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You're tuning in to Lovecraft Country Radio. There's some strong language and spoilers ahead. Buckle up. Please listen to me and to ask you, because I know she grows up, she marries my Freeman together, they have a beautiful baby boy. We call them tech because Atticus's is really a mouthful. I fell in love with him. But we can't anticipate this future. Who OK, that messed me up, that really messed me up and I'm mad at you, you're mad at me, you're mad at me again warning I'm mad.

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This episode is so huge and so much and all the feelings and Haddie and Leidy are OK.

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So it took a lot for these characters to learn that they have to work together.

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But a trip to the past might have been all they needed to finally get their shit together.

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This is Episode nine, Rewind nineteen twenty one.

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Welcome to Lovecraft Country Radio. I'm Ashley Seaforth, podcast host, writer and horror enthusiast.

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And I'm Shannon Houston, a writer for the HBO series Lovecraft Country and Mother to Three Free Black Children, a man and a turtle named John Everleigh.

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We will never leave John Everly out of this. Hello, John.

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A mommy loves you. So quick recap.

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There was so much going on in this episode.

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So Atticus, Letty and Monchaux go back in time to the night of the Tulsa riots to save the book of names and reverse Lancasters curse. So not only do they have twenty four hours to save D before she dies, they also have to try to get the book of names before it burns in Tulsa, which forces them all to confront horrible family trauma that occurs in the middle of a massacre.

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And it is vivid.

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It's very vivid. All the Tulsa scenes are hard to watch and we talked a lot in the writers room about how we could do an episode that is set in Tulsa during the riots and how there's a way to do that episode where you just feel awful the entire time and you just basically want to die. And there are definitely parts of this episode where I'm like, I can't I can't deal with this. But true to Lovecraft country there still beauty in this episode.

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There's beauty in Tulsa, there's beauty in these black families. There's beauty in the resistance, the fighting back that I can't wait to talk about. But sometimes you just watch you know, you watch the history of things that have happened to black people in this country.

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And you're just like we have really been fighting for a long time and we are really tired.

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And in the middle of watching this episode, again, I just thought about Joselyn Hernandez. That iconic lion came to mind the lion of Ho.

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Why is you here? Why do you care why white people we did this thing. We create this town.

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It's beautiful. It's black. It's well to do.

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And you can't leave us the fuck alone. So again, how why is you here, Ashley? Help.

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Listen, you know what this episode reminds me of?

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You know, when white people like to ask you what decade you think you should have been born in, like this was some this is like when I went to college, this was an icebreaker that people tried to do a lot, which was like, what decade should you have been born in?

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What decade would you go live in if you had the chance? And I sort of understood what they were trying to do with it. But as a black person, obviously the only answer for me was bitch, the future, future. That's the only decade. The future decades are the only ones where I might have a chance at being closer to free. Because let's be honest about what this has been like for a long time. Like I should have been born in thirty thirty.

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That's how I feel about it. That's when I should have it. That's the only answer for black people.

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You're going to have to link up with our girl Hippolyta. I know that so that y'all can work this out because I too feel ready to just skip ahead to the year. Thirty thirty. And the great thing about that is that Hippolyta will be joining us later today. Her actual name is Angela Ellis. But I think at this point she'll be Hippolyta in our hearts for a long time in mind forever. So I'm so excited to have her later with us.

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Obviously, this episode, like all the other episodes, is very loaded.

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But this is a situation where I actually, for the first time, I'm like, we actually have to go scene by scene. Like we have to digest this and really talk about how these scenes show us new sides to these characters that we've been living with for so long.

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So let's start with this opening scene where our girl D is really going through it, to say the least.

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Oh, yes, she's sick.

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She's not doing well, broke her arm is looking kind of grotty romance, OK? It's looking kind of gangrene situation.

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And the family has really come together and finally started talking and saying what they know and telling what they know and seeing if they can work together to save D. And part of that, I think, is in realizing how they have failed D so far at this tough point in her life. So we see D slowly transforming into another Topsy and Bobbsey, and it's terrifying the demons who at the end of the last episode that got their claws in her, clearly, as I suspected, you call turning her into something otherworldly and terrifying.

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Yes, it is that thing where the family has to look at the results of them not paying attention to her. And we talked a lot about that in the last episode. There is a cost to little black girls when you ignore them, when you don't listen to them, when you are so wrapped up in your own problems that you literally forget that they are going through stuff. So this is the physical manifestation of that. And it is ugly and it is horrifying and it should be.

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And I think for a lot of people watching this, they're going to be mad at our heroes because it's like you're too late, like this shouldn't be happening. It's taken this horrible thing for you guys to actually get in a room together and really talk about your problems. But the reason that we made that choice in the writers room is because we were like, but that is what people do like.

