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The Ending Of Lovecraft Country Explained

After ten increasingly bizarre and unsettling episodes, HBO's Lovecraft Country finally reached its bloody, surprising, inevitable conclusion in the series finale, titled "Full Circle." There was a lot packed into the final episode of the series' first season, with some characters' arcs reaching their tragic endpoints, while others seem to be just getting started. All of the complex mythology of the series also intersected, although probably not in the ways most viewers expected.

With so many storylines wrapping up and so much dense mythology coming to a head, it's no wonder if you finished season one of Lovecraft Country feeling a little confused about the twisted story you saw play out onscreen. In a series that includes magic, time travel, and monsters, nothing is ever simple or straightforward, and while the finale included a lot of answers and resolutions, it also raised some new mind-bending questions of its own — and changed the status quo for everything that will follow. From magic spells to fulfilled prophecies, here's the ending of Lovecraft Country, explained.

How did Tic unbind the Book of Names?

"Full Circle" picks up right where "Rewind 1921" leaves off, with Tic (Jonathan Majors), Leti (Jurnee Smollett), Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis), and Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams) racing to save Dee (Jada Harris) from the curse that was put on her several episodes prior. Having just retrieved the magical Book of Names from the midst of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, the group returns home to try to break the hold of the dark magic that's gradually turning Dee into another grinning, dancing demon. But before they can make use of the Book of Names, they have to break the binding spell that Tic's ancestor Hanna (Joaquina Kalukango) cast on it generations earlier, to keep the dangerous magic inside contained.

Fortunately, Tic's mother's side of the family, who has been tasked with guarding the book ever since Hanna first stole it, has also held onto the spell that will unbind it. Tic's great-grandmother Hattie (Regina Taylor) gives Leti the incantation that will unbind the Book of Names before burning to death in a house fire. Leti gives this incantation to Tic once they get Dee back home, which he recites, causing the Book of Names to fly open and unleash its magic.

What happened to Leti and Tic when they opened the Book of Names?

After unbinding the Book of Names, Tic and Leti fall unconscious and are sent to the ancestral space that Hanna unknowingly created the first time she opened the Book of Names. There, Tic finally gets to speak with Hanna, while Leti reunites with Hattie, who tells her that Tic's family blood brought them both there. Tic was transported because of his ancestry, and Leti because of their unborn child. Hattie explains to her that while Hanna bound the book out of fear, it will be up to Leti to overcome that fear and fix the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for her son.

While Hattie teaches Leti the spell she'll have to perform in order to create that future, Tic learns from Hanna the full extent of her magical plans. Since her death over a century before, Hanna has been perfecting a spell that will "save them all" — but at great personal cost for Tic. He's then reunited with the spirit of his mother Dora (Erica Tazel), who gives him the strength to go forward with Hanna's plan, even though he knows that it means he'll have to die. "If we ain't walking toward an altar to sacrifice ourselves for something important," Dora muses she holds Tic, "What is our purpose?"

What happened to Ruby?

As Christina Braithwhite (Abbey Lee) tells Tic in an earlier episode, spells need three things beyond an incantation in order to work: energy, intention, and a body. For the binding spell that Tic and Leti plan to use against Christina, the "body" piece of the puzzle requires a physical link between all three Braithwhites: Titus, Christina, and Tic. The deceased Titus proves to be the easier piece to procure — Leti and Tic perform a spell that temporarily resurrects him, only for Titus to promptly kill him again and cut out a chunk of skin.

For the elusive and powerful Christina, Leti asks her sister Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) to help, since she is closest to Christina due to their complicated physical relationship. At first Ruby refuses, but when Christina casually shows Ruby a vial of her blood that she plans to use in a potion, Ruby changes her mind. Unfortunately, Christina catches Ruby trying to steal it, and she attacks her. However, although Christina tells Leti that she killed Ruby, we see later in Ji-Ah's (Jamie Chung) flashes of Christina's life that this may not be entirely true. We last see Ruby in a bed in Christina's house, near the other people whose blood she draws for her potions. It looks as though Christina has carefully treated Ruby's wounds, indicating that Christina may have lied to Leti and Ruby could still be alive after all, albeit in a coma.

How does Leti get her invulnerability back?

