AMC’s The Terror
Episode 4: “Punished, as a Boy”
Directed by Edward Berger
Written by David Kajganich
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Ladder” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “First Shot a Winner, Lads” – click here
November, 1847. Everyone at home worries, including Sophia Cracroft (Sian Brooke) who tells her aunt Lady Jane Franklin (Greta Scacchi) she’s “made a terrible mistake.” The women go to see the Navy about the situations of the HMS Erebus and Terror. Lady Jane speaks about her “fallible” husband, Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds), and wants the Navy to take action in seeking to help him and his expedition. Ultimately, there’s no plan, and the Navy says they’ll wait until 1850. If they haven’t heard from the expedition at that time, they’ll take action then. Sir John Ross (Clive Russell) always knew they’d have trouble, whereas Sir James Ross (Richard Sutton) isn’t yet worried about all his friends on the ill-fated mission.
On the ships, it’s a different story. Henry Goodsir (Paul Ready) is trying to figure out exactly what sort of creature is on the ice. The rest of the crew seem to be taking it all in stride, as they celebrate a birthday. Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) gets a bit of info from Thomas Jopson (Liam Garrigan), who tells him about everything from the ship’s condition to the state of the canned provisions aboard the ships. That’s right about when noise alerts Crozier. he goes up top to find yet another bleeding man with a head wound. More and more, the men realise that it isn’t a bear out there hunting them, but something else altogether.
Men head out onto the ice, which ends in screaming and gunfire; no sighting of the creature, though. Inside, Crozier tries to explain to Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) his priorities. Part of which involve a duty to Ms. Cracroft, for whom Francis has an unrequited love. He now sees Fitzjames knows about it all, from Sir John, so his business is all known and gossiped about amongst others who call themselves his friends.
The newly dead man is inspected by Dr. Stephen Stanley (Alistair Petrie), Dr. Alexander McDonald), and also Goodsir, who wants to learn more. Elsewhere in the ship, men are griping about having to deal with whatever lurks out in the darkness, and they’ve got to take shifts topside on watch, too. It’s not a fantastic situation, being stuck there in the ice and forced to face some unknown terror.
Worse, another corpse found. There’s also a shape in the mist across the ice, an animal that looks like a polar bear but its face is almost a skull. Down below, the doctors report their findings to Crozier and Fitzjames about the damage being done by a “single claw,” and how it was very precise, as well as incredibly powerful. Lt. Irving (Ronan Raftery) suggests they mind find answers were they to consult with indigenous peoples, and Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen) is brought up in conversation. Men are still wondering about a connection between the Inuit woman and the arrival of the carnivorous beast.
“Not a man, not a bear; then what?”
Flashback to Sophia and Francis, as she rejects him. It’s mostly tied up in the fact Crozier is a man dedicated to a life at sea. He’s at sea even when on land; mentally, anyway. Sophia worries he’s solely a Navy Captain, and she also worries about financial status, too. Although Francis insists he’ll “be knighted” soon enough, mentioning another go at finding the Northwest Passage – the mission on which we watch him currently – and Sophia, like many, never understood “this mania” in the obsession with finding the Passage. We see themes of masculine pride once again come up, however, we also see a broader look at the idea of imperialism and colonialism re: conquest, plus how that affects people on an individual level. On top of it, there’s the concept of trade, and that’s part of imperialism/colonialism in its own economic sense.
Crozier finds a near mutinous riot ongoing. Some men are ready to do harm to Lady Silence, while others try and prevent them. The Captain fires a shot and stops the chaos. Crozier decides on taking Silence to the Erebus for protection. A few men are taken back to the Captain’s quarters, to talk with Crozier and Fitzjames. Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) tells about him and a couple of the lads going out to where Silence keeps an igloo. They found her there “nose to nose” with the creature, but soon the creature ran off after Silence spoke to it. After it’s over, Crozier orders lashings for Hickey, Tom Hartnell (Jack Colgrave Hirst), and Magnus Manson (Stephen Thopson). Hickey gets the worse after he protests disrespectfully against it all, and is ordered to be punished “as a boy“; meaning he gets the lashings on his arse.
The medical situation on the boats has gotten more dire than before, after Goodsir notices John Morfin (Anthony Flanagan) has black gums and rotting teeth. This quite possibly means they’re headed for a scurvy outbreak.
In the meantime, Goodsir also looks after Lady Silence, stowed away in her tiny hole of a room. He brings her a meal, which is a far cry from what she’d eat on her own or in an Inuit community; she spits out whatever soup he’s given her and most of the other edibles. Goodsir tries ingratiating himself to her, speaking of the Nunavut region and the “Inuktitut” language favourably. He’s definitely not the typical English adventurer, despite being on a mission with many typical adventurers, even if he speaks of the Northwest Passage as “a victory for the Empire.” All the same, he’s forging a connection, and he’s discovering what kinds of things Silence might like to eat. Maybe they’ll build a bridge.
Simultaneously, there’s Crozier, and we’ll see how his pride and determination to duty – wherever that duty may ultimately lie – affect the rest of the expedition. Everything weighs heavy on him and already he’s showing the effects of leadership he never wanted in the first place.
“First Shot a Winner, Lads” is next. I’m betting we’ll see more creature action. If so, surely more death, as well.