What’s HP Lovecrafts favourite streaming service? Chut-hulu!
And we’re already off to a bad start but let’s begin as we mean to go on. The first episode of Love Craft Country has just dropped on HBO and throughout this video we’re gonna be breaking down everything that you need to know about it.
There’s a lot to talk about so I just wanna dive straight into the episode but obviously there will be heavy spoilers here so if you don’t want anything ruined then I recommend you take the other road out of here.
If you’re still here then welcome to the heavy spoilers show, I’m your host Deffinition, now let’s get into the breakdown.
Lovecraft Country Episode 1 Breakdown
Ok so Lovecraft Country begins in 1954 and similar to the book we follow a Korean War veteran named Atticus as he searches for his father. In the original work, Atticus was called Atticus Turner but here he has been renamed to Atticus Freeman to signify the subtext of the show which is of course about racial tension.
Much like the book, Atticus is a Korean war vet and the show actually opens with him dreaming of his time in the trenches. It’s initially shot in black and white, potentially to symbolize how races often fight alongside each other in the battles, and color is not really seen by soldiers.
However, this opens up the longer that the intro goes on.
One of the great criticisms of the Vietnam War by Muhammed Ali was that he would be fighting against another country for a country that didn’t really respect or even like his own race and he found this to be very hypocritical. This is something that we see Atticus and the characters deal with and even though he fought with America against the Koreans the people from his homeland view him as less than they are.
We also hear a voice narrate:
“This is the story of a boy and his dream. But more than that, it is the story of an American boy and a dream that is truly American.”
This is actually a quote from Jackie Robinson who was the first African American to play Major League Baseball.
It’s at this point that things take a big turn and some War of the World’s Inspired aliens drop down and too take part in the conflict. A red-skinned alien descends before Chutulu appears and is taken out by Jackie Robinson himself.
Lovecraft Country Easter Eggs
We then cut to Atticus on the bus and we can see that he is reading The Princess Of Mars. Like Atticus says this story is about an ex-Confederate soldier aka John Cater who ends up going to Mars. I actually think this symbolizes the subtext of the story too and how the season will go on.
The whole point of the book was to show that Black people can be heroes in the stories that we know and love.
African Americans were not really featured in fiction at the time due to white writers not including them. However, Lovecraft Country is retroactively going back and allow them to be part of fiction during the time and this is why the book and likely season features a wealth of sci-fi, horror and adventure storylines.
Now I have read the book and it does get pretty wild so expect a mix of genres the further we get into it.
Unfortunately, the bus breaks down and the bus driver comes with alternate travel. However, Atticus decides to skip the ride and he walks in with another black passenger after getting a couple of funny looks from the truck owner.
Atticus informs the woman that he received a strange letter from his father Montrose and we then jump to Chicago. Here we meet Atticus’ uncle George and his wife Hippolyta who end up having a bit of afternoon delight.
The Safe Negro Travel Guide
They discuss the book they’re working on called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. This features heavily early on in the book and it basically works as a guide for African Americans to avoid towns and locales that might be dangerous. In Lovecraft Country, it also provides some warnings on monster locations but we’ll get into that later.
This was actually a real text which was published in 1936 and it ran all the way up until 1966.
We also meet Diana and with Atticus, the group has a reunion before Atticus travels to the guide office.
Here he picks up the book The Outsider and Others by Lovecraft which is published by Arkham House. Arkham is later dropped as a name and this is actually the publishing body that kept Lovecraft’s work alive after his death. George Atticus also discusses Herbert West, Reanimator before dropping the name Lovecraft Country.
The pair talk about Atticus’ missing father and he reveals the content of the letter. In this he detailed a secret ancestor and birthright that Atticus was owed.
George corrects Arkham to Ardham and Atticus goes to the Denmark Vesey’s Bar looking for more information on his dad.
This is named after Denmark Vesey who planned a slave rebellion in 1822 and was executed for it.
Jump across to a night block party and we meet Leticia played by Jurnee Smollett who just so happens to be the sister of Juicy Smoolay.
Her older sister Ruby performs a Sister Rosetta song on stage we learn that her brother is near a town called Bideford. In England, Bideford this was the location of a witch trial in 1962 and as witches actually feature in the source material it does hint towards what could be coming down the line.
We also get a tease of Leticia’s character here as we discover she only showed up to see her sister because she needed a place to stay. Throughout the work Leti initially only really goes to people because she wants or needs something. She acts nice to them and uses her charm to lower their guard but overall her friendship often has ulterior motives.
Atticus and George look over a map of the country with several symbols indicating what’s included in the areas. This ranges from werewolves to wizards and even klan members. The latter two become interlinked the further we get into the story and the conversation culminates with Atticus realizing that his father is located in the land of Death.
Atticus goes back home to find the Count of Monte Cristo novel.
It centers the Countho is wrongfully imprisoned. He then escapes his confines and amasses a fortune before bringing revenge to those that wronged him.
This could be a metaphor for what happens later in the storyline when Atticus himself is taken captive.
Atticus also comes across his father’s gun and speaks to Ji-ah who just so happens to be the same actress that played the red-skinned alien woman that we saw in the introduction.
