Influence Of The Yurei
One of the biggest issues many people have had with The Terror’s second season has revolved around the profound lack of scares and outright horror on offer. In a way, The Terror has changed its emphasis this year to focus much more exclusively on the horrors of racism and war rather than genuine scares and it hasn’t always been as effective as it perhaps should be. On the one hand, this plays out much more like a historical drama with sprinklings of horror but also abandons what made the first season so endearing. Still, there’s glimmers of hope here as The Terror peppers in some nicely worked scares and the Yurei begins to rear its grotesque, disfigured head.
We begin with Chester and Luz exchanging letters to one another, while our photographer finds himself deep in enemy territory translating documents. As he talks in hushed tones to his Japanese comrade in the tent, they discuss the Yurei and Chester wonders whether the legend may be true. As racial tensions rise, Chester discusses the string of missing people with Colonel Stallings. As flies buzz overhead, Chester heads into a black swamp of death, as dead bodies lie in a pit; a bullet in each of their heads. Finding a belt with some kind of code attached, the Colonel demand the American soldiers head in and see if there’s anything else they missed, while shooting disapproving glances Chester’s way.
As day turns to night at the Japanese camp, Yuko begins to flex her supernatural muscles, possessing the spirit of a soldier, who contorts his way up to the top of the tower and jumps to his doom. Clutching a bottle of sake, the Major is furious, convinced one of the Japanese got him drunk, prompting a camp-wide search for contraband. Covers are ripped off beds, robes are thrown across the room and the Japanese uneasily stick together as the General eventually finds what he’s looking for – a hidden stash of sake tucked away under floorboards.
“One’s just as good as the other” The General shrugs, as he takes Walt away after taking the blame for making the drink. Thanks to Yuko acting as a nurse, Luz learns that she’s expecting twins but unfortunately it’s riddled with misfortune and bad omens, eventually leading to her waters breaking and her rushing back to the doctors. Dressed in a kimino, Yuko hides in the shadows, possessing one of the midwifes. Unfortunately, Luz’s babies die during childbirth.
None the wiser to what’s happening at the camp, Chester reads a letter from Luz and believes his babies are healthy, until he’s confronted by soldiers and beaten to a pulp. This happens to be retaliation for an earlier incident involving the missing Sergeant Crittenden, where Chester learns he’s speaking Japanese. Crittenden, now released from the sick bay, clutches a flamethrower and torches every American soldier beating on Chester. As our protagonist pleads with him to see reason, he learns from the man’s own mouth that he serves Admiral Takahashi.
Consumed by grief, Luz tells the others about Yuko and she pleads with them to tell her what’s happened. As the room clears, a strange woman arrives and immediately takes her mask off to reveal a twisted, burnt corpse underneath. She controls the Doctor and immediately forces him to slice his belly open. As blood oozes across the room and seeps into the mask, Luz awakens in the night to the sound of hushed screams.
It was always going to be difficult for The Terror to match up to the illustrious heights of its first season and to be honest, the second season does fall short by comparison. However, as the episodes tick by and more horror elements seep into the show, The Terror feels like it may finally start to flex its muscles after a relatively subdued and slow opening. Of course, the dual setting is still a little problematic and personally I would have preferred a more claustrophobic, solitary area to really drive home the power of the Yurei and build that tension.
With some nice shots and well written dialogue, it’ll be interesting to see where The Terror goes from here and whether it can live up to its premise and deliver some genuinely terrifying scares in the future.