Finally, Hippolyta arrives in all her stunning glory, as Lovecraft County looks to the stars for the first time. It’s hard to overstate my anticipation for Aunjanue Ellis’ standalone episode. Her performance earlier this year in, The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, was easily one of the most important and overlooked during this past Emmy season. Through dancing around politely in the background, Hippolyta gloriously takes up space, claiming her own name, and demanding an opportunity to shine on her own merit in episode seven, “I Am.”
This episode, written by Misha Green and Shannon Houston, finds Hippolyta following her instincts. For a while now, she’s suspected that Tic and Leti weren’t entirely truthful in their account of George’s death. Slowly but surely, she discovered that her husband had been doing more than crafting his Green Book on the road with his two young companions. After taking the golden planetary diagram from Leti’s house, Hippolyta used her astronomy skills to uncover the secrets hidden within the device. Inside, she discovers a key and a quote which essentially breaks down to “there is no end and no beginning.”
With that thought in mind, Hippolyta took off for St. Louis. On the road, she passed Bessie Stringfield, the first Black woman to ride her motorcycle in all 48 connected states. The theme of “true freedom” begins to blossom here. In the 1930s, when Stringfield first began riding, she’d often sleep on her bike as she rode through the Jim Crow South, but still experienced a unique level of freedom foreign to most women at the time. Something sparks in Hippolyta as Bessie casually passes her, scarf flapping in the breeze—a sense of adventure she’d long since buried roars to life.
When she arrives at the coordinates etched under the quote, a large telescope awaits her. Like the Fonz, she slaps the machine until it revs to life. Dozens of numbers spit out as the machine whirls to life. But Hippolyta isn’t shaken, she begins calculating. As if honoring the woman Katherine Johnson would become, the creators encircled Hippolyta’s head with the complicated equations she was solving. But just as Hippolyta cracks the problem, the police barge into the room. It’s safe to say these officers serve under the Captain in Chicago with the torso transplant. Fortunately, Tic and Leti figured out where Hippolyta went, and Tic comes to rescue her. As he struggles with the officers, knocking one of their pistols directly into Hippolyta’s hands, a rip in space time opens, immediately swallowing one officer. Hippolyta shoots and kills the officer, before being swallowed by the void. It closes, and she disappears.
Inside the void, Hippolta wakes up in an alien spaceship. A giant Black woman who looks strikingly similar to Garnet from Steven Universe encourages Hippolyta to look at her surroundings, and understand the room in which she resides is not a prison. Once she accepts that reality, Hippolyta can no longer blame any person or law for not requesting what she wanted in life. The first thing Hippolyta wants to do is dance on stage, in Paris, with Josephine Baker. Though her fellow dancers may have struggled with her awestruck performance on night one, after a little pep talk from Josephine, Hippolyta begins to embrace this once-in-lifetime opportunity. As she dances and sings, she becomes more comfortable in her own skin. In that comfort, she could confess her darkness. Without having the words, the icon and the mother discuss their battle with depression, the short escape performing offerss, and the inescapable reality of living with a depressive disorder. Though they struggle, they both recognize how precious the freedom they’ve earned in the face of racism and sexism is to their existence. Ellis’ brilliant smile spreads as she proclaims her name. The void picks her up quickly and wicked off to her next destination.
When Hippolyta lands, she’s in Dahomey, the present day Republic of Benin, training with the female Amazon warriors who lived there. The Mino, or “Our Mothers,” were originally elephant hunters. But over time they evolved and became king’s guardsmen. In the 1890s, these audacious women fought the French with nothing but swords and their wits. Though most were whipped out in battle, their bravery and skill were written about for years afterward by the Frenchmen and Englishmen who witnessed their power on the battlefield. They taught Hippolyta to be brave, to take a punch, and how to lead a fight worth fighting. Once again she calls her name to the heavens, this time adding the title of George’s wife.
In bed with George, Hippolyta gets everything a widow wants: a little more time with the love of her life, and a conclusion to all the couple’s loose ends. Mainly, Hippolyta confronts the way George kept her small. He loved her waiting at home, when she could have been exploring the stars. At the very least, she desired to be his equal partner in the business they ran together. But, even that challenged George too much. He denied her greatness their entire marriage.
The years of anger and resentment melt away with a genuine apology. The couple soon take off again, this time into the imaginary world of their beloved daughter and her comic book character Orinthia Blue. In her blue wig and Ms. Frizzle planet dress, Hippolyta explores the depths of an unknown planet, and experiences joy like we’ve never seen. Like all mothers, weighted down by their responsibilities to others, Hippolyta soared to new heights when she gave herself permission to place her desires above others. She became a person, instead of just mom. Of course, that’s where her adventure ends this week. She lands somewhere among the stars, with the man of her dreams and nothing but time.
Unfortunately, time means a great deal to Tic, who not only discovers his father beat him because Montrose feared his own homosexuality, but also has the misfortune of being alone with a recently deceased/murdered police officer. When Tic runs away from the building, he thinks he has grabbed all the identifying items Hippolyta brought with her. But he left behind Diana’s comic book. Shit.
- Leti is pregnant and that baby is definitely the bearer of some kind of prophecy.
- Poor Diana’s now an orphan. I’m hoping her solo story comes next. I hope it involves Emmett. I really want to live in a fantasy world where his life was spared, particularly given recent events.
- While it’s good to see the sisters getting along, it’s sad to see that they still do not trust one another. Ruby holds back on her adventures on the white side, and Leti skirts around the details of her developing relationship with Tic.
- It’s a little frustrating to be introduced to the intriguing character of Ji-Ah, and then immediately be without her again. I hope she has a larger role to play in the last few episodes.