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Yes, black families, all families are so guilty a lot of the time of waiting until something goes horribly wrong to realize that they should have been doing more. So as our people are thinking of ways to save D obviously all these secrets come out. Tickets to magic. Yes. And he thinks that they should bribe Cristina into helping deals with Titus's pages. But there is an issue with that, which is that Leidy already gave those pages up.

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Then we have Ruby coming along and she's asking Cristina to do it for her since as we know, they're in this like deeply strange but kind of hot relationship at this point. But of course, Cristina is not just doing it for Ruby. It's that weird space that Cristina exists and where it's like, oh, yeah, sure, I'll help you. But it's not free. Like nothing is free with her. And she has her own ambitions. So I think some people might be asking the question, why even bring Cristina?

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And what did you make of that scene?

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I keep thinking about the fact that at the end of the day, Cristina has had more access to this information than anybody else. Right. And I think about that a lot. I think about how in so many of these industries and places that we think of as overwhelmingly white, it is not necessarily that these people are better at doing the work than others. Obviously, just as Cristina is not necessarily a better which wizard or anything of the other than Atticus and even Montreaux.

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Right. It's just that she has had more access to more information for longer than they have. Yes. And I love that this relationship between her and the rest of our characters continues because it's really accurate.

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It's really accurate. The idea that, like. Christine is not going to lie, she has access to all the information and at the end of the day, that just makes her a resource they literally can't afford to give up.

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She does help them. And unfortunately, of course, true to Lovecraft. It's like it gets even more complicated because Christine is like I need the blood of these closest relative. Yeah. And Montreaux has to finally admit to possibly not being Atticus's father. It's assumed that he is the closest relative since Hyppolite is still AMEA. But what Mantra's is saying is that closest relative could actually be Atticus.

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And that line really killed me where tech is like Mom cheated on you.

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Like you could see that like he like it was like how much of my shit can crumble? Like how how much of this can fall apart at once.

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Let's keep poking the brothers. And Monceau said no, we all had an understanding. When you go through something like Tulsa together, you have an indescribable bond. Yes.

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And that I understood the bond insurers will close together with Jessica. If something like that makes it a big bond and that bond between Montreaux, George and Dora, that's the reason that we we don't fully resolve this question of lineage. Right. Kristina is able to partially healed with a spell that restores her arm. It's a temporary fix because Lancaster used blood magic. They have to fully heal D with the spell from this very powerful book, the book of Names.

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And one reason that we wanted to do this is because we wanted the question of paternity to shift away from who is the biological parent. We talk about blood and lineage a lot on this podcast and on the show, and it's very interesting and important to me as an adopted kid because I'm like, but blood isn't all, you know, blood doesn't always automatically translate to family. And that's what's happening when they're in Tulsa with Atticus and Montrose. We needed that moment where Montereau speaks this truth, which is I am your father.

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I always wanted to be.

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And that's why it doesn't really matter if George is your actual biological father, because you're my son. And that's a really powerful moment. And it's I think it's also combating our white characters obsession with bloodline and lineage. Right.

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Right. So Montreaux George Endara are the only ones in both their families to make it out of Tulsa, huh?

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Everyone else dies in the house and we see that, you know, it's trauma bonding.

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It's something. It is. And it's it's weird, too, because I'm also like but it's also kind of beautiful. Like, it's beautiful to me that they made this commitment to each other after surviving this horrific thing. It's beautiful to me that Montreaux has been holding the secret end. And George did, too, because it was like and or did, too. They all did because it was like that's actually not important. And what's important is that we are all a family.

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But of course, it's easy to say that when I'm not Atticus. Right. I'm not the person on the receiving end of yet another shocking revelation.

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So of course, he's angry because it's this is bigger than just another lie from my dad. One of the things that he's saying is, like, I kind of I tried to love you because you were my dad.

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The things that you did to me are the kinds of things that I shouldn't have to try to love, but because of this blood connection, I thought that I had to. And also sidenote, I was also looking at Uncle George and being like, oh, I kind of wish that was my dad. So, yeah, it's really messed up. And and it takes tech and the other characters literally going through the multiverse machine back to Tulsa, nineteen twenty one to make sense of everything and to come to terms with these secrets and these lies and, and a lot of the trauma that we've seen over the course of the season.

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So they start with the Stratford Hotel. And I wanted to just say, like in the writers room when we talked about what do they see as soon as they land? We talked about different versions.

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We talked about a version where they would go through the machine and everything was on fire already. And it was, you know, it was already chaos. Right. And we realized that that wasn't the way to go. And we found out that the Tulsa massacre actually happened on prom night for a bunch of kids. And when I read that, I literally just cried. I just thought, wait, no, you're in your prom dress and you're getting ready for, like, a fun night.

