The eighth episode of Lovecraft Country sees Dee cursed by both real world history and supernatural powers.
For its past seven episodes, Lovecraft Country has had a real-life tragedy lurking in its background: the lynching and murder of Emmett Till.
It was widely speculated that Dee’s best friend “Bobo” was Till. Everything, from his Chicago roots, to the clothes he wore, to his oft-mentioned “trip down South” had us thinking the worst. Episode 8 confirmed our fears, opening with the boy’s infamous funeral, attended by thousands of outraged, despairing Black citizens. And Tic, Leti, and the rest of the characters are left to deal with the raw wound and horror left behind.
Here are all of the Easter Eggs and references we found in “Jig-A-Bobo,” the eighth episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country. There’s only two more episodes to go. You can read all of our episode reference guides below:
1. The Smell
Outside of Till’s funeral, Dee smells her friend’s decomposing body. In real life, Till’s body spent days in the Tallahatchie River. When his mother, Mamie Till, went to see him–after arguing with the funeral director A.A. Rayner, who had been given strict order by the Mississippi sheriff to never open the casket–she smelled a terrible smell:
“When he called me, and I came back to the funeral home, about three blocks away, an odor met me that nearly knocked me out,” said Till. “I said, ‘What in the world was that?’ It was Emmett’s body. That’s how strong the smell was… Emmett covered a two or three block area.”
The smell was the reason Till was given a glass lid for his open casket funeral.
2. Open Casket
Ruby says that Till “looked like a monster” in his casket. In real life, Mamie Till made the decision to give Till an open casket funeral, so the whole world could see what had been done to her son. Here is her description of seeing his body for the first time, in her own words:
“I decided I would start at his feet and work my way up, maybe gathering strength as I went. I paused at his midsection because I knew he would not want me looking at him, but I saw enough that I knew he was intact. I kept on up until I got to his chin and then I was forced to deal with his face. I saw that his tongue was choked out. I noticed that the right eye was lying midway on his cheek. I noticed that his nose had been broken, like somebody took a meat chopper and chopped his nose in several places. As I kept looking I saw a hole which I presumed was a bullet hole, and I could look through that hole and see daylight on the other side, and I wondered was it necessary to shoot him?”
3. Cream of Wheat
The Cream of Wheat man was an actual professional chef from Barbados named Frank White. B&G Foods removed White’s image from the packaging in 2020, amid concerns that it reinforced negative stereotypes about Black people as domestic servants.
4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was an anti-slavery novel published in 1852. Extremely popular in its time, its release is considered one of several defining moments that drove sentiment against slavery, and by extension, indirectly started the Civil War.
The novel has also been criticized for popularizing stock stereotypes about Black people — the name “Uncle Tom” for example, has been appropriated as a pejorative towards black men who are subservient to white authority. In the book, Uncle Tom is beaten to death by his master Simon Legree, after refusing to reveal where his fellow slaves escaped. He is portrayed as a Christ figure, and forgives his killers in his dying breaths.
5. An Old Archetype
The two young girls who chase Dee throughout the episode are examples of the “pickaninny” caricature. According to Dr. David Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, the pickaninny was used to mock black children as unruly, wild, and unkempt. The character was embodied in Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Topsy, a young girl who had been made wild by the brutality of slavery. Unfortunately, subsequent minstrel shows, based on the original novel, reinvented Topsy as a comedic figure, who mocked the slaves’ plight instead of focusing on their dehumanization.
6. March For Our Lives
After Dee confronts the police officers who hexed her, we hear a voiceover of a young girl, who’s speaking about the value of black women’s lives. This is an excerpt from a real-life speech by Naomi Wadler. Wadler was 11 years old when she spoke at the March For Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C., which advocated for gun control laws to protect America’s youth.
7. Different Book Details
We get more details about the Lovecraft Country book that Atticus’ son, George, wrote in the future. Tic says that it is the story of the Freeman family, but that some details have been changed; Dee, for example, is a boy named Horace. These are actual changes that were made when adapting Matt Ruff’s original novel to the HBO series we’re watching.
8. Cotton Gin
Christina pays two men to beat her, shoot her, and throw her in a local river. The details of her staged “murder” parallel the real-life murder of Till; like Christina, he also had barbed wire wrapped around his neck, and was weighted to the bottom of the river by a cotton gin fan.
9. The Spell Worked
We see a shoggoth at the end of this episode; they made their show debut in the first episode. In Lovecraft’s original stories, shoggoths were massive blob-like creatures with numerous eyes, which would kill their victims by absorbing and dismembering them.