Television

Lovecraft Country: Season 1 Episode 1, ‘Sundown’ Review And Recap

Tonight is the night. We have collected all of our Lovecraft Country coverage here.

The show opens with what can only be described as an EPIC opening sequence involving people fighting in trenches during World War I. We see Atticus crossing no man’s land in the middle of gunfire. As he continues to cross the battlefield the scene goes from real to surreal as he turns to look at UFO’s who are trying to shoot down fighter planes. One of the UFO’s stops and opens a blue beam of light. That light transports down a beautiful alien. The year is 1928. As the two embrace she whispers something to him and a full blown Cthulhu pops out and screams at them from behind his tentacles. Just as that happens a heroic sized Jackie Robinson crushes the monster with his bat before quipping to Atticus. “I got you kid”. Cthulhu reforms behind Robinson who prepares for another mighty swing. Just as that swing connects Atticus wakes up in the back of a bus. Atticus flips off the Kentucky sign as The bus breaks down and Atticus ends up sitting by the side of the road. The bus riders are going to hop a ride with one of the farmers and there is a ton of tension because he is probably racist. Atticus immediately walks over to the other Black rider and offers to carry her luggage.

They either choose to walk or were forced to. Awhile later the two are walking down the road. She asks him about The Princess of Mars. We learn about the complicated history of John Carter. Despite all of those complications we learn Atticus loves those stories. He also has a complex relationship with his father who he is going back to see.

We are in Chicago. George is about ready to leave on a business trip and he is trying to get lucky with his wife, Hippolyta, before he goes. She offers to go on the trip with him. He tells her it is too dangerous. They start to get it on.

We see a home with lots of pictures of Atticus. Dee is coloring a picture and can hear George and Hippolyta. She gets grossed out and heads into the kitchen where Atticus surprises her by crawling up the fire escape. The whole crew reacts to her scream and come into the kitchen to great Atticus.

Later in the day Atticus wanders into what looks like a book store to find his Uncle, George. They discuss how Atticus’s father has gone missing. We also learn he often goes on benders and sometimes disappears. This time is different as Montrose has been missing at least two weeks and hasn’t paid rent. Atticus thinks he knows where he is. His father wrote him about his biological mother who died a while ago. Montrose was obsessed with his wife’s ancestry. That letter mentions Atticus’s mother was from Lovecraft Country and that Atticus has a birthright back out that way. George tells him the letter isn’t from Arkham (fictional) but Ardham (real). Lovecraft Country ain’t real and Atticus feels silly.

Walking home Atticus passes any number of different city scenes. He walks into a bar and we meet Tree. Atticus and Tree already seem to have beef. He is looking for Montrose. The owner tells him that he saw him leaving with a well dressed man and that he got into an expensive car.

The block party is in full bloom as Ruby sings. Letitia starts to head into the party. Leti takes some pictures of Ruby and the party. Letitia shouts she wants to hear the song Whole Lota Shaking Going On. The crowd wants Letitia up on stage too. Letitia comes up and the two sing and dance. There seems to be a natural rivalry between the two sisters. Atticus turns on one of the fire hydrants. The party is really hopping now. Ruby thinks her sister wants something and she is not wrong. Letitia needs a place to stay. Atticus also catches Leti’s eye. Ruby gives her two nights. I think Ruby has had it with some of Leti’s shenanigans.

George and Atticus are discussing the upcoming trip and they find an atlas covered in some cartoon drawings. They find a town called Ardham but it disappeared from records like 20 years ago. They find where it should be. As Atticus leaves he heads back to his father’s apartment and turns on some music. On one of the shelves he finds a dog eared copy of The Count of Monte Cristo with a family photo in it. He checks on his father’s gun as well. He calls a number and the person on the other end tells him “you went home, you shouldn’t have”. He hangs up.

The next morning, Atticus runs into Leti who seems to be loading up a car. She is going on a trip with George and Atticus to find Ardham. Hippolyta runs through a checklist as the three of them prepare to leave. Dee gives her father a travel comic and they leave. They travel first through the Midwest.

Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

We get a brilliant voice over from James Baldwin and it is incredible. The trio stops for gas and the attendant makes some really racist gestures. Another stop in the Midwest shows us Atticus giving money to a mother and her newborn while purchasing flowers from the same women. We see the suffering of African Americans against the prosperity of white folks.

