Welcome to another week of Scaredy-Cat recaps, where I, a habitually terrified person, review what is and is not nightmare fuel on HBO's horror allegory Lovecraft Country.
I'll be honest with you: I did not know what to expect in this week's final episode of Lovecraft Country. Would it be a final genre exercise? Would all the secrets spill out of the story like portals in the Multiverse-a-Tron 3000? Would there be a huge battle between good and evil and beasties and Topsies and Frankenstein cops and ghosts and space robots like that fake scene from Twilight: Breaking Dawn where all the evil vampires kill the werewolves and the good vampires? You know the one: Michael Sheen's character cuts off Peter Facinelli's character's head in the middle of the air and everyone is like "Oh wow. Harsh." And then the werewolves and the good vampires proceed to get absolutely trounced by evil, just demolished. To all the beloved main characters: thanks a lot and out with the garbage. Shocking. And then—you'll never believe this—but it turns out to be a vision, not a reality. It never happens! But it could have! Honey, when I tell you I screamed at this and am still screaming. I do not like a bait and switch but I will allow it for Messy Drama reasons. That's the kind of tomfoolery I was prepared for with the finale of Lovecraft Country. I was ready for anything.
Narratively and structurally, the series set us up to go just about anywhere in time and space. Such is the nature of a story that involves ancient magic, secrets, and a multiverse. There are no rules. If, in the final scene, Leti (Jurnee Smollett) and Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis) had zoomed forward to the future, walked into my actual house, turned on my cable, and watched this thing called Lovecraft Country on my couch next to me while critiquing my interior decor I would have believed it. I'd be like "Oh wow. Harsh. But also narratively within the realm of possibility." A surplus of options to choose from made this finale hard to predict, which is an exciting prospect but a dangerous gambit. So much could go wrong; what if Leti and Hippolyta go to my neighbor's house, for instance? Scary thought. But how scary is the rest of it? Let's get into it!
Spoilers for Lovecraft Country episode 10, "Full Circle."
How scary are flames, flames, on the side of my face… heaving, breathing, breathl—?
At the end of the last episode, Leti got the Book of Names from Tulsa in 1921 and made it back through the portal as the energy was turning Hippolyta's hair blue and on the brink of overwhelming her. We catch up with the crew bringing Diana (Jada Harris) back home to try to undo the Topsy spell, which is already almost complete again. Question: Why didn't they just do the undoing spell at the observatory? I do not think I'd want to ride in a car with a half-Topsy, no offense. No offense!
Tic (Jonathan Majors) reads aloud from the words that his great-grandmother Hattie (Regina Taylor) gave to Leti to give them access to the Book. The book flies open and Tic and Leti immediately faint. They wake up in separate spaces, both engulfed by flames. Tic is met by the original ancestor Hannah (Joaquina Kalukango), who stole the Book of Names from Titus Braithwaite's house in Ardham. Leti is met by Hattie, who tells her that when Hannah first opened the Book of Names, she birthed an ancestral space which is where they are. She thought it was hell, what with the fire and all. But, in true Mrs. White from Clue spirit, the flames on the side of her face were really her rage made manifest. Hannah, Hattie, and Tic's mother Dora (Erica Tazel) come together in the ancestral space to teach Leti how to read the Book and to break the spell on Dee. Verdict: A little scary; I would like my ancestral space to be like a spa or a Cheesecake Factory. Just saying.
How scary is taking your work home with you?
Okay, now that the ancestors have been made visible, suddenly they're getting called in from the bench all the time. Tic and Leti take themselves on a mission to get a piece of the deceased Titus Braithwaite (Michael Rose) so that Tic can use it in a spell to bind Christina (Abbey Lee) before she kills him in ceremony at the autumnal equinox. You know, a regular errand.
Tic and Leti go into Leti’s basement where, apparently, they’re storing the monster that saved Tic and Leti from Captain Lancaster’s attack. They take the elevator down to Titus’s cavern in the museum. They create a salt circle, cut Tic’s hand, together cast a spell that conjures some perplexed white man. A Dick Cheney type. Oh! This is Titus! Got it. And suddenly Titus is surrounded by Hannah, Hattie, and Dora. They've come to destroy him.
This is very exciting, but I have to say that when I am dead, my agenda is done. I do not need my descendants conjuring me out of my Ancestral Cheesecake Factory all the time so I can stand around a circle and chant at a racist. I am busy, baby. Death is the ultimate inbox zero and this email does not find me well.
In the middle of the fight, Titus slips away and appears in the middle of the street right in front of a car driven by Christina, who's with Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku). Huge Ghost meets Heart and Souls vibes in this shot. Christina swerves, hits a pole, flies out the front window, lives. The usual. Titus tells Christina that the crew has the Book, but before he can finish, he’s conjured back to the circle. Tic kills him and cuts out part of his heart. He sends the ancestors back to the Cheesecake Factory. Finally! Their food is getting cold. Verdict: work after life? Terrifying!
How scary is Marge Simpson living out loud?
So, Hippolyta's blue hair is permanent, as is her adjusted outlook on life. It's a powerful and inspirational shift. But Dee is not having it, angry at her mother for leaving her to fight the Topsies, especially since the curse left her dominant arm burnt and shriveled, meaning she can't draw anymore. As an offering, Hippolyta gives Dee a comic Hippolyta has drawn featuring the two of them as space explorers. And, what's more, Hippolyta has a solution. If you guessed bionic mechanical arm, you are correct. But you will never guess what she does with it. Hint: Not drawing! Verdict: not scary.
