AMC’s The Terror
Season 2, Episode 3: “Gaman”
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Written by Shannon Goss
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “All the Demons Are Still in Hell” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Weak Are Meat” – click here
May of 1942. The Japanese and immigrant communities watch a movie in the mess hall with sound effects and lines read by people in attendance. It’s a John Wayne film, 1933’s Riders of Destiny. Everybody’s enjoying it, like any other average American would, except these Americans are persecuted daily. The irony’s not lost that Wayne probably had no issue with interment camps whatsoever, being a massive racist. Chester (Derek Mio) flashes back to Mr. Yoshida gunned down. He goes outside and feels a constant presence of dread, as does Luz (Cristina Rodlo) in her bed.
Even Luz is finding discrimination within the camp by the Japanese, particularly when she and Chester walk together. People talk and leer at them. The mysterious Yuko (Kiki Sukezane) lurks, watching Luz. Some women working on planting the gardens believe the soil is “no good.” They start to see signs of life, but anything that grows is still rotten.
Major Bowen (C. Thomas Howell) comes by, talking to Chester and Walt (Lee Shorten) about the “industrious” Japanese people with plenty of asshole disregard for the fact they’re being held against their will. Chester and Walt get talking to a couple other men, noticing “overseas translators“— Nisei, 2nd-generation Japanese Americans— recruited to the U.S. military. Another sign of just how incredibly fucked up that place is for them.
We see Henry (Shingo Usami) and his wife Asako (Naoko Mori) dancing. It’s her dreaming. Although she wakes to hear from a friend that her husband is now in the camp. She sees him, Yamato (George Takei), and Hideo (Eiji Inoue) arrive. But Henry’s traumatised, mentally and physically, unable to keep from staring at the watch tower that’s perpetually watching them. Asako gets him to bed. He has frostbite, his toes blackened. Chester then sneaks up to a watch tower and smashes its huge searchlight.
Henry worries more about “human evil” than any spirits. He knows there are spies among them, driving him to paranoia. Chester soon arrives with food, along with Luz bringing warm water. Henry’s letting the paranoid voice in his head dictate his relationship with his son’s significant other.
At breakfast, Yamato talks to Chester about Wilson dying. Chester says he was not himself when he died. The old man warns spirits from their homeland “follow you” no matter where you go. Hideo comes into the hall mumbling about “swallows” and getting violent, possessed by unknown strength. MPs quickly haul him out of there screaming. That night, Chester goes to Hideo in his cell with homemade saké. Mr. Furuya felt like something was inside of him earlier. He’s unable to shake it. Chester leaves, not before seeing a vision of Mr. Yoshida in that cell, warning him to go all over again.
After Luz takes a fall, she goes to their doctor— a Japanese man— and finds the cultural divide causing problems. Chester gets there fast and makes the doctor perform an exam to make sure the baby’s okay. Afterwards, he asks Luz how she fell. Could someone have purposefully pushed her? She’s clearly not wanted in their camp community, and that look one of the women gave him when he was asking around for Luz was suspicious.
A creepy soldier moving strangely familiar comes to take Hideo from his cell and into the woods. He leaves the man there. Hideo calls for help with no response. Suddenly, Yuko is there with him. She reminds him of a night they spent together. He asks to be spared. She kisses him and bites off a piece of his face. His corpse is found the next morning, after a boy sees Yuko in her kimono through the woods. Everyone’s talking about his death, the rumours of what the child saw.
This prompts Chester to go talk with Colonel Stallings (Reed Diamond) about possibly working as a translator. They give him some Japanese documents to try translating for them. He looks over a letter, as well as a rifle training document. They’re not impressed with his skills. Until Chester mentions “the code.” He tells Stallings (Reed Diamond) why the poem sounds strange to him. This leads to his decoding of the real message inside the letter, impressing Stallings and getting him a job. This comes with opportunity to make money, in hopes he’ll help Luz and his family. He’ll also have to leave. Luz believes he’s just “running away.” They have a slow dance to music in the distance— their very first.
“If I close my eyes,
I can maybe forget where we are—
Henry’s upset. He doesn’t want his boy to be a spy, and he’s seen the true face of America. He realises the truth: their country hates them. Chester thinks it’ll all be fine once the war is over. Henry knows the hatred doesn’t fade so easily. He tells his son to leave, resenting Chester for not staying with them.
His son says goodbye to Walt, Amy, his mother, and Luz. A strange wind blows through before he’s gone. Asako takes a lock of her boy’s hair, in case he dies in a battle, so she can lay him to rest by cremation for a “proper burial.”
That evening, Luz comes to Asako— she’s been spotting. She’d rather not see the other doctor. Chester’s mother points her to a midwife who lives in the camp. She’s able to get relief from the woman, who gives her good news. Bad news? The midwife is Yuko.
Wow. A creepy episode, once again. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening, and the history’s in there enough to truly build a picture of the times without suffocating the viewer with too much exposition. Father Gore loves how the historical is weaved through the fictional, because all the horror / folklore elements in Infamy help bring out the various themes going on within the camp’s walls.
“The Weak Are Meat” is next.