Recap: Spirits Come Out to Play in ‘Lovecraft Country’ Season 1, Episode 3: “Holy Ghost”


Note: this recap contains mentions of racially motivated violence against Black individuals that can be disturbing or triggering. For a deeper look at the historical basis that provides context for the events described and shown in the series, you can listen to HBO’s Lovecraft Country companion podcast Lovecraft Country Radio hosted by Ashley C. Ford and Shannon Houston.

After the events at Ardham and George’s funeral, Letitia brings Ruby to a big house (the Winthrop House) she bought, telling Ruby she wanted to make up for the times Ruby gave her money. However, Ruby hesitates to join Letitia’s excitement, as the house is in a white neighborhood. Eventually Letitia’s excitement overcomes, and Ruby gives in. Letitia excitedly shows Ruby the elevator, that nearly kills her when it drops out of nowhere, foreshadowing events to come

Courtesy of HBO

At Hippolyta and George’s, Hippolyta clearly struggles to accept George’s death. She joins Atticus and Dee for breakfast, and we learn that several weeks have passed since the previous episode. Later, Atticus goes to Montrose’s house and finds Montrose passed out drunk on the floor. He wakes Montrose and mentions staying there instead. He brings up his guilty feelings about Hippolyta and Dee not knowing the full truth about George’s death, pressing Montrose about telling them. This upsets Montrose, and Atticus leaves.

The next day, Letitia moves into the house. Atticus drops by, seeing Letitia for the first time since the funeral. She mentions him going back to Florida, wanting him to stay instead. However, their reunion and the bustle of moving are interrupted by a barrage of car horns going off, courtesy of Letitia’s white neighbors.

A few more days and a continuing blast of car horns later, a (very creepy) ghost drags a sleeping Letitia’s sheets off her, waking her. When she gets out of bed, she realizes something is wrong with the boiler – another unwelcome gift from the white neighbors. She goes to the basement check, confirming the boiler was sabotaged. While down there, she hears voices and noises that scare her away. She returns with Atticus, and together, they check a small cellar just below, finding nothing. Atticus attributes the sounds to Letitia’s trauma about Ardham and the neighbors, but regardless, he’ll stay at the house and keep watch.

Courtesy of HBO

Next, we see people swarm to the house for a party with everyone in high spirits – except for Hippolyta. Letitia finds her in the kitchen, and Hippolyta is visibly (and understandably) sad about George. Though she’s still upset, she inquires about Dee and her friends, who are in the attic playing with a Ouija board (featuring a reference to Emmett Till). The ghosts of the house make themselves known again, freaking out Dee and her friends. Hippolyta goes searching for Dee, encountering a room that seems a little sinister.

Atticus enters and jealously watches Letitia dance with another man – and she knows exactly how it’s affecting him. Shortly after, she heads to the bathroom, where yet another ghost appears in the mirror. When she looks up, though, she notices Atticus standing in the doorway, and they act on some pent-up feelings for each other.

When they return to the party, everyone stares in horror at a burning cross in the front yard, thanks to, you guessed it, the white neighbors, who continue to make sure Letitia and the rest of boarders know just how unwelcome they are in the neighborhood. Hippolyta becomes frantic, going to find the children. Letitia has other ideas. She grabs a baseball bat and storms outside, followed by Atticus and a few other people. Fueled by rage (and rightly so), she smashes the windows of the cars, stopping the horns that never seemed to stop blaring. Afterward, the cops show up and arrest her.

On the way to the station, the cop watching her asks about the house: if anything strange was happening, who told her to buy the house, and how she could afford it. He brings up that the bodies of eight Black people were found, and he asks Letitia if she really expects to last much longer. Because that’s not shady at all.

Courtesy of HBO

The next day, Letitia is in the cellar, now a darkroom. As she examines her photos, she notices some sort of scratch marks on them. She matches up the marks on the floor, and when she does, the face of a man emerges, screaming at her to get out of the house. Later, Ruby tells her the boarders are leaving because of what happened, but Letitia isn’t as worried about the lost income. She reveals the money for the house came from Ruby and Letitia’s mother. Ruby is hurt Letitia didn’t tell her and leaves after the two argue.

At George’s shop, Hippolyta and Montrose briefly reminisce. Hippolyta brings up his death again, saying she knows something isn’t right about it. Montrose still doesn’t tell her the full story.

Atticus finds Letitia at a diner, who’s consumed with learning about Winthrop House and the man who came out of the photos. This time when she tells Atticus the house is haunted, he has her walk him through it. She tells him about a shady realtor that eventually leads to the last owner, Hiram Epstein, who was allegedly experimenting on humans – hence the eight bodies found at the house, which she believes are the souls trapped in the house. Atticus tells her she should leave the house and attempts to change the subject. Letitia first mentions what happened at the party, then brings up Ardham, explaining how she needs to learn to live in a world with the new knowledge she has because of it.

Courtesy of HBO

Later, they find a woman to perform a cleansing ritual for the house, which they hold in the basement. While the ritual is in progress, three of the white neighbors break into the house, presumably to harm Letitia and company. Two of the neighbors find themselves trapped in the same room Hippolyta found. This time, however, a ghost attacks them. As the ritual heats up, the elevator that almost hurt Letitia takes out the third neighbor.

Back at the ritual, which seems to work at first, the ghosts of the house make their presence much more known. The ghost of Hiram possesses the woman, and then he possesses Tic, yelling for them to leave the house. Letitia continues with the ritual, calling on the spirits of the eight people Hiram killed to cast him out, all while “Satan, We’re Going to Tear Your Kingdom Down” by Shirley Caesar plays, bolstering the intensity of the scene. Hiram is finally cast out.

Courtesy of HBO

In the following days, the ghosts remain quiet. Letitia and the house are being featured for a story in a newspaper. As Letitia shows the reporter around, they head to another level of the house in the now fixed elevator. When they step out, though, the elevator descends to a level much deeper than the cellar, revealing magical symbols (warding of some kind, perhaps?) and a tunnel littered with the bodies of the white neighbors and unidentifiable human remains.

The episode ends with Atticus finding and confronting Christina Braithwhite. He reveals the money for Winthrop House came from her and not Letitia’s mother, which he figured out thanks to the name Winthrop appearing on a painting at Ardham. He tries to shoot her, but Christina blocks him using magic. She gives him a history lesson about the Sons of Adam, her father, and Hiram, bringing up missing pages from the Book of Names that belonged to a man named Horatio Winthrop. She mentions these pages are vital to decoding the language of Adam, trying to recruit Atticus to help her find them. She leaves him with her phone number should he decide to help.

Lovecraft Country airs on HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, streaming on HBO Max.

Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.

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