Backstory & Worldbuilding…But Where’s The Horror?
Back for another week, The Terror returns for a somewhat subdued episode, with a profound lack of scares but more backstory used to flesh out this bleak world on the cusp of war. With a dual perspective between Chester and Luz, the episode plays out as an interesting historical fiction but fails to deliver anywhere near the level of horror it should, especially as we reach the halfway point of this season.
We begin in Guadacanal, as Chester clutches a note from home telling him about his Sons. Clenching his fist, he storms off as the soldiers worry that he’s cracked. Back in the Japanese camp, the prisoners are given questionnaires to fill out to prove their loyalty. As the various men and women worry about getting the questions wrong, the General contemplates dishing out strict punishments for those taking too long to fill out the questionnaire. Despite Amy’s reassurances that they’re just worried, the General visibly begins losing his patience.
Falling off the deep end, Luz stumbles back to camp after losing her child, hallucinating as she sees her smiling children in the murky water. It’s a grim, horrible experience losing a child but as we see Luz dressed in dirty white robes, the interesting juxtaposition between the white symbolising innocence and her dark facial expressions may hint at something more sinister at play here.
Meanwhile, Chester is told to see a tied-up Japanese who spews profanities at him as he enters the tent, including the ancient word for “dead man”. As Chester continues to examine the man’s possessions, he feeds back to the authorities that the prisoner wants to engage but only with him. Agreeing to let Chester speak to him alone, he returns to the crazed man and asks him just how he survived the plane crash.
Staring back, the man tells Chester he’s already dead, boasting that he already knows about his life. Smiling, the prisoner tells him he has nothing left before making a remark aimed toward his children. Reassuring Chester he’s there to save him, he suggests taking the dagger and slicing both their bellies open. Calmly, Chester grabs his camera instead and snaps a photo of the prisoner before walking off, determined to find out if he’s a Yurei or not.
Back at camp, Yoshida worries about the questionnaire and her fears hold weight too as the soldiers drop off the sheets of paper and inform the General that the one’s who answered “no to 27, no to 28” may be problematic; two specific questions designed to weed out the troublesome Japanese. Amy seizes her opportunity and hurries over to the stack of papers when the soldiers leave the room, changing her fiance’s answer to yes for those questions. As the Japanese are split into two groups, Ken storms off in disgust after learning his fiance changed his answers, while the Japanese taken away call him a coward.
Returning to the tent after a brief hiatus, Chester hits the man several times after learing he’s not a Yurei but they speak about the war and his dead children as things calm down while Luz’s father arrives and processes a request to free his daughter. Having understood the prisoner’s story, Chester frees him from his shackles and watches on as he stabs himself and slices his belly open, toppling over to the ground. Giving Chester valuable information with his dying breath, he tells our protagonist to relay the information about the Japanese Admiral to the Americans to prevent him getting into trouble.
As Luz leaves the camp with her Father, Chester is held up at gunpoint en-route to the General by his possessed comrade, forced to drive a jeep out of the camp. As they crash, the jeep lands upside down as the Yurei appears from the duffel bag on the back seat and shuffles its way toward him, clawing at his face.
In terms of progressive episodes, The Terror delivers a reasonably interesting one here but with a profound lack of horror throughout its runtime, the show so far has failed to live up to expectations. It’s a shame too because the backstory and war setting has been interesting and certainly holds intrigue. Some of the earlier episodes in the season have also had glimmers of promise too but so far, it’s not quite manifested in a way to build on the horror.
There’s still time to turn it around though as we reach the business end of this season, but compared to the mystery and choking claustrophobia experienced last year, The Terror: Infamy has so far failed to scale the same lofty heights its predecessor achieved so effortlessly.