Well, ya’ll… Lovecraft Country did not disappoint! The first episode kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I’m not even sure where to start digging into “Sundown” since I have far more questions than answers.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? The story opens with a dream sequence where Atticus is fighting in the Korean war. As he is advancing on his enemies, aliens descend upon the battlefield. Atticus is confronted by a woman-like figure who whispers something into his ear in a foreign language. Then, Jackie Robinson appears to assist him in fighting the alien that is about to eat them all. Atticus, who is also called “Tic” throughout the epidsode, is jolted awake with the swing of Jackie’s bat. We find he’s actually riding in the “Colored Race” section of a bus. Through his conversations with an older, Black woman, we learn that he is traveling from the south back to Chicago to check on his missing father. I know… sounds weird, but this opening sets the tone for a fantastical seventy-minute journey.
All I have to say is HBO is giving the people an education. The Tulsa Massacre and lynching in Watchmen. Now, sundown towns. HBO has been unafraid and unabashed in tackling difficult truths about this country’s past in a smart way; a way that honors the horror of it without romanticizing it for the white gaze. AND I’M HERE FOR ALL OF IT! The best part… the racists in these sundown towns are in for quite the unexpected turn of events.
Atticus is the name of a historical Greek figure, born to a rich family. However, there are many nods to Greek mythology in this series, primarily through the names of other characters, such as Hyppolyta, Letitia (Laetitia), and Orinthyia (Orithyia) Blue – who is a character in a comic book written by Atticus’ little cousin, Diana. If you are a fan of DC comics, you also know Hyppolyta is the queen of the Amazons, and her daughter Diana is better known as Wonder Woman. We have yet to learn why this story leans so heavily on this mythos, but the superficial connections are intriguing. I’ve done the same required study of Greek mythology as many of you, so I’m not sure where that leaves us on figuring this all out, but I’m interested in digging deeper. I hope that impending revelations leave us stupefied in the end.
Here’s a list of Easter eggs I caught (in no particular order):
- The bar named after Denmark Vesey
- The Negro Motorist Green Book
- Arkham House Publishing
- “On The Creation of Niggers” by H.P. Lovecraft (I’m not sure if this was mentioned in the original book, as I have yet to read it.)
- A Princess of Mars, The Outsiders and Others, The Count of Monte Cristo
- A mention of “a Bradbury novel” (Ray Bradbury)
- The sound byte of James Baldwin’s “American Dream and American Negro”
Did you catch anything that I haven’t mentioned here?
As I mentioned earlier, I was left with many questions after this episode. Here’s a list of the most pressing ones:
- What did the alien woman whisper in Tic’s ear? Was she a representation for the woman Tic calls in South Korea later?
- Why did Uncle George get cagey when Tic mentions his father had written about his mother before disappearing? And why was George looking longingly at Tic’s Mom’s picture later in the episode?
- Who did Tic call in South Korea and why is he so rattled that he’s speechless while on the phone with the woman?
- Who are the people in the silver sedan?
- Why did the people in the silver sedan help Tic, George, and Leti against the racists, but not against the Shoggoths?
- How did Tic describe the creatures to Leti without having seen them first? This leads to a larger question about the nature of these beasts…
- Who called off the Shoggoths? (The whistle we hear that causes them to cease their attack)
- What is Atticus’ legacy?
I’m looking forward to next week! How about you?