Them – S01E05 – Covenant I. [Transcript]

Helen goes to work. The Emorys leave North Carolina.
Them (2021 TV Series)

Original release date: April 9, 2021

* * *

[film projector rattling]

♪ ♪

[narrator] The American dream is alive and well.

Uncle Sam and his G.I. Bill of Rights are hard at work getting our boys back on their feet.

Affordable college, job training, low-interest mortgages and more.

Already, the Veterans Administration has put five million young families into new homes.

And where, might you ask, are many of these ambitious Americans choosing to settle down?

Well, the City of Angels, of course, the fastest-growing city in the United States.

All over Los Angeles, brand-new housing developments are being built.

Go west, young man.

The future of America is in sunny California.

[city planner] So, a few years back, West Compton, green as can be-not a Negro, Mexican or Jap in sight–

but as you can see here, in less than a decade, the entire neighborhood’s completely flipped-red city.

In fact, they had to build more housing just to accommodate all the Negroes who want to live there.

So, what are you prepared to do for us?

Seven percent interest on loans for all properties Southland Trust Realty acquires.

Seven? We can get four from SunTrust.

Len, don’t bend us over on the interest here, not with all the business we’re about to toss your way.

You guys are gonna sell the houses for double what you paid and charge, what, 20% on the mortgages?

Wait. You’re charging Negroes more than 20%?

There’s no way anyone can get out from under that.

If your bank wasn’t legally prohibited from lending to Negroes, you’d do the same.

Within reason.

Six percent, fellas, huh? Let’s get this done.

The city will approve any new Southland Trust development in East Compton once all the original owners have sold.

Not a given.

[Mitch] Tell me my fucking business.

Chicago, Baltimore, Lansing…

[Murray] Oakland, Seattle.

[Mitch] Now, that was foresight.

Move just one Black family into a decent white neighborhood, and the other homeowners will throw money at you faster than you can count it.

Negroes aren’t stupid. Given a choice, even they don’t want to live among other Negroes.

[commissioner] Nothing more American than people willingly paying double for something they can’t afford in the first place.


And what happens once they realize they have been swindled?

Well, you could always ask Miss Koistra if you could borrow a sanitary napkin.

[men laughing]

[Murray] If they make their mortgage payments, we win.

If they default, we win.

Oh, you pray they miss their nut, and then you put those houses right back on the market.

[Murray] At another markup.

And by this time, it’s an all-Negro neighborhood.

[city planner] An entire population of Negroes who can’t secure traditional mortgages.

[Mitch] Do you need an abacus?

Uncle. Six percent.

Yeah, there you go.

[city planner] And what are we projecting?

Well, Miss Koistra’s our man on the ground, as it were.


A good beginning.

Just today, we flipped our second property within a two-block radius.

These families, especially Negro veterans, they are coming west in droves.

Uh, I’m sorry, two families in two blocks is “droves”?

I thought you said she was a shark.

These families, they are coming, and they are ready to buy, sight unseen.

Just the two families for now, but I think, conservatively, inside six months, East Compton’s gonna look a lot like West Compton.

Look at the map.

This is our rush of ’49.

And we’ve got the monopoly.

If I could just…

I’ve been doing some research, and just to say it, Negro homeowners, when they move in, property values actually go up.


[Helen] I’m saying, instead of creating this bubble that can’t be sustained– ruining neighborhoods, people’s lives– what if we offer mortgage rates that were competitive?


I’m not saying that we don’t make a profit.

[Mitch] Where did you find this broad?

[Murray] We’re not communists, Helen.

Jesus, the naivete.

[Murray] You’re here because you’ve got drive, Koistra– more balls than any man in the Compton office.

I’m-I’m just saying that in the long run…

You could be home taking care of some kids or a husband, but you’ve found your life’s calling.

Don’t fuck it up by succumbing to the weaker nature of your sex.

[Mitch] If you can’t flip East Compton, then get yourself a decent haircut…

[Ella Mae] Oh, my. Twenty percent?

On the principal?

It’s quite standard for this kind of purchase.

I know it seems high, but we’re assuming all the risk since, as you know, a traditional bank won’t lend to Negroes moving into exclusive neighborhoods.

See, darling, 30 years, and we own it outright.

[Helen] And you can pay it off early, as your circumstances improve.

[Roland] Mm-hmm.

[Roland] Us on rocking chairs, mess of grandchildren running around.

You can’t put a price on your family’s future.

What’s this?

Oh, don’t pay that any mind.

Is it even legal for us to live here?

[Roland] I told you what Miss Helen said.

The world is changing, and you get to be part of that.

It’s exciting.

I’ll play it straight with you folks.

