AMC’s The Terror
Episode 7: “Horrible from Supper”
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Andres Fischer-Centeno
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “A Mercy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Terror Camp Clear” – click here
April 22nd, 1848. Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) and Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) oversee the crews of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus packing up before the big trek inland. An advance party has already set out, but there’s no knowing if they ever made it to shore. Men wonder if the beast is still out there, hunting down men. Others are succumbing to illness more rapidly. Meanwhile, Henry Goodsir (Paul Ready) and John Bridgens (John Lynch) try to keep the men going best as they can with what medical provisions remain.
Then there’s Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis), William Gibson (Edward Ashley), and others, who’ve decided on their own plan of breaking off into a smaller group, as well as stealing provisions and whatever else is needed from the main party of the expedition. Things promise to get ugly.
Crozier prepares to abandon the ships, which is not a light duty for a captain of the Royal Navy. Yet he says goodbye, leaving the Erebus and Terror as mere symbols of another failure to find the Northwest Passage. Then commences the hard, cold journey on icy land, hauling boats across across their backs.
The work of moving the boats over land is brutal, and it would take its toll on any man. Someone such as John Morfin (Anthony Flanagan), with signs of lead poisoning, is not doing well at all. There are also others, such as Henry Collins (Trystan Gravelle), who are suffering from mental troubles. Collins talks about the “boys who died” cooking in the fire from the carnival, and that he’s having cannibalistic urges, despite not wanting to think of such things. This worries the newly anointed Dr. Goodsir.
To start, Goodsir wants to get the men off the canned food, urging Cpt. Crozier to get men out trying to hunt on the ice. But the Captain knows hunting seal is difficult, so he can’t order the men not to eat any of the provisions, regardless of the consequences. So many secrets. We see a lot about the so-called duty of these men, particularly the higher class, when it comes to what they have to hide and what they’re allowed to speak freely. Anyway, the doc looks like he has an idea. Maybe Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen) could help with their hunting problems.
There are worse things afoot. Crozier and several men find the advance party, their heads decapitated; another thing the Captain decides on keeping secret from the rest of the crew. And on they go – even Crozier himself hauls the boats with his lads. After more pulling, they come to a significant blockage in the age, which requires they check out the other side before deciding on a plan going forward. Fitzjames and Crozier head up themselves, where they see a flag off in the distance. This is Terror Camp, where they’re back on solid ground at King William Island; the camp consists of a number of tents, including one heated by a diesel generator.
In the night, a man’s heard screaming – Mr. Morfin. He begs to be put out of his misery. Crozier hears the commotion and speaks to Morfin. But the ill man only grabs one of the other men’s rifles. Goodsir offers “wine of coca” and other methods to try relieving his pain. Soon, though, one of the sergeants puts a shot right in Morfin to end the standoff. Tragic. The whole thing affects the doc profoundly, as well. Lady Silence offers him comfort afterwards to calm him.
Crozier tells his officers and Cmdr. Fitzjames about the provisions going worse than bad, infected with lead poisoning, all of which has caused an unavoidable issue. This makes the Captain finally get hunting parties together, so that they might come across caribou or other animals to serve as food. In other news along the journey, there’s also a new Lieutenant being added to the ranks: Thomas Jopson (Liam Garrigan). This doesn’t please everybody, though, such as some of the men planning on breaking off into Hickey’s little group; specifically, Lt. George Hodgson (Christos Lawton). He and the other men are not pleased with the secrets kept from the crew. They know about the problems with provisions. They’ve also got ideas about how to solve the food shortage, as well as their other hopeful plans of mutinous rebellion.
Later in the day, Lt. John Irving (Ronan Raftery) and some of the men, including Hickey and his lads, are out scouting across the island. The group breaks into smaller groups, each going one way to look ahead. Irving and a few men see some Inuit travellers with a boat. Irving goes to speak with them, attempting to make friendly contact. Only this gives Hickey a better way to kick start his plots.
When Lt. Irving goes back to his men, Hickey is waiting to kill him like he’s done the others. And he’s unfortunately got the Inuits to blame it on when it comes time to explain the massacre to Cpt. Crozier and the others.
The episode gives us a a nice bookend where we see Hickey first coming aboard the ship for his journey, back when he met Lt. Irving, Lt. Hodgson, and others. It’s enough just to see the devious smile on Hickey’s face to know he’s got hidden demons lurking underneath. From those first days heading to a berth at sea in the Arctic, to standing alone on King William Island, bodies at his feet.
What an episode! So brutal and tense. Can’t wait for more. “Terror Camp Clear” is next time.