions about the Winthrop House, like where those tunnels under the house go, and whether or not Atticus and Leti put the remains of the three White men there. One is inclined to believe the Leti has no idea that they tried to break in and we’re killed (by the house?) while she and Atticus purged the spirit of Dr. Epstein, but if they’re not responsible for getting those three guys to the bottom of the elevator shaft, who or what is?
“…will Christina show the same ruthless brutality as her father to get what she wants, and what does that mean for Atticus and his family?”
Also, was the spirit of George really in that house, and was he really trying to communicate with Diana and her friends through the Ouija board? It was interesting to note the scene in the house where Hippolyta discovered a beautiful model of the solar system, but we never saw what happened in the room after she discovered it. We did see the room later though when one of the three dead White guys stumbled into, and it was just a cold, dark room with the same table in the middle of it. Was it a metaphor, or does this room hold the secrets that Christina Braithwhite is looking for?
What are your thoughts on Lovecraft Country? Excited to see what monsters will rear their ugly heads in the episodes to come? Continue the conversation with us and be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the dark shadow looming over the characters of Lovecraft Country on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.