This The Terror review contains spoilers.
The Terror Episode 8
It’s starting to feel like The Terror is getting a bit long in the tooth, especially as the story winds down to the moment we’ve all been waiting for — a final fall into madness foretold by scientists and historians who can’t say for sure what happened to the men of John Franklin’s expedition. Either way, I’d like the show to get there just a little bit faster because the first 30 minutes of “Terror Camp Clear” are a complete slog. Of course, when the episode does get going, it delivers some pretty entertaining television.
The show has done a great job of showing us all the different ways these men might’ve perished: disease, poisoned food, mutiny, and a monster that was created to spice up the story just a bit more. Also theorized is cannibalism. We’ve not seen that yet, but I can’t imagine that’s too far off. Or perhaps that’s not where the show is headed at all.
The Terror seems content with putting the focus on Hickey’s rebellion and Tuunbaq, who’s back this episode to eat more sailors. His appearance this week is a bit too convenient. It’s the easiest way to get Hickey out of a sticky situation, but it also felt like lazy writing. I would’ve liked to see the calculating, smirking villain talk himself out of his execution. It actually seemed like Hickey was getting through to the men — they did end up following him when all hell broke loose, after all — and it would’ve been interesting to see how a quieter moment of mutiny would have played out.
But in the end, it’s Tuunbaq who saves the day for Hickey and Hartnell, who flee with the rest of the conspirators as the monster chomps down on Francis’ men. The final sequence does provide a couple of solid minutes of horror, as Tuunbaq hunts the men down in the fog, clawing away at them, ripping flesh. It was shocking to watch poor Collins writhe in unspeakable pain as Tuunbaq fed on his belly. It hurts Collins so much that he can’t even scream.
On the upside, I’m glad Collins went out in cocaine-fueled elation, unable to really comprehend what was going on until the very first bite. That Tuunbaq seems to consume his soul as well is a cruel fate for the man. I absolutely loved when Collins interrupted Hickey’s speech with laughter from within the eerie fog surrounding the camp. In general, watching Collins go mad this week was sort of uncomfortably funny. The Terror is very good at making you uncomfortable through more than one emotion.
One thing I don’t get is how Tuunbaq actually works. Does he attack when his people are hurt? In this case, Hickey’s brutal murder of the Inuit family would have prompted the monster to attack the camp as retribution. But I thought Lady Silence cut out her own tongue so that she could control Tuunbaq like her father had before her. If that’s not the case, what was the point of her performing the ritual to become the monster’s master to begin with? Or is it her presence that keeps Tuunbaq away? When Francis and James ask Lady Silence to leave, it leaves the gates wide open for the monster. But surely she would know this…
My point is that Tuunbaq hasn’t quite come together for me as a memorable monster, more long-necked polar bear than icy supernatural nightmare (but don’t tell him I said that). Overall, I’m a bit disappointed with the monster’s return. And since he was not killed in this episode, I assume we’ll see him again before the end for one last bite.
As for what happens now that the remaining crew has been mauled to death or simply split into two separate camps, I assume Hickey’s going to mount an attack on Francis’ men before the end, possibly for the last of the supplies or something much more sinister. I did find it curious that Hickey ordered his men to steal the last of the canned food, considering that it’s full of lead and slowly killing them. Certainly, James wouldn’t recommend eating any more of that gunk.
I do love the brief scene where James is inspecting his rotting flesh. This show really knows how to gross you out in a way that isn’t excessive. (I’ll never forget all of the times this show had me watch Goodsir dig into a corpse with his bare hands, with only a few cloth rags to wipe his hands. Ugh!) I thought that, after his confession to Francis in the opening scene, “Terror Camp Clear” would be James’ swan song. But death doesn’t come for James, who began the series so certain, so full of himself. It’s shocking to see the man slouching, just going with it as best he can before giving in completely. Perhaps madness isn’t too far off for him. The best I can wish him is a Peruvian mixture of cocaine and wine.