Lovecraft Country: Walk the Plank

Lovecraft Country | Season 1 | Episode 4 : A History of Violence
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For a quick read, go to Review. For a complete summary, go to Recap.


KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“The many artifacts the famed explorer Titus Braithwhite was given in exchange for teaching these savage tribes the way of civilized man.” Museum Guide

Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams) is drunk and listening to the radio, a commentator says, “If the United States fails to proliferate its stockpile of nuclear bombs, the barbaric Soviet Union will wipe out civilized America. We have entered a new global age.” Montrose’s response, “Ain’t shit new about it.” He’s reading By Laws & Precepts of the Order of Ancient Dawn.  Montrose reads a passage from it, “Adam named. Eve fucked. God brought forth Monsters. Monsters devoured. God smites Eve.” He gets more and more worked up as his mind hears George telling him to protect Tic, and he hears his father telling him to bring him a switch. He throws family pictures and the Bylaws in a waste basket and sets them on fire.

Christina Braithwhite (Abbey Lee) drives aggressively through the streets of Chicago to see Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett). The seal of protection the medium put on the doors keeps Christina out. Leti quickly figures out that it was Christina who sent her the money to buy the house. She tells Leti about Atticus’ attempt to kill her, she suggests Atticus will get Leti killed, again. Christina wants Hiram’s orrery. Leti orders her off her property. Leti storms into the public library looking for Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors). She tells him about Christina’s visit and she is mad that Atticus figured out where the money came from but didn’t bother to tell her. She sees that he has his bag and was going to go back to Florida after killing Christina. Leti asks why he didn’t kill her; he tells her that Christina has a spell of invulnerability that prevented it. Atticus is at the library to do research on finding Titus’ bobby-trapped vault that has his pages of the Book of Names. If he finds it, he will use it to cast spells to protect them. Leti thinks the orrery is the key to finding the pages that Hiram hid. She suggests he asks for Montrose’s help; she knows he would have done research after he found out about Atticus’ birthright. Atticus refuses to go to his father for help. He tells her he doesn’t want her involved either. She storms out. Every book Atticus has on his table has already been checked out by Montrose. Atticus goes to the bar to find his father. Leti is already there. Montrose tells him it is crazy for him to participate in this game. He can understand why Atticus and Leti are sweet on each other, “Foolish and crazy go well together.” Atticus storms out after his father refuses to help. Leti angrily asks if he’s going to let Atticus chase his own tail, she can see where Atticus gets it from. Before Leti leaves, he asks her if she has family in Boston, that’s where the vault is.

Christina is playing hide and seek with some neighborhood kids, it’s the first time she’s ever played it. Two cops interrupt her playtime and take her to a club to meet Captain Lancaster (Mac Brandt). He isn’t happy she’s in Chicago. She hears someone moaning in pain in a closet. Christina messes with him for letting black people move into the Winthrop House. He still doesn’t know that she was behind it. Lancaster is in charge of the local lodge of the Sons of Adam. Christina informs him she wants Hiram’s orrery since it’s the key to unlocking his time machine. Lancaster doesn’t care, no matter what she does, she’ll never be able to join.

With jaunty light hearted music playing, Atticus and Leti load up Woody, preparing for the trip to Boston. They are sniping at each other; Montrose joins them and tells them not to blame him for this. Diana “Dee” Freeman (Jada Harris) throws her luggage to Atticus, she and Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) are going to the museum with them. Montrose reminds Atticus and Leti that they can’t keep them from going, Woody is Hippolyta’s car. Hippolyta watches them with an amused look on her face. As they prepare to pull out, Tree (Deron J. Powell) gets a ride to see his filly in Philly.

Ruby Baptiste (Wunmi Mosaku) walks into Marshall Field, dressed to the nines carrying her resume. She sees a black woman, Tamara (Sibongile Miambo) working at the counter. Ruby tells her she didn’t know they were hiring colored women; Tamara didn’t know either, but she applied on a whim and got the job. Ruby is heartbroken that she didn’t get the job.

Our adventurers are at the museum. Hippolyta and Dee go to the astronomy exhibit. She tells Dee that she named the comet they are looking at Hera’s Chariot during a contest. The people who ran the contest didn’t want a black girl to be the face of their competition so they said the niece of a white astronomer won. Dee says that wasn’t fair and exclaims proudly to the room that her mother named the comet. Montrose leaves to talk to the security guard. Tree is hanging around Atticus and Leti, he wants to see dinosaurs. He asks Leti why people call him Tree, because he has two legs and a ‘tree’. She reminds him she should know that since he’s told people they hooked up in high school. Tree accuses Atticus of stabbing him in the back for telling Leti what he said. Now Tree doesn’t want her, Atticus can have her. Tree thinks he’s mad at him because he sent him to see Sammy (Jon Hudson Odom) while he was getting a blow job. Atticus doesn’t care about that. Tree says he thought Atticus would be interested, Atticus calmly tells him he isn’t gay. Tree implies that Montrose and Sammy have gotten ‘really close’. Montrose comes back and tells Atticus the security guard will let them in through the back door after the museum closes.

