In the fifth episode of Lovecraft Country, the show goes full-on body horror. Most of the characters deal with this figuratively, fighting with how they feel inside and how they present themselves to the world. Tic fights the violence inside of him when he nearly kills Montrose in a one-sided beatdown. Montrose fights his feelings for Sammy in a world that is unaccepting of them. Leti struggles with her mother’s religious faith, which she’s pretended to have but never made her own.
And Ruby, thanks to William’s magic, gets to live–quite literally–inside the skin of a white woman. And although it allows her access to the spaces and opportunities once denied her, she ultimately leaves her second skin behind, especially after she begins taking out her frustrations on the only other black woman who works at her department store.
Here is every Easter Egg and reference that we noticed in Lovecraft Country’s fifth episode, “Strange Case.” When you’re done, take a look at our Easter egg guides for previous episodes.
- Episode 1: “Sundown”
- Episode 2: “Whitey’s on the Moon”
- Episode 3: “Holy Ghost”
- Episode 4: “A History of Violence”
1. Strange Case
The title of the episode, “Strange Case,” is taken from the horror novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, about a man of science who uses a serum to transform into an evil persona and indulge his depravities.
2. Remember Her?
The white woman who Ruby transforms into is Dell, the same woman from Episode 2 who was guarding the town’s tower with attack dogs. It implies that the metamorphosis serum might be tied to people who the Braithwaites know and have access to.
3. Patience and Prudence
The song that’s playing during Ruby’s police car ride is the Patience and Prudence cover of “Tonight You Belong To Me.” It’s creepily appropriate (since she’s being taken back to William against her will), and it’s also a hat tip to the horror anthology series American Horror Story, which has used the song several times during its run, including in its pilot.
It’s worth noting that during the police car ride scene, Ruby is treated better than she was as a Black woman, but as a white woman, she’s still not treated as an equal to white men; she’s largely ignored by the officers who are taking her back to William. Multiple factors collide to create second and third class citizenry.
During the scene where William cuts Ruby open to quicken her transformation, there’s a news report on the television about locusts, and their molting/metamorphosis process. It recalls a novella by Franz Kafka called “Metamorphosis,” about a man who wakes to find himself transformed into a giant cockroach.
6. The Rainbow is Enuf
The spoken-word monologue that narrates Ruby’s day as a white woman is from the theatrical piece “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf.” It’s used ironically, to discuss the hardships of Black women in America while Ruby is enjoying the comparative benefits of white womanhood.
7. Tutti Frutti
Pat Boone, a white musician, sings the “Tutti Frutti” version that Ruby and her co-workers dance to on their work break. Little Richard, a Black musician, was the originator of the song. Boone’s version, however, ended up charting higher, because his music was considered “safer” for white homes in 1956. This attitude is mirrored in the co-workers attitudes toward Black people; they want to go to a Black bar on the South Side for some excitement, even though they also fear it.
8. Norman Rockwell
The co-workers discuss their boss, Paul, as someone who lives in a Norman Rockwell painting. Rockwell was an artist for the Saturday Evening Post, famous for his sentimental portrayals of American suburban life. Although his name is frequently invoked as shorthand for “over-idealized small-town America,” Rockwell also addressed serious issues in his art. Most notably, his portrayal of Ruby Bridges integrating the public schools in Louisiana continues to receive widespread acclaim.
The police captain appears to have a Black man’s torso when he removes his shirt, which raises all sorts of questions. In an episode about dual natures and multiple identities, is Lancaster using a Black person’s body to stay alive? It recalls the central premise of the film “Get Out.” Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed that movie, executive produces Lovecraft Country.
Ruby uses a stiletto to rape Paul. The stiletto heel first became popular in America in the 1950’s and came to symbolize sexual power and femininity. Appropriate to the episode, the word “stiletto” originally referred to an Italian dagger from the 15th century.
11. Dresses and Shirts
The big reveal at the end of the episode was one that we predicted last week: William and Christina are the same person. Early in the episode, you can actually see several dresses hanging in William’s closet, which foreshadows the twist.