AMc’s The Terror
Episode 1: “Go for Broke”
Directed by Edward Berger
Written by David Kajganich
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Gore” – click here
For those who’ve never been here, this site does recaps + reviews, so you’ll get a heavily detailed recap alongside more typical review qualities. If that’s not your bag, Father Gore can dig it. But please, don’t bitch. Plenty of others enjoy the recap & review formula here. To each their own!
For the rest of you, welcome. Let’s enjoy this adaptation of The Terror by Dan Simmons, which I only read for the first time – finally – this past summer. Loved it. Let’s dig in, shall we? Get ready for some historical fiction based on Franklin’s lost expedition, including a dose of horror.
In 1845, two ships from the Royal Navy were attempting to find a way through the Arctic. They were last seen near Baffin Bay before vanishing. These ships were the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. In 1849, we hear of a story about the shamans who speak of an entity that was “always coming,” which came for those on the ships.
One of those men was Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris).
Back to September of 1846. The ships were sailing. Along with Crozier were Cpt. Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) and Cpt. James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) on the Erebus. It was a hard go of it, living on those ships as they moved between the ice across those icy waters. There’s always a class division on the ship, too. Or, in the military in general rather. All the captains and higher ranking lads are in a nice little dining room with pretty plates, glass, good drink, and telling plenty tales. It’s obvious Cpt. Fitzjames likes telling a yarn (more on his reference to “Caesar crossing the Rubicon“). Also obvious Crozier doesn’t exactly have time to listen to him ramble, so it’s not all rosy amongst the upper class, either. There’s more to Crozier and his attitude, as well, which we’ll watch unravel as the series moves on.
Worse things are happening. One of the boys from the crew is convulsing, coughing, and spewing blood. Never a good sign to see someone hacking up red liquid when you’re out on a berth at sea. The captains are worried about scurvy, though the physician claims it’s consumptive. They’ve got the lad on some Dover’s powder for the time being.
There’s a divide between the captains, of course, with Crozier and Fitzjames not seeing eye to eye. Franklin does his best to mediate the two. But Crozier has quite the troubled mind. Sir James believes he’s averse to glory somehow.
One man goes tumbling from up top, banging off the side of the boat into freezing water. Before anybody can pull him in he slips under, drowning to death. Omens, everywhere, and they’re all bad. Not to mention the ice is blocking the Erebus currently. What’s sad to see are the military journals, the captains logs, where men are tallied like the count of food in the belly of the ship.
There’s a flashback to Crozier at the opera house. He seemed quite a bit happier than we see him in the current days. He’s celebrated alongside Sir Franklin and Sir James Clark Ross (Richard Sutton) at the show. A long way from his demeanour on the Terror.
As poor David (Alfie Kingsnorth) gets worse from his illness, he sees the vision of a man wearing a mask. He sees the indigenous man remove his mask, then he dies quickly. Certainly never a good thing to have to report, when Henry Goodsir (Paul Ready) must tell Dr. Stephen Stanley (Alistair Petrie) of the deceased. Except Goodsir’s concerned with what the young man saw before he passed.
Ice is keeping the journey from progressing much further at the moment. Brave Henry Collins (Trystan Gravelle) is going diving in the ice water of the Arctic to check out the situation below – “a pilgrim to the deeps” – so they might see if the boat is jammed. Dangerous stuff. Also love the cut between Collins entering the dark waters and Goodsir cutting open the dead boy’s chest cavity; excellent, grim stuff. Not to mention Collins sees something in the hazy darkness below the Arctic’s ocean; a person, their arms stretching out for him. An unsettling image. Add to that a hypnotising score and it’s haunting.
Erebus has a bent propeller, and resources are dwindling. The captains argue over what’s best next. Francis suggests that they may have to abandon Erebus, at which both Sir John and Cpt. Fitzjames balk. Yet it’s a reality they may have to begin considering soon should they be serious about surviving, what with not only the resources being used up more and more by the day as they sit stagnant amongst the ice, but they also have to anticipate the flow of the ice packs that could prove mighty dangerous.
Some young sailors are putting the dead lad in a grave to bury. They drop the coffin in too fast and the lid pops off. Officer Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) jumps down inside to be respectful, closing it up again proper. Sign of a decent man, no? Meanwhile, Sir John is setting sail south. He gives a speech to try boosting morale. That’s not easy for some of the men, such as Goodsir, who’s feeling ominous. The ships set out, breaking open a channel in the ice.
Six days later, they’re stuck just as bad, if not worse. They go about the precarious process of getting through the thick Arctic ice, including setting off an explosive or two. Inside the ships, the walls groan, and everybody tries to keep calm and carry on.
But it’s bad. They’re not doing much forward movement, whatsoever. The captains and high-ranking officers must tell the rest of the sailors they’ll be bunking down a while. Y’know, life of a sailor and all. It’s going to get rough, in more ways than one.
Just wait for all the ambition, pride, secrets, betrayals, and a mythological creature to make things even more complicated. Oh yes!
Lord, I loved this opening episode. Because I dig storytelling that’s not going to rush itself. There was enough mystery and intrigue here in the first chapter to get me excited. I’ve already read this book, so it’s compelling for me to see how it’ll be adapted. So far, so good. The acting talent is superb, which will get better as we get deeper into the character development. Can’t wait for some Lady Silence.
“Gore” is the next episode. Love the title, too.