Lovecraft Country – I Am (S1E7)

Hyppolyta

Listen. If you have one. single. drop. of Black Girl Magic running through your veins, this was the episode for you! (Hyppolyta even said my name!) There were so many gems, I know I can’t touch them all. Settle in… this is gonna be a long one.

Broken Fences and Mended Ones

Let’s go ahead and get Montrose out of the way. He’s holed up in his apartment with his lover Sammy. Things start off sweet, but then Sammy mentions seeing one of Montrose’s neighbors. Montrose’s response to his fear of being outed is to become critical of Sammy’s cooking and to be downright mean. Sammy decides to leave and Montrose gives chase. This puts them in the hallway in an awkward stance and brings them face-to-face with Tic and Leti. Tree’s insinuation is confirmed for Tic, who subsequently drops the F-bomb on his father. Montrose becomes enraged and bellows that he is still Tic’s father and will still be shown respect. The most heartbreaking part of this scene for me was when Tic came to some hard realizations. He understood that his father’s beatings were not actually a preventative measure to keep Tic from being “soft,” but were really a reflection of Montrose’s self-hatred and fear about being gay. My, my, my. There’s a lot of places I could go with that, but there’s so much more I want to get into, so I’ll leave it.

Switching gears… Ruby and Leti come to a truce! From the way Ruby looks when Leti and Tic arrive at the house, it doesn’t seem like she’s in the mood for a heart-to-heart with her little sis. However, Leti doesn’t give her much of a choice. Leti issues a tearful and heartfelt apology, which Ruby coolly accepts. All seems well between the sisters, but does Ruby’s easy forgiveness hide an ulterior motive?

The Unshrinking of Hyppolyta

Or “Lyta” as she refers to herself. There was so much here, I am going to try my best to do it justice. Let’s begin with the fact that Lyta should have been in Hidden Figures! I love that she is brilliant. No… like for real brilliant. But it gave me pause because we don’t see her use that brilliance until George is out of the picture. You should already feel where this is going.

Let’s skip to the time machine and Lyta’s first time jump. She ends up in a strange, unrecognizable place, which seems to be another planet, with a large UFO looming before her. These two huge, robot-like entities show up and the scene fades. The next time we see her, she lies naked on a table. Her wrists have been altered with a see-through pane that shows her veins under a violet hue. Lyta meets an Afro-futuristic being named Seraphina AKA Beyond C’est. (Sidenote: Beyond C’est resembles Garnet from Steven Universe. Thank you, Tangala S.) Lyta asks, “Who are you?” The being responds, “I am.” Y’all know who else said that, right? Religious overtones once again permeate the Lovecraft universe. What was powerful here was how Beyond C’est tells Lyta to name herself, to say where she wanted to be and who she wanted to be. The moment Lyta follows the instruction, she is transported to exactly the place she wanted to be. Talk about an ode to the power of life and death being in the tongue.

We watch as Lyta fumbles her way through a performance with Josephine Baker in France. The two eventually become friends. That exchange between them… my gawd. There were two lines that were particularly impactful for me… “I feel like they just found a smart way to lynch me without me noticing the noose,” and, “…It’s not just them. I hate me… for letting them make me feel small.” This is a call back to us learning that Lyta was really the girl that named Hera’s Chariot, the comet, and that honor being taken away from her in favor of a white girl. Once she gives voice to her anger, she is able to name herself for the first time and is transported to what I believe is Dohomey, a country in West Africa.

Dahomey is the home of the real Amazon warriors. Lyta fights with the army commander and repeatedly has her tail handed to her, until… she finally obtains victory. Won’t a Black woman just keep getting up and dusting herself off! After becoming victorious, she leads an army of women into battle and annihilates the opposition. I believe this is the Amazonian’s battle against the French in 1892, which the Amazons ultimately lost. Before the final fight, Lyta names herself again, this time as George’s wife.

Lyta is then with George in what initially looks and feels very much like their opening scene from episode one. However, the conversation takes a different turn. Lyta shares with George all she’s seen and been through. He’s amazed and supportive. But she points out that she thought George saw who she really was; however, he ended up helping her to shrink to meet his own needs. He admits he could have done better by her, apologizes, and they take the next jump together.

Lastly, Lyta comes before Beyond C’est again to the sound of Sun Ra‘s voice. This time she is fully realized and has come to know who she really is. Beyond C’est tells her she no longer needs the devices on her wrists and that she can join their society. (PAUSE – If this don’t give you Wizard of Oz vibes… Kansas, a device that helps her that she really didn’t need because she had the power all along… I’ll be right back. I gotta go shout in the corner.) (Thanks BWNC fam, Nicole N.) Instead, Lyta decides to return home for Diana’s sake. My favorite line of this scene is, “How can I fit in everything that I am now into that place?” (Holds self and rocks side-to-side.)

I really feel like this episode was written for me. Here are some lessons I needed to be reminded of through this episode:

  • Don’t allow others to make me feel small. I know who and what I am. No one else has the power to define me, but me (unless I give them the power).
  • Stop shrinking myself. Everybody is not built to handle all that I am, AND THAT’S OK. Accept it and move on.
  • Folks who want the grandeur of me, but not the responsibility of me, will not only allow me to shrink, but will help me do so. The people who are really meant to benefit from all that I am will push me to be EVERYTHING I am supposed to be; not just the things that make them comfortable.

Whew, chile. I think I need a whole nap after that good word.

Easter Eggs

We finally understand (I’m using that term loosely here) the fate of William and Mrs. Davenport. They are dead, but Christina is still using their bodies for the blood needed to concoct the serum used to transform her and Ruby. I love how they casually reveal things we’ve been pondering.

  • Hyppolyta is playing “C’est Toi” on her stereo as she is riding in her car. The song title translates to “It’s You,” which foreshadows the journey of self-reflection and rediscovery upon which she is about to embark. (Thanks, Marcita G!)
  • The woman on the motorcycle was Bessie Stringfield, the first African American motorcyclist to ride across the United States solo. Stringfield was also a dispatch rider for the US Army during WWII. (Thank you, Donovan Y!)
  • That was Frida Kahlo kissing on the couch and giving the toast in France at Josephine Baker’s after party. Kahlo was a Mexican painter who was best known for her self-portraits and her exploration of identity, gender, class and race.
  • Tic returns from his time travel with a copy of Lovecraft Country. The cover is different than the original, real book AND if you pause the playback, you will notice the author is GEORGE FREEMAN!!!!!!!

Unanswered Questions

  1. Why does Leti hide that she was pregnant in the dream of Hannah?
  2. According to Montrose, Dora knew about his sexuality. Is that what drove her into George’s arms? Does Hyppolyta know about George and Dora? Does she know Tic is likely George’s son?
  3. Was Ruby open to reconciliation with Leti because she learned the money from the house really came from Christina?
  4. Is Ruby spying for Christina or just trying to figure out how this is all connected? Will Ruby betray Leti and tell Christina where the orrery is?
  5. What is the importance of the birthmark that Tic notices he shares with his cousin Ethel?
  6. What is the significance of the numbers shown when Hyppolyta time jumps? Are they coordinates and dates? I Googled the number in the orrery to no avail. The numbers inside the orrery correspond to the first two sections of numbers for Hyppolyta’s first “jump”.
  7. What is the timeline of this episode? How did Tic get from St. Louis, MO to Mayfield, KS so quickly?
  8. Where did Tic go during his time travelling excursion?

Bonus: The pronunciation of Beyond C’est sounds an awful lot like… LOLOLOL! I’m a fan, I couldn’t let that slide.

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