Lovecraft Country Episode 7 Review: I Am.

Lovecraft Country and Hippolyta transcend in the superb “I Am.”

Lovecraft Country Episode 7 I Am
Photo: HBO

This Lovecraft Country review contains spoilers.

Lovecraft Country Episode 7

“I Am.” is what happens when women are given the space to explore every facet of their being, and are allowed to embody even the ugliest parts of themselves. It is another in a succession of strong episodes that center women, and allow for their self-discovery and actualization.

The last time we see Hippolyta, she and Diana detour from Boston to Ardham. What she finds there are the collapsed ruins of Ardham Lodge and evidence that George had been there, confirming her suspicions that she wasn’t told everything about his death. When she gets back home—safe, thankfully— she figures out the puzzle of the orrery, and finds a key and coordinates inside. In Lovecraft Country, everybody has an interesting introduction to magic. Last week, we learned that Tic’s first brush with monsters was not the shoggoths, but his former lover Ji-ah. This week, Hippolyta follows the orrery’s clues to Hiram’s observatory and the magic within.

The key in the orrery activates a machine that opens portals to different dimensions. Hippolyta is able to figure out the complex equations needed to operate the machine, but is interrupted by two cops. After a scuffle, she is pulled into a portal. She finds herself in an unfamiliar landscape, gazing on an unfamiliar craft, then she’s knocked out, and has something implanted into her arms. She’s seemingly imprisoned on the craft, which she tries to escape— again showing her mental prowess by figuring out ways to do so, despite the unfamiliarity of the vessel. When the being with the Black woman’s face and voluminous afro, who identifies themself as “I am,” asks Hippolyta where she wants to be instead, Hippolyta answers, and finds herself on stage with Josephine Baker in Paris.

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What follows is a beautiful montage of a woman slowly becoming unbound. Hippolyta’s body moves more freely, as do her words. She befriends Josephine, and they talk about being free. Hippolyta speaks her desires out loud and they become reality. When she says, “I am Hippolyta,” she is pulled into a world where she is trained by warrior women to become a fierce warrior herself, like her namesake, who is Queen of the Amazons. When Hippolyta names herself George’s wife, she returns to the safety and comfort of their bed. But she doesn’t let the warmth and familiarity envelop her, instead she confronts George, finally giving voice to her anger and resentment. Unrepressed and now, unburdened, she brings George along with her —as he failed to do with her in his life— and they explore new dimensions together. Aunjanue Ellis is riveting. I Am, the being, tells Hippolyta that she can remove the implants and stay, but she has Diana to look after. And besides, Hippolyta has explored enough to make up for all the years she stood still.

When Tic escaped Ardham Lodge, he followed a vision of a pregnant Hannah running through the burning building with a book in hand, something he’s since seen in his dreams. Leti has the same dream (in it, she’s also pregnant), and they realize that Hannah escaped with the Book of Names and that Tic’s maternal family may have had magic. When they go to Montrose to find out more about Dora’s family, they catch Sammy leaving his place. Montrose confirms he’s queer, which infuriates Tic because of the beatings he got so he wouldn’t be “soft.” Lovecraft Country is as much about unpacking their relationship as it is about monsters and magic, and this revelation could be the catalyst for change in their dynamic. Tic visits Dora’s family friend in St. Louis to find out more. Everything, including the book, is presumed to have been burned during the Tulsa riots, but Tic discovers a birthmark or scar he shares with his aunt.

Hippolyta leaves Diane under Ruby’s care, and Leti decides to stay and make amends while Tic travels to St. Louis alone. The sisters make peace, but Ruby withholds that she knows about magic, perhaps waiting for Leti to let her in first. When Leti finds the opened orrery, she calls Tic to warn him that Hippolyta is in danger, which Ruby overhears. It’s possible Ruby is sympathetic to Christina, or has feelings for William, which leaves room for her to work against Leti and Tic. It’ll be interesting to watch her navigate, and no doubt, she’ll find a way to benefit either way. Leti dreams she’s pregnant, then gets nauseous at the smell of garlic (which she loves). Ruby might let that slip. Leti being pregnant would be the least surprising reveal of the season, but there are major implications of her carrying Tic’s child with their magic-imbued Braithwhite blood. That knowledge could entice Christina to do real, lasting harm, or it could fall into the hands of someone like Cpt. Lancaster, who is likely the worser of two evils.

Tic gets to Hippolyta at the observatory just in time to thwart the two cops. He scraps with one of them and throws them into a pulsating portal, and Hippolyta fatally shoots the other one, before she and Tic are pulled into portals themselves. We know where Hippolyta goes, but when Tic returns through the portal, he’s grasping a paperback of “Lovecraft Country” written by George Freeman. Lovecraft Country leans more into horror than sci-fi, but this episode gives us interdimensional travel and/or alternate universes, which are sci-fi staples, and mostly underutilized in this show. Tic leaves the observatory in a rush, leaving the officer’s dead body, along with Diana’s comic book. We can only assume the comic book will lead cops, and worse, back to the Freemans and can only hope that Tic has learned something useful he can use to protect his family.

This episode of Lovecraft Country is a spiritual experience. Not only is it afrofuturist sci-fi, it is another powerful tale of a woman stepping into her glory. Hippolyta tells George she shrunk herself, and that he let her continue to shrink, but she emerges here. She’s uninhibited by George, by sexism, by racism, or by any person or concept that would place limitations on her. Like Ruby before her, and Leti, and Ji-ah, she’s also allowed her rage. Hippolyta is emancipated, and she triumphs in her freedom.

Additional thoughts:

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  • I love that in space, Hippolyta looks like the heroine Diana draws in her comics, Orinthia Blue.
  • Emmet Till (nicknamed Bobo) is a friend of Diana’s and has been seen or referenced several times, including in this episode. It’s likely next week’s episode, titled ‘Jig-A-Bobo,’ will center Diana and feature references to his death. I’m not sure we can prepare for that.