Atticus awakens to find Leti trying to hitch a ride and though they don’t say it, you can tell the two go way back. This road trip really brings them together and along with George the three head out across the country in search of Atticus’ dad.
Across the Midwest, they pass by an ice cream stand in which a family wait to be served at the colored stand whilst the staff ignore them and chat away.
They also pass a sign that refers to African Americans not letting the Sun set on them in the area. This is because they’ve entered a sundown town which ties into the title of the episode itself. Sun downtowns were places where white people allowed black people to venture around during the day but at night they viewed it as a civic duty to arrest and sometimes even kill them.
This is referred to later by a policeman and it becomes the scariest part of the episodes.
People at a pit stop make monkey noises towards Atticus and we see the juxtaposition of this as the group is ostracised out of the area whilst drawings of their faces are also used to advertise things such as aunt Jemima.
This really shows the difference between societies and though the monsters are used as a metaphor we really get the idea that there is a dichotomy of societies here.
This is showcased in a queue of African Americans waiting for the bus whilst a picture of a white family driving a car hangs above them. It’s not too subtle but the montage shows you how things really were back then and how African Americans had to deal with several indignities.
The group drop by the Simmonsville Diner which is recommended to them by George. Inside they discover that it’s now under white ownership. We learn that the previous owners were run out of town and it is possible that it could’ve been burned down due to the walls being white.
This is similar to how the white house was painted white after it was badly burned and a floor tile that slides gives it away.
Leti catches a member of the staff calling the owners and she rushes out to warn the pair but it’s too late a group of firemen and citizens arrive chasing the trio whilst firing guns.
A silver car shows up to save them and this is tied to Atticus as it was seen following him earlier in the episode.
A mysterious woman steps out and I believe that this is Christina Briathwaite, someone that is tied to Atticus’s legacy. They make it to Let’s brother Marvin who tells them of Bideford and they also discuss the local Sheriff who pretty much enforces the Sundown Law.
The Sheriff becomes the big bad of the entry so it’s important to pay attention to him here.
Marvin and Leti end up fighting as things from the past are brought to the present. It’s here that we get hints about Leti’s true intention and how she drifts from person to person getting what she wants but she doesn’t really have stability. Atticus and George too have their disagreements over their father and brother. Clearly there is tension between the pair over Atticus joining the army to fight for a county that hates him and this caused a lot of tension between him and his dad Montrose.
The next day is when things really start to heat up and the group make their way to Ardham. However, they become lost in the woods and pull over to figure out what to do. Now if you’ve read the book then you’ll know that this is one of the most gripping parts of it. I always wondered how this would translate to screen and it really doesn’t disappoint here.
Sheriff Hunt arrives and the actor perfectly nails delivering lines that are deeply chilling whilst smiling through gritted teeth.
I love how he gives them a time limit and then stalls as much as possible so that they have less and less of it.
He drops the line about the entire county being a sundown one and stalks them as they try and make their way out the area. Not only are they not allowed to speed but they’re also forced to take a specific road. It’s an incredible scene and also the slowest car chase I’ve ever seen.
Now before he arrives there is mention of a Shoggoth, this is actually a monster from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Like Atticus says it’s basically a blob with eyes and teeth but it’s not the real monster here.
That is the Sheriff.
Now, this is what Lovecraft country does so brilliantly and normally in horror films when there’s a monster, you breathe a sigh of relief when the police show up. However, here it’s the other way around and you’re actually relieved when a monster shows up to take down the police.
The group makes it across the county line but they’re stopped by a blockade of Policemen and taken through the woods. Here they’re accused of committing a speight of burglaries and just before Hunt executes them for knowing his name, we hear the cries of the Shoggoth. Now if I was the police I wouldn’t be going into any of these woods at all, ever and it completely decimates the police whilst Leti and Atticus and take shelter in a cabin.
Hunt and another policeman make it to the cabin and hold out whilst George runs across the forest.
George draws the conclusion that the creatures fear light and he quotes Dracula before they formulate a plan.
Leti is forced by Hunt to make a run for the car and the Shoggoth stalks her. Run Forrest Run!
In the cabin, the bite slowly transforms Hunt into one of the creatures and he begins to mutate before tearing the other officer apart.
Leti makes it to the car and hits Hunt with it but he flees off into the night, likely to make a return down the line. The trio leave the cabin which is when the Shoggoth surrounds them. It looks like their time is up but a mysterious whistle summons them away. Leti, Atticus and George make their way to Ardham which is when they arrive at a mansion.
Here they spot the silver car and greeted by Caleb Braithwhite which ends the entry.
Lovecraft Country Episode 1 Ending Explained
Now, what’s going on? Well, we will be discussing some book spoilers so if you don’t want to know anything then I recommend that you turn off now.
It’s revealed that Caleb and his sisters are members of a group of wizards known as the Sons of Adam. It turns out that Atticus is the ancestor of their leader who had a child with a slave woman. Caleb, their leader wishes to perform a ritual sacrifice on them which will empower the group and this is why he and his sister have led them here all whilst protecting them.
I think the next episode we will find this and also learn more about their plan.
I don’t wanna skip too far ahead but that’s who the character is just incase you’re wondering.
Anyway that’s the first episode, I absolutely loved it and obviously I wanna hear your thoughts on it so make sure you comment below and let me know.