Lovecraft Country Star Responds To First Major Death On The HBO Series

lovecraft country episode 2
(Image credit: hbo press)

Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched Lovecraft Country's second episode.

With its series premiere, Lovecraft Country gave viewers abundant pulp-horror proof that the 1950s were not a safe place to be black. (As if real life wasn't already proof enough.) Alas, it only took one more episode for the HBO drama to (seemingly) officially kill off its first major character, as Courtney B. Vance's George Freeman died of a gunshot wound delivered by Tony Goldwyn's cultish loon Samuel Braithwhite. But as shocking as it may have been for viewers, Vance himself was not upended by that shocking plot twist.

Even though Jurnee Smollett's Leti is technically shot first in the episode – and she actually dies – Abbey Lee's Christina magically resurrected her to further coerce Jonathan Majors' Tic into taking part in her father's ritual. Sadly, George did not receive that same mystical helping hand, making the character's final 48 hours on the planet a truly weird adventure. Speaking with THR about George's death, Courtney B. Vance pointed to horror's history with people of color, saying:

Whenever there was a Black character in a [horror] film, he or she was killed off in the first five minutes of the movie, and unfortunately, most of the characters are Black in this…so somebody Black has got to die.

With some rare exceptions for films such as George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead or Wes Craven's People Under the Stairs, or movies where the main Black lead is the actual villain (as in Candyman), horror films are historically not so kind to Black characters, or any other characters of color. It's definitely one of the genre's most glaring tropes, but one that filmmakers such as Jordan Peele have been course-correcting in recent years. And it's no coincidence that Peele is one of the executive producers on Lovecraft Country.

lovecraft country courtney b vance

(Image credit: hbo press)

So yes, in a TV show where nearly all the principal actors are portrayed by Black actors, it was inevitable for Lovecraft Country's first major death to come from that group. (While we can consider Christina and possibly William to be major white characters, ol' Samuel Braithwhite did not make that cut before being turned to dust.) But before George was gone forever, he introduced to viewers the notion that Tic may have been his own son, though Michael K. Williams' Montrose didn't want to hear it. Even without George around in future episodes, that potential truth is presumably going to be an albatross around some of the characters' necks.

Courtney B. Vance spoke to the importance of legacy in a story like this, and for George himself. But in the actor's mind, George's death doesn't have to just be a depressing burden on the others. In his words:

Either it can take you down or it can take you up, when loss happens with a character who looms as large as George did in all of their lives. Structurally, when deaths like these happen in books and films, they serve to propel the action forward. They've got to reconfigure the team.

How will George's death affect Tic and Leti as Lovecraft Country goes on? Will they rocket forward in facing the setting's mysterious monsters head-on? Or will they take a step back and approach the situation with the kind of determined logic that George would? Too bad they won't have a big ass mansion to mourn him from, though.

Lovecraft Country airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9:00 p.m. ET. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates, and head to our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.