Sunday, August 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'Lovecraft Country' - A Haunted Mansion Inflicts More Suffering on Tic, Leti and George in 'Whitey's on the Moon'

HBO's Lovecraft Country - Episode 1.02 "Whitey's on the Moon"

Inexplicably recovered from their terrifying night, Leti and George luxuriate in their new surroundings, while Atticus grows suspicious of their Ardham Lodge hosts - Christina Braithwhite and her elusive father Samuel - who unveil cryptic plans for Atticus' role in their upcoming "Sons of Adam" ceremony. After Tic, Leti and George stumble upon a clue that could lead them to Montrose, each takes an unwelcome walk down memory lane.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Lovecraft Country.

"Whitey's on the Moon" was written by Misha Green and directed by Daniel Sackheim

The Jeffersons theme plays as George and Leti dance around in their new lavish rooms. At first, they have forgotten the horrors they have just endured in the woods around Ardham Lodge. Tic can't forget. He remembers every piece of monstrosity he has faced in his life. The spell can't touch him. He can't be distracted by the fancy things this place can offer. He and his family are welcomed with open arms. And yet, this mansion remains eerie with all the cryptic answers and allusions to past traumas. Tic's own personal history is connected back to this place. Ardham's founder, Titus, shipped slaves and raped them. That led to a new bloodline that eventually led to the creation of Tic. That's why he is vital to these people. He can be a useful tool for them in their mysterious and grand plans. But he is never seen as a person of value. He is a person who exists for the amusement of white people. Sure, George eventually discovers the by-laws of this fraternal order that states that Tic technically outranks every member who has gathered. But that doesn't matter to the man in charge, Samuel Braithwhite. He views himself as the second coming of Adam. It's his responsibility to walk in the Garden of Eden as an immortal who lords over the natural order of the world. That peace was broken by Eve and her seduction by the Devil. As such, Samuel's daughter Christina can never hope to be good or skilled enough to make it into this order. She is constantly belittled while remaining an active participant in every piece of horror that happens in this place. The Freeman family is eventually reunited. George and Leti remember the monsters in the woods. They face off with them once more. But again, men can be much more heinous than any kind of supernatural creature. Moreover, Montrose is upset that his family would come all this way to rescue him. He didn't see the need for them to make a sacrifice like that. He made his way out of the dungeon by himself. He has hardened himself against the world because he was constantly abused by his father and shunned by the world for the color of his skin. That was reflected in his parenting as well. He and Tic are estranged. He never expected his son to respond to a letter clearly written in distress. That family bond remains strong though. Montrose is a stubborn man. And yet, he deserves to be saved from this place. It's just distressing to watch as that seems impossible. The wizards at the castle simply keep them trapped. They can make Tic, Leti and George live out their greatest fantasies before they turn into vicious nightmares. They have to remain strong. That resolve ensues that they can survive as a family. And yet, the torture is always present. They can never escape to a place and find peace. They turn around a corner and only find more chaos. That torture is agonizing. Both Leti and George are shot in order to lure Tic into compliance. He is willing to sacrifice himself for his family. Samuel is delusional in thinking that Tic's sacrifice can open the door to the Garden of Eden. It's a necessary move that will allow him to achieve his true purpose. However, Samuel fails in his ultimate goal because his ancestry is deeply rooted in slavery. His legacy is to be determined based on the pain inflicted on Black bodies too. Titus' actions as a slave owner can't be explained away by white minds hoping that he treated these involuntary immigrants nicely. Those harsh and rough edges always have to be apparent. They can't be washed away. That wishful thinking only ensures that the past repeats itself. Samuel hasn't learned anything from the failings of his ancestor. He just thinks he is holier and thus more deserving. White men are allowed to lift themselves up with those possibilities. It takes so much more hard work and effort for Black voices to be given the same courtesy. Tic is powerful. His connection to his own ancestor ensures that the Ardham Lodge comes crumbling down. George dies as a result though. He succumbs to his bullet wound. That loss is profoundly felt. In his place, Tic will have his own father who is a harsh and combative man. One who isn't nurturing or encouraging. Tic's mind grew and was supported because of his uncle. This loss will be devastating for the entire family. It means they won't return home to Chicago unharmed. Their lives will forever be different because of the grandiosity of white ambition and antipathy. Tic, Leti and Montrose survive. Their agony is likely to carry on though because of the traumas they have faced here because of the people who wield such grand and expansive power at the expense of others.