AMC’s The Terror
Season 2, Episode 6: “Taizo”
Directed by Everardo Gout
Written by Max Borenstein & Benjamin Klein
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Shatter Like a Pearl” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “My Perfect World” – click here
Terminal Island, San Pedro, California. 1919.
Yuko Tanabe was in a room with Hideo Furuya. They were married recently. She revealed to him that she was pregnant. He was angry she hadn’t told him already. He called her “whore” and threw her out. Skip ahead a year to Los Angeles in 1920, as Yuko attempted to survive on the streets by scavenging whatever she could find in the way of food, even if it was trash— anything to feed her child. Things were grim. She went to see the nuns, so they could take her baby. It only drove her into a worse state herself. She filled her sash with rocks and was about to step off a bridge to her watery death when a woman stopped her, trying to talk her out of being “washed out to sea.” It did nothing to stop Yuko’s plan.
Yuko woke in a bed being cared for by the woman from the bridge, Chiyo. She was in a safe place. Chiyo’s home was like being “back in Japan” again. After Yuko finished eating, she noticed the Yotsu Hanabishi— a symbol of her ancestors. Is there a chance this place was an ethereal, limbo-like space? There was certainly something not quite right. Even the buzzing fly around Yuko’s bed feels eerie and out of place, as does the stoic gardener who never takes a break. Nothing seemed normal to Yuko there. She started seeing someone dead in the water. The gardener became menacing.
And dead hands reached from the sand trying to pull her below with them.
Each day felt similar. Yuko awoke to the same routine, the same fly buzzing, and nearly the exact same words being exchanged between her and her supposed saviour. She couldn’t remember being taken there, struggling to figure out what was happening. Chiyo only told Yuko her old life was gone. That place became hostile, as a demonic force began to emerge. This was a paradise to which her ancestors were doomed.
Worse, there was “no way out.”
Yuko eventually tricked Chiyo into walking backward into the sand, where the dead hands pulled her below. What would that mean for her? She tried rushing to the door across the sand, only to discover dirt, roots, and nothing. She climbed through, pushing her way past until she broke through the earth and pulled herself out of a hole.
Except the hole was a grave. She was now a living corpse— a yurei.
And it was 21 years after she’d died.
Colinas de Oros. July 3rd, 1943.
Chester Nakayama returns to the camp. People in the community talk about how he “brings pain” wherever he goes. This doesn’t affect Henry and Asako, who are happy to see their boy again. He’s been discharged for medical reasons, due to the crash. He then gets a letter left behind by Luz. Hard for him to read. At least she got out of that wretched camp. He spends his first day lying next to the grave of his dead twins. Fumi blames him for so much of the horror. Chester believes it, too. He tells his mother about the spirit following her. His mother’s being infected by the spirit, as Yuko lurks close by. He calls the yurei out when he sees Asako being manipulated and it near chokes him to death. This causes further worry in the community.
Later, Yuko recounts what happened. She could feel the yurei controlling her. She couldn’t control herself, no matter how hard she tried. She felt “so much pain” in the spirit’s presence, like a “tremendous hunger” seeking to be quelled. This is when Asako reveals she once had a sister named Yuko. So, why’s she trying to get to Chester? Because he’s her son. His real name is Taizo. His life’s been a lie. This leads him to hate the man he thought was his father all these years.
While the 4th of July celebrations begin at the camp, Yuko’s busy searching for a child of her own. She takes a baby and falls backward into a grave, just like she did when falling off that bridge. She winds up back in that Japanese dream space without the child, because only her blood can go with her. Chester finds her lying there with the baby in the open grave. He takes her, unconscious, to Yamato. The old man says her “spirit is somewhere else.” They must destroy her body to be rid of the yurei and set it free.
Yamato recites words while writing on Yuko’s face and hands. They perform a ritual, binding her hands and feet with barbed wire. After that, they pour gasoline. Chester asks to be left alone with his mother before they set fire to her body. He tosses a lantern in the room and watches the place goes up in flames. In that other place, Yuko feels herself beginning to burn. Soon the fire engulfs everything around her.
But is it really the end? Or could Yuko’s angry spirit have walked out of the flames?
“We feared the truth would hurt”
Fantastic episode. Father Gore expected something wild. The reveal of Yuko’s identity was wilder than anticipated. Not only that, the madness will continue. “My Perfect World” is next time.