7:05pm PT by Richard Newby
'Lovecraft Country' Boss Looks Past That Game-Changing Finale: "There's Definitely a Path Forward"
[This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of HBO's Lovecraft Country, "Full Circle."]
Count the dead, cast a spell, say a prayer. However you choose to process what you've just seen, that's a wrap on the first season of Lovecraft Country.
“Full Circle,” directed by Nelson McCormick and written by Misha Green, was true to its name. Lovecraft Country went back to Ardham for another bout with shoggoths, blood rituals, and tragedy: the deaths of three major characters, even if one of them isn't likely to inspire too much heartache. All of it paved the way for a new hierarchy and a promising future for the series, should there be a future for the series; as it stands, HBO has not yet renewed Lovecraft Country for a second season.
Ahead, The Hollywood Reporter speaks with Misha Green for a breakdown of the three major deaths of the finale, the early word on season two (such as it is), and much more.
All of the deaths in the season finale were surprising, but first I'm curious about your decision to kill Christina (Abbey Lee) and Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku), and end their storylines where you did.
We talked about the Christina and Ruby relationship and the course of their arc over the season. In the idea of these potions and being able to swap bodies it felt like at the end of the day Ruby would choose her sister, and that would upset Christina who's actually gotten closer to Ruby than she's gotten to anyone in a very long time. So that just felt like the natural progression of that story and that portrayal. And then Christina, she's not invincible anymore, and it just felt like the question of what would happen to her was answered by Dee's robotic arm. (Laughs.)
And then we get to Tic dying. That was the biggest surprise because he's been the lead of the show this whole season, and connected everyone to this world of magic. So how did you arrive at the decision to kill him off?
In the writer's room we talk a lot about this idea of the hero's journey, and what that means. How do you change power structures that are so powerful? And part of that thought was that you have to make sacrifices to change the world. So it was very interesting to us to watch a hero know that's what's coming, and know he has to do that to change the power structure within Lovecraft Country, which is magic, knowing that his sacrifice was going to be worth that. It was just exciting to watch that character go through that, to see this person that had been kind of actively fighting his death the whole season, actually accept it and walk towards it.
What's the status of season two? Have you begun writing or any pre-production yet?
I literally just finished season one like three weeks ago. (Laughs.) So yeah, we're not. We're in talks with HBO the possibility of it, but nothing's official.
Should a season two happen, will Jonathan Majors be back in any capacity?
Pleading the fifth. No spoilers. (Laughs.)
Fair enough. Will season two follow the same characters?
Pleading the fifth. No spoilers. (Laughs.) I think that one of the things that was really exciting for me in season one, and working with HBO PR, was really trying to keep every episode as much of a surprise as possible and to let the audience get to go in and experience it. And I feel the same way about season two. There's definitely a path forward that we have, but I definitely want to keep it close to the vest. It was one of the things that was exciting about reading Matt Ruff's book [on which Lovecraft Country is based] for me: every chapter as it was unfolding I was like "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" We want that to be the experience, because that's the best genre experience.
We know that Tic visited the future in a previous episode and he met a hooded woman with a metal arm, and Dee now has a metal arm. Is the woman in the future Dee?
No spoilers! (Laughs.)
Shifting subjects a bit. Is there anything from season one that you learned that you'd want to implement in future seasons?
That element of surprise. In season one I think the excitement of going and reclaiming genre space for people of color is definitely kind of the M.O. of the show. So continuing that and expanding that, even just beyond the characters we've met is very exciting to me.
The murder of Yahima in the fourth episode was somewhat controversial this season. So I want to get your thoughts on the intention of that character's death and what you wanted to say through it.
Yeah, I think I tweeted about this, but pretty much my feeling on it was that we were exploring an uncomfortable truth in which oppressed people can also be oppressors. That was the specific thing that we were really going with in terms of “A History of Violence” and the colonists and the colonizers. And it just was not as well thought out as it should have been. It was a storytelling failure on my heart, looking back at it and seeing the reactions to it, and hearing a lot of really good points made about it. But I don't know, I just don't feel like it's a strange thing to admit you failed in a moment, and that you can do better and you will do better.
At the beginning of the season I asked about your cinematic and literary influences for episodes one through five. Would you care to share those influences that you and the writers turned to for episodes six through ten?
Episodes six through ten. Wow. (Laughs.) For six, a lot of war movies. A lot of Judy Garland stuff. We read a lot about kumihos and that whole mythology from Korea. In seven, it was just a plethora of sci-fi movies, every one you can think of. We were just like, what can we pull here for our sci-fi episode? For eight, A Nightmare on Elm Street, which I think I mentioned previously. And recently I really loved It Follows, so we looked at that a lot. Episode nine, time travel. We looked at a lot of time travel stuff and then our minds exploded and we were like, oh my gosh, we've just really got to keep this as simple as possible because there are so many theories and so many things that could happen. And episode ten I think maybe the best example would be the Buffy finales. I think it has that vibe of where you look at a lot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer finales and you kind of touch on every character, and you have all these quiet scenes, and then you have the big battle at the end. We were like oh okay, now we've just got to settle with these peeps, love them, and then watch them die.
While we wait for a second season, do you have any media recommendations for audiences to tide them over? Not necessarily related to anywhere the story is going, but generally speaking things that people who like Lovecraft Country may want to check out.
I feel like if you like Lovecraft Country I would just encourage people to dive deeper into Black sci-fi writers, like Octavia Butler. And finding people in those horror spaces that are Black and are creating new stories because if you like this one then you'll love what they're doing to.
I've asked all of the central cast members this question in some form or another, but what do you hope that viewers take away from this first season of Lovecraft Country in order to implement real change in terms of our present day situation?
This question is always tough for me because I don't want to tell the audience what to take away from this. I just hope that they take something and that something starts conversation. I think in this moment, we need to talk more, we need to get to some ugly truths, and we need to figure out what are the ways forward. How do we change this system that is affecting all of our lives in a negative way? So I feel like if this show starts conversations, whatever those conversations are, I'm happy.
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.