After Lovecraft Country debuted, it quickly became one of the most talked about horror series of 2020. Episode Two of Lovecraft Country, “Whitey’s on The Moon,” was another homerun installment, making fans crave more of this new, innovative horror series. When last we saw our unlikely trio, they were battered, bloodied, and beaten from a nightly battle with hulking vampiric quadrupeds. Tic, George and Leti travelled east from South Chicago, through the barren mid-west, arriving at Ardham in search of Tic’s father, Montrose. Despite the dreadful presence of racism and hungry nightcrawlers leaping tree to tree, our heroes and heroine managed to find refuge in a strange mansion at the center of Devon County, Massachusetts. “Whitey’s on The Moon” takes this horror series for a supernatural ride as we dive into the world of the occult.
The opening sequence begins with the gang swinging to “Moving on Up,” The Jeffersons famed theme song performed by actress Ja’Net Dubois, as they dance around this strange yet immaculate house. Leti and George are totally engrossed in the gusto here, meanwhile Tic can’t seem to shake his unsettling feeling, reminding the group of how strange the circumstances are that their rooms happen to be designed just for them. Before we can wonder more on this, the house butler, William, sounds the morning bell for all to regroup to the dining room.
William watches over the estate and seemingly has no idea what or why Tic or his group are doing at the manor, though he has been instructed to watch tightly over them for “the ceremony.” He recounts the trio with a story about Titus Braithwhite, the creator of the home as they view a painting of a middle-aged white man in dark Klan robes. Titus amassed his wealth from “shipping,” as William puts it, pointing to the roots in slavery. William then informs them that this lodge is simply a replica of the original lodge that burned down in a terrible fire.
George and Tic immediately agree and confirm that this entire thing is far too suspicious. George is unsettled by William’s kindness and both he and Leti can’t seem to remember what happened the night before. Tic fills the two in on the details he can remember but to no avail. Suddenly, a creepy violin begins to play as George tells them all to freeze; they are being watched through the window by William.
What lies on the surface of this episode can be conveyed as comfort and respect for the trio, and one would be remiss in this assessment. Certainly, we’d all like to be invited inside another’s home after being bloodied and barren in the dewy hours of a bloodstained morning. But “Whitey’s on The Moon” takes the regular conversation of race relations that we’ve established in the previous episode and begins another dialogue on black people and the occult. This Lovecraft Country episode uses Christina Braithwaite for most of the formal introductions and explanation of the occult.
Waking to A New Nightmare
Tic and the others venture more into the woods to get a better look at the property before coming into contact with more beasts from the night before. Adrenaline kicks up as the ground is suddenly surged by trails of dirt with various beasts leaping from the grass, gaping their huge jaws over a monstrous roar. Before they can set in on the kill, a familiar whistle echoes through the trees and the beasts become tame. Christina Braithwaite appears on horseback with a whistle clutched tightly to her chest, blowing again a command to stand down. She delivers the group to her father, Samuel.
Samuel dishes to Tic of his favorite painting entitled “Genesis 2:19,” by the artist Josef Tannhauser, and its significance to his views on heaven. The verse reads, “And out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the land and every fowl of the air and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called them that was their name thereof.” In Samuel’s view this picking of names is about Adam sharing in the creation of life, setting a standard in hierarchy and status as it pertains to the glory of god. Christina reminds us of how this Garden paradise was ruined by that “stupid…troublemaking bitch, Eve”. For them, this parable is useful in understanding the world albeit for different reasons.
The house begins to play hallucinations on the trio as they try to settle in their rooms. Tic is attacked by a female Korean soldier, meanwhile George is delighted with a fantasy of another woman that happens to not be Hippolyta. Leti’s hallucination begins as a romantic encounter with Tic, but quickly devolves into a terrible biblical horror as Tic’s penis is revealed to be a literal snake. As the three wrestles with these horrors, The Sons of Adam view on from magical doors in clean tuxedos, bourbon and scotch clutched aloof in their hands. Later on, they each recount their experiences to each other before George tells them to remain strong as this must be part of the intent of their stay.
As a horror series, Lovecraft Country is able to shed its identity of vehement racism and the plight of the American Negro and give us a view of the world of magic, though its more occult than actual magic. Secret societies have been documented in history since the founding of America, but somehow the juxtaposition in social status here is truly alarming and speaks to the lack of ingenuity. If magic exists in this universe, wouldn’t it make more sense to teach and practice magic with the intent of love instead of hatred?
Titus made numerous attempts at opening the Eden gates to no avail, but never ceased trying. His final attempt resulted in the Braithwaite manor being totally engulfed in a terrible fire, with only Titus’ mistress slave Hanna escaping to safety with his fabled Book of Names. This connection, one can imagine, is the unifying event that ties both his lineage to the Braithwaite name and to Atticus.
