SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details of tonight’s Lovecraft Country Season 1 finale
“As an artist, I make art to start conversations, and one always hopes their art is a reflection of the times,” says Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green in a definite understatement of the discourse and timeliness of the HBO series that wrapped up its first season tonight
Based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name, the Green, Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams EP’d horror drama sought to pull back the curtain on a secret history of American white supremacy and shatter genres simultaneously over its first season 10-episode run. Certainly, tonight’s fiery Green penned and Nelson McCormick directed “Full Circle” finale hit those bullseyes hard – as my colleague Dino-Ray Ramos details here in his recap and analysis of the season ender.
In that vein, Green chatted with me about the Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors and Michael Kenneth Williams starring series, the surprises of “Full Circle” and subsequently what a likely second season could entail. The Underground co-creator also discussed her search for growth as a person and an artist in this time in America.
DEADLINE: So, with George’s upcoming birth, Atticus’ posthumous letter to Montrose and Diana’s bloody killing of Christina, sure feels like there’s a second season coming. Is there and how do you envision it?
GREEN: Nothing is official yet, but I envision a second season that carries on the spirit of Matt Ruff’s novel by continuing to reclaim the genre storytelling space that people of color have typically been left out of.
DEADLINE: For viewers watching tonight’s finale, the death of Atticus will be an emotional jolt, to put it lightly. Why did you decide his sacrifice was necessary and will we see Jonathan return if there is a second season?
GREEN: With Atticus’s arc, I wanted to explore the idea of a meaningful sacrifice. To take him on a journey from running from death, to walking towards it with purpose. It was an emotional jolt in the writing, and even more so with the heartbreaking levels Jonathan Majors imbued in the portrayal.
DEADLINE: What this the way you wanted the first season to end when you started on the project? Beside the process of adaptation, what was different, if anything?
GREEN: Yes, this is the ending I knew we would be working towards from the beginning.
DEADLINE: Broadcast during a pandemic and as a bitterly divided America faces not just an election but a renewed focus on racial injustice and institutionalization brutality from the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Lovecraft Country has become a touchstone in the cultural discourse. What was that like for you and how did it alter the effect you desired the series to have?
GREEN: As an artist, I make art to start conversations, and one always hopes their art is a reflection of the times. I’ve been excited to see all the discourse around Lovecraft Country, and I hope it continues long after the finale.
DEADLINE: The finale is entitled “Full Circle” and there is truth in advertising indeed there. With all the genres and mythologies Lovecraft Country explored and its unveiling of sorts of a secret history of racism in America, what did you want to do with the finale? Did you feel you succeed?
GREEN: With the finale I wanted to bring the arc of the first season to a close, while opening a door to the next. In the writer’s room we talked a lot about what “full circle” looks like for each character, and then set out to do that in a surprising, yet satisfying way. I think it’s up to the audience to decide if we succeed, and hopefully they will.
I wanted to show the uncomfortable truth that oppressed folks can also be oppressors. But I didn't examine or unpack the moment/portrayal of Yahima as thoroughly as I should have. It's a story point worth making, but I failed in the way I chose to make it. #LovecraftCountry https://t.co/bDRGOfPClo
— Misha Green (@MishaGreen) October 12, 2020
DEADLINE: Unlike the position many creators take, you engaged directly with your audience over criticism, most recently over your admittance on Twitter that you feel you “failed” in the telling of Yahima’s tale in the fourth episode “A History of Violence”in attempting to “show the uncomfortable truth that oppressed folks can also be oppressors.” Why did you decide to go that way
GREEN: As a person and a storyteller, I’m interested in growing, and part of that journey is accountability. Acknowledging my failure in the handling of Yahima’s storyline is the first step in holding myself accountable.
DEADLINE: Like you did on Underground, Lovecraft Country has woven in real historical events such as the brutal murder of Emmett Till and the 1921 Greenwood massacre. Why did you decide to take that approach? How do think the result resonated in the America of 2020?
GREEN: Historical references were baked into Matt Ruff’s novel – sundown towns, the Tulsa Massacre, the Green Book — which is one of the reasons I was initially drawn to it. I wanted to expand on those touchstones for the series, and keep us grounded in reality and issues that are a part of this country’s history even with all the fantastical elements.
DEADLINE: The personal revelations of Micheal Kenneth Williams’ Montrose and his passionate reciting of the names of the Greenwood fallen in the penultimate was a tour de force in a season that has seen the Wire alum smoldering. with depth and scope. How did MKW and yourself collaborate over the evolution of Montrose? What was that experience like for you?
GREEN: Michael has a rare gift for finding the truth in any moment. When he performs it’s completely devoid of the act of performing, which is to say, he’s found a way to not watch himself, and the results are breathtaking. Our collaboration consisted of talking a bit about Montrose as a character in the beginning, and then he would show up to do the work, and I’d sit back and mostly watch in awe.
DEADLINE: Lovecraft has been a huge leap for you, in terms of scale if nothing else. As the showrunner and creator of the series what was the biggest challenge and surprise for you?
GREEN: The entire production was a challenge, but with the cast and crew that we had – true artist willing to give it all in service of what you see on screen – it was an exciting one. And the biggest surprise was the amount of toys you get to play with at this scale of filmmaking. It really becomes about the limits of your own imagination.
— Misha Green (@MishaGreen) October 19, 2020