‘Lovecraft Country’s Showrunner Answers Our Biggest Questions About That Bonkers Season 1 Finale
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of Lovecraft Country, “Full Circle.”]
The 10-episode season of the HBO series Lovecraft Country has been one heck of a roller coaster ride of wild character journeys, important historical moments, white privilege, and monsters that were both literal and metaphorical. While the Season 1 story seems pretty wrapped up for now, there is a sense that some doors may still be open with countless possibilities for what could be next season — if there is a next season.
But before we can look ahead, we must, must, must address what happened in the Lovecraft Country Season 1 finale and how it brought this season’s story to a close. With so much to discuss, Collider got the opportunity to chat on the phone with showrunner Misha Green. During the interview, Green explained the creation of Tic’s shoggoth monster, the importance of the ancestral space, changing the power balance, how excited the cast was for the events of the finale, that family fight scene, the biggest production challenge of the episode, making her directorial debut on this series, and knowing where things could and would go next.
COLLIDER: I very much appreciate how much you tackled with this season of Lovecraft Country.
MISHA GREEN: Thanks. I’m glad you vibed with it.
To start with a fun question, how was Tic’s shoggoth monster created and what was it like to get to do that?
GREEN: It was fun. We built off of the shoggoths we had seen in Episode 1 but we said we wanted him, obviously, to be black and we wanted him to be bigger. His interactions would be different. It would be scary but when it’s with Dee and with Tic, it is in essence a pack. That was fun, to take it in a new direction from the shoggoths we had seen in the pilot.
What can you say about the importance of the ancestral space that Hannah created and that we see at the beginning of the episode? What does that mean to you? Why was it important to you to make that a space within the show, for the characters to connect?
GREEN: We talked a lot about what the journey was over the course of the season, and it just felt right to go back to the ancestors and to that ancestral space. We talked a lot about if Atticus’ family had the Book of Names, why wasn’t there magic in his family? The idea is that sometimes you get power when you’re afraid of it and you’re afraid of what it can do because of what people have done with power. The idea was to revisit this space and understand that Hannah had realized that bounding the book was not what she should have done when she got the book. And then, it was like, how do we get back to Hannah? How do we find Hannah? The idea of this ancestral space and the ancestral fire, which is burning in all of us, being the same thing as if she ran through the fire to get out. It’s all of those Phoenix metaphors that are really interesting to me and the idea of, what do we use to fuel our righteous rage.
Can you talk about the memory sequence in the finale, which shows us snippets of events before Leti and Tic go from Chicago to Ardham, whether it’s Tic revealing the shoggoth to Diana, or Tic and Leti getting baptized. How did you want those events to play into Leti and Tic’s bigger plan to outsmart Christina?
GREEN: The idea was that, if Ji-Ah can see all of the memories, then we can see what has built to this moment that we had maybe missed or skipped over, in the telling of the story. That was a fun call back to Episode 6.
I love that there was a spell to take away magic from white people, forever. That’s a big revelation and it’s very satisfying to know that the power balance is now in favor of Black and Brown communities everywhere and for all time. What went into that storytelling decision? Was that an outcome that you wanted to happen from the beginning?
GREEN: Yeah. We talked a lot about Atticus’ arc and this idea that he’s a man who has been told his destiny. He’s a hero who has been told his destiny is to die, and of course, he’s going to fight that, every chance he can get. And then, he comes to the realization of understanding the importance of what his sacrifice will mean. We talked a lot about what that sacrifice would give and how it would change the world. It was very natural to come to this idea of changing the power balance. What that will look like once that power balance has been changed was very exciting for us, storytelling wise, to explore.
While the final scenes of this finale seem to wrap this story up, there are still plenty of places you could go in Season 2. Do you know what that could be? Is that something that you have a plan for?
