Lovecraft Country: 1.10 Full Circle
Catch up on episodes one through nine of Lovecraft Country here. Spoilers follow.
Lovecraft Country ends its first season with a jam-packed, high-stakes final episode. Full Circle sees a return to Ardham as Christina’s plan comes to fruition and a sacrifice is made. As the title suggests, everything comes full circle for Tic, Leti and the gang.
Watching the episode is obviously the best way of covering all the climactic events of the season finale, but suffice to say that a lot happens – perhaps too much. Full Circle crams in a lot of magic, spells and exposition, particularly the final twenty minutes, and you’re left with the feeling that some plot points could have been afforded more space to breathe – and that characters like Ji-Ah probably needed more screentime in the middle of the season to achieve full impact here.
The gang employs the help of familiar faces from the past to face down Titus Braithwhite, the founder of the wizarding Sons of Adam and the precipitating force behind the whole scenario. The primary ongoing arc – Tic’s ancestral legacy of magic – gets resolved, and Christina finally enacts her plan to sacrifice Tic and become immortal, with explosive consequences. Tic also has a final, tearful reunion with his deceased mother before dying to protect his family.
There is a great twist involving Ruby and Christina’s penchant for body swapping – perhaps the episode’s best moment – although again, the plot point would have benefited from increased attention within the narrative. Hippolyta and Diana have a part to play, Montrose is just kind of there, and a returning Ji-Ah is instrumental at the climax, but previous episodes made better use of these characters than Full Circle does. The denouement is rushed, and an unexpected final scene seemingly propels one supporting character in a surprising new direction. At the end of the day, Full Circle is focused on wrapping up the arc and keying into Tic’s emotional journey first and foremost.
Overall, this season has proved strong and engrossing. Full of bold and imaginative ideas and rarely shying away from its pulp science fiction-fantasy roots, Lovecraft Country is a show dedicated to exposing systemic prejudice and violence just as much as celebrating its lead characters. Credit must go not only to the production team, with show runner Misha Green as its head, for crafting an affecting and terrifying season of science-fantasy drama, but also to author Matt Ruff for providing the source material on which the series builds.
The character work has been top-notch; the show’s success hinges upon fantastic performances from Jurnee Smollett, Jonathon Majors, Courtney B Vance, Michael K Williams, Wunmi Mosaku and Aunjanue Ellis. Numerous scenes – particularly those featuring Williams or Mosaku – hit home with an exquisite emotional intensity that is wholly down to the talent of the actors involved. Not every character decision succeeds, however: Vance, appearing prominently only in the first two episodes, is underused as Uncle George; and as fantastic as the Ji-Ah-centric episode Meet Me in Daegu is, Jamie Chung‘s character doesn’t appear often enough overall to justify main billing.
A generous HBO budget takes the series’ central conceit and realises it onscreen with exuberance and flair. As The Digital Fix has explored across the season, set design, costuming and music choices never fail to impress: the characters and sets always looks great, and the mixing of contemporary music with 50s-style ballads proves invigorating.
At its best, Lovecraft Country is a tautly powerful exploration of family legacy, racial tensions and Black identity. The (often extreme) horror trappings will not be to everyone’s taste – but the highly topical social comment on race, prejudice and inequality is pertinent for all of us. Come for the scares and excitement of the monsters, but leave with the acute sense that there are greater horrors hiding within humanity.
This Lovecraft-inspired horror series is not for the faint hearted. But considering the treatment the Black American community has experienced across generations, the terror and fore of Lovecraft Country seem feeble in comparison.