After Christina demands the Book of Names from Tic and he refuses to give it to her, she vindictively removes the Mark of Cain that she placed on Leti in episode eight, "Jig-a-Bobo," which made her invulnerable. Previously, we saw just how effective the Mark of Cain was at keeping its bearers alive, with it shielding Leti from bullets and fire, and Christina from a horrific lynching meant to mirror what was done to Emmett Till. However, when Christina first placed the Mark on Leti, she casually mentioned that it can also be used to heal.

This is exactly how it's used in "Full Circle," after Christina (in the guise of Ruby) throws Leti out a window, seemingly killing her. But it turns out that despite Christina's cold and selfish nature, she does care for Ruby in her own twisted way. Before Christina incapacitated Ruby, she promised her that she wouldn't hurt Leti, and we see in Ji-Ah's vision of her life that she stayed true to her word — after Leti falls from the window, Christina casts the Mark of Cain on her again, this time using it to heal her. This isn't the first time Christina acted against her nature because of Ruby; it seemed that Ruby's grief over Emmett Till is what motivated Christina to reenact his death earlier in the season. Even though Christina ultimately turned on Ruby, breaking their trust forever, her decision to save Leti proves that some part of their relationship, however small, was actually real.

What did Leti's spell do?

For most of "Full Circle," Tic and Leti maintain that the spell they received from the ancestors is a binding spell, meant to turn the energy of Christina's immortality spell back on her in order to bind her magic so she can no longer use it against others. However, while this is partially true, Leti keeps the full extent of the spell a secret until the very end of the episode, after it's been completed. Not only did her spell bind Christina — it bound all white people in the world from using magic.

This is what Hanna meant when she told Tic that his sacrifice would "save them all," and what Dora was referring to when she said Hanna's spell would "change everything." Up until the end of the episode, magic had been primarily used throughout the series to enhance the power of white people, frequently at the expense of Black people. But after the spell, Leti tells Christina, "Magic is ours now." By performing the spell, Leti flipped the script permanently, shifting the balance of magical power to those who had historically been oppressed. Although this wouldn't do anything to fix the societal stain of racism, it acts as a game-changer for those who know magic exists, or who have been affected by it.

Which characters knew what would happen to Tic?

Although Tic's death was predicted numerous times throughout the series, most of the main characters, including Tic, seemed to hold out hope until the very end that he would somehow find a way to survive. Sadly, those hopes were dashed when Christina did exactly what she'd promised to do and killed Tic in order to perform her immortality spell. But of course, the spell didn't go according to her plan; instead, Leti managed to turn it against her and bind her from using magic ever again. This, in fact, turned out to have been Leti's plan all along — and we receive several clues that not only did she always know Tic would have to die, but that she wasn't the only one who knew.

Despite Tic telling Montrose that the book from the future predicting his death is wrong, and that it's just one potential future, it's evident from the look he and Leti exchange in that scene that they both know he's lying. After learning their destinies from Tic's ancestors, all of the couple's scenes in "Full Circle" are heavy with sadness, as if each of them serves as an unspoken goodbye. Hippolyta also knows Tic will die, since he gives her a letter for Montrose to deliver after his death. And of course, Ji-Ah knows precisely what will happen, having seen Tic's entire life in her vision, although she doesn't understand the context of what she's foreseen until she watches it play out. Ultimately, the only one who accompanies Tic on his final journey and doesn't realize that it's a one-way trip is Montrose, whose final, heartbreakingly optimistic words to his son are "See you on the other side."

What did the prophecy Ji-Ah received mean?

At the end of episode six, "Meet Me in Daegu," Ji-Ah — who is actually a kumiho, or nine-tailed fox spirit — visits a shaman to try to make sense of her vision of Tic's life. She was troubled by what she saw of his death, saying she'd "never seen anything like this in all of [her] encounters," and was desperate to know if it was destined to come true. The shaman's answers are frustratingly cryptic; instead of answering directly whether Tic will die, she tells Ji-Ah, "You have not even become one with the darkness yet. You will see countless deaths before your journey is done."

