So here we are at the end of Lovecraft Country S1E10, the finale. I had to watch it twice to really understand what happened as it moved so fast. But bear with me; I am not saying that it was terrible or disappointing—unimaginative perhaps, which seems harsh of me to say about a show so full of fantasy I know.
Throughout the whole season, Lovecraft Country has excelled when the story follows real-life events merged into the stories of our friends, the Freeman family and their legacy. “Strange Case“, “Jig-a-Bobo” and “Rewind 1921” were three of the best episodes of television I had seen in a while, and they got me reading and researching so much about African American history that I may never have known otherwise. Where the show has faltered is where there isn’t much other than the fantasy story to dwell on. Sadly, that was the case for “Full Circle”. I totally understand why; it would be tricky to tie in actual events to a season finale that promised so much magic and adventure.
However, for the last ten weeks, we have followed the story of Tic, Leti, Christina and chums, and each of them had quite a journey through Lovecraft Country, so that’s what I am going to look at here. How has each of the characters fared, and, if there is a second season, where could their story lead next? Let’s go full circle.
Atticus Freeman — The Sacrificial Hero
Let’s start with the main man Tic Freeman. Way back in the beginning, Tic’s mission was to find his missing father Montrose, who as it turns out had been kidnapped by the Braithwhites and used as bait to lure Tic to his death, for Atticus’ magic blood was required for Daddy Braithwhite to become immortal. That didn’t work out so great for Samuel who was turned to dust when Hanna, Tic’s great-great-grandmother appeared in a vision to help Tic out and end the ritual. It was she who was impregnated by Titus Braithwhite, and he stole the magic from her.
And so Tic’s journey across Lovecraft Country became something much more than even he could have dreamed up from his fantasy novels. We learned more about Tic’s past than anyone else’s. His childhood had not been easy, as his father Montrose was a violent drunk who beat him regularly. Tic had wished that his Uncle George was his birth father, and after travelling back in time to his father’s childhood, his wish may have come true. Tic’s mother Dora died young, and Montrose was not a good role model for him, so it was Uncle George and his wife Hippolyta who had steered Tic’s love for adventure. Tic joined the army to avoid his father’s beatings and while in Korea he had to dish out some cruel punishments on innocent people himself.
Ji-ah was a nurse that he met after being injured in battle. They fell in love and Tic was very aware that his girlfriend was a fox, but had no idea that she was in fact a kumiho; a nine-tailed fox spirit who was meant to take the souls of one hundred men so that she could return to her human self. Ji-ah could not bring herself to take Tic’s life though as she loved him, but she did see into his future and that showed him with little time left.
Atticus fell in love with Leti Lewis, a girl he’d known when he was younger, a woman who was every part as much a hero as he. Pregnant with his child, her safety became his priority, overtaking the need to wield magical power himself. His final journey reunited him with his mother, who also let him know that his death would not be in vain, that it would make a real difference to the future of the world. And so with great courage, he took one last look at his family, and the great warriors they had become, proud of each and every one of them. Including his father, with whom he had repaired his relationship after witnessing just what Montrose had been through as a kid. It didn’t matter anymore if Montrose was his biological father or not; he was his son. As Dora stated, Tic became the man he was because of both Montrose and George, their fierce passion and integrity, respectively.
Tic learned to respect his mother’s affair with George, and Montrose’s true identity as a gay man, understanding that love sometimes just happens like that. It’s not a choice.
It feels to me that Tic was always aware that he would have to die; his hardest job was convincing those that loved him it had to happen. After Ji-ah’s vision and his brief trip into the future via Hiram’s time machine in “I Am” in which the future, robotically armed Diana handed him the book Lovecraft Country written by his son, George Freeman, which also told of Tic’s death, it seemed this particular destiny was written in the stars. In parallel universes, his story may have a different ending, but on this Earth, Tic was a willing sacrifice, for his death would spell the end of white influence over black lives.
At Ardham Christina conducted the immortality ritual as the moon rose high in the sky, and drained the blood from his body, showering herself in it, drinking its magic. Tic did not give in to death until he knew for sure that their plan had worked; that Leti and their unborn son were safe. Leti mouthed her love for him and he let go.
Is he gone forever? I honestly don’t know. If the survivors get him back to town quick enough, there may be a chance. Leti knows all the magic now and has the Book of Names. She may also be able to bring her sister back from the dead. Christina’s lab is the perfect place for a resurrection.
Letitia Lewis — The Goddess Mama Oya
Leti got caught up in this whole business totally by chance. Needing a ride to her brother’s house after she and Ruby had a falling out, it is Leti who outruns a shoggoth and saves the day. Her bravery is never doubted again. In “Whitey’s On The Moon”, Samuel Braithwhite shoots her dead on the bridge near Ardham but brings her back to life. Leti explains to Atticus in “Holy Ghost” that nothing has felt truly the same since her resurrection.
