AMC’s The Terror
Episode 9: “The C the C the Open C”
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Soo Hugh
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Terror Camp Clear” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “We Are Gone” – click here
This episode’s title comes from the poem “The Sea” by Barry Cornwall.
Mr. Charles Dickens (Tristan Teller) speaks at the London Cultural Society. In the audience are Sophie Cracroft (Sian Brooke), and Lady Jane Franklin (Greta Scacchi), who takes the stage to talk about the “mystery” surrounding the Arctic expedition. She assures that they will find her husband and “his lost heroes,” which, naturally, involves the need for donors to send a new ship out. (Fun stuff on Lady Jane and Dickens here.)
Meanwhile, those men remain up in the Arctic, their situation getting worse by the day. They face the aftermath of the chaos at Terror Camp. Bodies are littered across the ground all over the place. Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) and Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) discuss what to do now, particularly seeing as how their sole doctor, Henry Goodsir (Paul Ready), is gone; surely taken unwillingly by Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis), Sgt. Solomon Tozer (David Walmsley), and the rest of the mutineers. This leaves the main party in between an awful rock and a hard place. Poor John Bridgens (John Lynch) can only do so much for their medical needs; not near enough to be of comfort. Now, the men prepare to march South. It’s all they can do. Through it all, Crozier still tries to do what he feels is right.
Lieutenant George Hodgson (Christos Lawton) is down to eating a part of his boot. He’s found out by himself eventually by Hickey and his crew. They offer the lieutenant some food, and also a place in their mutinous regiment. Without options, Hodgson goes along. Because he’s desperate. That’s the only reason anybody would align themselves with a psychopath like Officer Hickey.
Nobody’s doing well at this point in the journey. Thomas Blanky (Ian Hart) finds his prosthetic leg difficult the further they go, likely chaffing him bloody. Fitzjames is suffering from his diseased skin getting worse, as are some of the other men. Sadly ironic how, in the end, the difference between a lower class officer and a higher class commander isn’t that much different when your flesh is decaying.
The worse things get in terms of rations, the more Hickey is leaning towards a dangerous method of operating. He’s started suggesting devious, dark things. Because the food’s dwindling, so they’ve got to figure something out sooner than later. There’s no game, nothing to hunt. What is there left to eat? Oh, you know. Just so happens one of the lads is nearing death’s door, as well. It horrifies Goodsir when Hickey puts Gibson out of his misery. It’ll horrify him more when he finds out exactly why.
There were already suggestions of cannibalism in the true historical record of the Franklin expedition. Dan Simmons merely played that up to a larger extent.
The Tuunbaq is lurking somewhere to the West, and Fitzjames is in excruciating pain. This prompts Crozier’s party to stop a while, to try and figure out how to speed up their mission. Problem is – weight; they’re hauling too much. Tough decisions must be made, tougher than before. Yet the Captain refuses to leave any other men behind.
Fitzjames is dead, so the men prepare to “hide him in the landscape” instead of leaving him to the elements. They also hear from one of their scouts the beast is still out there to the West. Crozier and Blanky discuss tactics, and the latter even offers himself up on a suicide mission to kill the Tuunbaq. The Captain’s pissed to hear such talk. Then he sees Blanky’s leg – it’s rotting away worse at the nub, as is his prosthetic all but busted. Everything’s piling up, and it’s starting to take a toll on the Cap.
After Gibson’s death, Hickey is ready to butcher the corpse. He wants Goodsir to help, due to his experience with anatomy. The appointed doctor refuses to be part of the plot. Then he’s met with blackmail: butcher Gibson, or Hodgson gets killed, too. “Don‘t indulge your morals over your practicals,” Hickey advises menacingly. Yikes. A real Kantian conundrum for Goodsir, who chooses to do the carving rather than have a fresh body on his conscience. After that, everybody sits around for a chew of human meat. Except for the doc, who won’t allow himself to become a cannibal. The juxtaposition of China plates with Gibson’s flesh on it is stunning.
Elsewhere, we see the irony of Blanky’s mission: he finds what he believes to be the Nor’west Passage, after all the struggle and hardship.
Everyone is wary of the beast. Tozer wants to get away from their camp, before it will return, though Hickey’s not so bothered as him. The Marine starts wondering about the soul of man, and claims he’s seen one. He watched Collins’s soul be sucked from him by the Tuunbaq: “It breathed that man‘s soul in.” This seems to stir an idea in Hickey. But the rest of the men remain uneasy.
Crozier goes to a sick Thomas Jopson (Liam Garrigan), returning the favour of taking care of him after being taken care of for so long on the ship. This is a telling moment for Francis as a character. Despite his faults, the man is good at heart, and he cares for others around him in a society/era that wasn’t exactly tuned into the needs of the individual.
In the morning, open water’s spotted. There may be room to get through the ice. Crozier and a few men go have a look. It’s all bullshit, though. Crozier’s been led out into a trap. Hartnell’s killed in the squabble. The Captain is being taken, but the others are let free.
Out by the passage, Blanky waits as the Tuunbaq comes for him. But, will he be able to stop it on his own?
This sets up an extraordinary final episode. “We Are Gone” is next, is last, and we’re going to experience lots of exciting things. Big showdowns are expected! Crozier v. Hickey. Blanky v. Tuunbaq. Silence v. the White Man.
Bring it all on.