HBO’s Lovecraft Country: A History of Violence (Episode 4) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country, A History of Violence, the series finally gets back into its main plot thread as the group heads up to Boston in search of Titus Braithwhite’s lost pages.
Before we get to that though, it’s worth acknowledging and wrapping up a couple small threads that occur this episode with Christina (Abbey Lee) coming into Chicago and bringing a familiar face with her. After dodging Atticus’ (Jonathan Majors) rage last week, she heads over to Leti’s (Jurnee Smollett) to fill her in on what she’s after in her house. As we learned last week, Leti’s new house was secretly financed by Christina in order for her to retrieve special documents that the house’s former owner, a scientist who performed horrific experiments on black people, could be hiding. Thankfully though, the exorcism that was performed to get rid of the spirits plaguing her house makes Christina unable to enter and allows Leti to go talk to Atticus to get a better grip on things.
However, just because she can’t get into places she wants to, doesn’t mean that she can find other ways to get in. This episode really showcases how dangerous, manipulative, and powerful Christina really is and how deep the Sons of Adam’s influence runs throughout Chicago. It’s not too much of a surprise to see that the same cop that watched Leti get pummeled in the back of paddy wagon and questioned her about the house is in the Son’s of Adam and in cahoots with Christina. We do get a bit more of a surprise though with the return of William (Jordan Patrick Smith) as we see him beat the hell out of some guys that follow Christina home and eventually flirt with Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) – who is going through a rough time.
After her big blow-up with Leti, Ruby is now suffering from some job woes after she sees another black woman working at a high-end clothing store. It’s another interesting look into the lives of black people during this time as she describes how they are forced to enter a rat race for a winner take all scenario. It’s sort of like how horror and film in general would have token minority characters – only one would be allowed and they are basically there to just add some color to the room. It’s devastating to see this applied on a large, life-size scale and it’s understandable to see why Ruby is so broken up that her chance at a decent job is likely gone. She expresses this to William when he comes to see her at one of her shows that isn’t going well and he eventually gets to make their flirting more physical when they head back to Leti’s boarding house for some staircase sex. Obviously, this has to be some ploy for Christina to be able to search the house and based on the horned shaping scars on William’s chest, something demonic definitely lies in the future.
More importantly though, we finally get back on track with the main plot thread of Atticus harnessing and further understanding his magical lineage. Realizing that Christina is definitely determined to show her true potential and isn’t exactly easy to kill with her being under an invulnerability spell, Atticus needs some help to get an advantage on her. Although they’re still at odds with one another, Atticus looks to gain some help from Montrose (Michael K. Williams) but he is incredibly hesitant to do so at first since Uncle George’s (Courtney B. Vance) last wish to him was to keep everyone safe. We even see him burn a book containing clues at the start of the episode and there’s clearly this divide between Montrose and Atticus about how they should proceed. However, Montrose eventually decides to go along with Atticus and Leti’s plan and go to a Boston museum to find a secret vault, but they are not alone.
Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) and Dee (Jada Harris) come along for the ride and even a very minor character named Tree (Deron J. Powell), who is a walking talking joke that nearly hits cartoonish levels. While Tree’s appearance is literally only to set-up a plot thread about Montrose being gay that doesn’t do much here, but could set up an interesting conflict and look at the time in the future, Hippolyta and Dee have a more meaningful moment together. As they head into the museum’s astronomy section and look at a projection of stars and comets, Hippolyta tells Dee about how she named a comet when she was a kid but was never given the recognition because she was black. It’s a moment that fits perfectly with the issues Ruby faces and is made incredibly sweet when she announces that her mother named a comet to the whole room. Dee’s innocent sense of hope really adds something special to the moment and shows how strong their relationship is. However, they’re definitely about to bleed into the main plot more, which is kind of exciting, after Hippolyta decides to investigate what really happened with George by heading back to Ardham.
As for our trio of adventurers, they go on a fantasy adventure that’s actually pretty thrilling and fun to watch as the series attempts to tackle another genre this week. With Atticus being an avid fan of pulp fiction stories and even name-dropping Journey to the Center of the Earth, he basically gets to experience one, for better or worse, as the group goes through a tomb in search of Titus’ scrolls. From having to walk across a bottomless pit on a booby-trapped plank to the group having to solve some strange riddles and puzzles along the way, it’s truly the adventure tropes that have become synonymous in the genre. Hell, they even have to escape drowning as they navigate long hallways that are filling up with water somehow. In most cases, this stuff wouldn’t be that fun to watch, but these characters and performances are so much damn fun that it ends up being a thrilling blast.
The group bickers in a way that’s enjoyable to watch and kind of nostalgic of adventure films. The score is super fitting for once with this adventure theme and the situations were actually suspenseful – especially the plank walking sequence. Even the way Montrose celebrates the group making through the plank walk is hilarious and the genuine charm this cast has makes every moment of this adventure sequence incredibly fun. However, there’re some discoveries and connections made that finally delve out some details of where things are going – at least for the moment.
Not only do they discover that the elevator in Leti’s house somehow leads to this strange chasm, but they also find the scrolls they’ve been searching for in the hands of a strange new character named Yahima (Monique Candelaria). Her appearance is interesting because they are technically both man and woman and they speak Arawak – which Atticus somehow understands. There’s actually something kind of creepy about how he just instantly understands them and it’s a cool moment that signifies his lineage powers coming into play. However, all of this is kind of undone once they get Yahima back to Leti’s house since Montrose slits her throat in order to get Atticus from chasing answers. It’s a perfectly surprising way to end the episode, but it just kind of adds another obstacle in viewers finding answers to things. Her presence showed progress that was instantly halted and its hard to call that satisfying in a series that just seems to want to leave us in the dark with no real clues in sight.
Lovecraft Country continues to be a series that’s perfectly enjoyable to watch as it sends it’s great characters on a journey to the center of the truth, but once again struggles to give us a satisfying and conclusive direction. Listen, it’s perfectly thrilling and fun to watch these characters do just about anything, but we’re practically at the halfway point of the series and it continues to halt its own progress of us solving its mystery and understanding all the lore it throws at us making it a series that’s easy to like, but hard to love.