Like any change, there’s gonna be growing pains, but nothing that won’t blow over in a few days.

[Roland] We read about some incidents.

In Bell, West Compton.

[Helen] Old news. Now…

[scoffs] you couldn’t imagine a nicer place to live.

Do you live there?

Oh, I’m still putting my pennies in my piggy bank, but…

[chuckles softly]

You know best.

Now, I don’t expect any trouble, but moving in at night might create less of a… stir.

[softly chuckles]

[upbeat song begins]

♪ ♪

[Wheatley chuckles]

[Wheatley] You seen today’s “Alley Oop”?

Huh? Kills me every time.

[Wheatley] How’d we do?

Just manage your end.

[Wheatley chuckles]

Eat something. You’ll feel better.

I’m busy, Bull.


Come on. Come on.


Let me ask you something-how many you think you can flip?


How should I know?

We just got started.

‘Cause I’ll tell you, we could run this thing all over the Southland, make a mint.



[chuckles] Don’t get greedy.

It’s free money.


I’m the one making sure goddamned race riots don’t break out all over East Compton.

Keep your voice down.

If it weren’t for me keeping a lid on things, you’d have coons swinging like wind chimes from Palmer Drive to the 10.

And we pay you for it.

I don’t get you, lady.

A man has five, he wants ten.

It’s human nature.

Yeah, well, couple more of these deals and I’m done. Out.


Whatever makes you sleep better at night.

You brought me into this.

And now you’re gonna blue ball me before we even get cooking?

You think I don’t know the law?

It’s my fucking job.

And what you’re doing… is illegal.

For both of us.

No. You pay me in cash.

I don’t exist.

I might as well be a ghost.

But those contracts you’re signing for your company?

That’s all on paper, Helen.

And that’s all on you.


Your bosses… I bet they don’t put their names on those contracts.

So you try to give me up… it’s your word against mine.

Listen, Bull, I–

No, no, no, no, no.

Cry about it to the bulldaggers in Tehachapi Prison.

We do this… till it gets done.

Two down.


Who’s next?

The Emorys.

They arrive today.


You still home?

Anything else I got to know?


They’re just a family-husband, wife, couple of kids.

Daughters, I think.

He’s an engineer–

I’m not putting them on the cover of fucking “Life” here.

All right?

I don’t care who they are or where they’re from.

I just need to know how much force I’m gonna need in case, uh, Kong decides to go apeshit.

Our little neighborhood welcoming committee’s liable to, uh, spook ’em, so to speak.


You really should eat something.

Your color’s not so good.

Fuck you, Bull.

I didn’t think I was your type, Koistra.


[engine starts]

You’re the one.

Selling houses to n*ggers.

You heard what they do to women?

They don’t take their time like a white man.

Listen, I…

Something like that. Hmm?


Gonna cry?


So you’re not gonna do it anymore?

Sell to them?

We see any boofers without a mop in their hands in East Compton…

Excuse me, but what is this?

[Helen] Oh, that’s nothing to be concerned about.

It’s like I told you on the phone, Mr. Emory, these sorts of covenants are no longer legally enforceable.

You knew.

This house is yours.

[takes a deep breath]

[woodpecker tapping]

♪ ♪

[insects trilling]

[Lucky] I think somebody wants some peaches.


Mm, mm, mm. Mama’s coming.

[gasps] I’m right here.

I’m right here.


Be right back.

[Chester babbles in distance]

[Lucky] Hey, Sarge.

[growls softly]



Beautiful day.

[Lucky] Yes. Yes, it is.

You’re not lost, are you?

No, no. Not lost.

Just out walking around, saw your beautiful home.


Sergeant, come on.

It’s all right. Oh, look at you.

Aren’t you a good boy?


You like me, don’t you?

♪ Gone are the days ♪

♪ When my heart was young and gay ♪

♪ Gone are the toils ♪

♪ From the cotton fields away ♪

My daddy used to sing that to me.

Oh, I love that song,

Don’t you?

I don’t know it.

♪ Gone from the earth ♪

♪ To a better land I know ♪

♪ I hear those gentle voices calling ♪

♪ Old ♪

♪ Black ♪

♪ Joe ♪




[Chester crying]


I’m right here.

I’m right here, baby.



Is that your baby?


Yes, he is.

[exhales] What’s his name?

[Lucky] Chester.

[quietly] Chester.


I think you better be on your way.


My husband’s gonna be home soon.

That man left from here with… two little girls ’bout an hour ago?

Oh, we seen him.

Can I have him?


Your boy.

I’d like him very, very much.

Will you give him to me?

Go on.



I’m right here!



Oh, baby, I’m coming

[whispers] It’s okay. It’s okay.

