This week in our continuing exploration of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” we again encounter one more-or-less stand-alone episode followed by one that steers us back into the main narrative arc of the series. That said, both episodes include important advances in the overall story of the series, but in each case we get to learn more about characters who had remained relatively minor until now.
Episode 7, “I Am” mostly centers on George’s wife Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) as she pursues the truth about George’s disappearance. We’ve long understood that Christina’s quest for the lost Book of Names was somehow connected to that brass orrery, Hippolyta’s model used for showing planets in their orbits. In this episode, Hippolyta finally manages a significant breakthrough in solving the puzzle of how that instrument can help them unravel some of the mysteries related to the Order of the Ancient Dawn and their pursuit of immortality.
Of course, in classic pulp fiction narrative style, our series demonstrates that no good puzzle is solved without introducing further riddles. You can’t find a key without having to look for the lock it fits. Uncovered inscriptions conceal as much as their words reveal. “Every Beginning Is In Time And Every Limit Of Extension In Space.” But mathematical problems and encrypted directions are easy once you know how to decipher them. “39.805499 / -95.159492”
Hippolyta’s episode begins back in Indiana Jones territory, but aided by her strong background in science and mathematics, Hippolyta soon finds herself dealing with more complex equations, conundrums of quantum physics, and exploring alternate realities. Some of the series’ episodes have been more adventure/mystery and some have been more horror, but for the first time with “I Am,” the show ventures into full science fiction of the Afrofuturist variety.
You might be interested to learn more about past and current iterations of Afrofuturism by reading Ytasha Womack’s smart and insightful 2014 primer on the subject. It’s titled simply Afrofuturism and explores sci fi literature (such as the works of Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delaney, and N.K. Jemisin), various visual and multimedia arts, and music (such as the trippy space-funk of George Clinton and Parliament, the will.i.am and Black Eyed Peas, and the often bizarre jazz/funk/rock of Sun Ra).
The spoken word piece at the end of this episode, “I come to you as a myth” is from Sun Ra’s avant-garde film “Space is the Place” (1974). It’s available on streaming video if you’re curious.
Please also note that for additional insights, Nettrice Gaskins has an excellent blog post about this episode: https://nettricegaskins.medium.com/lovecraft-country-mythscience-the-spaceways-db88b95ddbc8
I’ll be interested to hear your various takes on Hippolyta’s journey, but it’s not giving too much away to sat that this episode delights in exploring the limitless possibilities of the future.
Okay, that’s a lot. I’ll continue with my discussion of the next episode in my subsequent post.