Treasure Hunting Goes Sour in ‘Lovecraft Country’ Season 1, Episode 4: “A History of Violence”

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Image courtesy HBO.

Note: This recap contains mentions of racially motivated violence against Black individuals as well as violence against Two-Spirit 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. 

Image courtesy HBO.

In the opening scene, we see Montrose drunkenly burning the Order of the Ancient Dawn book as he experiences flashbacks to his childhood. We cut to a brilliant montage of Christina driving through town in her flashy car as “Bitch Better Have My Money” by Rihanna blares (another musical anachronism that works). She pulls up to Leti’s house. Leti is not too pleased to see Christina, who attempts to get Leti on her side by revealing she was the one who got Leti the money to buy the house – and that Atticus tried to kill her earlier that morning. She sweetly says all she wants is Hiram’s orrery (a model of the solar system). Leti tells Christina to leave. Hippolyta is looking at the orrery without knowing its origins, and she seems to know a lot about astronomy as she attempts to fix it.

Leti rushes to the library, where she confronts Atticus for attempting to kill Christina. He tells her what happened and that Christina used him to kill the others. Leti notices his bag packed and is angered again as she realizes he was going to kill Christina and run. He tries to smooth things over by assuring her he’s staying until he knows she and his family are safe. She demands to know what he’s looking for, and he tells her about the missing pages from the book that Christina knows are in Titus’ vault as well as the ones Hiram hid. Leti says Atticus should be able to sneak into the vault since he has Titus’ blood. Atticus says he doesn’t even know where the vault is, and when Leti suggests he talk to his father, he refuses, not wanting to involve him or Leti. She gives him a withering look before leaving.

That night, Atticus meets Leti and Montrose at the bar. Montrose is furious that Atticus is looking into the book, offhandedly mentioning that there’s 34 lodges besides the one they have after them now. Atticus presses Montrose for more information, but he refuses to say more. Atticus gets up angrily and leaves, telling Leti this was a waste of time. Leti is about to leave too, but Montrose stops her and says he thinks the vault is in Boston. Meanwhile, Christina is creepily playing tag with the white kids in the neighborhood. The police approach, and she saunters over like she’s been expecting them. They take her to Lancaster, who asks what she thinks she’s doing in his town. Unbothered, she taunts him for losing the Winthrop house to Leti while also sharing her real reason for needing the orrery: it’s the key to a time machine. The two stare each other down.

In what is shaping up to be the most awkward car ride ever, Atticus, Montrose, Leti, Hippolyta, and Diana (alongside Tree, who tags along uninvited) head to Boston where Titus Braithwaite had an entire museum wing renovated. Under the guise of a fun museum outing, Atticus, Leti, and Montrose go to find the vault while Hippolyta and Diana explore. In the planetarium, Hippolyta tells Diana about a comet she named as a little girl. The credit was taken away from her when the society that held the naming contest realized she was Black. Diana shouts for everyone to hear that it was her mother who named Hera’s Chariot, wanting to give her some agency back.

Image courtesy HBO.

Leti, Atticus, and Tree follow a tour guide through the Braithwaite wing as she mentions that the many artifacts found there were “given” to Titus by “natives” thankful for his help, obscuring the colonizer origins of the items. Tree tries to discuss Leti with Atticus, who is not at all interested in that discussion. Tree then insinuates that Sammy and Montrose were closer than Atticus thinks, to which Atticus stonily replies, “I’m not a sissy.” This is another reference to Montrose’s sexuality after several remarks in previous episodes. Tree leaves, and Atticus sees Montrose talking to the security guard. Montrose tells Leti and Atticus that the guard will let them in after the museum closes, and Atticus pointedly asks how Montrose knows him. Not picking up on Atticus’ motivation for asking, he simply says they met at the bar.

Image courtesy HBO.

After hours, the trio enters the museum to find the vault. They travel through subterranean tunnels, with Montrose’s knowledge helping them solve puzzles to get to the next passage. Meanwhile, William beats up a pair of men sent by Lancaster to tail Christina before going to see Ruby sing. Ruby is disappointed after losing out on a job she had her heart set on and doesn’t play as well as she usually does. He pays for her drink, and Ruby tells him he’s not the first white man to try to sleep with her by promising the world. She says he’ll have to do more than buy a drink to impress her, since she can do that herself. He just stares at her after vaguely promising her something beyond her imaginings, and she stares back. They go back to the house, where they have sex.

Back in the caverns, Leti screams when she sees the body of who she assumes is one of her missing neighbors. It turns out the tunnels lead to the elevator in her house (which we saw at the end of the last episode), and Atticus tells her and Montrose to go home and leave him. He’s trying to be the hero, and Leti will have none of it. She yells at Atticus, telling him to stop acting like this is only happening to him, adding that “you’re not the center of the f**king universe.” She and Montrose keep going thorough the tunnels, with Atticus forced to keep up. They find themselves in the vault with mummified remains. One of the bodies is holding a scroll with the missing pages, but when Atticus moves to take it, the body suddenly springs to life.

Image courtesy HBO.

It’s a Native person who identifies as a Two-Spirit and speaks Arawak. Atticus can understand them perfectly, which Leti is incredulous at. Their name is Yahima, and they explain that Titus came to their lands trying to find someone who could read the book pages. Yahima didn’t know he was a threat. When they realized what he was, they refused to translate the pages. But it was too late – Titus imprisoned them and killed their family (the mummified bodies). Atticus apologizes for what they’ve been through, but says they could help him save his people. Yahima says that they understand, but that they can’t help. Montrose, oddly willing to leave Yahima behind quickly, grabs the scroll so the trio can leave. But when he does, the room begins to flood. They all run as Atticus pulls Yahima out the door with the group.

The group desperately swims to the elevator, which takes them back to Leti’s house. Yahima screams like a siren the second the water recedes, and Atticus hits them to stop it, with Leti asking what that was. Hippolyta and Diana are driving home, with Leti, Atticus, and Montrose having lied about how they got back to Chicago. Hippolyta knows something is wrong, and when she spots “Devon County” on the atlas Diana is drawing on, she decides she’s going to get answers. She begins driving there to see what’s going on for herself.

At the house, Yahima and Atticus figure out that the reason Yahima can’t speak without screaming is that Titus put a spell on them so that they couldn’t reveal any more secrets once out of the room they were imprisoned in. But Atticus is optimistic Yahima can still translate, and they agree to help. But in a shocking twist, Montrose returns to see Yahima after Atticus leaves – and slits their throat. It’s a horrific moment, especially considering we just heard about all the injustices done to Yahima and their people. What is Montrose hiding?

Lovecraft Country airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and is also available on HBO Max.

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By Jules
I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.
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