Monday, August 31, 2020

REVIEW: 'Lovecraft Country' - Leti's Quest to Stake Her Claim to the World Leads to a Haunted House in 'Holy Ghost'

HBO's Lovecraft Country - Episode 1.03 "Holy Ghost"

Hoping to mend her relationship with her sister Ruby, Leti turns a ramshackle Victorian on Chicago's North Side into a boarding house - an endeavor that stokes neighborhood racism and awakens dormant spirits stuck in the house. Meanwhile, Atticus remains burdened by a guilty conscience as George's wife Hippolyta presses him for the full story of what happened in Ardham.

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.

"Holy Ghost" was written by Misha Green and directed by Daniel Sackheim

Leti wishes to stake her claim to the world. She refuses to turn out just like her mother. A woman incapable of offering the time and love her children so desperately needed. She presents a cool, carefree exterior. Inside, she is terrified and isolated. She has returned home to Chicago as a changed woman. Tic and Montrose have as well. On the surface, they hope to return to some semblance of normalcy following the despair they witnessed in Ardham. And yet, it seems like they are incapable of escaping the supernatural. Their worlds will continue to be invaded by it. They do their best to shield their loved ones from feeling that pain and suffering as well. That means Hippolyta and Diana don't know the truth of how George died. It's simply a reality they have to accept at this point. And yet, Hippolyta knows that Tic is hiding a guilty conscience. He is too helpful caring for his uncle's family. Meanwhile, Montrose is only interacting with the remnants of his brother's life unable to help. He struggles with the same vices he always has. Leti is the only who actually died and came back to life though. As such, she has a spiritual connection to the haunted house story the show tells here. It's a genre executed in a much different way than the first two episodes. That can be alienating to the viewer. However, it highlights Leti's power despite her insecurities. She is full of rage. She yearns for something more in her life. She feels as if she was brought back from death with something missing. She puts on an act of seeming in control. Men yearn to be with her. In reality, she is terrified of the world that haunts her and continually wishes to inflict pain on her. She fights back. She has the strength and conviction to do so. She just pushes her sister Ruby away in the process. For awhile, no one questions how Leti has the funds to buy this house. It seems disheveled enough to infer that she got a good price despite it being in a white neighborhood. She believes she got the money from her deceased mother. A connection from beyond the grave that signals something of meaning and importance. Leti was estranged from her and refused to show up at the funeral. And yet, she is given this ability to move on up in the world. She uses this opportunity to help her artist friends. The brutality of the world is never too far away though. Racists lurk on the street filled with anger over their community being invaded by Black people. Leti does so much to drown out the noise. She even has her first sexual experience. It's with Tic. It's something she wanted. The aftermath proves that it too isn't enough to fill her soul with purpose and passion. That may only come from fighting against the monsters both real and manmade. She pushes the boundaries of this world. Her community fights back and has a routine for how to deal with cross burnings. It's majestic to watch Leti as she smashes out the windows of cars and breaks the bricks keeping the horns blaring. It's just as devastating to watch as she is thrown around the police vehicle afterwards. She is abused because her sheer presence is enough to terrify white people into believing their privilege is no longer available and strong. Racists invade her life over and over again. Her new house is haunted by the victims of the white scientist who experimented on Black people he took off the streets. It's horrifying to see the damage he inflicted upon them. It seems solely out of some sick pleasure of his too. It's not for some scientific need to help humanity. He holds the claim to this house. Leti relies on Tic and a voodoo priestess to arm herself for battle. In the end though, her desire to reach out to those ghosts trapped in these walls allows her to prevail. She emerges the victor. The person who rapturously proclaims her presence as worthy. It's a rewarding and enriching feeling for her. This is her stake in the world. She will be respected no matter what. It doesn't matter if it's a racist on the outside or a friend with a secret agenda on the inside. Leti wants to make a difference. She doesn't want to be the selfish girl her sister perceives her to be. And yet, all of this is built on the unstable foundation of Christina being the true financier. Tic puts the pieces together. He understands this threat. But she is still too powerful. She seeks out power in a way that her father could never understand. His power still destroyed Tic and Leti's lives. A more daunting threat must be terrifying for them. They know the damage that can come from white people believing they can take everything from them. And now, white people are revealed to be wizards who can stop them completely in their tracks. It may be hopeless for now. But hope still emulates from the proceedings as well. That's special despite the dysfunction of these protagonists trying to come together to make a claim for their own independent and rewarding lives. Their perspectives don't always need to be validated. They should be respected though. Life constantly pushes them down. They always have to find a way to survive and keep going. It's tough. George is gone. Tic and Leti's connection may not be what either of them had hoped for. And yet, they are still connected because they know the truth. They see the threats others cannot. They shield some. Others are blind to it. Their lives remain entangled. They trust each other. That is powerful enough.