This The Terror review contains spoilers.
The Terror Episode 9
The Terror moved at lightning speed tonight, providing quite a few sendoffs in its most terrifying hour yet, as we finally arrived at the cannibalism portion of this doomed adventure in the Arctic. If you’ve been following my reviews for the past few weeks, you already knew this was coming, but it’s no less shocking when the men begin the work of carving up the dead for food.
I love that the scene of the men eating the raw human meat — they could’ve at least roasted it or something, no? — is foreshadowed by Lt. Hodgson (Christos Lawton), who eats a piece of leather he’s torn from his boot. That’s an even more shocking moment, to be honest. I’d never thought about how far these men might go to survive, even when it’s so clear at this point that they’re all going to die. Still, resorting to cannibalism is almost conventional when compared to eating shoes just to fill your belly.
Indeed, “The C, the C, the Open C” pulls none of its punches. In fact, I’d say its only real fault is that it rushes through the deaths of characters who perhaps deserved a bit more attention before the end. Front and center is Tobias Menzies’ James Fitzjames, who decays rapidly in this episode. He ends up in so much pain (“Glass in all of your joints,” Dr. Goodsir points out to Gibson later in the episode) that he begs Francis to end his life. Ultimately, James gets a much better ending than Gibson, who is brutally murdered by Hickey and fed to his rogue band of men.
While chatting with Hodgson, Hickey provides a perverse rationalization about cannibalism. For years, the men have been eating from the “veal in tomato sauce” cans, which were poisonous all along. It’s a paradox, Hickey realizes: eating the food is killing them but they’ll starve if they don’t eat at all. Hickey wonders if it’s actually veal they’re eating in the first place and if they should consider another food source altogether. He decides that by eating Gibson at least the men will know where the meat is coming from and what parts aren’t tainted by the lead — with a little help from poor Goodsir, who is forced to butcher the dead man into edible portions.
The episode does get a little heavy-handed at points. Hodgson’s story about taking communion for the first time — body and blood of Christ — is pretty obvious symbolism and doesn’t quite work. In fact, it slows down the episode a bit too much. That said, I really enjoyed Hodgson’s creepy delivery in this scene.
We’re also forced to say goodbye to Mr. Blanky (Ian Hart), who sacrifices himself in order to lead Tuunbaq away from the other men. We don’t actually get to see Blanky mauled to death, but it’s clear from his situation that his journey back to the ice is a one-way trip. That he finds the Northwest Passage on his final mission is a bit of lovely poetry. I like that The Terror doesn’t treat this moment as a tragic one but rather a small victory for the men who are about to die. At least SOMEONE found the passage before the end. I’m glad it’s the very likable Blanky.
Speaking of Tuunbaq, the monster has turned out to be The Terror‘s most muddled element. There’s only one episode to go and I still don’t know the deal with this beast or Lady Silence’s role as its keeper. Her storyline has never quite jelled for me and Tuunbaq just seems to appear when the show needs an injection of adrenaline to keep things moving. Luckily, he’s kept in the background while the more interesting portions are going on.
I hope that next week’s finale delivers the visceral (and often gory) human moments this show has excelled at all season. What will become of Francis at the hands of Hickey? Will Lt. Little lead the rest of Francis’ men to safety or will they have to confront Tuunbaq one last time? Will Lady Silence finally save the day? And who is next on the menu? The final hour can’t come soon enough.