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You're 17 years old. Yeah. And then prom is canceled and you kind of don't know why.

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And you're hearing news of maybe a potential situation. But, you know, like, again, you have no idea what's coming. Right. And Atticus and Montreaux and Leidy are now back there. And this entire experience is to me, all about them bearing witness. They don't have to think about what it meant for Montreaux to survive Tulsa anymore.

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They're going to see it, which is also what makes the opening scene kind of troubling because Montreaux is so clearly terrified.

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Yeah. To do this. And Lettie and Atticus are literally like rushing him again because they have a limited amount of time. But let's talk about that for a minute.

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What were you thinking about Montreaux and the rest of the gang when they landed?

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I was thinking about the fact that the fear Montreaux had in Tulsa as a child would have been the same fear and anger that he has now. Like, he's never really had the opportunity to process those feelings.

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So they're so he's kind of stunted in that place. Like his anger and his sadness are both in stunted places inside of him. And so taking him back into this environment, I was like, oh, they think he's just being Montreaux from Episode four, kind of trying to sabotage, trying to mess stuff up. It's like because his fear in their present day looks the same as his fear in Tulsa. Yes. But the context is different and they don't have really the context for tolls.

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So they have the story. Yep. But they don't have the experience. And so as they go along this journey and they see what would have happened to him on that day, they see what his world was like in that time. They see the people he encounters, the relationships he has with those people, the regrets he has, the mistakes he made as all of that is building. It's like they don't even see Montreaux really until you get to almost the end of the episode.

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Right. Until then, it's like they're still dealing with him in a way that does not acknowledge what is actually happening. And in their defense, it's not like he's telling them what's happening. Right. Right.

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He's as a matter of fact, he's defending some of the horror that they see.

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Yes. And I think that was the other interesting thing. You know, they get to Tulsa nineteen twenty one. They get there on this night. And I think for our audience, too, you get there on this night and you're like, OK, like you're kind of preparing yourself for a particular type of violence. And instead they show up at Montreaux House and they see young Montreaux getting beaten by his father adverting. And it's shocking to everybody because it's like, well, no, wait, we thought we were just coming here and going to go through hell trying to get a hold of this book because of the the white violence that's obviously going to be happening.

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But then we're seeing this other family violence within this black family. And and it's so heartbreaking. Right, because you hear Montreaux defend his father. I deserved that. And Letty has to tell him nobody deserves this.

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So I just you know, we've talked a lot about these kind of relationships. And I think that's such a great example of of how deep these these things go, how much you can actually stand there and. Witness your old self, your child's self being beaten and still think that it was because you did something wrong.

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Yes, and it's one of those things that I want to make sure we reiterate and talk about the fact that just because it's an explanation doesn't mean it's an excuse.

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Yes. For his actions. Yes. Looking deeper into a character and why they do the things they do and why they perpetrate the harm that they perpetrate is not giving that person a pass for the harm that they perpetrate.

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So going into this and talking about like who Montreaux is and like why Montreaux does what he does and having a look at, you know, these experiences that might have led him to this place is not to say like what can you do with a person who's been through all this? Because clearly we see Dora and George went through similar things and they didn't end up like that. We see that.

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But there's a conversation to be had about the manifestation of pain.

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Yes. And what it means when it shows up. Yes. It's sad to see him blame himself for being harmed. But when you watch somebody look at themselves as an innocent child and continue to blame themselves for being harmed, is it no wonder that that person can't necessarily find compassion for those that they have harmed? Right.

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And again, not an excuse. Just an explanation, an explanation.

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And he's he's so haunted by it that what does he do? He he messes up the plan.

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He splits off and runs away and disappears while letting her talking. And so then Letty has to leave and go and search for the book so that Atticus can go find Montreaux. And I love this moment, too, because before they split up, Lettie and Atticus have this really small but beautiful scene. And it's like it made me think about the responses to Geia, you know, Letty says to Tech we should name him George. And that's her first time actually acknowledging to Atticus that she's pregnant.

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Of course she knows. She already knows because she and Montreaux talked earlier. But it's this moment and I and I got crushed because when she says that, I just got so warm and happy and then Atticus does not respond warmly. It made me think about how a lot of people pointed out that Letty is not getting the same Atticus that Gia got. Know the sweetness that we saw in Episode six and the way that he courted Gia, not knowing who or what exactly he was courting.

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That's not the same person that we're seeing in this present time. And it is upsetting because we do want Letty to have that. But it's also true to life there in a completely different relationship. He's a completely different person now.

