Life after death while living in a racist’s haunted house is the basic over. This is an episode about the power and danger of grief, pioneering and spirits.
Leti, Tic, and Montrose are back in Chicago after their trip to the North. This episode takes us on a 10 (ten) day countdown giving the viewer the backstory to how 3 people went missing in the North side of Chicago after Leti moves into an old haunted house as the first black person in an all white neighborhood.
In season 1, episode 3 of Lovecraft Country we witness first hand how Leti, Tic, Hippolyta, and Montrose are coping with life after death.
Leti: Living life fearlessly to fill the void left by Death
Leti is back from the dead.
Episode 3 opens with Leti in a Black church surrounded by men and women singing, shouting, dancing and praising God. Leti sits calmly in church unable to find the emotions necessary to praise God even though she has just escaped literal death through a magical resurrection. Leti is trying desperately to see through her tears what drives the praises of those in church. She is still unable to stand up and sing the praises to God Almighty. Is it because she knows it was Samuel’s magical spell that brought her back to life and not the God those in church are praising?
Leti has decided to take life by the horns and intends to ride it until she is thrown off. Leti has come into some money and a house in an all white neighborhood. This dilapidated looking house has 3 floors, 13 rooms, and a barely working elevator. Leti is almost decapitated by the barely working yet seemingly abnormally fast elevator. Leti invites her sister Ruby to move in along with Leti’s artistic friends. It is Leti’s hope that a house full of black people will hopefully show strength in numbers in order to keep the racist white neighbors away.
Throughout this episode we will see how Leti faces the dangers of her racist white neighbors, local police captain, and unruly ghosts without fear. She channels the internal strength she has gained post resurrection to do what she wants to do – which is live in her new house.
Hippolyta: Wearing a mask of strength
When we see Hippolyta for the first time since her husband’s death, she looks poised and present. As she sits at her dressing table we see her open one of George’s favorite books, Dracula. She begins to rip pages out one by one. Channeling her pain and anger with every torn page. She stares at herself stoically. She knows she is the only person she can truly share her pain with.
We then see her in the kitchen with Tic and Diane. Her face is again masking her ever present pain. She is annoyed that Tic is making breakfast and keeps leaving wet cups turned over. That is not how George does it, Hippolyta tells Leti later in the episode. She is frustrated with Tic that he sent the travel guide out for publishing without telling her and before she could edit it.
Hippolyta is like so many strong black women in American history. Hippolyta has a daughter to care for and George’s travel guide business to maintain. She does not have time for a mental breakdown. So she cries in private and wear a mask over her pain in public even if the public is her kitchen. Hippolyta and Diane still long for the presence of their patriarch. Uncle George presence is a void missing from their home.
The stereotype of the “strong black woman” is more than just a cultural trope: Many black women in America report feeling pressured to act like superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race- and gender-based discrimination in their daily lives.Kara Manke https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_the_strong_black_woman_identity_both_helps_and_hurts
Leti, Tic, and Montrose have brought back Uncle George’s dead body and concocted a different, less magical version of Uncle George’s death. Hippolyta is told that Uncle George was killed by a Sheriff who was later killed by Tic and Montrose. his version of events does not sit right with Hippolyta.Hippolyta attempts to call Montrose out on the missing pieces surrounding her husband’s death. But in typical Montrose form, he dismisses her concerns.
Later in the episode at Leti’s housewarming party we Hippolyta find a golden solar system model. She is intrigued. This solar system looks magical to the viewer. We learned earlier in the episode that Montrose did not want to reveal this magical universe to Hippolyta because he thought it was too much for her to bear. Hippolyta is left to figure out this toy without the assistance of Montrose and Tic. Now imagine if she knew about all the magic they had previously encountered she may have been more willing to share her new find with her family.
I wonder what this solar system model is?
Montrose: A drunken, distant angry state
“We can’t do shit”Montrose
Montrose decides to put himself in a drunken stupor in order to deal with the pain of the loss of his brother and pushes away Tic. Montrose refuses to honor his brother’s dying wish to take care is Tic. Instead he ignores Tic and pushes him away despite Tic’s request to spend a few nights at his home since Tic has worn out his welcome at Hippolyta’s home. “We can’t do shit” is Montrose philosophy. Montrose is resigned to ignoring the residual trauma of his kidnapping and his brother’s murder.
Tic: Doing what needs to be done
Tic is trying to fix everything and for everyone by trying to do what he thinks they need to be done. He has stepped into Uncle George’s role by cooking breakfast and cleaning dishes. He takes care of Diane and Hippolyta until he wears out his welcome. His presence is just yet another reminder to Hippolyta that her husband is gone.
Although Tic is present for Hippolyta and Diane, he has ignored Leti since Uncle George’s funeral three weeks that is until he arrives as her new house to tell her goodbye before he leaves for Florida since he was no longer welcomed at the homes of Hippolyta and Montrose. Tic intended to return to Florida even after Leti offers him a room and board at her new home. It is only after Tic realized that Leti’s white neighbors are not going to be a nuisance but dangerous does he decide to stick around a little longer.
De-segrating a white neighborhood is dangerous business.
As the episode continues we soon realize that Leti is not just in any house but a haunted house right in the middle of an all White unwelcoming neighborhood. Her contemptuous neighbors make themselves known to her by parking their cars in front of her house and tying bricking on their steering wheels so that the noise of the blaring horns could torment her and cause her to leave. The local police actively co-sign this criminal behavior as they drive past the blaring horns coming from the neighbors cars with smirks on their racist white faces.
