Lovecraft Country Season 1, Episode 3: Holy Ghost Recap

lovecraft country recap summary s1e3 holy ghost episode 3

Lovecraft Country, Episode 3 (“Holy Ghost”) opens with Letitia in church with a voiceover from Precious Angel Ramirez. A title card then talks about a group of black people who move into a house in the summer of 1955. It then says that ten days later, three people go missing inside the house, never to be seen again.

The show then cuts to a scene of Letitia (“Lettie”) telling her sister Ruby that she bought a house, showing her a run-down but very large 3-floor mansion with 13 rooms and an elevator, called the Winthrop House. Letitia says she plans to turn it into a boarding house, a low-cost safe haven for people of color. Letitia wants Ruby to live their rent free to help repay all the times that Ruby has given her money. Ruby agrees, but warns Letitia of the dangers of black people moving into communities of white folks.

The Winthrop House

The Winthrop House

In the Freeman’s household, Atticus (“Tic”) is making breakfast for his niece Diana (“Dee”) and his Aunt Hippolyta. Atticus has been living there for a few weeks now. The atmosphere seems tense, though. We soon find out that it’s because Uncle George has died (after being shot at the manor in Ardham in Episode 2), and they had a funeral for him three weeks ago. They’ve told Hippolyta that a hot-headed sheriff shot George, leaving out the details about wizards and cults and magic. However, Hippolyta senses there’s something she’s not being told. Also, Tic reminds Hippolyta of George, which makes things harder for her, so Tic plans to move out.

Atticus goes to his father’s house and finds his father Montrose asleep on the floor, dreaming and muttering. Atticus wakes him up, noting that he knows what Montrose is dreaming about. It’s a story he’s heard many times about George and Montrose as kids during the riots. They were in trouble but someone came out of nowhere swinging a bat, saying “I got you, kid”, and saved their lives.

Atticus goes to see Letitia, who is in the process of fixing up the house and moving some friends in. Atticus plans to head home to Florida, but after some white folks come to harass Letitia for moving into their neighborhood, Atticus decides to stick around for a little longer. The white folks have parked three cars in front of her house with bricks tied to the steering wheels so that the horns sounds continuously. Police drive by and see it, but don’t care. The next morning, a ghoulish, disfigured woman appears next to Letitia’s bedside. Meanwhile, the car horns are still blaring. The house’s boiler also seems to be acting up, and Letitia suspects the same people are messing with her.

As Letitia works on fixing up the house, she hears strange sounds, unexplained voices and the door to the basement lifts, seemingly by itself. Atticus comes down to check it out, but finds nothing. A week later, Letitia has her housewarming party. In the attic, the kids play with a ouiji board which suddenly seems to take on a life of its own. Meanwhile, Hippolyta walks into a room to find an elaborate model of the solar system, which she looks entranced by.

Atticus shows up in his Army uniform, just to let neighbors know there’s a soldier living here. A friend of his teases Atticus about his relationship with Letitia as she dances with a man at the party. Jealous, Atticus finally finds Letitia when she’s alone and kisses her. They start having sex, but stop when they realize Letitia’s period has started.

Outside, Letitia’s neighbors burn a cross on the house’s lawn. Fed up, Letitia finally takes a baseball bat to the cars. As a few of the men stand guard with guns, she knocks the windows and bricks out from the cars that are still honking in front of her house. As soon as she’s done, Ruby gets into her car, takes all the guns and drive off before the police arrive. They arrest Lettie, rough her up and insult her. They also claim not to have received any of the twenty-eight reports she filed regarding her neighbors harassing her. She’s later released, but the officer asks about the house and ominously mentions that eight bodies of black people were found in the basement of her house.

Afterwards, Letitia goes into the basement which she’s now using as a black room for her photography. She’s shocked to see strange marks on her photographs. When she assembles the photos, a face appears telling her to get out of his house. Back upstairs, Letitia is distraught and distracted. She accidentally reveals to Ruby that she purchased the house from money that their mother left her as an inheritance. The bank recently contacted her about it. Ruby is upset, hurt and confused. Ruby says their mother didn’t have any money, that Letitia didn’t even bother to attend her mother’s funeral and that Letitia should have split the money with her siblings, regardless of what the will said.