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So it sucks.

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But it's like, you know, I actually thought he didn't say anything because he wanted to let her have that. He's already gone to the future. He knows that they have a son. He knows that that son's name is George. She didn't get to tell him that she was pregnant. He already knew. She didn't he didn't even get to pretend that he didn't know because Montreaux told, you know, before they even got to have the conversation.

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So at this point, the only thing in my mind that Letty has really gotten to have a moment with talk about in relation to this child is the child's name. Yes. And in that moment, he could turn to her and say, you do we do name him.

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Yeah. Yeah. And I already know that we named him George. Yeah. And I felt like instead he decided to let her have that and to let her have that moment of thinking. This is when I decided to name my child.

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I love that. I love that interpretation. I just wanted them to make out. I know you have several things to do, but can we just now.

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OK, no time for making out. OK, moving on.

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So they split. Yes. Heck thinks that Monchaux is looking for George.

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He thinks he's going to try to warn George about the future. But that's not what he finds when he finally finds Montreaux. It's a very different scene and wherewith tech and Montreaux watching young Montreaux and a young boy named Thomas that Montreaux has feelings for this scene of yet another soul crushing, beautiful, powerful moment.

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And the episode for me. What did you think I sat feeling? Oh, feelings.

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I this was really tough for me because even though everything that's happening, like in the.

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The story up until this point is just like, oh, my God, I don't want to I don't want to watch another person die like this. I definitely don't want to watch another. No, like possibly queer person. I like this. I don't want to see it.

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And like, this scene still played out in such a way that it's like not everything about this person has to die and that's not enough. But they had this effect on Monchaux like this. This moment had this effect on Mantra's enough that it brought him back here. And that's huge.

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Like, that's so big and enough that it gave him like the room or the strength or the space or whatever it was to finally talk to his son, like to finally tell him what's really going on. Yes. That that happened was just. Amazing and beautiful and I love that moment, even if I didn't love what it took to get there.

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Tom, as we watch. It's just the first in a long list of sacrifices I made to be your father. I keep thinking about this thing, Montreaux, Teletech, saving Thomas isn't actually going to change the future because it's just one of the many sacrifices I made on the way to being your father.

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Right. And I keep thinking about this idea of sacrifice that has been given to me that I have since adopted and the idea of it around black people in parenthood. Right. Which is that, like I know growing up, the idea of like, you know, their mom really sacrificed for that or their dad's sacrifice.

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There were so many people sacrificed for you to have. This was such a huge thing. And it was such a like it was such a wait to be put on you, especially as a young person. But it was also something that you were grateful for, that people had done this work before you to ease the way for. Yes, but now I understand sacrifice as a term that means giving away the sacred and giving away what you find sacred, giving away what is important to you.

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Yes. And it occurs to me that there are a lot of situations where our our parents or our ancestors made sacrifices that did not actually put us on the path toward freedom or liberation.

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They were absolutely sacrifices. And you don't want to think of those things as wasted. And I don't think effort is ever wasted effort in the name of love and care. And I don't think it's wasted, but I think it can be misguided. And I think we've seen a lot of misguided sacrifices in the name of caring for black folks and caring for our children and caring for people.

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Yeah.

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So that's something sacred that Monchaux is giving away its love, its hope, its freedom, the things, everything you need to be able to actually raise a free child.

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He left in Tulsa.

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Oh, yes, he did. Yes, he did. And he's back. And he's going to he's he wants to fix it. Right. That's part of it. I love everything you just said, but it's. But but yes, there is like this question of should you make those sacrifices?

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Should you have made those sacrifices? And then at the same time, there's this weird feeling of like we love that he did because we love that Atticus exists and Antek needs to hear this. He needs to hear like, I want to be your father. It's it's the only thing that I want. And TICAS has convinced him you at the end of it, to not interfere. And so we watched this brutal scene where Thomas gets shot and one Montreaux falls watching Thomas and Tech is holding him up.

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Talk a little bit about what you thought of that moment.

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It just made me think of the bond between parent and child and this idea that even as you tell me these hurtful, complicated things, even as I'm still unsure what it means to you that I am your son and that we are like, I know that it's important to you, but am I important to you? I am not just your vision of me, even as all of that is going on.

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When you begin to fall, I'm going to hold you up because I'm not going to let you fall. I'm not going to let you fall. And there is in that moment, I think, the beginnings of the opportunity for them both to heal and forgive. But take has to be able to accept that this may be the most that Montreaux can ever give him.

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Right. And sometimes forgiveness, you know, just because we are talking about we're talking about abusive relationships between parent and child forgiveness doesn't always mean, oh, I see where you're coming from. And I understand. And now we can proceed and love each other and hang out all the time. It's not like that sometimes. No, but there's another level to this scene that you see. And it's the baseball bat, the baseball bat.

