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Lovecraft Country Episode 4: “A History of Violence”

by Travlis Hallingquest
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HBO’s Lovecraft Country continues to improve upon the superb source material with “A History of Violence”.  “A History of Violence” opens with Montrose Freeman visibly tormented by recent events and dealing with present-day Jim Crow.   The scene was devoid of dialogue, yet visceral; reminding film buffs of Apocalypse Now’s anguished Captain Willard.   Montrose is cold and distant in the novel, and for the first three episodes of the series.  In “A History of Violence” Michael K. Williams manages to help us begin to understand and transcend Montrose’s austerity; this is no surprise from The Wire and The Night of alum.


Christina Braithwhite becomes the first unwanted white visitor of Leti’s neighborhood. Christina informs Leti that she needs something inside of her home but is unable to come in due to an invisible barrier. Leti does not take too kindly to the unannounced visit, nor do the local police, albeit for different reasons.  Christina is threatened by the police chief, who says that she must ask in advance to visit all within his jurisdiction. Leti finds Atticus in a local library, and she is vexed that he hid his previous encounter with Christina.

Ultimately, Leti, Atticus, and a reluctant Montrose embark on an odyssey (this is not hyperbole, for this episode is analogous to a darker version of Raiders of the Lost Ark) to a Boston museum to gather artifacts for the inevitable battle with Christina Braithwhite.  After a secret compartment is found under a large concrete statue, we are (in the words of Atticus) “in some ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ shit.”

Puzzles are solved.  Labyrinths are infiltrated.  Death traps are narrowly escaped.   This is escapism and the wonderful sense of discovery at its finest.   Although the subject of racism is serious, this series manages to tackle the issue without being preachy.  It is like watching a 1980’s action/adventure film with characters that have been historically in the backdrop at the forefront.

An encounter with an imprisoned Native American woman is chilling and the most pulse-pounding event in the series thus far.

William, Christina’s lover and henchman, has a steamy encounter with Leti’s hustler sister, Ruby.  Ruby is getting shit-faced at a bar, frustrated that another black woman took the job that she wanted at an elite department store.   William buys Ruby a drink, and after a topsy-turvy conversation, the two have a one-night stand.  We will have to learn why William seduced Ruby, and if it will be more than a fling.   Nevertheless, this night of pleasure is undoubtedly an axiom for Christina to get what she wants.

The actions of Montrose are shocking in this episode.  He surprises us with newfound praise for his son and was instrumental in getting the group out of peril while exploring the caverns under the museum.  Yet, he commits an act that is unsettling.  This unstable character is becoming increasingly volatile. I am curious to see how Atticus and Leti will combat Christina, William, and the Jim Crow South, without the level-headed George.

Lovecraft Country returns next Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.

Before you go, check out the promo for next week’s episode:

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