The trio makes a stop in simmonsville. They want to try a restaurant and record it in their book. The city does not look like it is friendly to them. They spot the diner they are supposed to review. The diner is right next to closed up building. They sit down and things get awkward. The waiter seems stunned. Atticus and Leti posit that maybe they need to leave. George argues they deserve to be here. Leti goes to the bathroom and on her way back to the restroom she hears the waiter talking to someone on the phone. It doesn’t sound good. The original place was burnt down and Leti gets the car and the three run out of town while racist town folks shoot at them. Leti is a heck of driver. Atticus starts shooting back. They lose all but one truck and Leti just beats a nice looking sedan who then turns and seemingly flips over the racist’s truck. We will see the driver of that car again I am sure.

The three of them are sharing dinner with Leti’s father later that night. Her mother passed away awhile ago. We learn that Ardham was founded by witch hunters. The area around Ardham doesn’t like strangers and the county has a sheriff who is bad news. He has complaints from the NAACP. George is talking to Dee and Hippolyta. Hippolyta seems to be big fan of planets and what not as she was looking through a telescope while talking on the phone. Letitia and her father have a big argument and Atticus watches on from outside. George comes up to him. They discuss how Montrose and Atticus fought about Atticus joining the army. They did not leave in good terms. George believed despite Montrose’s issues that he was good. Atticus does not really feel the same way.

The next morning the three take off. They enter Devon County which is the county close to Ardham. It is the area that was described so negatively yesterday. They seem to be lost. Atticus tells George to pull over so he can look for the right turn. As Leti and Atticus look for the turn a police officer pulls up and tells them they are in a sun down county and if he catches them in the county after sundown he will hang them. After making Atticus beg to make a U-turn the three of them make a run for the border. They have to get 5 miles in 10 minutes. The cop is following them to the county line. They may not make the border of the county. The officer runs into their bumper. Leti loads Atticus’s gun. They make it barely by sundown. As they celebrate they crest a hill only to find a police barricade. Four cops with guns are waiting for them.

The four officers push them all on the ground out in the woods. One of the officers is the infamous sheriff we heard about the night before. They think the trio is involved in some burglaries. Atticus calls the sheriff by name and offers to let him search the car because they are just traveling through. The sheriff says “how do you know my name then?”

Just then animals begin to shriek and some of the officers get torn to pieces. It is return of the Shoggoths. Leti and Atticus run but George hides. Leti and Atticus end up sharing a shack with the Sheriff, who has been bit and another officer.George is out with all the Shoggoths and eventually makes his way into the cabin. George thinks the Shoggoths are afraid of light. They need to go get the car to use the headlights. The Sheriff will not let Atticus go but lets Leti go instead. She is out and running hard.

Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

The sheriff was bitten by one of the Shoggoth and now is turning into one. Leti makes it into a car. She turns on the lights and scares one away. At the cabin the sheriff has fully turned and eats the other officer. Right before it attacks them Leti drives through the shack. The three of them get out of the car and throw flairs all around. There are A LOT of Shoggoths. As they all encircle the three of them a dog whistle seems to call off the attack as the group of monsters retreat.

As the trio get up and starts to walk they finally find themselves in Ardham. They find the sweet car from earlier and Will opens the door and tells the group they have been expecting them and to Atticus specifically “welcome home”. THE END. Catch your breath!

Questions and Connections

  1. If you want to spend some time down a rabbit hole look at that opening sequence again. I saw all kinds of references to science fiction. I saw aliens from War of the Worlds and maybe a call out to Watchmen amongst many others. Tell me what you found.
  2. John Carter. Now there is mess. A spectacular disaster if there ever was one.
  3. On the Creation of…by HP Lovecraft. It is totally fucked. Read it below for yourself. To say Lovecraft’s history is complex would be shitty. He was a racist. No other way to put it.
When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove's fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th'Olympian host conceiv'd a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.

4. Atticus finds The Count of Monte Cristo at his fathers house. The Monte Cristo is mostly a story about how revenge can be all consuming. So who is seeking revenge in this story Montrose or Atticus?

5. Shoggoths enter the picture. They freak me out and for good reason. All of Lovecraft’s creatures are terrifying.

6. So did one cop tell the other cops the trio was coming or is it like racist telepathy?

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