TV Recaps | Lovecraft Country (Holy Ghost | Episode 3)

by Joelle Monique | AV Club

This week’s episode, “Holy Ghost,” finds Leti as a homeowner of a rundown boarding house in an all-white neighborhood. On the North Side of Chicago, Leti stands alone. She fights off cops, disgruntled neighbors, and a series of ghosts.

She both suffers the consequences of her defiant actions and the confidence that comes with standing up for one’s self. A goat, some ancestors, and touch of mental torture give the first Leti-led episode a unique flavor, and an exciting twist ending.

Discovery plays a role in the enjoyability of reading H.P. Lovecraft’s original works. Brilliant scientific minds slowly unearth the magical elements of an old object or discarded book. The details of how an unaging man built his castle, weaves together with real American history to set the reader on the edge of their seat as the impossible suddenly seems horrifically possible. In Lovecraft’s “The Outsider,” a man tries to escape his home, where he’s dwelled in isolation for as long as he can remember. When he approaches a gathering of people, they shriek in fear and run from him. He believes there must be something near him, and tries to see what they’re seeing. It isn’t until he faces a mirror, that he realizes he is the horror from which the people run. He senses a presence, touches it, and must spend eternity with them, now an outsider.

Lovecraft claimed “The Outsider” represented his closest attempt to mimic his hero, Edgar Allen Poe. Gothic and horror historians also point to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein as a possible inspiration, where feelings of isolation and inhumanity culminate in the lead character’s destruction. “Holy Ghost,” directed by Daniel Sackheim, shows an emotional parallel to a monstrous-looking figure with a human heart. Instead, Leti feels like a monster on the inside and represents as a gorgeous, care-free woman on the outside.

In the opening scene, Leti sits in church and watches a member of the congregation catch the holy ghost—a moment a parishioner feels the presence of their god sweep through them, often manifesting as dance or speaking in tongues. Everyone claps, rejoicing in the Lord, as a poem read about Leti being an angel on Earth, guided to heaven to fly higher than the rest. Leti can neither feel the holy ghost, nor hear the loving words spoken about her. As she’s encouraged to fly, she cries.

Self-isolation can become a defense tactic for the depressed. Leti tries to isolate herself inside groups of people. When surrounded by laughter and booze, bad feelings have to work harder to touch the soul. First, she invites her sister to see the house. In one of the most uncomfortable walks in history, they pass neighbors spying on them from windows, too scared to address the newcomers. To walk into an inhospitable space incites revolution both for the inhabitants and the invading individual. Leti creates an artistic utopia filled with dancers, a piano, and her photography. Craftily, Leti dodges any explanation about where she acquired the money to purchase the house.

Of course, 10 new Black people in the dilapidated house down the street stirs a sense of white nationalism amongst the neighbors. So, while the women clutch their pearls, the men-folk park three automobiles outside the home and attach heavy bricks to the horns. Thus begins the first wave of torture; the wet, saturated heat of a Chicago summer launches the second. The noise and heat begin to break the fierce Leti, who outran vampires and mentally prepared to kill a white sheriff in the Jim Crow South. Exhausted and still feeling distanced from her sister, she pushes straight into a block party where she invites all of her Black friends to drown out the horns of hate and laugh.

No matter how Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) persists that these white folks were going to be unhappy, Leti needs a win. So she chooses to see the bright possibility the housing unit holds. Not even the mention of the Trumbull Park Homes Race Riots of 1953 and 1954, which saw hundreds of white Chicagoans gather outside an accidentally segregated public housing building, could bring Leti down from the clouds. Nor does a near decapitation by elevator deter her.

Meanwhile, Tic’s been helping out Hippolyta and Diana after the death of George. He cooks, cleans, helps the family publishing business, and plays with Diana, but none of his good deeds can assuage his guilt. Hippolyta can smell it all over him. Atticus and Montrose agree not to tell the family about the white wizards they met. Instead, they attribute George’s mortal wound to a gunshot, telling half-truths and burying the past behind them. Or so they think…

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