Surprise! Lovecraft Country Is Indeed an Anthology
With its third episode, HBO’s Lovecraft Country reveals its anthological intentions.
The following contains spoilers for Lovecraft Country.
The ending of Lovecraft Country’s second episode could have very well been the season finale, if not series finale, of many other shows. All in the span of two episodes’ time, our heroes Tic Freeman (Jonathan Majors), Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smollett), and George Freeman (Courtney B. Vance) meet their proverbial archvillians, learn of their plan, and ultimately dispatch them.
Tic even reaches a series finale level of catharsis by meeting the shade of his ancestor, Hannah, who assists him in defeating Samuel Braithwhite (Tony Goldwyn) and helps him find safe passage out of the crumbling Braithwhite Manor. In the process, George loses his life. The events of “Whitey’s on the Moon” are so enormous and consequential that it might have been hard to viewers of the show to imagine where it could possibly go next.
That question is answered definitively in episode 3 “Holy Ghost.” Where can Lovecraft Country possibly go from here? Well, back to the beginning of course. Yes, with its third episode, Lovecraft Country has finally, proudly revealed that it is an anthology series of sorts, more than a serialized actioner. That’s not to mean that the show has gone completely back to square one. The events of episode 1 and 2 very much still happened, and the emotional effects of George’s death linger on within Tic, Leti, and George’s brother Montrose (Michael K. Williams). The Braithwhite family even lives on as a threat with Christina Braithwhite (Abbey Lee) following Tic and Leti back to Chicago to stay all up in their business.
But the general thrust of Lovecraft Country’s plot resets in episode 3, presenting a standalone story about Leti buying a home, only to find it plagued by all manner of ghosts – literal and figurative. This is an X-Files “monster of the week” style format and that’s very much intentional on Lovecraft Country’s part. In fact, the show’s anthology format is inherent to the book upon which it is adapted.
Lovecraft Country author Matt Ruff revealed in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that he originally envisioned the novel as a TV series, which would use The X-Files monster of the week format to tell different supernatural stories from a Black perspective. And that’s exactly what the book, and now show does. As evidenced by plot descriptions for future episodes, Lovecraft Country will be maintaining this anthology format going forward.
The description for episode 4, “A History of Violence” reads: “After Christina shows up at her doorstep, Leti confronts Atticus about his plan to surreptitiously return to Florida; in search of missing pages to a crucial text, Leti, Tic and Montrose head to Boston, with Hippolyta and Diana along for the ride.” This is accompanied by a teaser of the episode that has some clear Indiana Jones, adventure vibes.
The description for episode 5, “Strange Case,” reads: “After making a devil’s bargain with William, Ruby steps into the charmed shoes of a white woman; a betrayal by Montrose unleashes Atticus’ pent-up rage, leaving Leti deeply disturbed and sending Montrose into the comforting arms of his secret lover.”
That’s right, Leti’s half-sister Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) will be getting in on the action. Such is the benefit of a show that’s more episodic in nature – those episodes get to expand the series’ viewpoint well past the original lead cast.
Lovecraft Country’s following the book’s anthology route as opposed to more linear storytelling comes along with some inherent advantages and drawbacks. But at least now the show has officially declared its intentions. And for those craving a more serialized experience, it’s also clear that the Braithwhite threat isn’t going away anytime soon.