Lovecraft Country continues its wild journey through genre fiction and the Black American experience in Episode 7, “I Am.” This week’s episode is a loose adaptation of a chapter in Matt Ruff’s novel called “Hippolyta Disturbs the Universe,” and we mean loose in all senses of the word. After Hippolyta (Aunjaneu Ellis) figures out the mechanics of the Winthrop Orrery, she’s able to find the observatory Captain Lancaster’s men mentioned in Episode 5. And she’s able to…well, not time travel. No, she’s actually able to find true self-actualization by journeying via the “many worlds theory.”
And what does self-actualization look like for Hippolyta? Well, it starts in 1920s Paris, dancing with Josephine Baker (Carra Patterson) and goes on to join the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female tribe of warriors who faced off against colonizers in Africa. Finally Hippolyta has to face her real-life. She visits her deceased husband George (Courtney B. Vance) and giddily breaks down for him how the orrery works. Only that meeting dredges up some uncomfortable truths about the sacrifices she’s made in her life to be the Hippolyta we’ve come to know.
By episode’s end, Hippolyta returns to 1955, but not without some collateral damage. Tic (Jonathan Majors) is able to save her, but the two leave a dead security officer — one of Lancaster’s stooges — with one of Diana’s Orythia Blue comics. So obviously we’re headed for a showdown between the Chicago lodge and the South Side soon.
But what might you have missed in last night’s episode? Did you catch the return of a Veep favorite? How about a cameo by Frida Kahlo? And confirmation that William (Jordan Patrick Smith) is indeed dead.
Here are 5 things you may have missed from Lovecraft Country Episode 7 “I Am.”
Carra Patterson as Josephine Baker
Hippolyta’s first foray into “time travel” takes her to 1920s Paris to dance with Josephine Baker. Baker was an American-born performer of Black and Native American ancestry who became incredibly famous after moving to Paris where she was an instant star. Baker was known for her iconic erotic dance number, which Lovecraft Country plays with. However Baker’s legacy is much more than that. She was a civil rights crusader and member of the French resistance. Josephine Baker was an iconic, incredible badass, and that’s how she’s depicted in the show.
Josephine Baker is played in Lovecraft Country by actress Carra Patterson. Patterson is perhaps best known for her work in Straight Outta Compton and the E! show, The Arrangement. You can follow her on instagram @carrapatterson.
One other fun Easter egg in Hippolyta’s Josephine Baker scenes? While it seems like she’s totally whiffing the dance from the beginning, her cluelessness is actually a nod to Josephine Baker’s first big break. During the Harlem Renaissance, a teenaged Baker danced as the “pony” in New York City clubs. The pony was a chorus girl who pretended not to know the dance routine until the chorus was called out for an encore. Then, she would not only nail the moves, but out-dance everyone.
Another fun Easter egg? Frida Kahlo…
Camila Canó-Flaviá as Frida Kahlo
Josephine Baker wasn’t the only famous friend Hippolyta made in last night’s Lovecraft Country. We get a snippet of a speech from famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. However, this is kind of our first sign that, uh, Hippolyta isn’t time traveling as much as she is manifesting the world as she wishes it could be.
Although Frida Kahlo did travel to Paris, she would not have been in Paris at this time. She visited the city in 1939, during a tumultuous time in her life. So this vision of Kahlo joining in with Josephine Baker, Hippolyta, and the free-living dancers of 1920s Paris is something of a fantasy.
Frida Kahlo is played by actress Camila Canó-Flaviá. You can follow her on Instagram @_lacami_
A ‘Veep’ Favorite Returns to HBO
During Hippolyta’s second journey, she is transported to Africa, where she becomes one of the legendary “Dahomey Amazons.” This real-life all-female tribe of fighters eventually made their last stand against invading French soldiers, which Lovecraft Country depicts. They disbanded when Benin became a French territory, although the retired warriors continued to train their daughters in the old combat ways.
Lovecraft Country identifies the woman training Hippolyta as Nawi. In real-life, Nawi is considered to be the last living Dahomey Amazon. She died in the 1970s and could recall fighting the invading French in the 1890s. Nawi is played by a familiar face to HBO viewers. Veep actress Sufe Bradshaw plays this real woman warrior.
However…one thing that hasn’t been confirmed yet by Lovecraft Country is…did Hippolyta retain all of her warrior training after returning to the real world??
‘Lovecraft Country’ Honored Queen Bey
The mysterious alien woman who guides and challenges Hippolyta on her journey has a fun little Easter egg for a nickname. And it honors one of the most iconic Black women in American history.
Actress Karen LeBlanc plays Seraphina, the tall, Sun Ra-esque alien lady who attempts to welcome Hippolyta into her universe-bending culture. However, the statuesque beauty has another name, per the show’s credits: Beyond C’est.
Yup, if you say Beyond C’est out loud it sounds just like Beyoncé. Moreover, “c’est” is French for “it is” and the whole them of the episode is Hippolyta naming herself. She taking herself beyond the phrase “it is.” Get it? It’s a wordplay thing.
Oh, So William is Dead, and Other Plot Points
This might seem like a tiny point, but we got confirmation last night that William was indeed murdered by the Chicago chapter of the Sons of Adam. He was Christina’s mentor and lover before his death, and she is partially motivated by a desire to enact revenge on her rivals. However, as she explains to Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku), she’s more interested in revolutionizing how the Sons of Adam treat magic.
To wit, Christina is very obviously trying to manipulate Tic and company in order to gain a leg up on her rivals. Tic has Braithwhite magic in his blood, but we learned last night, he might also have magic from his ancestor, Hannah.
What’s concerning about this is what it means for Leti (Jurnee Smollett) as it’s pretty damn obvious that Tic has knocked her up…
(Okay, that was kind of more than a single thing you might have missed, but I just want to be clear that Leti’s unborn child is likely in danger.)