How scary is This Is Us?
As was, perhaps, expected, the finale throws all of the characters into one space together as they attempt to bind Christina before the autumnal equinox. Tic goes to see Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung) and she reveals that her mother recently died. That, plus Tic’s calls, prompted her to come; they reconcile. Ruby and Leti confer at their mother's grave, where Leti asks Ruby to help them get a piece of Christina's body to use for the binding spell and Ruby rebuffs her, saying Leti only invokes their family connection when she wants something. Leti says there's one other thing she needs to know, but the scene cuts out before we find out what it was. I was truly expecting a backstory-filling flashback to young Jack Pearson or something, as this ragtag bunch of people who love each other even though they have a lot of deep family trauma is giving me big This Is Us vibes. Please keep Tic away from all Crock-Pots. Verdict: not scary but foreboding!
How scary is a red herring?
Literally everybody piles into Hippolyta's car and goes on a family field trip to Ardham, site of George's (Courtney B. Vance) death and where it's predicted that Tic will die. Not exactly Busch Gardens. This car is packed. Montrose (Michael K. Williams), Leti, Hippolyta, Ji-Ah, Dee, Ruby, and Tic. Ruby has shown up at the last moment, holding a vial of Christina's blood. Heartwarming!
They drive down the road and sing "Life Could Be a Dream" along with the radio. This is also known to me as "The Song from Clue." In fact, it is only known as "The Song from Clue" to me so it is very disconcerting to see here as a bonding moment and not a foreshadowing of the murder of Yvette the maid. Obviously, though, this cheery goodwill won't last. But it does bring up, for me, the question of what the actual objective of the show is. Do I want them to live happily ever after? Or is happiness, like Communism, just a red herring? Verdict: not scary.
How scary is a Final Girl?
One of horror's most reliable tropes is the Final Girl: A (usually demonstrably innocent) young woman who survives the carnage, bruised and blood-spattered and probably traumatized, but more powerful than before. With this series' emphasis on Tic's story, I didn't think we were in Final Girl territory. Apparently, I was wrong.
Here's what happens at Lovecraft Country's version of the werewolf-vampire battle:
They get to Ardham and split up, preparing to cast the binding spell before Christina can finish the ceremony which will make her immortal and kill Tic. Tic walks into the ruins of Ardham lodge and suddenly there’s all these random white people surrounding him. Big Midsommar vibes baby. They take him to the Immorta-Tron, a big rack that he'll be strapped to for various spell purposes. Montrose, Hippolyta, and Ji-Ah get attacked by a crowd of white people on the bridge. They fight valiantly but lose. They get brought to witness the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Leti and Ruby are creating symbols to bind Christina. Finally finished, Ruby reveals that she’s really Christina and that Ruby is dead. OH SHIT! Fake Ass Ruby and Leti fight, Leti almost wins but then Christina throws Leti out of the tower, apparently killing her. OH SHIT!
Everyone has left Dee alone in a car in the middle of Monster Woods, which doesn’t feel safe to me. Like, you brought this traumatized girl all the way to Ardham only to leave her alone in a dark wooded area that is known to have monsters while a witch performs an evil ceremony nearby? Terrible field trip. And obviously the car gets attacked by monsters. But then Tic’s monster fights them off. Hmm.
Back at the lodge, Christina is doing her spell shit. She slashes Tic’s arms, raining blood onto herself. A reverse Carrie. Mess. Suddenly a power overtakes her, flowing out of Tic, and Leti wakes up, the protection symbol back on her body. I do not know how or why. Leti arrives at the ceremony just as Tic is dying. Leti stabs Christina, chanting the binding spell, but it’s not working because the vial didn’t have Christina’s blood. Then Ji-Ah, realizing that Christina and Tic’s bodies need to be connected, steps into the dark cloud created by the spell, shoots her tails out of her eyes, and connects them. Ji-Ah sees the final moments of his life: Tic handing a letter for Montrose to Hippolyta, Tic being baptized with Leti, Tic showing Diana how to pet his monster. A lot happening off-screen, tbh.
Ji-Ah and Leti's action works; Christina is bound from doing magic. But get this, so are all white people in the world. Oh wow! Harsh! After the crew has left, Dee and Tic’s monster approach Christina. Just a little girl and a beastie roaming through White Supremacy Grove. It seems like the monster is going to eat Christina but instead Dee reveals a BIONIC MECHANICAL ARM! And she uses that arm to choke Christina to death. OH SHIT. WHAT? The monster roars at the full moon. At the buzzer we have a final girl!
And that's that!
What's going on with the multiverse? Is Tic really dead? What about the novel Tic's son wrote? How many other multiverses are there? Is Dee the hero now? Can we get Montrose a therapeutic vacation? Is Ruby really dead as Christina said she was, despite the fact that the transformation spell requires the bodies remain preserved? What does it mean that only Black people can do magic? The beastie: What gives? Is Christina really dead since she was immortal before? And finally, why are Leti and Hippolyta in my house, watching my TV? Much to consider!
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