Lovecraft Country: Holy Ghost   Show Only 
August 30, 2020 7:23 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

 
Astounding. Loved it.

The medical racism was the most terrifying part. Folks may laugh at the baby-headed man, but there was a Russian scientist doing the same thing with dogs and puppies not long before. I can easily believe that someone would try to do the same with people.

I did not catch this while I was watching the show -- I am having trouble hearing it -- but one of the children playing with the Ouija board was Emmett Till.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:05 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


The Countess is seemingly right; I haven’t read the book and didn’t connect the dots on my first viewing, but the first boy who asks the Ouija board, “Will I have good time on my trip?” is addressed as Bobo. Emmett Till’s nickname was Bobo; 65 years ago last week, at age 14, he was lynched while visiting family in Mississippi.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:59 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


I feel like episode one was chapter one, episode two was something like chapter three, and episode three is somewhere between chapter five and chapter seven.

I love the skipping ahead.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:24 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


The tie caught my attention first. I had to do an image search to find out it was Emmett Till. The other kid's name was Gil, any chance that's Gil Scott-Heron?
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 9:26 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Stopped watching about 20 minutes in. It’s just very sloppy and incoherent. After a very good first episode, the second episode was silly and poorly paced. This episode didn’t seem to promise much better.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:14 PM on August 30


I liked this more than episode 2. I got so involved (and scared a few times!) that I forgot to be suspicious of Leti having all this money suddenly and what might be going on there (is that too spoilery or can we mention the end of the episode in here?)

I didn't catch the Emmett Till reference! thanks Countess Elena for noting that.
posted by pointystick at 7:06 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


(is that too spoilery or can we mention the end of the episode in here?)

Nothing in the episode can be considered a spoiler. Only events from future episodes or from the book (since this is the 'Show Only' thread) would be spoilers.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:54 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I really love how the show is using the blood memory or ancestral connection that Jurnee Smollett references as a superpower. Seeing Leti calling on the Eight to help her exorcise Hiram, and seeing their collective power restore and heal the spirits, was really emotional and powerful.
posted by stellaluna at 9:25 AM on August 31 [12 favorites]


This was more fun! I had guessed about the money thing after the name of the house came out, so the last scene was clunky for me, tho still fun.

Totally on board with the ghost story, but mostly I loved Leti v Ruby, and the weird way that all of these secrets are building between and among families.
posted by eustatic at 11:59 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I liked the episode, but...is it just me and/or my TV, or is a lot of this show filmed really, really dark? There were times I could barely see what was going on. And okay, yes, dark basement lit only by a flashlight and all, but I'd still like to be able to see something.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:38 PM on August 31


I had guessed about the money thing after the name of the house came out,

I don't recall an AHA! moment for that but for me, after the opening intertitles mentioned the disappearance of three people, as soon as we saw exactly three racists climb in the windows with baseball bats I thought, "Oh, you guys are so screwed and don't even know it yet."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:08 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


I still keep feeling like they are shooting 70, 80 minute episodes and cutting them down to air length.
posted by Catblack at 3:22 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I can't recall the last time I watched a show where I sooooo wanted everything the male presenting characters are wearing. I definitely wouldn't look as good as he does in them, but I want every outfit Jonathan Majors has worn so far. Even some of the stuff the villains have been wearing has me gushing. I didn't even know I was a fan of some of the mid-century looks that we've seen in this show, but now I want all the slacks and belts and shoes and shirts and ties.

As for this episode, I loved it from the opening spoken word piece, to the pioneering title, to the orisha to the kids in basement (among my black family and friends, we actually like to joke that that's the kind of thing black characters in a horror story would never do, but I still enjoyed it. Maybe I gave 'em a pass because they were kids and the haunting hadn't yet been revealed :-D ).

I'm so excited for where this series has the potential to go and the opportunities it's hopefully opening up for the actors portraying the main characters!
posted by lord_wolf at 5:01 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I had to stop for a moment this episode and remind myself that Leti died, came back to life, and THEN lost her virginity. Her rebirth and that dog-eared Dracula paperback! I'm literally in love with this show.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:44 PM on August 31 [7 favorites]


I feel slightly lost in terms of the show's mythology (probably because a lot of it was outlined last week in an episode I am pretty certain was cut to an hour from 90 minutes) but in a way that's fairly traditional for any Lovecraft story, where the narrator is usually someone who grasps the plot only at the cost of his sanity. I have a feeling I will get to the end of this season quite sane, but still entertained anyway.

Am I supposed to understand why Christina set Leti up to buy the house? When I would ask these questions watching TV as a kid, my dad would say, "They had to do it that way, or there wouldn't be a story." My dad was a lot like Uncle George, but a lot more pragmatic, I think.

