HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ is ambitious and astounding and will undoubtedly blow your expectations away. Created by Misha Green, who’s working with Matt Ruff’s 1950s-set dark-fantasy novel as source material, the show counts horror visionary Jordan Peele and sci-fi maestro J.J. Abrams as executive producers. The show is full of literary and musical references, along with monsters, both in-your-face and figurative; we’ll discuss the resulting symbolism on a weekly basis.
Lovecraft Country‘s penultimate first-season episode performed its own retelling of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The show went operatic, as opposed to the cinematic approach that Damon Lindelof took with the burning of Black Wall Street in Watchmen, and the journey not only unearthed the Book of Names, but it allowed Montrose to gain some much-needed closure. Tic ended up being the “mysterious stranger” who had bashed racists with a baseball bat, Jackie Robinson-style, and the episode reinforced how Black history and horror are often interchangeable terms. My only complaint about last week’s episode was that Tic didn’t get to haul his new pet monster (conjured by Tic’s first successful spell) through the time portal. Yet the good news is that the creature came back for the season finale, “Full Circle.”
This episode felt strangely… simple. It’s the only Lovecraft Country installment that wasn’t jam-packed with arcs flying everywhere, but it did leave threads loose for the future. Mostly, it came down to Tic’s black-skinned shoggoth doing Dee’s bidding while she took out Christina. No longer immortal, the ultimate Karen’s number was finally up.
It’s a scene that reminds me of another recent season finale of an incredibly popular TV series, which I shall not spoil, but if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. I will also say that it’s awfully satisfying to see racists incoherently babbling while realizing that their grand designs have fallen apart. Leti informing Christina that all white people are now bound from magic was quite a flourish from this show.
Yep, Leti harnessed a spell more powerful than Christina could manage with the help of Tic and generations of women from Tic’s family — all the way back to Hanna, Tic’s ancestor who had swiped the Book of Names from Ardham manner back in the day. Yet another Karen goes down, with Christina representing the woman who used her white privilege to liberate herself from her patriarchial family (and society at large) while not giving a damn that she’s quite the oppressor herself.
So, we’ve got ourselves what appears to be a concrete ending for Christina, but we don’t really know some other fates. Someone’s mysteriously acquired a bionic arm, Ji-ah’s now joined the family, and uh, it’s a heck of a bold move to end the season with a dead leading man. Is Tic truly gone? I sure don’t doubt that he could be resurrected by magic. That would actually be one of the least batsh*t-crazy things this show has done.
Will Lovecraft Country receive another rodeo to tie up those loose ends? Ratings have been comparable to Watchmen, and even though the book’s source material has been exhausted, a Season 2 could very well happen. Jurnee Smollett’s pushing for this to come true, and creator-showrunner Misha Green told Alan Sepinwall that she’s in talks for Season 2 and has plans on where to go from here.
Fingers crossed on that note, but let’s check in on where everyone (other than Atticus and Christina) ended up, as far as we know.
Leti: It sure wasn’t looking good for the mother of the George Freeman 2.0 in this ^^^ scene, but Christina muttered a spell to reinstate Leti’s invulnerability (though the Mark of Cain), and she only did so to keep a lingering promise to Ruby. That was a big mistake on Christina’s behalf, although she was convinced by her own god complex at that point that nothing could destroy her. Little did Ms. Braithwhite know that a sex-tentacle monster had been hanging on the sidelines and was about to join the party.
Ji-ah: Seeing Atticus’ ex-lover pack up with the rest of the gang for the Ardham road trip? That was mildly surprising, but she ended up being the deus ex machina. Not everyone will love this, since Ji-ah was a peripheral character, and one who did not endure the horrors of the other characters in this scene, but Dee got the finishing move, so that helps. Anyhoodle, Ji-ah’s foxy tentacles helped incapacitate Christina long enough for Leti to finish screaming the climactic incarnation. In the process, Ji-ah came full circle back to that moment with Atticus in South Korea, where she told him, “We could be monsters or heroes.” At that point, Tic wasn’t yet aware that she killed men during sex, but as we saw earlier in the finale, she’s given up that habit for good. From here, I hope she becomes a full-on, sex-tentacle superhero.
Dee: After she’d been let down by all the damn grownups in this season, Atticus’ cousin got to do the final honors upon Christina with a newly acquired robot arm. Do I fully understand how the wacky spells during this episode resulted in Dee being able to command the black-skinned shaggoth now? Nope, but I’m pretty sure no one will be a better adoptive monster-mom than Dee will be. She’ll be fine. More on Dee in a moment.
Ruby: A very sad development went down for Leti’s sister. She’d finally gotten on board with Leti’s insistence that Christina must be stopped, but as we find out, Ruby ended up dead with Christina whipping up a potion to take over her body. Yeah, Ruby got the rawest deal of the season, it seems. She fell in lust with William, only to find out that she’d actually been having sex with Christina. And Ruby, unfortunately, bought into Christina’s bullsh*t to the degree that she couldn’t fully break free, though it does appear that the two felt genuine emotion toward one another. I’m not sorry to see Christina go, but I wish Ruby would have survived.
Hippolyta: Tic’s aunt has a lot of work to do at home to mend the damage she helped do to Dee by evaporating mid-season. Yes, we got a wild space travel episode (move over Vin Diesel and Tom Cruise) out of the deal, along with time portals, but damn lady, get it together with your daughter. I hope that Hippolyta teaches Dee everything about Hiram’s orrery, and then they can bond over a nice, ladies-only road trip to wherever Dee wants to go. Give the girl some ice cream, too. She’s been through a lot, and seeing mom learn to effortlessly draw the Orithya Blue Asteri character ain’t enough. Hopefully, Dee’s all-powerful arm can help get them past any road-bound obstacles.
Montrose: Yep, I sure am using a photo of Tic’s dad from early in the season, but he’s taken the most powerful journey of all. We saw him locked up by the Braithwhites and used as bait to lure Atticus to Ardham Manor. He heartbreakingly wrestled with his alcoholism while attempting to cope with George’s death and reckon with an estranged father-son relationship. Montrose came out, as well, and he made the journey back to 1921 Tulsa, where he tearfully delivered the monologue of the season. Michael K. Williams crushed this whole performance, and I truly feel like he’s the most deserving cast member when awards season rears its head.
Montrose ended the season in grief after (supposedly) losing his son, but he has a shot at being a “father” all over again when Leti’s baby is born. His reconciliation with Tic last week was beautiful, and Tic’s farewell note quoted a parting letter from a character in Montrose’s favorite book, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.”
Since Atticus previously verbalized his suspicions that Montrose loved The Count Of Monte Cristo because the protagonist successfully pursued revenge, I gotta wonder if a Season 2 will see Montrose pursuing some form of revenge for Tic’s death. You might be asking: revenge against whom? He’ll figure something out, no doubt.
Tic’s ancestors: Did Hanna, Hattie, and Dora all really disappear with a puff of smoke during a spell, or are they simply hanging out and waiting for more action? For that matter, did Tic actually kill Titus Braithwhite during that heart-extracting ritual? The dude was already dead, after all, and ghosts can always come back for more haunting. So many questions. We’ve got to have a Season 2 to answer them all. Let’s do this, HBO.