'Lovecraft Country': Episode 3 Review: Unresolved Trauma and Restless Spirits Prevent Leti From Realizing the American Dream

Things got even weirder in episode 3 of HBO’s freaky new dramatic series, Lovecraft Country, “Holy Ghost.” Episode 3 places the Lovecraft crew (minus Uncle George) back in Chicago, with everyone reeling from the traumatic events that occurred in episode 2. 

Tic and Leti work hard to compartmentalize the pain they’ve experienced in the last two episodes, but there are some things that they can’t shake. They can’t escape what they’ve been through, or what’s to come. What’s more, they come to find out that the supernatural exists outside of Lovecraft Country—it’s in their own homes. 

The Lovecraft crew has returned home, in hopes of some normalcy

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After escaping the Ardham Lodge, Tic, Leti, and Montrose return to Chicago with hopes of their lives returning to normal. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Leti has inherited an inexplicable sum of money from her mother and decides to invest it into a boarding home that she and her sister will share, but her sister has concerns about her motivations. Tic is staying with Uncle George’s wife Hippolyta and their daughter Dee, but the tension from George’s death is palpable; Hippolyta has been told a lie about what happened to George and seems suspicious. 

Leti begins renting out rooms in the boarding home, but the vibes aren’t all good. Her white neighbors let her know that her people aren’t welcome in the community, harassing them immediately. To make matters worse, she realizes that the boarding home is haunted by some supernatural spirits. Despite this, she decides to host an eventful housewarming party. 

At the party, the sexual tension between Leti and Tic reaches its peak, and the two consummate their relationship in the bathroom. After their brief tryst, racists interrupt the party by planting a burning cross in the front yard, scaring everyone. Once again, Leti shows her leadership by vandalizing the white-owned cars that were in front of her home and ends up getting arrested.

The house is not a home—so long as spirits inhabit it

As Leti rides in the patty wagon, it’s revealed that her home was once the residence of several Black Americans that were killed by racists. Their spirits still reside in the house, and once Leti returns home, a spirit rises up from the photos of the home that she recently took. 

Later, Hippolyta admits that she knows she’s not being told the truth about her husband. Leti also reveals to Tic that her house is haunted, and the two hire a spiritual guide to investigate. She performs a ritual in the basement and the undead spirits come front and center, attacking Leti and Tic. Meanwhile, racists upstairs break into the home and are all killed by supernatural forces. Leti confronts the spirits fearlessly after one possesses Tic, and uses a sacred chant to force the spirits to leave the home. 

Afterward, Leti refurbishes the home and turns it into an affordable housing unit for low-income residents. Christina comes to Chicago and Tic confronts her at gunpoint, accusing her of providing the funds that Leti believed she had inherited. Christina doesn’t deny it, and explains that she wants to dig deeper into a locked book of spells that only Tic’s ancestor, Titus, was able to access. She wants Tic’s help with accessing it and tells him to reach out to her when he’s ready.

Leti’s housing dilemma symbolizes Black Americans’ struggles with social mobility in the 20th century

Leti accepts her inheritance with no reservations and immediately invests it in a property that she begins to rent out. Despite her optimism and entrepreneurial mindset, she’s instantly met with resistance from her sister, her white neighbors, and restless spirits. Her struggle represents a larger issue that all Black people have faced during their time in America.

No matter if Black people have received their opportunities to improve their life via hard work, luck—or in Leti’s case, a supernatural white benefactor—there are always dozens of seemingly insurmountable hurdles to overcome. In the 1950s it was blatant white violence and terrorism that kept Black people from reaching their full potential; in 2020, it’s systemic racism and conditioned self-hate. Regardless of the cause, the outcome remains the same. 

The spirits inspire conversations about unresolved trauma in the Black community

The spirits haunting Leti’s boarding home were the leftovers of brutal attacks at the hands of white supremacists. And even though their pain resurfaces on Lovecraft Country a spiritual sense, their restless spirits act as a great metaphor for the unresolved trauma that many Black people carry every day.

Millions of Black Americans must live with pain that is no fault of their own on a consistent basis. And just like the spirits in the home, many Black people grow stagnant and toxic to others, due to their lack of willingness or ability to address the core wounds that caused it. This trauma is unintentionally passed on to peers and family members and is only settled once the individual decides to create a safe space for the pain to be confronted. In episode 3, as both Leti and Tic try to repress their recent traumatic experiences, they must also become therapists for the undead, challenging the spirits to leave behind the pain of the physical world and to transcend into the next dimension.

Episode 3 of ‘Lovecraft Country’ displays the show’s leads taking their power back

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Up until now, Leti, Tic, and the other primary characters Lovecraft Country have been on the defensive, dealing with issues as they come. In episode 3, Leti decides to go on the offensive, getting out in front of the racist behaviors against her home, as well as the spirits haunting it. She and Tic work together to take their power back from both racists and the undead, revealing that they’re far more powerful than we may have been led to believe. 

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