Recap: A Powerful History Is Revisited in ‘Lovecraft Country’ Season 1, Episode 9: “Rewind 1921”

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Courtesy of HBO

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.

We open this week’s episode with Dee suffering from the side effects of the curse. Ruby, Leti, Atticus, and Montrose try to help her but aren’t sure how. Atticus says they need Christina; they can use the Titus’ pages as leverage. Leti confesses she already handed over the pages in return for invulnerability for herself. Montrose gets upset, and Ruby almost spills the news about Leti’s pregnancy, and Leti stops her, not knowing Atticus and Montrose already know. Ruby then says Christina will still help them, for her. When she arrives, she says she needs the Book of Names to heal Dee fully, but they don’t have access to it. She says she can perform a restoration that keeps resetting the curse’s cycle, but she’ll only do it if Atticus agrees to willingly return to Ardham during the autumnal equinox.

Courtesy of HBO

Later at George’s shop, Montrose is brooding, in true Montrose fashion. Atticus finds him, trying to comfort him about the upcoming ritual. Unable to keep the secret any longer, Montrose reveals the George may actually be Atticus’ biological father. While Atticus processes the news, hurt and angry at the revelation, Leti walks in to tell the two that Dee’s fever broke and Christina is ready. Off-screen, a woman asks about Dee, and we see that Hippolyta has returned.

Christina performs the ritual — which is…quite stressful – and succeeds, Dee temporarily healed. As Christina and Ruby leave, Leti follows them out. She tells Ruby she can’t trust Christina. Ruby counters by saying Leti can’t trust Atticus or Montrose. Leti tries to strike back by mentioning the equinox, but Ruby isn’t listening, choosing to leave with Christina anyway. Meanwhile, Hippolyta moves Dee into the car, preparing to return to the observatory. She tells Atticus, Leti, and Montrose about her journey, saying she can repair the multiverse machine so that they can go back in time to Tulsa just before the massacre and obtain the Book of Names.

Courtesy of HBO

The group arrives at the observatory, and once Hippolyta gets it up and running again, she reveals that she’s the final piece, the motherboard who communicates with the machine to get Leti, Atticus, and Montrose where they need to go. The portal opens. Atticus and Leti jump through, but Montrose hesitates, remembering his past before jumping through, too, and the three of them are now in Tulsa 1921 – the first day of the massacre on Black Wall Street. But the Tulsa they land in is still thriving and vibrant, and the trio quickly realizes they need to blend in before going after the Book.

They begin to head to Montrose’s childhood home. When they arrive, they witness a young Montrose being beat by his father in the front yard. As this happens, present-day Montrose explains to Atticus and Leti why still clearly traumatized and shaken by revisiting it. A young Dora (Atticus’ mother) rushes out, protecting young Montrose from more hits from his father. A young George also joins the scene, but he only looks on in silence. Dora later scolds him for not protecting his brother, but our Montrose says George protected him quite a bit. The kids soon learn the prom planned for that night is canceled. Our Montrose quietly slips away. Leti and Atticus make a plan to divide and conquer – Leti will go get the Book and Atticus will find Montrose.

As night falls, Leti is on her way to get the Book, a group of white men shoot at her. Montrose’s father comes out of the house, shooting back. Dora’s father soon joins him, and the two tell Leti to take cover at Dora’s house. Temporarily protected from the outside, both families and Leti prepare for what’s to come (though only Leti knows), spreading across the house to keep watch for trouble. In a different part of town, Atticus finds Montrose watching his younger self talk to another boy, Thomas. He tells Atticus that Thomas is about to get shot in the head. Back with Leti, she and everyone else in the house hear gunshots, as the momentum of the massacre rapidly builds.

Courtesy of HBO

The next part of the episode goes back and forth between Leti at the house and Montrose and Atticus, leading to the nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching, emotional climax and conclusion of the episode (I dare you to watch this and NOT bawl your eyes out). Montrose relays the conversation happening between his young self and Thomas, saying he couldn’t be friends with Thomas anymore, but Montrose was deeply affected by Thomas’ murder, wanting to save him now. Atticus tries to talk Montrose down, telling him to think about what could happen if he interferes. At the house, Leti desperately searches for the Book, getting caught by Atticus’ great-grandmother, Hattie. Leti pleads with her for the book, all while white people have set the house on fire.

Montrose and Atticus watch as young Montrose and Thomas are attacked by a group of white teens, and Thomas is shot. As this happens, the room Leti and Hattie are in begins to burn, but Hattie, after listening to Leti explain why she’s there, gives the Book to Leti, asking Leti to pray with her before she dies. Montrose and Atticus continue to watch, and Montrose mentions a mysterious stranger who came to help him. When Atticus can quote the same thing Montrose heard as a child, and he sees a baseball bat lying at his feet, they realize that Atticus was the mysterious stranger. Upon discovering this, Atticus rushes to protect young Montrose, George, and Dora (who arrived as things were heating up).

Courtesy of HBO

Montrose and Atticus run back to the portal, arriving before Leti. Montrose looks out the window, watching (and hurting) as Black Wall Street burns. Atticus notices something is wrong with the portal. He jumps back through to find Hippolyta struggling to keep it open. He encourages her while they wait for Leti. Montrose talks himself through what’s happening, remembering from when he experienced the massacre as a child. Finally, he spots Letitia, walking through literal fire, the Book of Names held tightly against herself. Shortly after, they jump through the portal back to their time.

Catch the season 1 finale of Lovecraft Country next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, streaming on HBO Max.

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