The episodic flow of this series is unusual for modern prestige TV, but I'm getting the hang of it. It's weird to end an episode of a show eager for more, but also satisfied. It's like watching TV from the olden times!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:02 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


After this past week this episode was everything I needed to see. Evil racist fucks harass you and the cops do nothing? Smash their goddamn car windows. They break into your house with deadly weapons? Cut their fucking heads off. That this is presented as the moral and correct choice is completely revolutionary, literally.

When the ghosts transformed back into their true selves at the end I just cried. This episode was an exorcism all right.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:34 PM on August 31 [14 favorites]


Am I supposed to understand why Christina set Leti up to buy the house?

She talked about the pages that were stolen from her father's book - they were stolen by the guy who owned the house and did the experiments. I assume she thinks the pages are still there in the house, and she knows she wouldn't have been able to retrieve them while his ghost still existed. And she knew, or hoped, that Tic would be able to help exorcise him, and getting Leti to buy the place was the easiest way to do that (because obviously Tic would never have just agreed to help Christina, but obviously he WOULD help Leti). Some of that is me reading between the lines, but I think that's what's happening.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 PM on August 31 [8 favorites]


And there was something early on that Leti can't renovate the basement because blah blah blah, and the basement was full of wossisname's effects, soooo it's not _entirely_ unreasonable.
posted by Kyol at 8:19 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


And she knew, or hoped, that Tic would be able to help exorcise him, and getting Leti to buy the place was the easiest way to do that (because obviously Tic would never have just agreed to help Christina, but obviously he WOULD help Leti). Some of that is me reading between the lines, but I think that's what's happening.

This was my assumption as far as Christina wanting Leti to buy the house as well, but I still feel there's a piece missing between "Christina gifts Leti a sum of money" and "Leti decides to buy an old mansion in the racist part of town". Particularly as the money arrived disguised as a bequeathment from her mother, Leti could have chosen to do pretty much anything with it -- splitting it amongst her siblings, as Ruby mentioned, leaving Chicago, buying a closetful of shoes -- rather than buying the murder house.

And while it's not utterly unbelievable, knowing what we do of Leti's personality, that she would make the decision she did, it can't be assumed Christina has intuited her character to the same depths. It's possible Christina deployed some influence in the form of a spell or something similar, and the final scene seems to suggest that the estate agent whose office they were in was in Christina's employ and had been the one who sold the house to Leti, but it feels like more heavy lifting than those hints can handle. After watching I had the feeling that Tig's line "the money came from you" was the equivalent of this.

That being said, for me this was the only detail which detracted from an otherwise excellent episode.
posted by myotahapea at 11:51 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


the final scene seems to suggest that the estate agent whose office they were in was in Christina's employ and had been the one who sold the house to Leti

This is what I assumed. And given Christina's other abilities, I think there's a good chance she gave Leti some kind of magical nudge.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:12 AM on September 1 [3 favorites]


It's one of those things, though, where if Christina's able to magic Leti into buying the house, after first sending Leti money under a ruse that would itself not be effortless (or cost-free, but Christina is presumably rich), wouldn't there have been some more direct magical way for Christina to do whatever it was she hoped Leti would do, presuming Leti would do it once she moved in there? This spell or what have you feels a little like a mystic Rube Goldberg device. Was magic even really necessary here? Couldn't Christina have just bought the house?

The show is really fun, I'm not knocking it, but I don't think plotting is its strong suit. I'm getting very curious to see how this all plays out in the book. I may need to pick it up before next Sunday.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 AM on September 1


Ah, but Christina buying the house would alert any other surviving Sons of Adam of her intentions. Maybe? Or did they all get wiped out in the summoning?
posted by Kyol at 6:27 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Pretty clearly, airtight plotting isn't what this show is going to be about. Complaining about that would be like picking holes in the "science" of Dr Who - a complaint that the makers have failed to provide the kind of show they never set out to make in the first place.

Instead, it seems to me, they've chosen to prioritise the show's breakneck pace - both within each episode and over the season as a whole. If that means just nodding to the odd bit of plot information here and there rather than spelling it out in detail,I think they're happy to accept that as a price worth paying. It's a minor frustration, sure, but in a show that's got so much other interesting stuff going on, one that's very easy to forgive.

I'm reminded of the jumpy, boiled-down storytelling Grant Morrison's used in some of his comics. Around the time of Final Crisis, he explained that he saw this kind of storytelling as a response to the internet age. With fan sites so full of commentary, analysis and speculation about what he was writing, he felt he had the luxury of providing just the major stepping stones of each plot, leaving readers themselves to cook up their own explanations for what came inbetween.

