The only thing that’s been consistent about Lovecraft Country is that it’s been inconsistent. After last week’s sublime Korea-set Episode 6, things have plummeted back into WTF-territory in Episode 7 (at least for me). Like the Ruby-centred episode, Hippolyta Disturbs the Universe was another chapter from the book that I was eagerly anticipating seeing realised onscreen. And although, like most episodes, Episode 7 (titled I Am) does have highs, the lows certainly outweigh any positives.
It appears that I’m in a minority in thinking the book is better than the show. But for me, baffling changes have been made and it’s hard to understand why. Hippolyta is one of the best characters in both – a middle-aged Black woman who has been fascinated with space from a young age (as I was) and whose outward appearance as a housewife belies a fiercely intelligent scientific mind. She still observes and studies the wonders of the universe whenever she gets the chance. And here, she gets the opportunity to um – break into – a proper observatory. And in the first baffling change from page to screen, for some reason Tic turns up and ‘comes to her rescue’ against security guards. The book Hippolyta doesn’t need rescuing and the book Hippolyta makes a clear choice to step through the ‘doorway’ into another universe, whereas here she accidentally falls through during the altercation.
More positive aspects of this episode are the sub-plots that show Leti and Ruby finally getting to catch up, after everything they’ve been through separately (and Ruby getting to sport one of the best outfits of the season so far). We also see Tic realising the full truth about his father Montrose. It was heartening that at least Montrose hadn’t been abandoned all together, which was a well-founded fear.
Back to Hippolyta and her journey through several dimensions of time and space. This being Lovecraft, some of these vignettes worked better than others. By far the best destination involved Hippolyta dancing with Josephine Baker (a wonderful Carra Patterson) in 1920s Paris. Hippolyta’s conversations with Josephine “I feel like they just found a smart way to lynch me without me noticing the noose” and later her husband George (in an alternative universe in which he’s alive) “I thought you saw me but you just stood by and let me shrink myself more for you” are the best aspects of this episode. Aunjanue Ellis is incredible throughout, I just wish that the writing could remain consistently good, in service of these fantastic actors. Instead, it veers, dips and dives and you will find yourself shaking your head at some of things you’re seeing and hearing.
Seeing Hippolyta and George in B-movie sci-fi suits or Hippolyta as part of a warrior tribe means that tonally, things are all over the place. This does lessen the impact of Hippolyta’s journey of self-discovery and her poignant words to Josephine and George. After the simplicity of Episode 6, which just focused on Ji-Ah and Tic and was so much the better for it, Episode 7 was doing the absolute most and ended up confusingly overstuffed. It’s a shame that every time this show gets your hopes up, they will inevitably be dashed again by the next episode.
With just three episodes left, it’s hard to imagine how Lovecraft Country is going to pull itself together towards the end and make this messy and confusing path actually lead somewhere worthwhile. It has been hard to keep the faith in what is a relatively short season, so it’s really going to have to produce something amazing to salvage a show that has made one too many bizarre choices. Here’s hoping…