Lovecraft Country is moving fast. Only three episodes in, and the HBO series has already killed off a major character, shifted tones, and gotten its two leads in “bed” together. Lovecraft Country Episode 3 “Holy Ghost” not only gave us some haunted house chills, but also a hot and heavy sex scene between Tic (Jonathan Majors) and Leti (Jurnee Smollett). While the two protagonists have been checking each other out for a few weeks, their quick bathroom hookup wound out being awkward, hot, and insanely real. It was also…Leti’s first time?!? Let’s break down why the sex scene in Lovecraft Country Episode 3 “Holy Ghost” wasn’t just hot, but incredibly important for Tic and Leti.
The first two episodes of Lovecraft Country, “Sundown” and “Whitey’s on the Moon”, were essentially a two-part adaptation of the first chapter in Matt Ruff’s book. While Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green didn’t wildly deviate from Ruff’s version of events — with the big exception being Uncle George’s (Courtney B. Vance) death — Episode 3 sees the show breaking away from the book a ton. While Lovecraft Country’s second chapter “Dreams of the Which House” is indeed a ghost story involving Leti’s new Victorian home, it’s far more grisly in the show than in the book.
There’s also the fact that Tic and Leti don’t have sex in the book at this time and they most certainly do in the show.
Okay, let’s talk about the sex scene. Tic and Leti’s extremely quick hookup happens about halfway through the episode. We learn early on that Tic has been keeping his distance from Leti after the events at Ardham. When he arrives at her newly purchased home on the North Side, he announces that he is there only to say goodbye. Leti convinces him to stay long enough for a massive housewarming bash. She just isn’t trying to keep him in Chicago, but Tic’s presence in full military uniform might help keep the house safe from assault by Leti’s racist white neighbors.
However during the party, it soon becomes extremely obvious that Tic is jealous of the interest Leti is getting from other men at the party. When Leti goes to the bathroom, he follows. And then he passionately swoops her up. Soon the two are making out and undressing each other. Tic lifts Leti onto the sink countertop and she undoes his fly (in an almost liberating reversal from her nightmare vision last week). They have quick, hard, steamy sex. In less than a minute, it’s done. And Tic sees that Leti is bleeding.
At first she seems to apologize for not realizing she was on her period, but the tone shift in the soundtrack suggests something else is wrong. For the next sequence, Leti looks heartbroken. Empty even. Until she sees a burning cross on her lawn and then springs into vengeful action. Only later do we learn that Leti wasn’t on her period. That extremely passionate moment was her first time having sex.
Now here’s what’s fascinating about this revelation. From the jump, Lovecraft Country has painted Tic as the pure-of-heart hero. He is chivalrous to a fault and a nerd to boot. Leti is the glamorous one. The one who constantly gets into trouble bailing out friends from jail. She’s well-traveled, flirtatious, and confident beyond belief. Stereotypically, we are led to believe that Tic is probably the less sexually experienced one and Leti an independent woman who has embraced free love and all the ups and downs that come with it. This sex scene completely reverses that assumption, though. Moreover, it suggests that Tic might be capable of darker things than we’d expect, while Leti might wear her confidence as a mask.
Indeed, she later explains that she doesn’t regret their hot quickie because she needed to feel something. Lovecraft Country Episode 3 doesn’t just mix up the show’s approach to genre or continue the saga with the Sons of Adam. It helps us understand our heroine like never before. She’s a lot more complicated than a perfect dream girl. She’s a real woman full of heart and hurt.