AMC’s The Terror
Season 2, Episode 2: “All the Demons Are Still in Hell”
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by Tony Tost
* For a recap & review of the premiere, “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Gaman” – click here
We’re a few months on since December 1941— it’s now February 27th, 1942, coincidentally the date of the Battle of the Java Sea, one week after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, eventually leading to the incarceration of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans.
Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio) and his mother Asako (Naoko Mori) are packing. His Navy buddy Marlon (Reilly Dolman) is there to make sure there’s no “spy equipment” among their belongings. A particularly brutal shot of salt in the wound to have his white American friend there enforcing fascism. Chester keeps his head high, helping others load their luggage before they’re all ready to go to the city.
There are already many Japanese in facilities, such as Henry (Shingo Usami) and Nobuhiro Yamato (George Takei). The old man’s continually convinced the bakemono a.k.a obake are haunting them. He’s swallowing ofuda— strips of parchment with Buddhist sutras inscribed on them to ward off spirits. Henry’s reluctant to believe these tales from Japanese folklore are in America, yet Yamato may be convincing him otherwise, especially now that he’s seeing the slow terror of U.S. fascism in that place.
“I love this country”
Chester runs into Luz Ojeda (Cristina Rodlo), and she didn’t take the herbs after all. She’s pregnant, cast off by her own family. He wants to help, though things aren’t quite stable for him, either. She’s got no choice but to let their child grow up at an orphanage until she’s able to afford to take care of it.
Henry’s taken by vehicle out to a lake. A soldier brings him to the ice, not caring to hear about the fisherman’s plight, only interested in what Henry can fish from under the ice. This isn’t the usual environment in which Henry works, he’s used to open water and nets. Yet he does his best.
In the city, Chester sees a vision of Yuko Tanabe (Kiki Sukezane), the woman from the night of his pal’s stag party. He goes looking for her, and the madam knows nothing about any Japanese girl. This leaves him unsure of his own eyes. Elsewhere, Luz sees a bunch of children taken away, right down to infants. A soldier hammers home that anyone with “a drop of Jap blood” will be dealt with the same. Chester tells his mother about his child right as they’re being brought to a transition facility. He rushes back to Luz and wants to get her out of the state. Asako and the others go to their new temporary homes, which are little more than horse’s stables. There, young Toshiro Furuya (Alex Shimizu) runs into the mysterious Yuko.
In the forest working, Yamato asks Hideo Furuya (Eiji Inoue), whose eyes are now useless, about his experience. Hideo mentions the woman, and the old man again insists it’s obake. Their superstitions lead to them believe Nick Okada (Kai Bradbury) is one of the spirits. Out on the ice, they threaten him to confess. And he does: he’s “working for the DOJ” to root out “enemies of the state.” He’s given over good people, a traitor to the Japanese. They don’t hurt him, they just leave him on the cracking ice.
Back home, Chester and Luz go to his photography professor’s place, where the man offers them shelter until they can make it out of California. However, FBI agents turn up, and Chester’s seized. Luz refuses to let her man be taken away by himself, revealing to the agents she’s pregnant. So, off they go to join Asako and the rest.
“Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched?”
Wilson Yoshida (James Saito) again sees a vision of Yuko, as he did when arriving in the city. He’s baffled by her presence. He turns to warn Chester, calling out to him that he “must leave,” and he’s thrown through the air. His son Walt (Lee Shorten) and Chester try to help. He shakes them off, attacking a soldier to get his gun. Several MPs then shoot him to death. All the while, Yuko’s neck cracks— like we saw Masayo crack her neck before dying in the initial episode— and her scalp runs with blood.
Later, Chester’s told he’s a bad omen. First, Masayo, then her husband, and now Mr. Yoshida. The other Japanese people start to feel he’s bringing bad luck to them. Soon, everyone at the facility is being moved again. The Yoshidas are forced to pick between taking all their luggage or leaving Wilson’s ashes behind, obviously choosing to discard some bags. Everyone’s taken on a long bus ride to Colinas de Oro, Oregon— not one of the real camps, it’s a fictional one based on the actual internment camps that operated in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.
This is America.
When they tell you today this isn’t the America they once recognised, as families are separated and children are kept in cages at the border in horrific, inhumane conditions, remind them that it’s always been this way.
“There is evil around you”
Next week should bring more creeps. The subtle build up with Yuko is great, because there’s enough real life social horror happening with the camps to make up for the supernatural’s slow reveal. Once it all collides fully, look out!
“Gaman” is next time.