He saw this as introducing a whole new layer of collaboration to the process, and one which could only make the stories themselves richer. Maybe something similar will happen here.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:05 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


This was my assumption as far as Christina wanting Leti to buy the house as well, but I still feel there's a piece missing between "Christina gifts Leti a sum of money" and "Leti decides to buy an old mansion in the racist part of town".

The scene with leti at the pub, she shows Tic the flyer for the Realtist that showed her the house. In the last scene, when Tic sees Christina, it's in that man's office. Christina tells him to pack his things and go. So, apparently, Christina paid him to make sure the house was bought by Leti.

I like the mystery of the show. I like that the creators don't assume we're stupid and don't hand-feed us every detail. The answers are there, if you find them, but other than that there's no irony. We don't know much more than what the characters know, and our journey is with them. Gotta ask, though, what's with the baby head ghost
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:43 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Instead, it seems to me, they've chosen to prioritise the show's breakneck pace - both within each episode and over the season as a whole. If that means just nodding to the odd bit of plot information here and there rather than spelling it out in detail,I think they're happy to accept that as a price worth paying.

I watched Romancing the Stone for the first time a few nights ago, and was struck by the similar approach to pacing. For example there are several sets of scenes that go: our heroes are hanging out somewhere -> we see the bad guys approaching -> we see our heroes bust out and make a run for it!! Most movies would add an additional scene in between the second and third ones, where the heroes see the bad guys and freak out and discuss the situation and make plans for their escape. But Romancing the Stone and Lovecraft Country both say "you know what? That stuff is BORRRRING. You could write that scene yourself. So do that, in your head, and we'll be over here using the time we saved to linger on a spurting neck vein for five entire seconds." And I am so here for it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:55 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


That scene with Leti smashing up those cars, choreographed to "Take it Back" was a thing of beauty. For a few minutes of 2020 my heart was happy.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 8:53 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


And there was something early on that Leti can't renovate the basement because blah blah blah,

That blah blah blah was a pretty great part of the story that was only hinted at, but she couldn't renovate the basement because she was on an contract installment plan, as opposed to a mortgage, which was a way used then and there to sap Black people of wealth, because they would never get equity with their payments:
Contract buying worked like this: A buyer put down a large down payment for a home and made monthly installments at high interest rates. But the buyer never gained ownership until the contract was paid in full and all conditions were met. Meanwhile, the contract seller held the deed and could evict the buyer. Contract buyers also accumulated no equity in their homes. No laws or regulations protected them.

Home contract sales were a ruthlessly exploitive means of extracting capital from African Americans with no better alternatives in their pursuit of homeownership, the report said. Contract loans were rampant all over the West Side — in East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park and North Lawndale — but also in Englewood on the South Side.
posted by General Malaise at 10:02 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


I just found out there is an official podcast that breaks down the episodes. Haven't listened yet, though.
posted by larrybob at 6:02 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


My partner and I simultaneously, extemporaneously whispered "say their names" during the ritual in the basement (while a few tears leaked out of my eyes.)

After being really frustrated by episode 2, I really loved this episode and felt like it was back on track with the promise of the premiere. Except that I felt like the thing with Christina at the end just ground the momentum to a slog. I find The Order the most boring thing, and the insistence that it's Important-With-A-Capital-I is Not Helping
posted by desuetude at 10:28 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Except that I felt like the thing with Christina at the end just ground the momentum to a slog. I find The Order the most boring thing, and the insistence that it's Important-With-A-Capital-I is Not Helping

Feels very X-Files-y. Sometimes you get a wacky mutant fish adventure and sometimes you get The Men In Suits with Their Evil And Convoluted Plot.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:45 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


showbiz_liz, that is an entirely accurate observation, and also why I was only a very casual X-Files viewer.
posted by desuetude at 9:23 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I really do think this show is intended to be a monster-of-the-week with a little plot thrown in the background. Once I realized that last week, when the mansion story was resolved in one episode, I don't feel like the pacing is too fast.

But now I'm trying to decide if I want to read the book now (because I dont want to wait for next week's episode to find out what happens next) or enjoy the show as it comes and save the book for after.

Does anyone know if this was intended to be a single-season miniseries or will it have a multi-year run?
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:05 AM on September 4


I'm glad they cut out any excess exposition, and just show, and not tell, these plot elements. The scene with Cristina at the end was boring enough.

If that's the story being told over the whole season, I don't expect it to unfold in a single episode, instead, I'll watch the whole season. I guess I'm streaming it, so I feel like I can just go back and re watch if I missed something.
posted by eustatic at 2:28 AM on September 4


I think I'm good with the pattern where an episode introduces the terrestrial common horrors of racist white folks and then escalates to more eldritch cosmic horrors, and then the eldritch horror kills the racist white folks.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:40 AM on September 8 [6 favorites]


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