Lovecraft Country Episode 3: Easter Eggs And References In "Holy Ghost"
The third episode of Lovecraft Country dials the supernatural back and pushes Jurnee Smollett forward.
The second episode of Lovecraft Country pushed the visuals and plot in an extreme direction; it concluded with the death of a main character, the full-blown introduction of a cult pursuing immortality, and the collapse of a massive mansion, thanks to a death ritual gone wrong.
That's why it's such a relief that the third episode of Lovecraft Country, which debuted on Sunday, August 30, dials things back down. Uncle George is buried, and everyone who survived is trying to get back to normal, with varying degrees of success. The main plot of Episode 3 is that Leti buys a house in a white neighborhood to cater to black tenants. In addition to dealing with the racists who live across the street, she also has to deal with a malevolent basement spirit that has a dark history of its own.
There were Easter Eggs and "blink-and-you'll-miss-'em" historical allusions scattered throughout the episode. Here's what we noticed in Episode 3 of Lovecraft Country, "Holy Ghost."
You can read all of our episode reference guides below:
1. Greek Mythology
Uncle George's grieving widow is named Hippolyta, after the Queen of the Amazons--a tribe of warrior women--in the Ancient Greek myth of Heracles/Hercules. It's a fitting name given her strong personality and spirit; future episodes may cause her to embody that character further.
Throughout American history, upwardly mobile black folks have been caught between the impoverished ghettos they were forced to live in and the white communities that would treat them with distrust, intimidation, and outright violence if they tried to move. The act of moving into white communities and hastening integration was a cultural trend known as "pioneering."
3. The Winthrop Block
The house that Leti buys is known as the Winthrop House. In real life, there is a single block of Winthrop Avenue in Chicago, IL that was an Uptown safe haven for working class black families in the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
4. Trumbull Park
There is a long, documented history of black tenants integrating white spaces and being met with hostility and fear. Specifically, Ruby references Trumbull Park, a Chicago housing project that became the site for racial violence when a black family moved in and was attacked with fireworks and rocks. Black residents could not walk the streets without police protection until 1963.
Tic attributes Leti's visions and fears to possible PTSD. This is a deliberate parallel to the events in Episode 2, when Leti and Uncle George attributed Tic's paranoia to PTSD from his war service in Korea.
6. Emmett Till
One of the kids who's playing with the ouija board asks the board if he will enjoy his trip down South. The ouija board answers, "No." Some people on Twitter noticed the way the character was dressed and deduced that he was Emmett Till. 14-year-old Till was a real-life black teenager who lived in Chicago, but was in Mississippi visiting family when he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Two white men later kidnapped him, tortured and shot him, and threw his body in a river. They were both tried and acquitted for their crimes. Years later, the white woman, Carolyn Bryant, would admit to lying in court about the more lurid, exaggerated parts of her testimony, in which she claimed that Till grabbed her by the waist and made lewd remarks.
7. Cross Burning
The burning cross has its roots in Scottish history as a declaration of war. It was popularized in D.W. Griffith's controversial silent film The Birth of a Nation (1915), which depicted cross burning in two separate sequences. The post-Reconstruction revival of the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross at the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia that same year to commemorate its rebirth. It's become widely recognized as a weapon of terror against black citizens in the decades since.
8. Rough Ride
Leti is thrown around the back of a police van as an interrogation tactic. This is a reference to the "rough ride" tactic of police brutality, which gained notoriety during the '90s when several arrestees were severely injured or paralyzed. The practice reached cultural saturation with the death of Freddie Gray, whose fatal neck injury came as the result of an alleged rough ride. All indicted officers were either acquitted, mistrialed, or had the charges against them dropped.
9. Angel of Death
Dr. Hiram Epstein, who Leti speculates was involved in human experimentation, bears more than a passing resemblance to Dr. Josef Mengele, a doctor at the Nazi Auschwitz camp who experimented on Jewish prisoners, by doing thing like amputating limbs, deliberately infecting patients, and injecting people with chemicals to change their eye color. He escaped prosecution for his crimes and died in Brazil in 1979.
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