Two of Lancaster’s men are following Christina. She gets out of her Bentley and walks into a garden. William (Jordan Patrick Smith) walks outs and beats up the two men. He walks away and tells them he has a date. [Question, are Christina and William the same person? It seems to be a popular opinion which I’m beginning to believe.]

Later that night, Montrose, Leti and Atticus are back in the museum. Montrose tells them to turn off their flashlights, a light appears that leads them to a statue of Titus and a button that opens its base. Atticus climbs down a rope into a chamber with three tunnels. Adventure music swells in the background. Atticus reads the writing on the ceiling, “Beware, all ye who tread the path. Ever the tides shall rise.” Leti easily climbs down the rope while Montrose struggles. Now they have to decide which tunnel to take. Using clues, they’ve gathered from reading, Leti and Montrose decide to take the north tunnel, leaving Atticus to follow them.

“I know there are 103 employees at that department store and two of them are never gonna be colored.” Ruby Baptiste

Ruby is in Sammy’s bar singing the blues to an unappreciative audience. Ruby responds to their indifference with a “Fuck you too.” William buys her a drink. He comes over and promises her the world. Ruby isn’t impressed, he isn’t the first white boy to promise her the world to sleep with her. He confidently says he can change her world; Ruby doesn’t believe him but she continues to listen.

The crew follows the tunnel to a huge chasm, and the only way to cross it is on a narrow plank. Montrose wants to turn around and go down another tunnel. Leti asks Atticus what he wants to do, his answer, “walk the plank”. Being the smallest, she goes first. Atticus ties a knot around her, she isn’t sure about this, he promises it’s a special knot. Montrose tells her it’s a knot the men in their family have been tying since slavery, Montrose is lying. A blade is flying through the darkness, it is one of Titus’ booby-traps. The plank starts disintegrating, Atticus has to catch Montrose and the three of them run across the plank. When they get to the other side, they have to figure out a combination before the plank is totally gone, Montrose recites some of the things he read in the bylaws. Finally, he says, “God smites Eve.” The door opens to a tunnel filled with water. The water is rising, Atticus figures they have one hour before they drown.

Ruby and William are still at the bar, she blames Leti for distracting her from applying in time. William suggests she can apply later. Ruby explains that might work for white people, but for black people, there is only room for one person to have the job; it is a rat eat rat world. She deserved that job. Soon they are at her place hooking up on the stairs. Ruby cuts her hand and he licks the blood. Instead of running into the night, Ruby continues enjoying her night.

Atticus and Montrose begin arguing again, Atticus wonders how Montrose knew the combination and how he knows so much about the Sons of Adam. Montrose admits her read the Order of the Ancient Dawn Bylaws and burned it. Atticus demands to know why; he tells him he did it to protect his family. Atticus asks why he even bothered to come; Montrose responds that he came to Boston because he wouldn’t let Tic charge in there [looking at Leti] without backup. Leti has had enough of these two and charges ahead. She finds a body floating by and realizes it is one of her missing white neighbors. They find the elevator to Leti’s boarding house. Atticus orders both Leti and Montrose in it. Leti reminds Atticus he isn’t the only one in danger, he isn’t the center of the universe. Leti wades through the water. Montrose advises his son to make up with Leti. His father told him, “Always have a love song for your woman.” All of the fussing is about love. Leti finds the vault. It has a severed arm in it. Atticus removes that arm and places his arm in the lock. It tightens and draws blood, but because he has Titus’ blood, a trapdoor above them opens and a rope ladder falls outs.

“It’s not only just getting dangerous, he got kidnapped, I died, can you stop acting like this is only happening to you. You’re not the center of the fucking universe!” Letitia Lewis

They climb up into Titus’ ship. The room is filled with mummified people. They find the pages they are looking for and try to grab it from the hands of a mummified person. The corpse comes to life and reanimates into a flesh and blood person. Montrose asks what it is, who it is. In Arawak, which for some reason Atticus can understand and speak, the former corpse says their name is Yahima (Monique Candelaria), they are a two spirit who knew the symbols from the cave of Alomun Kundi. Titus was looking for people who could translate his book. Once they found out he was evil, they declined to translate anymore. Titus reunited Yahima with their family, he killed them and imprisoned Yahima. Because they don’t know Atticus spirit, they won’t help him. Montrose decides to grab the pages and Yahima screeches. The windows of the ship crack and the water floods the ship. Atticus knocks out Yahima to quiet them, they all make it back to the elevator. Montrose drops the pages but Leti jumps out of the elevator and retrieves them. As the elevator rises above the water, with triumphant romantic music playing, Atticus and Leti kiss.