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I montreaux starts telling the story again about how the man shows up with the baseball bat.

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Jackie Robinson, Jackie Robinson.

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He saved saw. Last thing he said before he disappeared was Dr.. So the mysterious stranger and just, my goodness, wears those white folks out.

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Oh, my gosh. Iconic, I'm not supposed to say it, I worked on the show, but this is fucking iconic, I have iconic.

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It was so gratifying to watch, to watch like them come at tag and watch tag, just essentially give them the weapon of their fucking lives.

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Like even at one point there was like a white woman in the scene who was, you know, catching her leg. And I was like, yep, yep.

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You could get it to shit. Shouldn't have been over there. What do you do? Don't know what you thought. I don't know what you thought, but you shouldn't have been over there. That's what happens.

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That's how I felt. It is what it is. It is what it is what it didn't have to be her Hawaii's. You hear.

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Why is you here? It's beautiful. It's beautiful. And we've been we've had Jackie elements throughout the show. Right. That crazy opening in the first episode. Jackie Robinson with the baseball bat smashing the bejesus out of Capullo and sure did. We've had several other iconic baseball bat moments throughout throughout the series. And we had them all there partly because we knew we were going to have this scene in Episode nine. And again, you know, I want to say, when you think about the Tulsa massacre.

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We were fighting back the whole time we were organized, our people were organized again, outgunned and outnumbered and it's tragic. But if you think that there weren't black people out there busting heads wide open with baseball bats, you're wrong. All manner of defensive tools were used. And that's also why we had this moment, not just because we wanted it. You know, we wanted that cool tie in, but just because again and obviously, like you can talk about Jackie Robinson as a black American hero and what he stood for and what he means to us and taking that rather wholesome image.

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Right. Of Jackie Robinson, even though that story is filled with violence, too. But taking that image and then handing the baseball bat to tech and making him the hero in his own father's story.

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So for me, that scene, it's it's the look on young George, young Montreaux and young Dorries faces when they're looking up at this guy who came out of nowhere saving them. It's so bizarre. It's so strange. It's so beautiful.

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I love it. I just love it.

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And it's also just this great interpretation of the fact that sometimes. The battle that our children are going through is a battle that could save our child.

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So, yes, which is its own beautiful thing and its own beautiful part of the story.

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And and along those lines, there's this quote that I just thought of, and I don't actually know exactly who it comes from, but I I remember reading it on some of Baldwin's website, probably on Twitter years ago. But the quote was what you heal within yourself. You heal for your whole family line. Yes. And I wrote that down in a journal, and I think about it a lot. And again, you know, we talk a lot about the work required.

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It's not simple to do this work of healing. It might involve a multiverse machine or some version of a complicated process. So it's not easy to do. But if you just start doing the work, we will see effects, right? We will see that. We will see the effects. And Leidy and Atticus's child, that's what we hope we pray for.

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So we have Montreaux and Atticus having this incredible moment.

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And then Leidy is having a completely different, but equally incredible, horrifying everything experience and Dorries House.

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Let's talk about our Queen Latifah and Lewis and what's going on on her side.

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So while this is all happening, Leidy is not only pursuing Doraiswamy like trying to get there, but also trying to outrun actual attackers during this also. And I'm just like, oh, she should not be by herself. And Atticus is like very much the up front, like face of hero of the show so far, whatever that if if you're thinking about him that way, for me, it's still Leidy.

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She's the hero of the show and she has this conversation with Hattie, who, to be perfectly honest, when she first walks in and Hattie looks at her shoes, I was like, oh, that's why I had had a blocked her from moment one.

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Yeah, but then they realize it's going down.

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Dad's going to the roof, Vernon is going somewhere else. They're both going to try to fight for their home. Right. For their community. Me knows what's going to happen. She already knows that the house is going to be burned and Leidy having to know to know you're not going to get to have that conversation.

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Searching for the book of names being found by Hattie, who is immediately like I knew like I knew something going on. She's immediately not here for Leidy. And when Letty tells her what is happening and what's going to happen, Hattie says, I need to focus on saving my family. Right. And Letty has to then appeal to her and to the fact that you will be saving your family, just not the family that's in this house.

[00:35:34]

The performances here are just so incredible. It feels so real. And like you said, Hattie has to make a choice, which is if if it's true that I'm dying and if it's true that we're all dying, then I do need to think about the future. And there's that incredible line where she says, when my great grandson is born, he will be my faith turned flash.