Leti calls upon the African Goddess known as Mama Oya, a prominent figure in African culture who guards the realm between life and death, commonly known as purgatory, after purchasing a Victorian home for her sister and members of the black community. Discovering that the malevolent entity of Hiram Epstein (an evil scientist who was kidnapping and experimenting on African Americans) resides within its walls, she successfully hones the power of Mama Oya in order to expel his spirit from the premises.
While mythology differs between various cultures and locations, almost every belief that mentions the Goddess Oya regards her as one of the most powerful. In African culture, she represents strength, justice, and femininity. In Lovecraft Country, Leti continues to grow as a social and political activist as well as a force to be reckoned with when faced with racists and white supremacists. In the finale episode, it is wonderful to see an African American couple have bought the house across the road from Leti, showing that her actions in the community have made a real difference.
The Goddess Oya is known as the bringer of change and for only speaking the truth. In African mythology, people are cautioned against invoking or provoking her due to the intensity of her power. When threatened, Leti brings a storm just like the Goddess is known to do. A storm powerful enough to rid her house of Hiram’s ghost and repair the spirits of those poor souls who died at his hands. In the finale, once Leti is brought back to life for the second time, she harnesses immense power once again, stirring up a black cloud from which Ji-ah is able to play her part.
Leti is driven by love for Atticus and their child but more than that—she sees the bigger picture, that she can really change the world. Before Tic goes to Ardham, Leti takes him to be baptised. She is not particularly religious, but perhaps her moments between life and death have given her some insight into how to protect his soul. Did she make a deal with God/The Goddess? I hope that Leti has a trick up her sleeve to bring her love back to her; she holds all the power now.
Ruby Baptiste — Sisterhood
Ruby Baptiste is a symbol of femininity and sisterhood. She didn’t always get her priorities right, but she was lured into believing that she was making a difference by joining forces with the all-powerful Christina Braithwhite.
Christina promised her the freedom to live like a white person, with privilege, wealth and magic. Ruby even knew at times that she was being duped, but she had faith in Christina’s love for her—she did appear to prove it many times. Of course, this is how domestic abusers work. They shower you with love and adoration, give you a gift and then when you are addicted to it, threaten to take it away. The belittling begins, the humiliation; just enough to put you back in your place. You stumble through the confusion; are you going crazy? Would I be a fool to leave when on the surface you have so much? This is the very definition of gaslighting. Christina made Ruby feel that what she was doing was necessary for the empowerment of women, knowing that this was important to her and using it against her.
Ruby learned a lot from her time as a white woman; that she could get away with murder, have the job of her dreams and enough money to live happily. But it wasn’t really enough. Ruby wasn’t experiencing any of this as her real self, and so she wasn’t making any progress for black women. She fell in love with who she thought was a white man, which initially went against all her beliefs. She was right at the start when she told ‘William’ that he wasn’t really interested in her. Ruby was tricked into believing differently, and even when Christina revealed her true self, Ruby was too far gone to leave. Ruby’s story is one of learning to love someone no matter their identity—that it is only the soul that matters, not the body it’s encased in.
In the end, Ruby may not survive the effects of Christina’s power. While she and her sister Leti didn’t always see eye to eye, and she saw her sister as a selfish user—which Leti had been at times—Leti opened her eyes to how Christina was treating her precisely the same way. At their mothers grave, it appears that Ruby chooses love over her blood, but Leti must tell her something to convince her otherwise.
Ruby is caught stealing a potion of Christina’s blood, hair and nails that could be used by Tic to steal the magic from Christina and direct it onto him during the Autumnal Equinox ritual. We don’t find out if Christina truly kills Ruby before using her body to travel to Ardham with the gang as a spy, but it seems to be the case.
What Christina didn’t realise is that Ruby had planned this all along. It appears that in exchange for sacrificing her skin to Christina, she made Christina promise to keep Leti and her baby safe from harm. Leti realised that Ruby was not who she seemed at the tower, and they fought hard and viciously with Christina seemingly the victor after throwing Leti to her death. But as Leti lays dying, Christina (as Ruby) recasts the spell of invulnerability on Leti. Little did Christina know but this act would be her ultimate undoing.
Ruby used Christina’s magic on her; the magic of manipulation, using the power that she truly did hold, for in some messed up way Christina did have feelings for Ruby. It wasn’t true love; it was possession and the need to be in control.
