Lovecraft Country Episode 4, “A History of Violence”, delves deep into the bonds of family and how they affect us. After Christina (Abbey Lee) shows up at her doorstep seeking an object of immense power, Leti (Jurnee Smollett) discusses the next step of action with Atticus (Jonathan Majors). The two decide to find the lost pages from the Book of Names, accompanied by Atticus’ father Montrose (Michael K. Williams). As the adventure takes them through an underground tomb and several booby traps, Atticus and Montrose struggle to deal with their fractured relationship.
I’ve said how Smollett was the star of last week’s episode; this week, the honor goes to Williams and Majors. Even though Atticus raced to save his father in the first two episodes, the bond between them is still tenuous at best. Add in the existence of monsters and magic, and the fact that both men are stubborn as hell, and that bond continues to be strained. Montrose is convinced that by hiding the truth about the Sons of Adam, he can protect his family. Atticus doesn’t trust his father and is trying to go solo against Christina. Majors and Williams bring a wealth of emotion to the table; rage and remorse are the most dominant.
Another great aspect of the episode is the treasure hunt Atticus, Leti and Montrose undergo. Director Victoria Mahoney made waves when she became the second unit director on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; with “A History of Violence,” she pulls from another Lucasfilm franchise and gives the set pieces an Indiana Jones-inspired flair. Booby traps, hidden entrances, ancient artifacts-Atticus could don a fedora and whip and it’d be perfect.
However, a major difference from the Indiana Jones films is how the culture surrounding said artifact is treated. In continuing a tread from “Holy Ghost”, the final destination where our heroes find themselves is haunted by the ghosts of the Sons of Adams’ victims. This leads to an emotional scene where Atticus talks with one of the victims; it was genuinely heartwrenching to witness.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention two other major plot points in the episode. Ruby (Mosaku Wumni) is approached by Christina’s servant William (Jordan Patrick Smith), while Hippolyta (Aunjane Ellis) discovers the map of Ardham Country. Both plot points hint at the members of Atticus and Leti’s families being drawn into the chaos of Christina’s machinations. Even better, they feel organically weaved into the episode. Showrunner Misha Green deserves way more credit for her scripts; they manage to feel perfectly paced and emotionally engaging.
If there was one thing I would like to see more of, it’s our main antagonist. In much the same way that Atticus and Montrose had a tenuous relationship, Christina had a strained relationship with her father. Yet while Atticus is trying to fix things, Christina remains just as power-hungry and manipulative as her father. It’s a dynamic I feel we could have seen more of.
Lovecraft Country Episode 4 takes another classic trope–this time, the adventure serial–and puts a special twist on it. The father/son relationship between Atticus and Montrose reveals even more layers to it, while more characters are drawn into the main story. Given how the episode ends, I’m intrigued to see how all these pieces fit together.
Lovecraft Country Episode 4 is currently available to stream on HBO Max. The series airs Sundays on HBO.
Lovecraft Country Episode 4 - "A History of Violence"
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.