[00:35:58]

When my great great grandson is born, he will face. You know, we talked about this a lot in the room, it's it's very simple, quote unquote, to say, well, Leidy wouldn't be scared because she knows she's not going to die. She's invulnerable. She knows that. Now, guess what still is awful, watching people burn to death.

[00:36:24]

Yeah. Yeah. Standing there and witnessing that. And you're pregnant. But we the writers were like, no, she has to try to save somebody. Like, wouldn't wouldn't you try. And it's like, but she knows what could happen if she, you know, like it's so complicated. You want her to fix it. You want really what you want is for our heroes to go back in time and make it not happen. Right.

[00:36:48]

We had that conversation, too, but that's a whole other different issue. So they're just they have to get the book and run. But she doesn't run. She stands there with Hattie and they start to pray. And Hattie also says that line, I hope the good Lord is ready. That's when she became iconic in my eyes, because it's like like God needs to prepare for you showing up.

[00:37:10]

I love you. Yes, Stan, you.

[00:37:12]

So they start saying the prayer. And as the house is going up in flames and as Hattie herself is going up in flames, we hear this incredible voice. Sonia Sanchez, this poem that plays out called Catch the Fire. And I'll never hear that poem the same way again. How could you know that? And said it's so it's revolution.

[00:37:36]

And that's what's heart like. It's you know what grabs me about this moment with Letty in the house? Having her moment with Hattie is that there's the idea of justice here. Right? We want to fight for justice for people who have been taken wrongfully from us. And the truth of the matter is, because those people have already been taken, there is no real justice. We can have accountability and we can find ways to give retribution for what has happened to our people and to our community and to individuals.

[00:38:18]

But justice, when someone has been killed, when someone has been murdered, like, what does that really look like?

[00:38:25]

Because we can't bring them back. Right. What Lettie understands is that these people are already gone.

[00:38:31]

Yeah. These people are already gone. We remember them, we honor them. But we have to move forward and moving forward doesn't mean forgetting and it doesn't mean pretending it never happened, it means letting it inform the future is she understands that these deaths right now inform the future.

[00:38:51]

Yes. And she you know, that final scene where she's literally walking through fire and some planes come because, yes, there were planes dropping bombs on this city in the middle of this.

[00:39:06]

And it's such a strange feeling, again, to go back to what this show does. It's like it doesn't just give you one thing. I am angry. I am upset. I am heartbroken. I am empowered seeing let me walk through fire and hearing Sonja's voice playing over it. And then Montreaux comes in with this final speech as the portal is closing. And I was thinking about his words when you were just talking, because what he's kind of saying there is we did it like it's like we did it.

[00:39:36]

We got the book. We're all about to get through this portal, but I cannot forget these people. And he starts naming his neighbors, his family members, like this was a whole community. This person had this this store that I miss. It's complicated like our heroes when. But they can't really win. Right.

[00:40:05]

So speaking of coming out of the portal and then coming back to Hippolyta, let's bring on and you know who else to talk about that iconic scene and her iconic character and you know, Alice, welcome.

[00:40:19]

Hello.

[00:40:20]

Hello. Hello. Thank you so much for being here. I have been watching Hyppolite and I'm also just a fan of your work, even previous to Lovecraft country.

[00:40:31]

And so this is so much fun and such a big deal to have you on the show today and to be able to talk to you about this amazing show and this fantastic character. In the time you spent playing Hippolyta, what have you learned from her?

[00:40:48]

Because I feel like I learn from her every time she's on the screen. I agree with you.

[00:40:54]

I agree with you. I think that she presents one way early in the season. And then with every episode, there's more that's revealed about her core and and who she who she is. And I find that I find that really exciting because it could have been a portrayal of a woman who is this repressed 1950s woman in a situation with a husband, a marriage where she loves her husband and she wants to be something, but it'll never be realized. And that's that's sort of the that's sort of tease of it, you know?

[00:41:33]

And then with every episode we see that it's far from what it appears to be.

[00:41:39]

Yeah. It's been such an incredible experience watching it unfold. And then, of course, episode seven, which would you know, today we're talking about episode nine. But in episode seven, you have this incredible adventure. Can you just talk a little bit about what it was like working on that episode and how it maybe how it helped inform, like, your performance in Episode nine to.

[00:42:05]

So I just think it's I love the idea that with with Love Crab Jonathan Kid, who's one of the producers of the show, talks about this idea of Afro futurism. Right. And what we thought the future would look like and what we are stunned every day about what the future actually looks like. Some of it is beyond our imagination. Some of it is the stuff of our nightmares. Right. Right. That's what we are living right now. And I think that's what places Lovecraft country in a particular and exciting way in in culture right at this moment.

