7:00pm PT by Richard Newby
'Lovecraft Country': How the Deadly Season Finale Played Out
[This story contains major spoilers for the season finale of HBO's Lovecraft Country, "Full Circle."]
The end has arrived, not only for the first season of Lovecraft Country but seemingly for three of its central characters. Death is the name of the game in the season finale of Lovecraft Country, and with it comes a monumental shift in the world of magic.
In "Full Circle," directed by Nelson McCormick and written by Misha Green, all roads lead back to Ardham as Tic (Jonathan Majors) and his family attempt to stop Christina (Abbey Lee) from gaining immortality. Most of the episode is centered on tender character moments, fractured relationships repaired, and paying respect to the past while remaining cautiously optimistic for the future — right before blood and tears start raining down over everything in the final twenty minutes.
No sooner than Tic, Leti (Jurnee Smollett), Montrose (Michael K. Williams), and Hippolyta (Aujanue Ellis) returning from their trip to Tulsa 1921 and arriving back on the South Side of Chicago 1955 are they pulled into another crisis. While Montrose and Hippolyta work to save Dee (Jada Harris), Tic and Leti are taken into the ancestral plane where they commune with Hanna (Joaquina Kalukango), Tic's great-grandmother Hattie (Regina Taylor), and mother Dora (Erica Tazel), all to gain information on how to defeat Christina and forever change the rules of magic.
When Tic and Leti wake they see Dee being revived, the curse upon her ended, but her arm is mangled and useless. While Dee recovers, unable to forgive her mother for abandoning her, Tic and Leti return to the underground cavern they ventured into in episode four. This time their journey is easier, thanks to the magic elevator. When down in the cavern, Tic and Leti create a summoning circle, and with the help of the ancestors, Hanna, Hattie, and Dora, they manage to ensnare Titus Braithwhite. But his spirit proves to be too powerful; it disappears and manifests in front of Christina and Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku), letting them know that Tic and Leti have The Book of Names. Tic and Leti manage to entrap Titus again and Tic pins him down and carves a chunk of flesh from his chest.
Back in the travel guide shop, Montrose, Hippolyta, Leti, and Tic are finalizing their plans, and the words to the spell that could save Tic's life. Christina stops by, setting everyone on edge. She wants to make a bargain. If they give her The Book of Names, she'll spare Tic and find another way to achieve immortality. But Tic and his companions aren't buying a deal with the devil and refuse her offer. In retaliation, Christina removes the invulnerability spell on Leti.
With Tic set to stay the course, he decides to pay Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung) a visit. He apologizes to Ji-Ah for what he said to her at Leti's house, letting her know that what they had was real but that he was afraid of admitting it because that would mean everything was real including her premonition of his death. Ji-Ah admits that she feels like she's losing touch with her humanity again, and that ever since her mother died she feels the kumiho taking over. Tic tells her that those feelings are normal, and human, and that she is his family.
Leti visits her mother's grave and meets with Ruby there. She asks Ruby to give her a sample of Christina's blood telling her that the only way they can save Tic is if she uses her closeness to Christina to help them. Ruby says that while Leti may think this situation is different, it's still the same shit she's always pulled which is only coming to her when she needs something. Ruby leaves Leti at the gravesite, seemingly abandoning her family for Christina.
Dee, still understandably feeling out of sorts and blaming her mother for leaving, is devastated by the fact that she will no longer be able to draw because of her ruined arm. Hippolyta tells her she understands Dee's anger but knows that it will pass and that she'll make sure of it. She has a surprise for Dee, a way so that she will be able to draw again, and brings her into a room where Dee gazes upon something unseen with wonder.
Ruby goes down to Christina's basement where, much like Tic and his family, she is preparing for the ritual. Christina tells Ruby that there are a multitude of variables when it comes to casting a spell, and that even being off by just a little could be disastrous. Ruby assures Christina that her spell will work, and the two kiss, for the first time, each in their own bodies. Despite the romance, Ruby can't help but notice a vial of Christina's blood sitting out in the open, a vial that could turn the tide for Leti and Tic.
