by Joelle Monique | AV Club
Secrets come out, Hippolyta is back, and Tic, Leti, and Montrose are headed back in time. It’s the Tulsa episode, everyone! This bit of history which was lost to most non-Black Americans makes its second appearance on an HBO series. Once again the survivors are front and center, and the endless trauma of Black people in America remains the theme. Lovecraft Country finally explores in depth how Montrose became the man he is today in this powerfully moving episode.
Poor baby Diana took the brunt of the hit with the Police Captain’s spell. With her blood turned black and her skin shriveled up, Diana must fight to live long enough for Tic, Leti, and Montrose to find a counterspell. All the adults surrounding her quake with fear, knowing the responsibility for the young girl’s suffering lay at their feet. As they argue, their secrets inch toward the surface. Leti’s pregnancy and Montrose’s parietal accuracy remain hidden, but Ruby reveals her intrepid affair with Christina. She promises Christina will perform the spell to heal Diana. Unfortunately, only the Police Captain who cast the spell can lift the curse. The Captain’s spell first turned Diana into the physical manifestation of a jigga boo, then caused her to flesh to rot and fester from the inside out.
Luckily, the hellhounds didn’t kill the Captain in last week’s attack, which Leti spun as a gas explosion—but to call him alive and well would be false. We learned that the police force kidnapped Black citizens and hacked off whatever limbs an officer needed, attaching the Black body part to the white officer with magic. Christina sentenced William to a thousand deaths by overriding this quick-fix spell. But, that line of deaths must end for the officer, as Christina did promise Ruby she would slow the spell’s progress. Christina takes particular joy in watching the final death mask wash over the Captain’s face.
Leti and Ruby finally have the conversation they’ve needed to have for weeks. Ruby reveals that she believes Montrose and Tic to be violent men—not an unfounded thought, considering how quickly those two go to blows. Of course, Leti knows Christina. She knows Christina intends to kill Tic, and uses Ruby to get closer to Tic’s blood. Both sisters go their own way, but each takes the lesson of the other.
Watching Ruby call out Christina brought a particular joy and relief to their relationship. For so long I couldn’t tell who was playing who. Christina always seemed to possess the upper hand, and yet she could never pin Ruby down. Now that Christina confesses what she wants magic for, their attraction makes more sense. Christina gave Ruby the ability to go places she’d never gone before. It’s the same wish the young Braithwaite held for herself. Using magic as a key, no corner of the universe would be off-limits to her. The desire to control the world belonged to her father. Like Ruby, Christina just wanted to escape the box built around her identity. Ruby understood, and so made two crucial decisions. First, she demanded Christina promise not to hurt Leti. Then she killed off her Hillary, proclaiming her white identity a redhead. I guess it’s hunting season for Ruby Red.
Hippolyta returns a new woman. No longer timid, she stands bone straight, ready to tackle whatever event befell her daughter. Hippolyta’s been on Earth 504 for 200 years calling herself whatever she damn well pleases. As everyone questions her, she straightens her crown and walks into fire. A goddess reborn of Earth and water, Hippolyta molded herself into a champion. She plans to go back to the multi-dimensional machine to retrieve the book of names from the Tulsa Massacre.
Down at the conservatory in Kentucky, Leti gets up the nerve to tell Montrose she’s pregnant. Montrose reveals the gender of the baby and blames Leti for the probable death of his son, Tic. Hippolyta turns herself into a motherboard. With over six trillion alternate realities, she needs to direct the computer to open a portal to this Earth’s Tulsa in 1921. While the process looks painful, Hippolyta doesn’t hesitate or falter; but Montrose does. He’s entering the nightmare of his own past, the reality he spent three decades drinking away. Confronting that reality—not just the severity of his father, but the horrendous acts of terrorism inflicted upon the community—is the biggest step he’s taken in his life.
The trio hops through the portal and realizes that they only have a few hours before the attack begun. Time travel rules apply. They can’t do anything that changes the future, despite knowing that Tic’s mother’s entire family would be burned alive in their home, along with the book.
The secret Montrose kept from Tic his whole life finally comes to the surface. The news hits Atticus like a ton of bricks. All the beatings Montrose made him endure, all the time he spent with George wishing he could call him dad—and now he lives with an unknown. Who really sired him?
Tic snaps when he realizes Montrose came to the past high on liquid courage, and he tells him all the hateful things he’s stored in his heart since he was a child. Finally, Tic decides to end his relationship with his father after they’ve saved D’s life. The reality of the harm done, combined with his worst fears staring him in the face, brings Montrose to a halt. Montrose watches his younger self being beaten with a lengthy branch, by his drunk and enraged father. Homophobia that causes the beating to extend until Montrose cannot stand. We see what the love between Montrose, George, and Tic’s mother meant. Dora, Tic’s mom, protected Montrose, loved him like a brother. And she couldn’t stand the way George stood by and watched Montrose be beaten. She used her life to stand in between Montrose and the cruel world.
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