I’m right here.

[crying continues in distance]



It’s okay.


[woman] ♪ Gone are the toils ♪

♪ From the cotton fields away ♪

[singing indistinctly]

[Chester shouts]



♪ My head is bending low ♪

[Sergeant whining]

♪ I hear the gentle voices calling ♪

♪ Old Black Joe ♪


[breathing heavily]

[Chester crying]






[soft rattling]

[muffled crying]


[glass shatters]

[footsteps in distance]


[window opening]

[door closes]

[shuddering softly]

[man whistling]

[loud tramping overhead]


[scraping, clattering overhead]

[whistling in distance]

[shuddering quietly]

[tramping in distance]

[muffled scraping]



[clattering continues in distance]

[scraping, clattering]

♪ ♪

[clattering in distance]




[breathing heavily]


[whimpering, grunting]

[man grunts]

[Lucky whimpering]

[zipper unzips]


[breathing heavily]

[man moaning]

♪ ♪

[man grunting]

[Lucky crying]


[Chester crying in distance]

[Lucky crying]

[panting] No.

No! No! No!

[Chester crying]


[Chester cooing]


[Lucky shouting in distance]

♪ ♪








[woman cooing]


[Chester crying]

[cooing indistinctly]

[shouting, panting]


I’m right here.



I’m right here. [chuckles]


[Lucky] No!

[Lucky crying]

Cat in a bag.

[whispers indistinctly]

Cat in a bag.

[Lucky shouting]

Cat in a bag. Cat in a bag.

[Chester crying]

[Lucky] No! No!

[woman] Cat in a bag. Cat in a bag.

No! No!

[woman] Bag.

[man grunts]

[woman] Cat in a bag. Cat in a bag.

Cat in the bag!

Guy, little guy.

[woman] Cat in a bag!

[Lucky and Chester crying]


Cat in a bag. Cat in a bag.

Cat in a bag.

[Lucky screams]

♪ ♪

[muffled laughing]


Oh, cat in a bag!

Oh, cat in a bag!

Cat in the bag.

[overlapping chatter]

Cat in a bag.

Cat in a bag! Cat in a bag! Cat in a bag!

♪ ♪


[man] For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but live everlasting life.

For God sent His Son to the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him.

He who believes in Him is not condemned.

He who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

[woman] And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.”

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.


What did you say?

Oh, Lord Almighty’s got a plan is all.

He gave, and he take away… [grunts]


When He comes for your boy, give my regards to your Lord.

[Emmett] More likely to find the Klan waiting over in Monroe than the sumbitches who done this.

They hang n*ggas in Monroe just for some shade.

Go on, get some of this in you.

You got a family.

Happened to me and mine?

Dying while wrapping my hand around some cracker’s neck would be a whole sight better than living in…

[Shorty] Oh, shut the hell up, Woody.

You ain’t got a damn thing to live for on any account.

This man does.

♪ ♪

[Gracie] Mama?




picked them for you this morning.

She scares me, Ruby.

[Ruby] She’s just sad.

We’re sad, too.

[Ruby] She’ll get right soon.

You think so?

Cat in a bag!


[Gracie] I don’t want to be like Mama.

[Ruby] We’ll never be like Mama. Say it.

[Gracie and Ruby] We’ll never be like Mama.

We’ll never be like Mama.

We’ll never be like Mama.

[Gracie] You’ll protect us, right, Daddy?

[Henry] I’ll always protect you, baby girl.

You don’t have to worry.

Won’t be coming around here no more.

Promise you both.

I’m right here.

Nothing’s getting to you.

[Gracie] What if Mama never comes back?

[Henry] Your mama hasn’t gone anywhere.

[Ruby] Yeah, but she’s not the same, Daddy.

Can’t you hear her?

[match strikes]

Talking to him?

It’s like she’s crazy or something.

[Henry] Shh. Hush, now.

[Lucky crying]

You can’t talk about your mama like that.

What she’s been through…

There are no words for what she been through.

But I got her.

Got all of you.


[Lucky whimpering]

I promise.

[whimpering continues]

[phone ringing]


This is he.

Yes. Yes.

I am still very interested.

Uh, I have some family out in California.

Thank you. Thank you, sir.

I look forward to meeting you, too.



♪ ♪

It’s time to go, Luck.

Got two little girls down there who need their mama.

I need you, Luck.

I can’t do it alone.

[Lucky breathing shakily]

We got this, baby.

Remember who told me that?

Doesn’t matter where we go.

How far.

He’ll always be with us.

[Lucky] He’ll always be with us.

[birds chirping]

[birds continue chirping]

[birds continue chirping]

[birds continue chirping]


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