GREEN: Yes. No spoilers, though. We know the direction. It’s about a direction. You have a direction, and then you explore and you find where it takes you. Even starting this season of this show, we knew what direction we wanted to go in, for subsequent seasons. It was very exciting. Matt Ruff’s novel is about reclaiming genre spaces for people of color. For me, that was an open book. Being a genre fan, there’s so much to play in. It’s unending. And the idea that it’s not just for Black people but you can open it up for all people of color is exciting to me.
From the beginning, did you see this as a series that could be multiple seasons? Do you have a number of seasons in your head that would work for the story that you want to tell? How specific did you get, as far as thinking about the bigger picture and the future of the series?
GREEN: The specifics I have are genre and people of color. That can go season after season, after season, after season. Being such a huge genre fan, there’s so much space there. There are so many places in genre where you don’t see people of color. You don’t see genre being used to tell stories about what it means to be Chinese American, or what it means to be Mexican American. That’s a well that you can always go back to, with no fear of feeling like it feels overdone.
When did you know what your season finale would be and who would survive it and who wouldn’t? Was this always the plan from the beginning, or did things evolve over time?
GREEN: You start out with the plan, and then you write and work and more people collaborate on it, and then it turns into something different. There was definitely always a plan from the start that Atticus would return home, knowing that he was supposed to die, not wanting that, and doing everything he could to fight that, and then ultimately accepting it at the end.
Is Atticus really dead? If you come back for a second season, will it be without him?
GREEN: No spoilers. That would spoil Season 2. One of the exciting things about this season was, in the PR campaign and all of that stuff, trying to keep as much of the details vague, so that the audience could experience each episode. I think that was so fun to watch and something we want to keep, going forward, is where is this going to go?
Did you ever try to write another version of a different ending for the finale, or did it feel like once you knew what your finale was that this was inevitably how it would end?
GREEN: I think that once we knew, it was inevitably how it would end.
What was it like to see how the cast reacted to learning about the finale and what happened with their characters?
GREEN: Everybody was very excited. We had all 10 scripts finished before we started production, so everybody knew where everything was going and everyone was just excited to play these arcs in these roles and to make sure we brought some truth to each character. I think everyone was incredibly excited. They read the finale like, “Oh, my God, did you read this?” Abbey [Lee] was like, “Oh, my God, this is crazy!” And Wunmi [Mosaku] was like, “This is crazy!” But it was all in a good way because it felt like it was exciting storytelling.
Did any of the cast try to convince you to change the outcome for their character?
GREEN: Oh, everyone tried to do that. Wunmi was like, “So, we didn’t see it see it. We’re not sure.” And I was just like, “Okay. Uh-huh.”
Were you disappointed that, in order to have that surprise reveal with Ruby, it had to happen off-camera?
GREEN: That’s part of why seeing the things in the memories is nice. You see flashes of the moment. The way that it was played, there’s something that, at least for me and I hope for the audience, feels very satisfying about that moment because you do have a potion to be another person and it’s like, “Oh, right, of course she would pretend to be Ruby at some point.”
How was it to figure out the big fight scene between Leti and Ruby? What was it like to visualize something like that, and then to actually realize it?
GREEN: It’s just fun. It’s a bunch of fun. We talked about the beats we wanted to play in that fight scene, and then our incredible stunt team comes up with nine hundred different varieties, and with the director, you just pick what you like. And then Wunmi and Jurnee [Smollett] come in and they kill every second of it and they do the whole fight themselves and you’re just like, “It’s amazing. It’s all amazing.” And also, it’s just fun to see the sisters actually fight, knowing that it’s not the sisters. They’ve had this contentious relationship the entirety of the series, so it was fun to see to that moment comes to fruition.
This is a show that’s pure entertainment but it also has a sense of history about it. What did it feel like to get to weave in that real-life history and say things with this show that you may have wanted to say for a long time?
GREEN: It was great. It’s what we were doing before on Underground, which was this idea of integrating real history with this story we’re telling, which is a heist thriller. And so, to bring that to Lovecraft Country, for me, genre works best when it’s a metaphor on top of a real-life thing. Dealing with all of those historical moments, both things enriched the other.