Montrose Freeman — Father
Montrose’s journey was one of self-discovery and acceptance and was more grounded than the others. He lost his brother George, who had always looked out for him and protected him as a kid, early in the series. He had vowed to be a good father to Tic after his death. Montrose rarely made the right choices, choosing anger and violence to express his fears of losing those dear to him. It was all his own father ever showed him.
Montrose didn’t just battle with Atticus; his meanest rival was himself. For years he punished himself for being gay, not allowing anyone to know, giving up on true love because he didn’t like who he was. He lived with the guilt of his first boyfriend being shot right in front of him by racists during the Tulsa Massacre in 1921. In the moments before, he had told Tom that he couldn’t see him anymore because he was a ‘faggot’. All Montrose ever wanted was to be a father, and Dora made that possible for him while keeping his secret safe. Whether he was Tic’s birth father or not, he proved to be a protective and loving man whose sexuality didn’t matter.
There is still some mystery around the secrets Montrose kept. I often had the feeling that he was playing for the wrong side, but that did not come to pass in the finale. Luckily, he was unconscious at the time of Tic’s sacrifice, as he would not have been able to handle seeing that and would probably have got himself killed trying to save his son. Distraught at waking to find his son dead, I would worry about him returning to the bottle. But Tic left him a letter—proving that he knew he was going to die—telling Montrose to be the father he wanted to be to him, but for his grandson. This may be Montrose’s saving grace and chance to make up for his past mistakes.
Hippolyta Freeman — Mother
Hippolyta began as a repressed figure, held back by her husband who by wanting to protect her, shrank her spirit. After George’s death, she was able to chase her curiosity and upon investigating what happened to him, she discovered more than she could ever have imagined while travelling through other worlds, the future and the past. Her final choice, however, was to be mother to Dee, for her daughter is the future, and she is very important.
Assuming that Hippolyta can return to wherever she wants using Hiram’s time machine, she and Dee could travel through history and into the future making sure that the past horrors which have been inflicted upon people of colour are not glossed over or removed from the history books.
She looks great with blue hair too; she just has to lose the cap.
Diana Freeman — The Future
Dee has been through the scariest moments of all. Just a teenager when whites murdered her father. Just a teenager when her best friend, Emmett Till, was murdered by whites in the cruelest, most brutal way. Her mother, Hippolyta was also gone, presumed dead, and so it is understandable that she would allow fear and hatred into her soul. Topsy and Bopsy were the manifestations of these fears—a projection of the way white people had ridiculed black children in advertisements, stage shows and books, portraying them as feral, idiot animals with melon-eating grins and dancing like the possessed.
Without her family present to help her fight these negative thoughts, they crept ever closer, until she was unable to fight them off any longer, and Dee herself became the thing she feared the most. Cursed with self-hatred, reduced to a caricature, her mother spanned lifetimes and parallel universes to return to her daughter and release her from the trauma that was consuming her. Hippolyta showed Dee that she was the future; that young black people hold the key to changing the world.
In the finale episode, Tic and Leti open the Book of Names that they had rescued from Tulsa, 1921, to break the spell cast over Dee. In doing this, spirits pulled them into another realm where Tic’s mother and grandmother waited to guide them on their path. They bring back Dee, but it is too late to save her arm, rotten to the bone.
With her dreams as a cartoonist all but shattered by the loss of her drawing hand, Dee is angry and disillusioned, until her mother reveals that she brought knowledge of robotics back from the future. Dee is the woman from the future with the robotic arm who hands the book Lovecraft Country to Tic. She always did have insight into the future—her comic strips featured her mother Hippolyta as an electric-blue haired space traveller, which came to be a reality.
In perhaps the most crucial scene of the finale, Dee, with her newly trained black-skinned shoggoth (which had ripped its white counterpart to shreds) is begged by Christina (who is trapped under rubble from the destroyed Ardham Lodge) to help her. Dee does not go to her rescue, choosing instead to squeeze her neck until it bursts, taking Christina’s life. It appears that Dee has learned not to trust her abuser. Christina had been gaslighting them all one way or another; leading them to believe she was on their side, small moments of compassion but forever holding power of them because they needed her. Not anymore. Taking Christina’s life was a symbol of freedom, that they no longer need the privileged white to give them a sprinkling of power—they hold all the power themselves now. Dee is the future—she represents the power young people hold. She shed the preconceptions of the past, lost the labels and came out fighting strongest of all, proud of her legacy.
Ji-ah — Kumiho Spirit of the Fox
Ji-ah’s story almost felt redundant towards the end of the series. Many people had sympathy for the fox spirit who travelled all the way to Chicago from Korea to explain herself to Atticus. She may not have been human, but by living as a woman she had learned to love, to care, to feel empathy, and want to change her destiny. Ji-ah mourned the loss of her mother in the final episode, her mother who never got to see her daughter return for Ji-ah would not take another life of an innocent.
