Lovecraft Country packs quite a bit into its second episode “Whitey On The Moon”. Written by Misha Green and directed by Daniel Sackheim, it picks up shortly after the events of the previous episode. Atticus (Jonathan Majors), George (Courtney B. Vance) and Leti (Jurnee Smollett) awaken in Braithwaite Manor. In Lovecraft Country Episode 2, Atticus is eager to find his father Montrose (Michael K. Williams), and go home, but he soon learns that Samuel Braithwaite (Tony Goldwyn) has a grand design that he is in the center of. Atticus, George, and Leti must contend with the mysteries that lie within Braithwaite Manor.
As I said before, a LOT happens in Lovecraft Country Episode 2. The plotline of Atticus finding his father is resolved by episode’s end; we also get glimpses into our characters’ lives. From Atticus’ time in the Vietnam War to Leti’s fractured relationship with her mother to an old flame of George’s, the past comes back to haunt our heroes-quite literally. We also learn more about the Braithwaites and their obsession with the occult; Samuel is determined to find the Garden of Eden and gain immortality. This episode closes some doors and opens others, giving the viewers just enough to keep them hooked.
Speaking of the Braithwaites, the series takes its first major deviation from the Lovecraft Country novel in changing one of its characters. In the novel, Samuel had a son named Caleb; here he has a daughter, Christina (Abbey Lee). This one change adds a new depth to the story; Christina feels resentful that her father never shared his power with her–at the same time, she manipulates Atticus for her own gains. Lee brings an air of mystery to her portrayal of Christina; you don’t know what she’s going to do next, but it will almost always be for her own gain.
The MVPs of Lovecraft Country Episode 2 remain our central trio. Majors carries the bulk of the emotional labor as Atticus; he struggles with his past actions in the war, as well as the horrors that lie within Braitewaite Manor. He showcases anger, fear, and utter emotional devastation from scene to scene; the final scene will tug at viewers’ heartstrings. Smollett is still extremely witty (there’s a joke about white people lacking seasoning in their food that had me howling with laughter) but we also get to see the issues of abandonment that are plaguing Leti; her family admonished her for not attending her mother’s funeral yet it seems that she and her mother were never close.
And a shoutout has to go to Vance’s performance as George, the rock of the series. He discovers an ace in the hole that helps the trio discover why Samuel is interested in Atticus, and he delivers an amazing speech about staying united in the face of horror. The classic horror trope of “splitting up and dying” is often mocked, but I’m glad for the subversion and how Vance subverts said trope with his carefully crafted speech.
Additionally, Sackheim continues the trend of injecting tension between our Black heroes and White villains. Samuel makes several thinly veiled racist cracks towards Atticus and isn’t above hurting his friends to coerce him into helping him with his mad designs. Sackheim and Green also use two excellent musical cues; Ja’net Dubois’ “Movin’ On Up” from The Jeffersons backs a surprisingly jovial opening, and Gil Scot-Heron’s titular poem is recited during a critical moment.
If I have one complaint, it’s that some of the CGI are a bit spotty. There are several shots that look ripped from a PlayStation 2 game; after seeing the work put into the creatures in the pilot, it’s a bit disorienting.
Lovecraft Country Episode 2 will have viewers on the edge of their seats, as it plants the seeds for several revelations and ties up several plot points from the pilot. I am curious to see how these threads are picked up, and how Jaime Chung’s character Ji-Ah fits into the grand narrative.
Lovecraft Country airs Sundays on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Max.
Lovecraft Country, Episode 2-"Whitey On The Moon"
Lovecraft Country‘s second episode will have viewers on the edge of their seats, as it plants the seeds for several revelations and ties up several plot points from the pilot. I am curious to see how these threads are picked up, and how Jaime Chung’s character Ji-Ah fits into the grand narrative.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.