How long did you have to shoot the season finale? Did you get extra time, or did you have to do it the same as you did with other episodes?
GREEN: We had to do it the same as the other episodes but we had a good amount of time. I believe we had 15 days for each episode. On my last show, I had seven and a half. We had the time and we just wanted to do it right. We had an amazing cast and crew who was committed. Every day, we would come in and get what we needed to get because everybody was just on their A-game.
What were the biggest production challenges with the finale?
GREEN: I think the biggest production challenge with the finale was that we were in winter. That entire final sequence, shooting outside was just gonna be impossible, so we actually had to build the Ardham ruins on stage and make sure that our blue screens and what we were doing was going be able to look like we’re outside without it feeling like we’re blue-screening, all around. Our VFX team was amazing. Our production design team is amazing. In the end, it worked out really well to move it inside and not have to freeze outside.
Are there story points this season that you feel like you’re personally most proud that you were able to pull off, and are there also any story points or elements that you felt like you didn’t get to dig deep enough on or that you didn’t go as far enough on as you could have?
GREEN: No. I feel like I’m not far enough away from it to analyze it that much. I’m still in the halo of being like, “Oh, wow, we did that. That was something we did. It happened.” So, I’m just incredibly proud of the work that everyone else did on the show. Everybody came in and they did that, from the actors to the crew.
On top of everything else with this show, you decided to make your directorial debut. What made you decide to do that, and now that you’ve done it, what did you learn from doing it that you know for the next time?
GREEN: I decided to do it because I loved the story of Episode 8. It felt like a mixture of what I wanted to do, which is bring in a real-life historical event and then also do a genre story. It was also a very delicate one, with Emmett Till’s legacy, so I just wanted to make sure we weren’t tipping too far in any direction. And coming out of it, I learned that I don’t like sitting on set for 14 hours a day.
Which is hard to avoid when you’re directing.
GREEN: Exactly. I would be like, “Okay, great, we’ve got it.” And they were like, “No, we still have two more set-ups that you said you wanted to do.” I was like, “Did I say that? Did I? I think we’ve got it guys.” But it was fantastic. It was really great. In TV, the showrunner is what we typically think of as the director. They’re doing a lot of the prep work and a lot of the casting. They’re in varying degrees on set, working on scenes and talking about things. On this show, it’s a little bit more hands on for me because we have to do things specific ways for the effects to work. So, it was great to also slide in and go, “Oh, yeah, just do that. No, we don’t have to have five questions about it. Just do it.” So, that was cool.
Is it something that you see yourself doing again?
GREEN: For sure. Like I said, being a showrunner is doing it. You’re already doing it, so you’re just adding another level to what you’re already doing, as a director of the whole show.
Do you have a personal favorite moment in the finale episode?
GREEN: No, I love it all. It’s a culmination. I love all of the quiet moments the characters get to have. The show does go, go, go, so that they have some moments to breathe before the ending battle is really nice. But I love it all. You can’t ask the person who created the thing what they love, because the answer is always, I love it all.
I personally loved the robotic arm moment.
GREEN: Yes. I’ve had the robotic arm moment in my head for three years now. It’s amazing. I love to see it. I love all of it. I’ve been living in this world for so long that I just do a 360 turn in the world and I’m like, “That’s great. That’s great. And that’s great.” And then, the actors add to it and bring something even greater.
Without revealing spoilers, do you have other moments like that, that you’ve had in your head for years, that you have ready to go for a Season 2?
GREEN: Yes. I’ve been a genre fan since I was five. I think that’s when I read my first Goosebumps. So, there are millions of things in my head where I’m like, “I’d love to see this. I’d love to do this. This would be great. That would be great. This would be amazing. We have to do a version of that.” For me, I’m just excited about the fact that people have responded and vibed so well with the world, and that there might be opportunities to continue to do it.
Lovecraft Country Season 1 is now available to stream in its entirety on HBO Max.
Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.
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