Lovecraft Country opens as Atticus returns home to Chicago from Florida, leaving the Jim Crow South for the Jim Crow North. The series' message, from the get-go, is that as horrifying as fantasy monsters are, the real fear in life comes from those who treat others inhumanely. For Black characters like Atticus, Leti, and George, nearly every white person they meet in Episode 1 is terrifying. And yet, there are one or two characters who seem to be on their side — as far as anyone knows so far, at least. After the season premiere, fans need to know: Who is The Woman In The Red Hat in Lovecraft Country, and why does she save Atticus and his friends?
Warning: Spoilers for Lovecraft Country Episode 1 follow. The main goal of Atticus' road trip is to find his missing father. Montrose is not a man taken to flights of fancy, and yet he disappears after writing his son a letter claiming he found their family birthright in "Lovecraft Country." The place he's gone is supposedly called "Ardham," though it's not on any map.
Uncle George is along to protect Atticus, but he's also there on a work trip. George has a profitable business creating a Midwest-centric version of the famous "Green Book" guide for Black folks who need to travel safely. It's an opportunity to check out places he's heard about and verify their safety for the new edition.
Unfortunately, the first restaurant they hit was not a safe haven. Leti was lucky to overhear the manager calling for (racist) backup, so the three made it back to the car just in time before three locals came screaming around the corner in a truck, firing a sawed-off shotgun.
The car chase that ensued was terrifying, as Leti failed to shake the truck from their tail. But as the highway they were on merged with another, she and Atticus a fancy-pants grey-and-white Rolls Royce coming their way. Leti was able to cut the Rolls off, putting it between them and the truck, hoping the barrier would help them escape. But the truck kept firing, attempting to pass the obstructing car.
Then, out of the blue, the Rolls sharply turned sideways. The truck smashed into it, and the gunman was thrown from the bed into the highway, killing him instantly.
Leti stopped the car in shock as she and Atticus looked to see what happened. Did the Rolls lose control? Then the door opened, and an icy blonde with a large red hat stepped out and calmly looked at them. Her smile said, "This was no accident, but a deliberate act." She saved their lives.
But who is she? And why did she help them? Episode 1 never named her, nor did she appear again. But she's not the only blonde helping them along. When Atticus, Leti, and George found Ardham at the episode's end, a man with similarly icy blonde hair opened the door and respectfully welcomed them "home."
Are these two blonde characters related? Why are they on Atticus' side? Fans can only hope answers are to be found in Ardham when Episode 2 rolls around.
Lovecraft Country airs on HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.