AMC’s The Terror
Season 2, Episode 10: “Into the Afterlife”
Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye
Written by Alexander Woo
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Come and Get Me” – click here
* Will there be another season?
Nobuhiro Yamato sees an old familiar face, Kazu, along a stretch of road. This is “the afterlife.” The men have reunited after the end of their natural lives. Kazu lived in Hiroshima all his life— we know how that ended— and his whole family are in the afterlife with him now.
It’s a nightmare from which Yamato wakes. They hear fireworks and celebration outside. This is no 4th of July celebration. It’s somewhere between August 6th and the 9th, when America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yamato and some of the others hear from excited U.S. troops: “We bombed the Japs.” A sickening thing to be told by your fellow countrymen. And also a horrific moment of premonition for Yamato.
Chester, Asako, and Henry are trying to figure out where Luz has gone. Back at the house, Hector gives Chester the bad news about what’s happened in Hiroshima. Afterwards the parents try not to lose hope, driving out into the dark looking for their daughter-in-law and the child. Asako can’t help thinking of people she knew from Hiroshima while simultaneously lamenting what happened with Yuko. In another car, Chester finds Luz on the road. She doesn’t have the baby, though. Someone who stopped earlier obviously didn’t take her— they took the baby, and the yurei’s gone with them.
Asako and Henry find the car with dead parents inside. The girl’s gone off with the baby. She’s walking into a field, where she comes to an old shack. Inside is the corpse of Yuko. The girl lays the baby next to her, putting her arm over it.
And now the yurei can take it back to her perfect world.
Meanwhile, Amy and Yamato are grappling with the reality of what’s happened. She talks about wanting revenge. “It consumed me,” she says. The old man assures she did the right thing defending herself against Major Bowen. He also tells her wanting vengeance is as “natural as death,” too.
Flashback to 1919 Japan in the Wakayama Prefecture.
Yuko and Asako were young women, the latter helping the former prepare herself for Hideo and going off to America. He’d sent his bride-to-be a View-Master, showing her the sights of the United States before her arrival. Because we know parts of the story already, we can see the obvious tension in Asako, as she knows what kind of man she’s allowing her sister to go be with, even if she didn’t know, then, what that would ultimately mean.
At that old shack, Chester and Henry find nobody— Yuko and the baby are gone. There are names left behind, written all over the walls. It’s Chester’s ancestors names. “She’s preparing for a burial,” he tells his father. He’s going to find her, and he insists Henry take the picture he gave him to Luz’s abuela. He doesn’t want anybody else sacrificing themselves. In the dark woods, Yuko sits at the edge of a grave with the child. She’s soon greeted by her son, Chester. He tries to offer himself up, but Henry’s come along, as well. The father won’t let his son die for “our sins,” he claims. He fires a rifle into Yuko a couple times, handing a cloth sutra to his son. He uses “sacred words” as protection from the yurei. He writes more on her face, as they did in the camp— he says when they burned her, it also burned off the words binding her.
Except Yuko fights back. And now she uses Henry to chase Chester, picking up the rifle and putting a bullet in his son’s leg before turning the gun around and shooting himself in the stomach. The yurei rises again, heading for the child. She takes it with her to the grave, falling backwards to the other side.
Luz and Asako get to the others, finding Henry dead. Yuko crawls out of the grave, still here in the real world due to the sutras. She tells Asako to “suffer forever” for what happened to her. She’s distracted long enough for Luz to get to her child again. Asako stabs her dead sister over and over. But Chester knows it’s no use: “Her spirit will never rest.” Luz suggests there may be a way to destroy her entirely.
They’ll conduct another ritual. One to help the yurei come to a sense of peace.
So Chester has his dead mother drink that tea, and he does, too. They’ll go to the realm of death together. She goes back to her former self, when she was pregnant with the twins she’d have, when things were beautiful and hopeful and the world was good. This is where Yuko decides to spend her days.
When Chester goes back, he sees the young photo of Yuko is now blank.
Their family can move, in spite of what they’ve lost along the way.
We see a moment between Henry and Chester on a boat. The son takes a photograph of his father. Then dad talks about why he became a fisherman, relating back to the way he felt first holding his son, how proud that feeling made him. Henry says today he’ll sail far away from the troubled world. Chester can’t join, so he takes another photograph of his father. That same picture sits atop Henry’s casket as people pay respects. Chester brings his child to the casket, talking about grandpa to make sure his child knows, very early on, his name comes from a great man.
Some time later, in Little Tokyo, Chester takes everyone’s photographs. His mother holds a photograph of her deceased husband in her picture. He takes the Yoshidas’s pictures. After that he and Luz and their new family have theirs taken, too. Life goes on for everyone after the war’s finally over. Although it isn’t easy for everyone. Yamato takes it all in stride, whereas Amy finds it difficult to see her people again.
The main takeaway? These Americans didn’t let American hatred and racism rob them of their culture. They kept it close to their hearts. Similarly, this is why we all have to remember terrible pieces of history such as the internment of Japanese Americans. Because if we forget, then we can allow these things to continue happening. Look at the injustices committed against human beings in America right now (and never forget that Canada played its part, and continues to play its part, in all that).
“We have to make sure we keep remembering”
Perfectly beautiful ending, including all the cast and crew ancestry that connects so many of them to the awful camps in America. What an incredible way to close out the season. There’s bittersweetness, but mostly the sweetness, because, no matter what, so many who’ve been personally affected by this have gone on to turn tragedy into strength and power, just by looking at the talented cast and crew alone.
Never, ever forget.