Lovecraft Country Episode 1 – When Sci-Fi Meets Racism
Lovecraft Country Episode 1
Blerd social media was buzzing with the premiere of Lovecraft Country Episode 1. HBO’s new Sci-Fi series premiered last night on August 17, 2020. Lovecraft Country is based on the 2016 fantasy novel by Matt Ruff which crosses over racism during the Jim Crow Era and the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (the creator of Cthulhu). Is it enough to keep paying for an HBO subscription? After the end of Game of Thrones and Watchmen, it was hard for me to justify keeping my subscription as the current show lineup felt pretty weak. Lovecraft Country episode 1 will keep me around a bit longer.
Lovecraft Country is produced by Jordan Peele, Misha Green, and J.J. Abrams, which should be enough for you to at least check it out. Jonathan Majors (as Atticus Freeman), Jurnee Smollett (as Letitia Dandridge) and Courtney Vance (as George Freeman) take the starring roles in this first episode. The acting was phenomenal as I could truly feel their emotions throughout the various scenes and imagine how I would act and react in the different scenarios presented.
The episode opens with Atticus (Tic) who is a Korean War veteran dreaming about being in a battlefield that looks like it came straight out of War of the Worlds and Mars Attacks. A huge monster appears ready to attack and then suddenly (randomly) Jackie Robinson appears and splits it in half with his baseball bat. However, the monster doesn’t die (of course it doesn’t) which foreshadows the rest of the story in episode 1.
Atticus awakens on the back of a bus that has broken down. An emergency shuttle appears to take the passengers to the next town…the white ones. Anyone Black immediately knew that Atticus was never getting on that emergency shuttle. He helps another Black passenger grab her bags as they walk to the next town. He tells her that he loves how “heroes get to go in adventures in other worlds,” which gives a nod to the theme of Black Escapism.
Atticus finally makes it back to Chicago from Florida in search of his missing father. His father wrote him a letter describing a lost inheritance that he needs to go claim. In Chicago Tic is reunited with his Uncle George who is the writer of the Safe Negro Travel Guide, which is a nod to the famous Green Book which helped Black travelers navigate around dangerous areas during the Jim Crow Era. One detail I picked up is that Uncle George’s guide cover was green to recognize this.
There is some filler from that point, but I will jump to the good parts. Uncle George and Letiticia (Leti) agree to go on the journey to investigate Atticus’ father’s disappearance and the mysterious inheritance. The group travels to the Northeast while encountering multiple instances of racism, such as a teenager howling like a monkey at Atticus while eating a banana then driving past a Aunt Jemima Pancakes sign while a James Baldwin monologue plays in the background. The starkest scene during this initial journey is a sign of a white family in a new car that reads “World’s Highest Standard of Living” while a line of Black workers wait at a bus stop. This is highlighting the hypocrisy of the racial wealth gap that still rings true to this day, with the net worth of a typical white family being 10x that of a Black family.
The intensity of the show increases when the trio enters a sundown town. The scene opens with Atticus looking nervous as they drive past a fire station with a German Shepherd barking on a leash, acknowledging the protests in Birmingham in 1963.
The trio stops at a diner they believe to be safe, but they were incredibly wrong. While they are sitting the server goes to the back and gets on the phone with the owner. Leti happens to walk by when going to the bathroom and runs back letting the group know that they are in trouble. They rush out of the restaurant as they try to escape a group of white men shooting at them and eventually the police.
Eventually the group is caught by the police in the woods: a Black person’s nightmare scenario. Vampire monsters appear and the group is temporarily spared as they fight them off. However, it leaves the trio to wonder which monsters are worse?
This is a much watch for any blerd. What did you think of Lovecraft Country Episode 1? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our social media.