Lovecraft Country Episode 3 Review

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8
A-OK

Director: Daniel Sackheim
Starring: Jurnee Smollett,  Courtney B. Vance, Abbey Lee, Michael K. Williams

Last week I voiced some concerns about Lovecraft Country’s direction with some of the more rough and bizarre elements of episode 2 – “Whitey’s on the Moon”.

And so with that, I am delighted to return here this week to announce that those fears have all but dissolved with Lovecraft Country Episode 3, “Holy Ghost”, as the show returns to a pleasantly horrifying and narratively solid form against the chaos of the previous episode.

Episode 3 moves us forward in time by at least a few weeks where our characters are dealing with the fallout of Episode 2’s cataclysmic climax and the loss of George.

Tension has grown between Hippolyta and Atticus as he shoulders the burden of the actual truth behind his, George, Leti and Montrose’ excursion and George’s death, while Hippolyta is very clearly suspicious of secrets being passed behind her back and Atticus’ role in her husband’s death.

But all this is pushed to the background at least for now as episode 3 primarily shifts focus to Letitia Lewis to lead this encapsulated story of a haunted mansion recently bought by Leti herself under suspicious “inheritance” circumstances.

And so, amidst the disturbing terrorising of Leti and her black residents via an all-white bigoted community surrounding her grows a deeper and nightmarish mystery about quite what this house, who it belonged to, and how/why Leti came to be in possession of it.

GIVING TIME TO OTHER CHARACTERS

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Credit: HBO

Read more: Lovecraft Country Episode 1 Review

In my Episode 1 review for Lovecraft Country, I highlighted Jurnee Smollett’s performance as Letitia Lewis as a particular standout.

I will now double down on that praise as when given the time to lead this episode herself she more than takes hold of the chance and delivers some unforgettable scenes of power and an embittered anger; seeing her stride out against the white supremacist neighbourhood, baseball bat in hand only to smash out their cars is exactly the kind of cathartic justice we love to see and is made all the better by Dorinda Clark Cole’s Take It Back playing over the top.

Being that I was a little lukewarm on episode 2 and Atticus’ rushed conflict with the Sons of Adam cult I think this episode benefits from its step back from Atticus to give Leti more time to shine in a more anthological/encapsulated story within this one horror house.

Matt Ruff’s book of the same name plays out as a series of shorter stories all interconnected via various characters that appear in the background or foreground of each and so it appears that with this entry Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country is adopting a sort of middle ground between that style and a full narrative series as well.

The notion of which is exciting insofar as it may allow for directors to come in and have a bit more room to experiment with structure and style – for example, Holy Ghost gets to play in the gruesome horror space of a monster in the house type flick while also layering in the racial-cultural commentary the show has been an excellent vehicle for.

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY EPISODE 3 IS A WELCOME RETURN TO FORM

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Credit: HBO

Read more: Lovecraft Country Episode 2 Review

All in all Holy Ghosts manages to bring the show into the level of high expectation set by the first episode and revitalise my excitement for the rest of the series again.

The structure of giving a character more time for their own story while also giving a further peek at the overall mystery of the show and the Braithwhite’s plot with Atticus works well and should keep audiences coming back week on week – especially if each episode retains such a strong level of execution each time.

Episode 3 is a welcome return to form and hopefully one that lasts.

Also, more brutal body horror in future, please and thank you!

What did you make of Episode 3 of Lovecraft Country?

Are you excited for the rest of the series?

Let us know in the comments below.

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The Breakdown


EXPECTATION
7.5
ENJOYMENT
8.5
UPON REFLECTION
8