Last week’s detour to South Korea and the Korean War on Lovecraft Country gave us some extra time to chew over a number of new details that we were left with in episode five. We found out that William is Christina in disguise, we discovered that Montrose anger and self-loathing is rooted in the fact he’s a closeted hay man, we found out that Atticus and Leti’s romantic relationship is not really a fling, and we saw that Atticus may be living with a death mark. Now, two weeks later, we go deeper into the story, and the tendrils of time and space itself.
It’s felt like it’s been forever since we caught up with Hippolyta, and that’s who we spent most of our time with this week. You will recall that Hippolyta snatched the orrery of the binary star system from Hiram Epstein‘s old house, and you will recall that when Atticus, Leti, and Montrose were somehow able to return to Chicago from Boston in one night without a car Hippolyta decided to retrace George’s last steps. That led her to the remains of the lodge, and the key she needed to finally open the orrery, which led to another literal key, and an inscription:
“Every beginning is in time, and every limit of extension in space.”
The quote belongs to Immanuel Kant from his Critique of Pure Reason, which was basically Kant’s response to the rational thought and skeptical empiricism that had come to define the Enlightenment. Simply, the Enlightenment’s leading thinkers believed that your thoughts and ideas are shaped by external factors – the things you can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch – but Kant argued that the mind could shape physical reality. Time and space, he argued, have to be presupposed to exist so that an individual can function in the external world.
These ideas are pushed to their limit in “I Am.” as the Kant quote and some co-ordinates lead Hippolyta to an old observatory in Mayfield, and the golden key activates an old machine that opens a porthole. When Hippolyta gets sucked in to the hole, it looks like she finds herself on some kind of alien planet in the future, but was she creating her own reality? Did she create a reality with a cyborg woman in an afro? Did she build her own prison that requires her to solve complex equations to escape?
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Ultimately, Hippolyta goes on a journey of self-discovery. First, she ends up in a Folies Bergère in Paris with Josephine Baker, a heroine by any stretch of the imagination, from breaking colour barriers as a performer, to being a freedom fighter in Europe during World War II, to her activism on civil rights. Hippolyta confesses to Baker that she hates White people and wants to kill them. She hates how they make her feel so small. She hates how Black women are marginalized because they found “a smart way to lynch her” without her even noticing the noose. Baker asks what Hippolyta‘s going to do with all that anger (and incidentally, we should compliment actress Carra Patterson for being the spitting image of Baker).
Hippolyta‘s next stop is her metaphysical mystery tour is to apparently wear the sandals of her namesake, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and Queen of the Amazons. Reinforcing the fact that this is not a straight up time travel story, Warrior Queen Hippolyta led her female fighters in a close quarter battle against Confederate soldiers. Hippolyta rallies the troops by noting all the times women are told that rage is not “lady-like” and explains that freedom means being allowed to rain destruction down on those that try to keep you down.
It’s fascinating that Lovecraft Country has become not just an expression of general Black rage about the historical effects of racism, but has become largely an expression of female rage about how society shoves them to the side, especially Black women. Ruby’s story can be summed up by her dream to work at Marshall Fields, and how even tokenism fails when a highly-qualified Black woman can’t get a job over a younger, more attractive but less experienced Black woman. The result is that women like Ruby are made to think that those other women are rivals to be defeated as opposed to equal victims of an unequal system.
Ruby was still coping with revelations that were almost as big, and confronted Christina about the deception. It turns out there was a William, and he did dabble in magic including a potion to transform the physical body into someone else. Christina perfected it after William was indeed brutally attacked by Captain Lancaster, an attack that William never recovered from. Ruby asks Christina if the plan is to revenge for her lover, but while Christina confirmed the revenge, she never confirmed William was her lover, and she added that she wanted other things too.
Ruby wanted the truth, and it seems like she got. Why else would she ingratiate herself to Hippolyta by looking after Diana while she was away, and seemed to make an effort to forgive her sister. If Christina did disclose all the facts to Ruby, then Ruby’s unlikely to have taken it well when she found out that her half-sister is a major player in some kind of race for supernatural weapons. The shame is that Leti could probably use the support of her big sister if she is indeed pregnant. There are only so many ways you can interpret Leti having the same dream as Atticus where they chase his pregnant ancestor Hanna through the burning lodge, and Leti carrying Hanna’s next descendant is one of them.
As for Atticus, he seemed to be sideline again this week, but he did follow Hippolyta to the observatory, and into the porthole. We don’t know what Atticus saw, but given his state of mind he probably wasn’t going to a happy place metaphysically-speaking. Atticus discovered that the rumours about his father were true and then he hit repeated dead ends trying to find out about his mother’s family, and that’s to say nothing of rescuing his aunt from some racist cops working under Lancaster. Atticus left the porthole alone, but he did get a souvenir, an old paperback book called… Lovecraft Country. There are three episodes left, and it looks like things are about to get meta!
“There are three episodes left, and it looks like things are about to get meta!”
Revisit your favorite moments of Lovecraft Country or give yourself a refresher before next by reading our previous recaps of the series HERE. Continue the conversation with us and be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the dark shadow looming over the characters of Lovecraft Country on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.