‘Lovecraft Country’: Through the fire

HBO should attach a viewer advisory to this week’s episode of “Lovecraft Country.”

Warning! This episode may break you!

After last week’s creepy episode that used the murder of Emmett Till as its backdrop, “Lovecraft Country” (Sunday at 9 p.m.) goes back in time to another monstrous moment in American history – the Tulsa Massacre of 1921.

Minor spoilers ahead!

In “Rewind 1921,” written by Misha Green, Jonathan Kidd, and Sonya Winton, and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Diana (Jada Harris) is dying, a victim of that racist cop’s hex.

The family is forced to turn to Christina (Abbey Lee) – again – for help, but Christina can’t break the curse, only give Diana the gift of some additional time.

Even that help comes at a terrible price.

Christina knows what she wants, and she will not be denied.

Just in time, Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) returns.

For everyone else, it’s been a few weeks; for Hippolyta, she’s been out there exploring parallel universes for 200 years.

She knows just how to save her daughter.

They have to go back in time to obtain the Book of Names from the house that Tic’s mother lived in.

That means returning to Tulsa, Okla., on the first day of the massacre that wiped out Black Wall Street.

Jonathan Majors, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jurnee Smollett in "Lovecraft Country" (Photo: HBO)
Time travelers: Jonathan Majors, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jurnee Smollett in “Lovecraft Country” (Photo: HBO)

There’s a familiar trope about time travel in science fiction: You must not change the past. Doing so will inflict incalculable harm on the present.

But could any of us – would any of us – be able to adhere to that rule when confronted with real, breathing, loving, complex folks who are about to be destroyed?

Would you be able to hold your tongue, to still your warnings?

You might save the moment, but you also risk your own future.

This is the terrible predicament Tic (Jonathan Majors), Leti (Jurnee Smollett), and Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams) find themselves in.

And Montrose lived through this horror as a boy. Now he must face it all again.

Tic thinks he knows all of Montrose’s secrets. He doesn’t. Not even close. There are things Montrose has tried not to think about for decades. And now all those ghosts are again flesh and blood.

We need to talk about Michael Kenneth Williams.

He is absolutely heartbreaking in this episode. Give him an Emmy. Give him all the Emmys.

Michael Kenneth Williams gives another astounding performance in "Lovecraft Country" (Photo: HBO)
Michael Kenneth Williams gives another astounding performance in “Lovecraft Country” (Photo: HBO)

Please have your tissues handy. You will need them.

Next week is the season finale. Do you think you can say goodbye to “Lovecraft Country”?

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