Tic’s attitude towards her was mean considering all they had been through. Yes, she lied about who she was, but they had both taken the lives of innocent people in war and battle. Tic does realise this and thanks Ji-ah for what she did for him and she sticks around to help them take down Christina. It seems that Ji-ah and Tic were always meant to cross paths—when Leti whips up a storm with her powerful magic, Ji-ah realises what she has to do. Christina has tricked Tic: It wasn’t actually her blood that he washed down Titus Braithwhite’s flesh with, so he is not bound to Christina when she comes to take his life at the altar. Christina almost has it all until Ji-ah steps into the cloud and her fox tails connect Tic to Christina, binding them together and destroying the power once and for all.
At least I think that’s what happened. As she always does, Ji-ah sees the pasts of the people she is connected to. For Christina she sees her discovering Ruby trying to steal her potion, and Ruby hooked up in her basement in a coma. For Tic she sees him writing a letter to his father which he gives to Hippolyta, Tic hugging his father, teaching Dee how to look after the shoggoth and Leti standing over him while he is baptised. There does not appear to be a future for either of them.
Christina Braithwhite — White Power
From the beginning, Christina was a conundrum. Was she a white ally? Ironically, she may even have believed this to be true. She stepped in to save Tic and the gang from the very first episode when she used magic to crash the truck of racists chasing them out of town at sundown. Then, she appeared to be on Tic’s side when it came to her father’s mission to become immortal using Tic’s blood. When her father shot Leti and George, she brought Leti back to life using her magic. She could have done the same for George but didn’t, forever holding the power of life and death of the gang, ensuring that they needed her to save them.
Every act of kindness and compassion Christina made had an ulterior motive. Flouncing her white power, attempting to keep her black ‘friends’ in line and in debt to her. Like many slavemasters, she truly believed she was doing them a favour, keeping them chained meant keeping them safe. The truth is that she had to try and keep them on side as she needed them more than they needed her. Christina’s ultimate goal was always to become immortal—succeeding where every man had failed before her. Somehow she failed to realise that she was behaving just as despicably as the men in her attempt to become all-powerful. Not even attempting to cover up the fact by the end that she was more than willing to sacrifice the lives of anyone that stood in her way, including the woman she apparently loved, Ruby.
To test out her invulnerability she had two men murder her in the same way that racists murdered the poor boy Emmett Till; by being beaten, shot, tied with barbed wire to an industrial fan and then dumped in a river. She survived, because she could as she held the power. Why did she choose this manner of death? It could be perceived that she wanted to understand the pain that black people have gone through for centuries. But is that giving her too much credit? Did she take that pain and experience to commandeer it for herself?
Yet, in the end, she hasn’t really learned anything about suffering or self-sacrifice. Christina believes that she has everyone in the right place as she meticulously planned, but she underestimated the power of family—something she never quite understood as her father never truly loved her. The blood that flowed through Atticus’ veins was not just that of her father, but of his mother, and his grandmother and great grandmother. Christina never had motherly love nor siblings or even friends. Her yearning for this was seen as she played with children in the street. Love was the only privilege she never got her hands on. It is a sad story really, but before we feel too much sympathy for the devil, we need to remember she had many chances to change her story but put herself first every time.
Her spell was a success, and she did, albeit briefly, become immortal, sacrificing Tic’s life in the process. While not her intention, she also sacrificed herself for the greater good as her mistake in making Leti invulnerable again came back to bite her. Leti was able to harness power that Christina could only dream of, and banished magic from her, and all white people for good.
Even as she laid dying, Christina still hadn’t learned that black people were no longer there to do her bidding and that she had lost all the power—the non-magical sort—she ever had. Dee had to take her life, as Christina metaphorically represented inherent racism, the type of discrimination that some white people don’t even realise they have within them. They may have black friends and lovers. They may stand by their black brothers and sisters and shout from the rooftops that black lives matter, but do they matter just as much as white lives matter to them? The answer, when you get right down to the root of it, is probably no. Until this inherent and systemic racism no longer exists, there is no equality.
Where do we go from here? I think it is likely there will be a Season 2 of Lovecraft Country as the ratings have been very high for the show. There is so much African American history to be explored, and a vast future they could dive into, so the sky is the limit for this show. Will Tic’s legacy live on? Will there be a new villain to fight? Of course there will. There is always someone who wants to fight for white supremacy.
Thank you for reading over the last ten weeks. I hope to see you back here when we come full circle for the next series.
All images courtesy of HBO