Ji-Ah doesn't know what any of this means until she sees Leti struggling to perform her binding spell at the end of "Full Circle." The most important element of the spell is the "blood tie" between Tic, Christina, and Titus, but since Christina foiled Ruby's attempt to get her blood, the blood tie isn't complete. "The spell's not going to work unless their bodies are connected," Hippolyta tells Ji-Ah, who finally realizes, as she watches a dark cloud of magic spill out behind Tic, exactly what the shaman's prophecy meant. It turns out that Ji-Ah literally has to step into the magical darkness, which triggers her nine tails. They impale Christina and wrap around Tic, connecting their bodies together and allowing Leti to complete the spell. When she does, she sees not only Tic's and Christina's deaths, but also all the people Christina has killed in her quest for power. However, since Ji-Ah survives the spell, she may still not have experienced all of the "countless deaths" that she's meant to see before her story comes to an end.

Why does the shoggoth come to save Dee?

In an episode full of surprising twists, one of the most unexpected comes when Dee — waiting alone in the car for her family to finish casting their spell — is attacked by the horrifying shoggoth monsters who terrorized Tic and Leti in the show's first episode, only to be saved by a different shoggoth, who fights them off. Later, in the final moments of "Full Circle," Dee and the shoggoth walk through the ruins of Ardham Lodge to find Christina Braithwhite trapped under a pile of rubble. Acting almost tame, the shoggoth clearly defers to Dee, like a trained guard dog.

This is actually the same shoggoth that Tic and Montrose summoned in episode eight, "Jig-A-Bobo," when they cast a protection spell around Tic. At the end of that episode, we see the shoggoth save Tic, then submit to him like a pet. Later, during Ji-Ah's visions of Tic's life, it's revealed that before the group left on their road trip to Ardham, Tic introduced Dee to the shoggoth, and must have somehow transferred the creature's loyalty to her. We see a brief flash of Dee resting her hand on the shoggoth's forehead as Tic watches over them, mirroring the interaction between Tic and the shoggoth in episode eight. Most likely, knowing he was going to die, Tic used the Book of Names to bind the shoggoth to Dee as her protector, as his way of taking care of her even after he was gone.

Will the future that Tic saw come true?

Although we spent an entire episode watching what happened to Hippolyta when she went through the time portal, we only ever get a couple sentences describing what happened to Tic. He says he went to the future, which he describes as "chaotic," saying that "white folks were rioting." But he was only there for a few moments before a woman in a hood, with a bionic arm, shoved a book into his hand and pushed him back through the portal. The book turns out to be Lovecraft Country, written by Tic and Leti's son George, which — while it alters some of the details — narrates the story that Tic and his family are living out on the show, including how Tic will die during Christina's spell to become immortal.

Of course, while Tic does in fact die in "Full Circle," Christina's spell winds up ending significantly differently than the way George portrayed it in the book. But will that be enough to change the future Tic glimpsed? Probably the biggest indication that the future he saw is still destined to unfold is revealed in the final moments of the episode, when Dee takes off her coat to show that her mother has crafted her a bionic arm. This strongly implies that Dee is the woman in the hood that Tic meets in the future, which explains how she knew who he was and why she was waiting by the portal with the book. It begs the question of what exactly the white people that Tic saw were rioting about, and whether the group's actions at the end of "Full Circle" may actually turn out to be what leads to that chaotic future.

What are the possibilities for season 2?

Although Lovecraft Country wraps up the stories of its main protagonist and antagonist pretty definitively by the end of its first season, the series still leaves the door wide open for a second run. Not only are Leti, Hippolyta, Montrose, Ji-Ah, and Dee still alive, but Ruby and William (Jordan Patrick Smith) are both still being held in Christina's basement, where she's made transformative potions out of their blood. That leaves the door open for most of the cast to return for a possible season two, even if Ruby and William may wind up being disguises worn by other characters. 

Story-wise, there are many places a second season of Lovecraft Country could go. Probably the biggest loose thread left dangling at the end of the season is Dee, whose cold-blooded killing of Christina indicates that her experiences with being cursed, magically healed, and given a bionic arm may have changed her much more than we realize. A second season of the show could pick up shortly after season one leaves off, with Leti adjusting to life as a mother and the other characters settling into their new normal — or it could jump ahead, to when Dee and George are adults, and could show us the future that Tic visited from their perspectives. Even with a time jump, the show could conceivably bring back much of the cast from season one through time travel, magic, flashbacks, or a mixture of all three. One thing is for sure: with Leti changing the rules of who has access to magic and who does not, the power dynamics of season two are bound to look very different from those in season one. We're eager to see how it plays out.