[00:42:42]

And then for Hippolyta to see this woman sort of be a timeless character. Yeah. That she that she has a foot, literally has a foot in the past, has a foot in the future. And we just have to watch this. And the idea behind Lovecraft for me is, is just that it is about the the black immigrant experience in America. And when you extrapolate from that, when you you, you know, enlarge that idea that it is about black people being travelers', black Americans, particularly being travelers'.

[00:43:20]

Yeah.

[00:43:20]

And she just takes that idea and that notion to justice, you know, whole other level, like literally in space, you know, like it's not just moving from Mississippi to Chicago to find another life, another identity. It's moving from Earth to this unknown world to find another identity. Yes.

[00:43:44]

And that was that was exciting. And then so we go to the 20s and she's, you know, you know, hanging out with Josephine Baker.

[00:43:51]

And I love that. I love that. It just defies expectation. You don't know where she's going to end up. And so in terms of my portraying that I just had to give it all to Jesus.

[00:44:03]

I have no other you know, I mean, this I just and I decided that very early on because when I when I started working on the show, everybody would say to me, the costume designer, the sound guy would be, have you read episode seven? Have you read episode seven? And I say, no. And it was it was it took me a long time to read it because I was afraid of it. But then when I read it.

[00:44:29]

I just thought what a tremendous experience this will be to play something like this, what a tremendous hopefully experience it will be for black women to see black women portrayed in this in this way.

[00:44:41]

Yes, yes, yes, yes. I know what was just like I just said yes, because it really did feel that way for me.

[00:44:53]

That connection between Episode seven and Episode nine, is that through line for me that that that power of a black woman, that power of experience and knowledge and wisdom and not having to hold back and being able to fully express it?

[00:45:09]

It just blew my mind and continues to blow my mind, because on this show, we talk a lot about undoing toxic coping mechanisms we've learned and that have been passed down from traumatized generation to the next generation. Like when you talk about, you know, like the fact that this is the future for people who live through, you know, the 60s and people who lived through the 20s and, you know, the eighteen hundreds and something people who lived through that we're in the future right now and we're still facing so many of the same things in addition to that traumatization that was handed down.

[00:45:49]

So what did that work do for Hippolyta and her family, her spending this time learning what it means to name yourself? What did that ultimately do?

[00:46:04]

You know how I think about I think about Kwartin Spillers.

[00:46:07]

I don't know if you guys are familiar with her work, but she has as a mama's baby Poppa's maybe what she says is, is that if America didn't have the black woman, they would have to invent her mom because we are the expository for its it's exercise.

[00:46:30]

E e r e e r e r of its demons. We bear the scars, we bear the stain. We bear all of that black American women do in a way particularly that no other species on this planet does. And so with that sort of thinking in mind, you know, that we we this all this stuff is sort of attached to us that has nothing to do with who we think of ourselves. Right.

[00:47:04]

So we are constantly made, constantly named, constantly named. And so a lot of our existence, and I have to say, is pushing back, pushing back and pushing away from these these identifiers that are attached to us that we are not, that we are not. And so we are constantly having to before we can get to step A, we have to, um. Do you know what I mean? Before we can have a conversation in the room, we've got to undo what folks think about us before we open our mouths.

[00:47:41]

You know what that is? Angry black woman. You know, all of that, all of that stuff that we carry with us without our opening our mouths before we put clothes on in the morning, all of that stuff. We we bear that. We bear that. We bear that within our race. We bear that as citizens of this country. We bear that. And so for this woman to say that, yeah, I'm a wife, yes, I'm a mother.

[00:48:12]

Yes, I'm the cornerstone of this community in Chicago. Yes. I'm all these things.

[00:48:18]

And yet I don't know who I am and I don't know who I am.

[00:48:22]

And it's worth me finding out and what so what I think is so wonderful about this and I'm not I'm not championing child abandonment, but we've done it, you know.

[00:48:37]

But what is interesting about this is that she has to find herself outside the context of her family. Right. She has to find herself outside the context of her community. And that that is worth it for her. It is worth it for her, yes.

[00:48:54]

And it's it's the thing that on the one hand, in the writers room, I was like, well, I want her to stay. I want her to stay. I want her to make that difficult choice.

[00:49:05]

But I also knew there's the version of it where it pays off for nobody but Hyppolite and I still wanted that. There's the version of it where it's just for her and that's OK. But because we are telling the story about a family and because we are talking about community, we did have to tie this into the rest of the family.

[00:49:24]

So in Episode nine, when Hippolyta returns, she. That's incredible. First of all, like her voice is different, like the way she talks is different. I'm saying it like it's not you, but you like the way she's like, I was on planet 504 and this happened and this happened and I'm going to save my daughter. It's like she's so different. Nobody can name her anymore. And that's why she's able to say, I will just plug into the machine.

