HBO’s Lovecraft Country
1×10: “Full Circle”
Directed by Nelson McCormick
Written by Misha Green
* For a recap & review of “Rewind 1921,” click here.
* Hopefully there’ll be a Season 2
Atticus and the rest have returned from the observatory. They’ve got Diana back, and so Atticus starts in on the Book of Names. When Atticus recites some words the book flips open to a page where Montrose recognises his son’s birthmark. He and Leti both fall unconscious. He’s transported to that memory of Hanna, who tells him: “The answer is in your blood.” She explains she used her master’s magic to protect the child in her belly. At the same time, Leti finds herself with Hattie, explaining an “ancestral space” was opened when Hanna opened the Book of Names. Hanna figured out how to control the magic, after realising the fire was her manifested rage. Hattie explains that Hanna was punished for using the tools of her oppressor. In another room, Atticus is reunited with his mother Dora.
Does Atticus really have to be the sacrifice? Is there truly no other way?
Right now, the group concentrate their minds on Diana as Hattie recites a spell. In the real world, Diana begins to go back to her old self, and after that Atticus and Leti come to again on the floor. Diana comes back largely the same, aside from one of her arms. After that, Atticus and Montrose argue over how best to go about Christina. Dad’s worried his son will die, and his son says that’s just “one potential future,” but still a big possibility. Atticus knows this is destiny, one way or another, and it’s all about protecting their family in the end.
Atticus and Leti go back to the temple below the museum again to do more magic spells. They create a salt circle, Atticus adds his blood and then recites words from the Book of Names. Water turns to mist and spins around within the circle until Titus Braithwhite appears out of thin air. The old man’s surprised to see that Hanna’s there, too. Atticus tries to attack Titus, and so does Leti, however, they’re unable to cach him. Titus transports into the street where Christina and Ruby nearly run him over and crash the car. Quickly, Titus disappears again back to the circle where Hattie ad Dora have joined their family, reciting the necessary words. Atticus stabs Titus and digs a blade into his chest, peeling off a hunk of flesh. They recite more words, Titus’s body disappears, and the others disappear into the past.
The Autumnal Equinox is approaching, and the group’s got to get to Ardham. They want to use Ruby to get to Christina, though Montrose thinks the two of them are too close already. That’s when Christina turns up, wanting to talk wit Atticus. She tries saying it isn’t about “generational hate,” which is a rich bit of nonsense from a bourgeois white lady. Nobody trusts her, obviously. She wants the Book of Names; if so, she’ll leave the Freemans alone and try to figure out another way to do her plan without Atticus’s blood. Atticus refuses. Christina leaves and as she does she removes the invulnerability spell from Leti.
Atticus calls Ji-Ah and they meet in a bar. He admits he was scared, that if he admitted feeling what he felt for her, he’d also have to admit to everything: her true form, his destined fate. Ji-Ah explains she thought she wasn’t able to feel normal emotion because of what she is, and she did for a time, but that all went away. She and Atticus talk about losing people, and how grieving takes a piece of us. Atticus sees their “intertwined destinies” as evidence of their being family.
In other bonding news, Leti comes clean to Ruby that she was in lockup when their mother was buried. They argue over the meaning of family, standing above their mother’s grave. Leti says family means “acceptance” not “obligation,” that it means sacrifice in the name of protecting those we love, by any means necessary. So she breaks out the Book of Names, telling Ruby they’re going to use it to do a “binding spell” against Christina. First, they need part of the white woman’s body. They’ll need Ruby to do that, however, she thinks Leti only wants to be family when something’s needed.
The paper shows Emmett Till’s murderers getting off on charges, as Diana continues to recover from her strange journey. She’s not helped seeing her friend get no justice from White America. She’s also not helped by her withered arm, worried she’ll never draw again. Her mother tries cheering her up, having created a new comic herself. Hippolyta tells her daughter that “time never stops,” that things will get better. She promises that Diana will draw once more, and then she shows her daughter something magical.
The crew are packing up to head for Ardham. Before they leave, Ruby shows up to give Leti a vial of Christina’s blood and fingernails and whatever other yucky stuff is in there. The family’s sticking together after all. Quite a car ride with Ji-Ah along with the others, completing the big mixed and matched gang. The drive soon turns into a singalong, even if Montrose takes a while to get into it.
After some time they hit Ardham at night. They begin to spread salt for a magic circle. Atticus has to eat the piece of Titus he cut off and drinks the vial of Christina yuck, and then the real test must begin. He walks off into the dark forest until reaching the ruins of the lodge. Out of nowhere come a bunch of Adamites, pulling Atticus along with them. The rest of the group are marking symbols with blood and spreading more salt, preparing themselves. And Leti comes to understand that Ruby isn’t Ruby, she’s actually Christina—she caught Ruby trying to steal the potion. While Leti and Christina go at it, the mob of Adamites rush Hippolyta, George, and Ji-Ah on the bridge, which turns into a massive brawl. Poor Leti ends up being tossed from the tower and without invulnerability, that could mean death; unless magic can reverse it. Back at the car, Diana’s terrified by noise in the forest and a falling tree. Then she’s attacked by one of those horrific white monsters before the darker one comes to attack it.
At the lodge’s ruins, Atticus is strapped down and ready for sacrifice. He sees his family brought back by force, and Christina readies her blade, as Atticus realises Leti just may well be dead. And so the sacrifice begins with Christina slashing Atticus open at the wrists, bathing her face in his blood. This sequence is set to “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” by Fred McDowell. Christina contiues to recite her spell soaked in Atticus’s blood; his spirit seems to leave his body, entering her own.
Leti wakes, finding a different mark on her body. She runs back to the lodge where she sees Atticus dying, though he’s happy to see her alive; dark irony. She whispers ‘I love you’ just as he goes limp and Christina finishes her spell. Christina gets run through with a blade from behind by Leti, who’s reciting words from the Book of Names. A black cloud of smoke spirals out of the lodge. Leti’s spell won’t work unless their bodies are connected. So Ji-Ah runs into the smoke, her trails whipping out to grab both Christina and Atticus at the same time. Leti desperately keeps reciting the spell.
And the black cloud erupts from the ruins.
In the aftermath, Christina has been stripped of her magic. In fact, all white people have been bound from magic; Leti’s effectively taken back magic into the hands of Black people, away from the negative, destructive force of white power. Montrose goes to his son and pulls him down, trying to wake him up. But Atticus isn’t moving, or breathing. Hippolyta then hands over a note to Montrose written by his son, explaining the sacrifice Atticus made so his family would be protected. Atticus charges Montrose with teaching little George “new ways of living,” so his child won’t take the same paths as his father. So the family leaves, and Christina remains in those ruins, stuck under concrete. She’s found by Diana and the big dark monster, her saviour. Diana shows off her new mechanical arm, using it to choke Christina until the woman’s neck pops.
“Magic’s ours now”
A bad ass finale. This doesn’t make up for some of the missteps and mistakes. Not sure if there’s an intended Season 2, or if Atticus would be brought back to life via magic. But I know I’d love to see another 10 episodes, or more; we gotta see what Diana does with that arm, too! Lovecraft Country hit its stride halfway through, and in spite of the mistakes it made with some very strange choices of representation, the show does so much great political work in terms of using Lovecraft’s legacy to showcase the sinister entities of whiteness. A wild, unexpected finale.