Lovecraft Country concluded this week by going, you guessed it, full circle. That meant a return to Ardham, but it also meant arriving at the inevitable conclusion of the series, the point we were hoping to avoid since Atticus and friends first landed in Ardham in episode one. In the final showdown, Christina tried to make her dreams of immortality a reality, while the Freeman clan tried to disrupt Christina to satisfy their own dreama of safety. In the end, nothing less than the fate of magic was at stake.
The hour was jam-packed with story, and it would be both impossible and dull to do a complete blow-by-blow in this space. Where the story of Lovecraft Country leaves us now is a realm of incredible possibility because the spell didn’t just stop Christina’s ambitions for immortality, it took magic away from White people and put it in the hands of Black people. What does a world look like when a group of people without power suddenly have the power to do the impossible? Do future seasons of Lovecraft Country take us into alternative universes where Black people use magic to make things more equitable?
“Where the story of Lovecraft Country leaves us now is a realm of incredible possibility…”
Both Matt Ruff’s original novel and Misha Green’s adaptation proceeds from the fact that there has not been a lot of room in the realms of sci-fi and fantasy for People of Colour. Think about the two biggest fantasy franchises of the 21st century, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, there was no room for Black people in the former, and there were only a few Black characters in the later, and the two most prominent and longest-running Black characters in Game of Thrones were servants to a White queen. One is reminded that the great idea to follow up Game of Thrones from that show’s creators was a series about a modern day Confederacy where slavery is still legal.
In Lovecraft Country, Atticus was being sought for his power, but he was never meant to use it. The fact that he has magical blood is incidental, because his ancestor Hanna was raped by the man who owned her, and she had the strength to run away. But even in that strength, we found out this week, she was still afraid of embracing her potential. She saw fire, and it made her afraid, but the fire wasn’t a remnant of the night she escaped from the burning lodge, it was the symbol of her rage, and it took her a long time, even postmortem, to understand she could control it.
One is reminded of a line from Hippolyta’s trip through time, and her revelation of how the call for women, especially Black women, to be ladylike is a call for those women to ignore their rage, not because it’s bad form or bad manners, but because it’s a form of control. While Hanna, Atticus’ mother Dora, and Hattie, the keeper of the book in 1921, all learned to channel their rage in the afterlife, good old Titus Birthwaite is every inch the same racist dick he was when conjured 100 years after his death. White privilege means never having to say you’re sorry.
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You also have to note the different priorities of our characters, the Freemans are fighting for each other, but Christina is only fighting for more power. Note that it didn’t even seem to matter to Christina – an already incredibly powerful woman that has shaken off both familial and societal misogyny – that she was now killing her distant cousin for a little more power. Ruby asked what she will lose if the spell doesn’t work, and Christina said that she will have killed the last of her family for nothing, but she said it will all the regret of someone who ate the last piece of cake.
“Looking back on what hopefully is the first season of Lovecraft Country, it can be seen as just a prelude to even wilder adventures…”
So the final confrontation was a game of disproportional stakes, just like it’s always been. For some people it was their lives at stake, and it was those people, or more specifically Atticus, that walked into the ruins of the lodge knowing that those steps would be his last. Atticus knew he was sacrificing himself, but not to give one person more power, but to radically alter the balance of power. Yes, Atticus died, but like the heroes of his favourite books, he died the better man with purpose and love.
In this final letter to Montrose, Atticus quotes the ubiquitous Count of Monte Cristo, “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.” It’s a challenge to Montrose that acknowledges a lifetime of struggle, tragedy and regret but reminds him that he can know happiness in a way that few people do, and that he can be a better father to his grandson than he ever was to his son. New life is a new opportunity to do better.
The end of Lovecraft Country offers the same opportunities. What does Leti do with her power as a spellcaster? Where does Hippolyta go next now that she’s Dee’s character Orithyia Blue come to life? What does Dee do with her cybernetic arm and her new shoggoth sidekick? How does Ji-Ah make the world a better place instead of just another spirit that walks the Earth to take life? And what will all those selfish White people do now that they no longer have the power of magic?
There’s been no announcement from HBO about the future of the series, even though they advertised this Sunday’s episode as a “season finale” and not a “series finale”. Looking back on what hopefully is the first season of Lovecraft Country, it can be seen as just a prelude to even wilder adventures, a 10-episode series of events that sets up a funky world of incredible possibility, and one that’s unbound by the long, sad and unfortunate realities of racism in the middle part of the 20th century, or at least overcomes them. Lovecraft C0untry has earned a lot of fans, and hopefully, this isn’t the end of the story.
“Lovecraft C0untry has earned a lot of fans, and hopefully, this isn’t the end of the story.”
Revisit your favorite moments of Lovecraft Country or give yourself a refresher before next by reading our previous recaps of the series HERE. Continue the conversation with us and be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the dark shadow looming over the characters of Lovecraft Country on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.