“Full Circle” brings the first season of Lovecraft Country to an end in a poignant, messy, and bonkers finale, which only felt right given everything that has come before.
This recap of Lovecraft Country season 1, episode 10, “Full Circle”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Stick with me on this, but I feel like it might be better for a big, daring, mainstream show like Lovecraft Country to not be perfect, you know? I get that sounds weird. But a perfect season of television simply doesn’t exist, and even a consistent level of quality is the kind of thing you’d expect from a network procedural or a sitcom. You – and by “you” I obviously mean “I” – don’t want every episode to be more or less as good as the last; the same solid swing might net you a decent average, but it won’t get you those out-of-the-park home runs. You have to really take a punt for those, and if you can say anything about Lovecraft Country, it has punted for all it’s worth. At one point in “Full Circle”, Tic reels off a litany of bizarre adventures that he, Leti, and Montrose have been on together, and it’s a reminder that even when it didn’t work as well as it perhaps could have, it wasn’t for a lack of ambition.
For all this ambition and the show’s admirable attempts to blend real-life history with every sci-fi and horror subgenre possible, it has always remained thematically consistent. It’s about family and legacy and the enduring human spirit; it’s about sacrifice for something greater than the individual and more specific than simple, binary notions of right and wrong. It’s about ancestry as a direct chain of cause-and-effect, each link more valuable than the last, forged of a more precious alloy in the broiling crucible of history and shared experience. It’s about how we got here, and where we might be going next.
“Full Circle” got here by way of Tulsa, but it returns to Chicago for the final showdown between past and present, binding and unbinding, preordained destiny and free will. With the Book of Names, Tic and Leti believe they have the tools to thwart Christina’s sacrifice and prevent Tic’s predicted death on the Autumnal Equinox. But among the lessons of the churning red ancestral realm where Tic and Leti are both transported in the process is the most crucial one of all: Sometimes saving everyone means losing a few; sometimes destiny really is unavoidable, but for reasons that are worth dying for.
Thus, Tic is sacrificed in the machine we saw in Ji-Ah’s vision of the future, his blood drained in the Autumnal Equinox ceremony. In some sense, he always knew this would come true, and what he experiences in “Full Circle” simply proves that the decision is the right one. He is able to meet with Hannah and his mother, Dora. He is able to appreciate the value of understanding. He is able to make amends and learn the value of sacrifice, of paying something forward, of preserving the lineage that made him who he is and will make his progeny better still. His selflessness is touching and heroic, but it’s also a choice, one he’s allowed to make for himself.
Ruby doesn’t get that choice, though she too makes a sacrifice of her own. Lovecraft Country episode 10 arguably does a disservice to this character, both by denying her the opportunity to resolve her relationship with her sister and by ultimately having both her picking a side and her death occur off-screen. These are two major moments that are denied in the service of twists – the twists work, but it might have been better to see Ruby choose to steal Christina’s metamorphosis potion, which she believes contains her blood, and to feel the loss of a consistently undervalued perspective in the show’s world.
Ruby has always been defined by her relationship with Leti, and increasingly by her relationship with Christina and what Christina represents to her, in her whiteness, power, and privilege. The two having sex without the potion to reinvent them feels like Ruby coming closer than ever to picking Christina’s side, only to realize eventually that embracing who she is also means embracing the family with whom she shares that identity.
I don’t know how the magic in this show works. Nobody else seems to, either, which suggests to me that the point isn’t to understand its workings but its implications. Magic is also not entirely spells and rituals, but belief, faith in the powers of family and higher purpose. Leti does a lot of incanting in “Full Circle”, but it’s her baptism that’s more impactful as a character moment since it means more to her personally and isn’t bound by arcane logic and rules. Belief in oneself and something greater than oneself is purer and more powerful than belief in power itself. This is why Christina ultimately loses. In slavishly adhering to ceremony and in betraying Ruby, she is coveting power for its own sake, casting aside the value of personal beliefs and convictions. All she has said to Ruby over the season might have been a ruse, but I like to think there was truth in what Christina felt for her, and that her true failing was simply that she lacked the courage to be who she was, at a time when being a gorgeous white woman was the easiest thing in the world to be.
Why else would Christina restore Leti’s invulnerability after removing it? In doing so she saved Leti and condemned herself. Perhaps it was overconfidence in assuming that, since the potion didn’t actually contain any of her blood, she would be able to take invulnerability for herself, obviously not anticipating Ji-Ah using her tails to bind her to Tic while Leti completes the incantation that severs Christina and indeed all white people from magic. In taking that away from Christina, Leti delivered her cruelest fate, even though she had a couple more to go. Preventing Christina from using magic severs her connection to the one thing she sacrificed everything else to preserve. Preventing all white people from using magic, though, only seems like a good idea to me.
Speaking of Ji-Ah, she’s taken in with this new family right after losing the remaining member of her original one. It’s the sense of belonging she needs after grappling so long with her nature and the warring aspects of her human and otherworldly identities, leading to a line being drawn under her relationship with Tic and her eventual intervention in Christina’s ceremony.
So, Christina. Divorced from her magic, she ends up crushed under rubble, and at the mercy of none other than Dee, who emerges from “Full Circle” with the curse having been lifted but without the use of her left arm. Luckily, she gets two important gifts. One is a black shoggoth, allied to her, and the other is a robotic arm created and gifted by Hippolyta to replace her ruined one. Using this new toy, she messily chokes Christina to death, which the shoggoth rather enjoys. It’s also where the episode ends, with a moment of violence and vengeance to keep everything in schlocky B-movie terms, even in the wake of the poignant letter Tic wrote for Montrose, encouraging him to find “supreme happiness” in helping to raise his grandson.
Like the rest of Lovecraft Country, Episode 10 is a lot. But as I said at the top, that’s good. I’d happily take a messy and in large part thoroughly bonkers finale over almost any other kind. It hit all the right notes and brought each character arc to its logical conclusion, allowing everyone to find themselves and each other or at least sacrifice themselves on the altar of ancestral spirit. Everything did indeed come “Full Circle”, and after everything that has come before, this is the only finale that made sense.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.