Hippolyta and Dee are driving back from Boston, Dee wonders how Atticus, Leti, and Montrose made it back to Chicago. Dee finds George’s atlas in the glove compartment. Hippolyta looks over it and sees Devon County circled. She turns the car around and heads towards it. Dee asks why they are going there; her mother says to find answers.

Yahima is sitting in a room in the boarding house, Atticus tells Montrose he is going to teach her English because, “It might be easier for her to write down the language of Adam than for us to decipher it.” Montrose praises Atticus on how brave he was out there, and how proud he is of him, “you grew to be a good man in spite of me”. Atticus’ late mother would be proud too. Atticus is touched by his father’s praise. After he leaves the room, Montrose closes the door behind him. He tells Yahima he’s sorry and slits their throat.

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

Atticus, Leti, and Montrose go to a Boston museum to retrieve Titus’ pages from the Book of Names. The vault is booby-trapped with a disintegrating plank, a swinging blade, flooded tunnels and a corpse that comes back to life if you grab the pages. After that grand adventure, Montrose spoils it by killing the person they brought back. Hippolyta and Dee went with them to Boston, but they weren’t part of the heist. When they were driving back to Chicago without the adventurers, they found George’s atlas, and Hippolyta decided to go to Devon County to find answers to what actually happened to her husband. Christina tried to get the orrery from Leti. She later met Captain Lancaster who is head of the Son of Adam lodge in Chicago. She wants the orrery because she believes it leads to Hiram’s time machine. William beats up the cops who were tailing Christina and goes to a bar to meet Ruby. She has had a bad day because another black woman got the job, she wanted from Marshall Field. William and Ruby hook up.

Each episode has had a different genre feel. Episode one was a monster flick, episode two was a dark magic cult film, the third episode was a haunted mansion story, and this episode is an adventure tale, cut from the Indiana Jones cloth. It had the key elements, a treasure hunt, bobby-trapped vaults, a disintegrating plank, a ship that contained a mummified figure that protected the valued object. Throw in some romance and light hearted comedy and you have your story. This episode was more lighthearted than the previous three, less explicit racism.  It also had primary and secondary storylines. The previous three episodes seemed to have only one primary storyline and the secondary characters were either part of it or not in the episode at all. I think the episode is setting up episodes highlighting Ruby and Hippolyta. They are going to have their own storylines that don’t involve Atticus or Leti. Ruby with Marshall Fields and Hippolyta in Devon County. I can’t wait to see what they do with them. Christina and William are becoming more interwoven with the main characters in Chicago. Even though we’re having separate storylines, they all still will connect with each other.

Though this was the most light hearted episode of the series so far, it ended on a dark note when Montrose killed Yahima. I didn’t see that one coming. We’ve been shown throughout the series how damaged a man Montrose is, especially at the beginning of this episode, but when he complimented Atticus on his bravery and told him how proud he was of him, I thought he might be turning a corner, but then he veered into a much darker corner. We’ve seen a lot of gruesome deaths, and experienced a sad one with George, but this one really bothered me. When someone like Samuel Braithwhite kills someone, you expect it, he’s pure evil. When someone like Montrose does it, you feel the banality of evil. He isn’t doing it to gain power, but to protect his family, but it’s so cruel and needless, that it’s just pathetic. It’s the pathetic act of a scared little man. Someone like Montrose might be the biggest threat to everyone. It’s important they have a great actor like Michael K. Williams portray him. He shows Montrose’s humanity, warts and all, which makes his actions even worse.

The actions scenes in the museum were really well done, I especially enjoyed the plank and the swinging blade. They really paid the last scene from last week’s episode when the elevator went below the subbasement to the tunnels. Who knew those tunnels could connect Chicago and Boston. Where else do the other tunnels connect? If Hiram created a time machine, might we see Atticus and Leti visit us here in the 21st century. As bad as things are going this year, they’ll scramble back to 1955. The most interesting thing about the music this episode was the background music they used to highlight this was an adventure tale. We’ll end things with Bitch Better Have My Money. Christina might be a boss bitch, but she can’t touch Ri Ri.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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