[00:49:52]

And she's doing everything in her power to keep the portal open for the other characters to return. She starts to transform. She's literally becoming everything blew right before our eyes.

[00:50:03]

And it's so incredible that I don't know, we just appear to be so crazy. I was when I was five or four and I was there, the equivalent of 200 years on this earth, I could name myself anything. Infinite possibilities.

[00:50:17]

It came with infinite wisdom and I'm going to use all of it to save my daughter.

[00:50:21]

Can you talk to us a little bit about how you played that scene and what it means to you and what you think it means for Hyppolite ability to do this?

[00:50:30]

Well, I love the fact that her daughter paints her like that. That's just beautiful. Like, that is just that's just beautiful as a as a mama's girl myself, you know, that even though she she had to separate from D. that she's still connected, connected through with your blue, connected through her daughter's imagination, which I think is really, really important, that it is through her imagination that she's connected to that enough. It's not Earth, but you know what I mean.

[00:51:02]

It's not Earth. Yeah, you know what I mean. That it's still stuff that you can't grasp. That's communication that her and only her and her daughter can share.

[00:51:11]

Yes. You know, and there's there's a liberation in that. I claim that is liberation. And then on the on the practical side of that, you know, Lovecraft is weird. I don't know how else to say it.

[00:51:23]

Like love is where, you know, acting is weird, period. It's not like I come home at the end of the day and I talk to my sister. I talk to my, you know, loved ones.

[00:51:33]

And I say, you know, girl, because it doesn't translate, you know, it just might not make any sense at all, even with a regular job when a regular person but with this is like, yeah, so and then the machine uses the machine didn't work. So we had to do that take again. And then like the then and then, you know, there's nothing I can say that would ever make sense.

[00:51:59]

And I love that. I love I love that. And like I said, I just gave in to it. I just I just gave into it. I put that harness on.

[00:52:07]

Yes, I complained about it, you know what I mean? It was it was tight. It was tight in all the wrong places. It you know what I'm saying?

[00:52:14]

Like, oh, I made sacrifices for us that day.

[00:52:22]

She made sacrifice. Going to be interesting to see how it turns out it you know.

[00:52:26]

Right. Because it was crazy doing it and it was fun doing it. It's incredible. It's incredible to watch. Yeah. Well, we could keep you here for seventeen more hours, but we was good. Thank you so much. We love you. We love Hyppolite.

[00:52:41]

Thank you. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. You guys have a good day.

[00:52:47]

That was so beautiful. I feel so full.

[00:52:50]

Shannon, why don't you take us away with some references and recommendations to close this episode out? We have the burning massacre destruction and the Tulsa Race Riot by Tim Maddigan. I recommend doing a little research on JB Stratford. He was the owner of the Stratford Hotel and lots of other properties on black Wall Street. Incredible story there. Also recommend researching Olivia Hooker. She was the last survivor of the Tulsa riots. She passed away in twenty eighteen. Also a woman with an incredible story, a couple of essays that I've been thinking about lately and that I think connect to the storyline as well.

[00:53:32]

There's an essay called The East Stuff of Alton Sterling and Fernando Castillo by Courtney Baker and another one called American Horror Story by Ezekiel Kwaku. What else do we have, Ashely?

[00:53:45]

We've got Sonia Sanchez's Catch the Fire Flying West by Purlie, which I really, really love.

[00:53:53]

Hawtin Spillers Mama's Baby Poppa's maybe reading Black Reading Feminist's, which is an iconic anthology of essays with works from Spillers Hazel, Carby, Zora Neale Hurston, Bell Hooks and so many more that as our show for this week.

[00:54:11]

Thank you so much for listening. The show is hosted by us. I'm Shannon Houston. And I'm Ashley C. Ford.

[00:54:18]

This podcast was produced by HBO in conjunction with Pineapple Street Studios are executive producers, are Genoways Bermann, Max Linsky and Barry Finkel. Again, Tanisha Shagari is our managing producer. Our lead producer is just Jupiter and our associate producers are Alexis Moore and Natalie Brenin.

[00:54:37]

Our editor is Maggie Sprong, Cayzer and Norelco. Jacob is our engineer, original music by composer Amanda Jones.

[00:54:45]

If you like the show and you have a minute, you can review and write this podcast via Apple podcast Spotify or anywhere else you might get your podcast. It really helps people find the show. You can also stream the podcast on HBO and HBO. Max will be back next week for our final episode, episode time.

[00:55:05]

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. We're going to do it, though, Episode 10 premieres on HBO and Streams on HBO, IMAX on October 18th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. See you then.