Leti refuses to let this shake her. As she lays in her bed waking up from her sleep we see the ghost of a black woman with half of her face torn off. This ghost is a scary sight to behold. Leti however does not see this ghost. Leti instead gets out of bed to shut the window to close off the noise of the blaring car horns. Leti then notices the moisture on her window.
Leti, a woman who can take care of herself, goes down to the basement to inspect the boiler. She find that not only is it overheated but the knob is off of the boiler. She uses a wrench to turn the boiler down. After she turns the boiler down, she hears a banging sound coming from the other side of the room along with muffled voices. As she searches for the origin of the sound she find an empty room below the basement.
Leti brings Tic down to the basement to show him the weirdness that is this new found room. She tells him something is not right with this room. He tells her maybe its her imagination playing games with her after all that she has recently experienced. She tells him that she knows she is not a figment of her imagination. Tic beleives that the neighbors torture tactics may be working. He names their use of the noise and alleged tampering of the boiler as tactics he saw ultilized during the Korean war by soilders to torture people.
These same torture tactics continue to be used even in modern war conflicts. The Bush administration infamously used these methods during the Iraq & Afghanistan wars in attempts to get detainees to confess.
Leti pushes back on Tic’s theory reminiscent of when Tic reminded her in the episode 2 that he knows he wasn’t suffering from shell shock. Tic believes her. He offers to board up the windows. Leti thanks him and tries to hold his hand but he pulls back and changes the subject.
Leti refuses to let the white neighbors torture tactics win. She decides to throw a massive house party in her new home. Leti is dancing throughout the house taking pictures of her guests and tenants that are enjoying the live band and Ruby’s singing and dancing.
As Leti is dancing with a man, Tic walk through the door in his full military uniform. Tic is hopeful that his uniform will put the white neighbors on alert.
Tic sees Leti in a beautiful turquoise dress. As she grinds her body on her dancing partner she gazes lustfully at Tic. As Tic is getting his bearings together, Tree, another man from the neighborhood leans over to Tis questioning if Tic and Leti are an item. Tree insinuates that he has slept with LEti during high school. Tic turns away and continues to stare longingly at Leti.
Leti then goes to the bathroom to wash the sweat off her face and chest. As she bends to splash the water on her we see behind her another grizzly looking ghost. But Leti does not see the ghost’s reflection in the mirror, instead she sees Tic’s reflection as he stands in the doorway lustfully gazing. He comes into the bathroom, grabs Leti, hoists her up on the sink and they do what grown folks do. Once finished, Tic notices blood, Leti tells him she has just started her monthly cycle. Tic is not bothered by the blood and they leave the bathroom.
We next see Ruby having a conversation with some party guests discussing her many attempts to get a job at the local department store. She says she will never give up. Ruby says “if more colored folks thought like me the race would be much further along.” Just as Ruby finished speaking, they notice a red glow coming from the window. There is a burning cross in their front yard. Leti has had enough. She takes her bat, Jackie Robinson style, and knocks out all The windows and removes the tapped bricks for the car. Joyful gospel music plays in the background as fearless Leti wields her bat and destroys the property of her awful white neighbors. Moments later police arrive and takes Leti into police custody.
Cross burnings was another tactic utilized by White Americans to terrorize Black Americans and continues today but with much harsher consequences.
“Obviously once upon a time this was very much a Deep-South phenomenon, but now, neither the Klan nor things like cross burnings are limited to the South,” he says. “The mythology is so well-known that you’re as likely to get a cross burner in Minnesota as you are in Georgia.”LAUREN KIRCHNER, https://psmag.com/news/cross-burning-is-more-common-than-you-think-72781
Leti is taken in the back of a police van with a white police captain named Lancaster. He questions her and when she refuses to answer his questions he uses the police van as a weapon on her. Leti’s body is thrown around the van while the police captain holds onto a grip. Leti’s body laid battered on the flood. Her head and her lip bleeding but he could not break her spirit.
This scene was eerily reminiscent of the death of the Freddie Gray. His death occurred after an arrest for possessing a knife (which was actually legal) and after he was given a “rough ride” in a police transport van. All police officers involved were acquitted at trial.
After being harrassed and brutalized by the police officers, Leti learns more details about the house. She learns that the house was owned by a scientist Hiram Epstein who was infamous for doing scientific experiments on people. Leti also learns that Captain Lancaster may have been working with Epstein to perform his ghastly experiments on missing black people.
Leti know believes that the spirits of eight black people that went missing under Captain Lancaster’s watch are haunting her house along with the ghost of Hiram Epstein. She seeks out a Creole woman to ward out the evil spirits. She is able to summon the ghost of Hiram Epstein but he is too strong and kills the woman and then inhabits Tic’s body. Hiram through Tic attempts to murder Leti. Leti isn’t stronger than Hiram but she knows those who are – the eight spirits haunting this house.
She calls out their names one by one. She says their names. They need to remember that they were not just victims of this monster but that they were once human. She needs them to save themselves and to save her and Tic. As she calls their names and continues to chant in Creole all the spirits begin forming a circle around Tic/Hiram and join hands with Leti. They together united in destroying this monstrous ghost are able to banish Hiram Epstein’s sinister soul from Leti’s house.
The episode ends with Tic confronting Christina at Leti’s realtor’s storefront. Tic has realized that it was not Leti’s mom that got her this house but it was Christina. Christina wants Tic to find the Book of Names for her and she knows it is in Hiram’s house. Tic attempts to shoot her but cannot because she has an invisibility spell on her. She reminds Tic that she is a white woman and shooting her is the last thing he should try to do.
Holy Ghost takes the viewers on a wild trip reminding us that even after death, spirits both good and bad continue to live amongst us.