Lovecraft Country Season 1, Episode 1: Sundown Recap

lovecraft country sundown s1e1 recap premiere

Lovecraft Country, Episode 1: Sundown, opens with a young man fighting in a war which is soon revealed to be an alien invasion. There are tentacled creatures and an attractive female alien. A baseball player shows up and destroys one of the tentacled aliens.

Then, the young man, Atticus (“Tic”), wakes up. He’s a young black man traveling by bus through the country in 1950’s Jim Crow-Era America. Atticus is ex-Army, a Korean War veteran, and headed back home because his father is missing. The bus breaks down. A car comes by to pick up the white passengers while he and another black woman pick up their luggage and continue by foot.

They chat about “A Princess of Mars”, a book that Atticus is reading. The woman takes exception because the hero is an ex-confederate officer. Atticus defends his reading preferences by saying that “stories are like people. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You just try to cherish ’em and overlook their flaws”.

In Chicago, George Freeman and his wife Hippolyta Freeman are in bed together. George is about to leave for a few days for work. George and Hippolyta write a travel guide (“Safe Negro Travel“) that requires them to travel to visit and review places. Hippolyta wants to go instead, but George thinks it’s too dangerous for her (his kneecaps are injured due to a past run-in while researching the guide). Their daughter, Diana Freeman, is sitting in the living room when Atticus shows up at the Freeman’s home.

Later, Atticus and George talk about how Atticus’s father disapproves of his Atticus’s interest in science fiction, partially because of the racism of writers like Lovecraft (they reference the poem “On the Creation of N—-rs“).

Atticus’s father, Montrose, has been missing for about two weeks. Atticus has a letter from his father, saying that he’s learned something about his Atticus’s mother’s ancestry and that Atticus has a “secret legacy”/”birthright” because of her. Moreover, Atticus says that it’s in “Lovecraft Country” because it’s located in Arkham, Massachusetts, but on further inspection it’s actually “Ardham, Massachusetts.”

Atticus goes to a bar that Montrose frequents. He learns that Montrose was seen with a white man in an expensive car about two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Letitia (“Lettie”) is a young woman who shows up looking for her sister Ruby, a lounge singer. Letitia is unemployed and needs a place to stay. Ruby brings up the topic of their mother’s funeral (implying that Ruby bore the responsibility for the costs), which is clearly a sore subject for them. Ruby tells her she can stay with her for two nights, but that’s it.

Atticus and George agree to head for Ardham the next day in George’s car (nicknamed “Woody”). That night, Atticus makes a call to someone in South Korea. He doesn’t say anything, but she knows it’s him. The next morning, Letitia and Atticus reunite. Lettie and Atticus were both members of the South Side Futurists Science-Fiction Club when they were kids. (Lettie’s coming with them to hitch a ride to her brother’s place which is on the way.) Before they leave, Diana shows her parents a new comic she’s drawn featuring a female space-traveler character named Orithyia Blue.

They head out for the midwest. (As a montage of their road trip is shown, a clip of a speech by James Baldwin — an excerpt from a debate about racial divide — plays.)

The three of them stop at a diner that George is reviewing for his guide, the Simmonsville Dinette. However, there’s tension when they walk in. Letitia gets up to go to the bathroom and overheard their water on the phone reporting their presence to someone. She runs out and tells them they need to get out of there immediately. They get into their car and there’s a car chase as the townspeople chase them and they shoot at each other.

Finally, an expensive-looking silver car drives up, cuts the other car off and the car with the townspeople flips over. A blond woman in a red hat walks out of the silver car. Later, they note that they don’t really know what caused the other car to crash.

That night, they reach the home of Marvin, Lettie’s brother. He explains that the area they’re headed into, Devon County, has a strange history. The city they’re going to crossing into, Bideford, was founded by witch hunters and is not friendly to outsiders. There’s also stories about travelers being attacked in the surrounding woods, though he doesn’t know by what. There’s also some missing persons stories, and the sheriff there, Eustace Hunt, has a hefty NAACP complaint file. Ardham itself is strangely mysterious, difficult to get records about and not located on the map.

George calls home to talk to his family. He suggests to Hippolyta that they go together on the next guide trip, which she’s happy about.

Meanwhile, Marvin and Lettie get into an argument over Lettie missing their mother’s funeral. Marvin gave her money to come home for it, but she used it to bail some friends out of jail. Lettie implies that part of her reluctance to attend was her strained relationship with their late mother.

Overhearing the fight, Atticus confides in George that the last time he saw Montrose resulted in a physical fight, too. A reporter had wanted to interview Atticus about being a black veteran, but Montrose thought he was throwing his life away for “a country that hates you” and that Atticus shouldn’t encourage others to do the same. George assure Atticus that Montrose cared about him and was desperate for news about Atticus, even if he was stubborn and didn’t write Atticus when he was away.

From Lovecraft Country, Episode 1: Sundown

The next morning, Lettie leaves with them because of the fight with Marvin. George, Lettie and Atticus head into Devon County.

Towards the end of the day, they’ve been driving a long time and still haven’t found a road into Ardham yet. Atticus gets out to look for a road that might’ve been grown over when the sheriff, Eustace Hunt, pulls up. Eustace explains that this is a “sundown county” (all-white area) and that they better not be here by sundown or they’ll be hanged. Sundown is in seven minutes.

The three of them assure Eustace they’ll be out of here by sundown. There’s a tense drive as they try to go as quickly as they can without speeding, since it’s clear Eustace is looking for any excuse to attack them. Meanwhile, Eustace is ramming their car with his. They manage to make it past the county line at the very last second. However, they immediately are stopped by a road block, where they are forced to stop by four armed officers and accused of being responsible for some local robberies.

It’s dark now as the three of them are marched by gunpoint into the woods. However, as things escalate, a rustling sound is heard in the trees. The deputies are attacked by some type of monster (resembling a shoggoth). The deputies try to shoot it down as the three of them scatter. Letitia and Atticus make their way into a shack, and they are soon joined by Eustace and a deputy.

George makes his way to the shack and tells them that he thinks his flashlight is what kept him alive. He hypothesizes that the creatures are hurt by the light, like vampires, so they just need to survive until sunrise. They decide they need more light, so Letitia (who was all-star track in high school) is going to make a run for it and fetch the car so they can use the headlights and the flares in the car to protect themselves.

After Letitia leaves, Eustace starts to retch. Because he got bitten that he is now transforming into something. Meanwhile, Lettie makes it to the car and turns on the headlights just as a creature approaches, and it burrows into the ground. When it rises again, she uses the flash on her camera to scare it off before driving back.

George tells the deputy to shoot Eustace. Before he can, transformed Eustace attacks the deputy. Atticus gets the gun but there’s only one bullet left. Before transformed Eustace can attack, Lettie shows up with the headlights on and rams him with the car.

Using the flares and the headlights, they fend off a hoard of creatures until a piercing/whistling noise is heard that causes the creatures to run off. After sunrise, the three finally find the bridge that leads into Ardham. There, they find an elaborate manor.

George, Lettie and Tic after the monster Encounters

At the manor, they see the expensive silver car again. At the door, they are greeted by a blond, dapper man who says “We’ve been expecting you, Mr. Freeman. Welcome home.”

Go back to the Lovecraft Country: Episode Guide

Or, compare this with the book version by reading the Summary & Synopsis of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country.

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