Atticus Finch belongs to a family of magical occultists that delved into the slave trade. George reveals to the lodge here that he pursued the various books in the basement library to learn of the lodge. While they do not allow colored members into the lodge, there is a loophole: members who are descended from Sons of Adam are honorary members, or “Sons of Sons,” and can give orders to other members. George informs them that he believes Tic is the last blood heir to Titus Braithwhite. Tic uses this newfound authority to command the lodge to leave the room, though Samuel laments that Tic shouldn’t confuse useful with indispensable.
George and Tic track Montrose to a tower in the town that they noticed earlier only to realize that he’s already escaped. Oddly enough, the imagery used here to show Montrose’s escape would suggest that he was set free through otherworldly or supernatural means. Unfortunately, this is not elaborated on any further in the episode. They manage to intercept Montrose on their way out of the property before Samuel’s goons are following in tow with firearms.
In the car ride, George reveals to Montrose the details of Titus while Leti tries to tend to Tic’s wound. However, before leaving the bridge, the car slams into an invisible barrier, totaling the car. Samuel arrives with Christina and shoots Leti as she gets out of the vehicle, followed by a warning shot near George to keep him at bay. Leti slowly passes away as an angered Tic and George look on at Samuel. Tic charges for Samuel before the screen goes blank and another gunshot is fired.
Tic has finally agreed to the ceremony and surrenders his efforts, allowing himself to be groomed while Montrose tends to Leti, who has just been revived. As it turns out, Samuel has fired his last bullet into George’s abdomen, causing him to bleed out. As the life drains from George, Montrose attempts to give some form of closure. He and Montrose lament about each other’s stubbornness before George apologizes for his lack of care and protection when they were children. He also reveals that Tic may not be Montrose’ son, to which Montrose urges that they said they wouldn’t bring it up again. This tidbit isn’t further elaborated on in the episode.
Shoot for Your Own Moon
At its core, “Whitey’s on the Moon” makes a statement about the condition of America’s place in the occult as it pertains to the hidden and unconscious. This particular flavor of supernatural feels fluid and dynamic while also opening the viewer’s imagination to a world much bigger than South Chicago or Devon County.. It also means that Lovecraft Country is, surprisingly, a horror series anthology, filled with various stories and covering different topics and genres of science fiction.
The episode’s title is inspired by the poem of the same name written by Gil Scott-Heron. Heron is talking about the first lunar landing by the United States, a shining moment for America atop the world stage in space exploration. This song is a wonderful representation of the tone of the episode, with Heron lamenting about gentrification and the stark juxtaposition in living standards of white and black people. Objectively, the song depicts the lack of the “American Dream” in America.
However, this episode gives new meaning to what “Whitey’s on the Moon” implied as a song, and instead casts Atticus as his very own version of a whitey on the moon, somewhat literally as it turns out. Our particular moon here takes place deep inside Braithwaite Manor. Samuel calls a high council of The Sons of Adam for a presentation of his new theory on opening the Garden of Eden. He believes that because of Tic’s lineage, Tic is also a possible member of the lodge that has the ability to lend his own power. Of course, Tic has no idea of any occult knowledge much less how to open the gates to the Garden. Despite this, the song plays as cosmic energy is surged through his torso and redirected in a triangle made in the court stone.
The gate surges with life; foliage and beautiful flowers grow alongside the wooden arc as plants and leaves form along the ground of the marble pavement. Meanwhile, a black energy grows from Tic’s ring finger as he screams in pain. Samuel’s disciples look on in confusion and horror as the spell begins to tear the house apart. All around them, stone and rock crackle and tumble while George and Montrose scurry about their room to get to safety.
What exactly is going on here? Was this the fate of Titus Braithwhite when he attempted to cross into the gates of heaven? Did Hanna somehow manage to sabotage and thwart Titus’ plans when she caught wind of the plot? Most pressing above all questions here remains a mystery: did the spell actually work? Neither Tic, George nor Leti have the time to wonder as the entire house crumbles and implodes. Fallen stone clobbers through glass as Tic and Leti race for the front entrance, Montrose and George also scurrying for their prospective exit.
This Lovecraft episode is very quick with its pacing and does not waste time getting the important bits out of the way to reveal imaginative plotlines that deal with more than just racism of the time. As we watch, often in horror, there is much more behind the topic of racism, an uncomfortable door that involves rape, torture, and the sexual subjugation of black men and women at the hands of their masters. Beneath this murky subject, “Whitey’s on The Moon” casts a new light on how we view the lineage between Americans, and the results aren’t quite as black and white as we originally assumed.
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