Based on what the officer said, Letitia does some research and confirms that eight bodies of black people were once found in the Winthrop House. She tells Atticus about her research. (Letitia also admits that the interlude where they had sex at the housewarming party was her first time.) Letitia purchased the house from a realtor named J.J.. but the house’s last owner was a man named Hiram Epstein, who was a scientist at the University of Chicago. He was fired for unethical experimental practices. Letitia believes that he was conducting experiments on people, which explains the bodies and body parts that were found in the basement of the Winthrop House.

Letitia also wonders why the Police Captain was so interested in the Winthrop House. She notes a photo where the Police Captain can be seen with Hiram Epstein, indicating that they knew each other. Letitia also has identified Detective Lancaster as the Detective that was assigned to a number of missing persons cases from South Side Chicago. Atticus and Letitia posit that Lancaster may have been supplying bodies to Epstein for experimentation.

In her developed photos, Letitia can see the faces of the dead people blended in with the faces from the photos she took from her housewarming party. In short, Letitia has gathered that her house is full of restless souls from the dead that were in the Winthrop House, as well as the soul of their killer, Hiram Epstein (the ghost that shouted at her to leave his house).

Letitia decides to find a woman to purge the house of spirits. The woman sacrifices a goat and then goes into the basement and tells them (her, Letitia and Atticus) to form a circle and not to let go. As the woman chants in Creole to purge the house of spirits, three young white men happen to be breaking into the house, but they are attacked by the awakened ghostly spirits. One of the men is decapitated by the elevator while two others are attacked by a large black man with a baby’s head (he likely looks that way due to Epstein’s “experimentation”).

When the sprinklers suddenly go off, they let go of their hands. The woman is possessed by a spirit that attacks the other two. It then transfers from the woman into Atticus, screaming to “get out of my house” (presumably, Hiram Epstein’s ghost). Letitia calls out the names of the people who were murdered there, asking them to attack the spirit of Hiram Epstein. They respond to her beckoning and form a circle around Atticus, chanting in Creole like the woman had done before. As they chant, Epstein’s ghosts relinquishes his hold on Atticus. They continue chanting until the ghost is vanquished, and the spirit’s deformities disappear before they, too, disappear.

Afterwards, a report comes by to talk about Letitia’s low income housing project. Before the interview ends, she asks about the disappearance of three of her white neighbors, but Letitia says she knows nothing about it. Then, the house’s elevator is shown traveling down a long shaft. At the end, the three bodies and numerous skeletons can be seen in an underground tunnel leading away from the house.

Atticus goes to J.J. the realtor’s office to investigate the house’s origins, but finds Christina Braithwhite there with J.J., who says something about the bank. Atticus surmises that the money that Letitia “inherited” didn’t come from her mother at all, but from Christina as part of some scheme. Atticus angrily raises a gun to shoot her, but some type of force prevents him from doing so.

Christina explains that Horatio Winthrop was a founding member of their cult. He was banished for stealing pages out of “the book of names”, a cipher which permits them to decode the “language of Adam” (presumably, the language that their spell books are written in). Without those pages, there is a lot of knowledge they cannot access because they cannot decode the other pages of their spells. Hiram Epstein was one of his followers.

Creating spells is difficult work, requiring great discipline, and most never do or create one spell in their lifetime, which is why being able to decode existing spells is so important. Christina says that her father, Samuel, created a spell for invulnerability, implying that it’s the reason why Atticus is unable to shoot her. (It was removed when Samuel did the ritual in Episode 2, which is why Samuel was able to be killed and died.)

Right now, they have only deciphered one chapter of the Book of Names, which is where almost all of their spells are derived from. Titus passed down that chapter orally, but the actual pages are locked in a booby-trapped room that only Titus could access. She implies that her interest in Winthrop has to do with finding those stolen pages so that they can decode the Language of Adam in its entirety.

The episode ends with Christina advising Atticus to be “smarter” about things, since he can’t go around killing white women. She tells him to contact her when he’s ready to learn more about their “family legacy.”

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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