Meanwhile, Tic agrees to get baptized alongside Leti, who believes that God will protect them. Tic on the other hand is not so sure. His moment of doubt can be looked at as a garden of Gethsemane moment. Even with all of their best laid plans to save his life and defeat Christina, Tic still knows it could all go wrong, and has seemingly resigned himself to the possibility,
Tic, Leti, Montrose, Hippolyta, Dee, and Ji-Ah all load up in the station wagon to head to Ardham. Just before they depart Ruby comes with the vial of Christina's blood and committal to her family. But can she be trusted? With everyone loaded up in the station wagon, tensions settle and they sing along to Sh-Boom by The Chords — yes, even Montrose. It's a sweet moment and feels as though they're all heading out on a family road trip rather than to their potential doom.
In Ardham, Tic ingests the piece of Titus' flesh and drinks the vial of Christina's blood. Yes, it's gross. But luckily, Montrose is at his side and quick to pass along a flask of whisky. With Tic headed towards Christina and the ritual station she's built amidst the ruins of the Braithwhite Lodge, the rest of the family set to work on drawing the runic symbols to disrupt the ritual. But their stealth mission is soon interrupted by the townspeople of Ardham who attack them.
In a tower overlooking the ruins, Leti and Ruby make the final preparations. But then Ruby says something which contradicts the conversation she and Leti had earlier in the graveyard. It dawns on Leti that Ruby isn't actually Ruby, but Christina. Christina, in Ruby's body, confirms her suspicions, revealing that the vial of blood she brought was Ruby's and that she killed Leti's sister after discovering her betrayal. She and Leti fight atop the tower, and just when it seems like Leti has the upper hand, Christina shoves Leti off the tower where she plummets to her death.
Dee, hiding out in the station wagon, hears something lurking in the woods surrounding her. A shoggoth/vampire emerges, but before it can attack, Tic's black shoggoth rips through the ground and the two monsters battle each other while Dee looks on.
Back at the summoning site, Christina, back in her own body, has Tic restrained to a platform. The villagers of Ardham bring Tic's captive family to the site, and Tic notices that Leti isn't there. Tic asks where Leti is and Christina doesn't answer. With the beginning of the equinox she begins the ritual, first slashing Tic's wrists and letting his blood wash over her. As she begins the spell, Tic's life force drains out of him. As he begins to lose consciousness he sees Leti approach the site. How is she alive? It turns out that before Ruby died, she got a look at Christina's spell pages and managed to recast the invulnerability spell on Leti.
Leti begins reciting her own spell, one which summons a dark cloud. But her spell won't work unless Christina and Tic's bodies are connected. Ji-Ah realizing that this is the moment she's supposed to become one with the darkness as the mudang told her enters the dark cloud and uses two tails from her eyes to bind Christina and Tic. Leti continues to chant, and the end result of her spell is a giant explosion of dark energy. The result finds Christina denied her immortality, stripped of her invulnerability, and crushed from waist down under rubble. Leti reveals that not only is Christina blocked from magic, but so is every white person in the world. All magic now belongs to people of color.
But Christina isn't the main concern at the moment. Tic is dead. Montrose takes his limp body from the ritual platform and urges his son to get up. But he's gone. It's shocking and heartbreaking, and hard to believe. Yet, his death is undeniable. Hippolyta gives Montrose a letter that Tic wrote earlier, a letter that reveals Tic knew he was going to die and did so in order to protect his family, and his race. He tells his father that he loves him and that Montrose now has a chance to be the father he always wanted to be as a grandfather to his son George, to find true happiness. Montrose, Leti, Hippolyta, and Ji-Ah, all devastated, carry Tic's lifeless body out of Ardham.
In a coda, Christina still begging for life is approached by Dee and her shoggoth. Christina pleads to her for help and mercy. Dee tells Christina that she still hasn't learned and reveals a robotic arm her mother made for her. She grips Christina's neck with it, and tears her throat out, killing her, while her shoggoth howls at the moon behind her. Christina Braithwhite is dead, and Dee is on a new path, perhaps as hero or perhaps as something darker and more necessary.
With that, the first season of Lovecraft Country reaches its end, and will leave viewers contemplating the choices made, and if any of it was preventable in the weeks to come. But the first season ends on a note that could drastically alter the magic of the show going forward. As for what a world where people of color have power over magic will look like, audiences will have to wait and keep their fingers crossed for an official renewal from HBO. But if there's any hints to be gleaned for future seasons, Lovecraft Country has maintained that magic has a cost, and the future is built on reckoning with legacy.