This The Terror review contains spoilers.
The Terror Season 2 Episode 10
The Terror: Infamy brings its story to a close in a mostly satisfying way, as Chester, Luz, and their families confront a determined Yuko in the final days of World War II. “Into the Afterlife” is at its very best when focusing on the real-world horrors that make up this season’s historical background. The episode is bookended with powerful reflections on how these characters have been forever changed by their internment. It’s in the cathartic moments at the end of the episode, and in the many ruminations throughout about what it means to be Japanese-American, that this final hour hits home.
But first, the battle with Yuko, which takes up much of the episode’s runtime. It’s a fight the show had been building up to all season and that mostly delivers. Interestingly, Chester’s battle with Yuko ends up being less about his relationship with his real, undead mother — who rejects him as her own in a twist that doesn’t entirely make sense to me — and much more about how his connection to his adoptive father Henry.
Shingo Usami and Derek Mio share the absolute best scene of the finale, as Henry comes to his son’s rescue when all hope seems lost. It was exhilarating to watch Henry swoop in like an action hero to shoot down the yurei. Even though all the signs were there that Henry would be the one to sacrifice his life for his son’s, the moment is no less heart wrenching. Usami, as well a Cristina Rodlo as Luz, were the absolute high points of the season.
Speaking of Luz, it’s a shame that she doesn’t get to do much in the finale, mostly stuck in the background while Chester does all the fighting. That said, it’s her ritual that allows Yuko to finally pass on to another plane in peace — a convoluted resolution to a season’s worth of storytelling that doesn’t completely work but is fun to watch all the same. Once more: a shout out to Rodlo for nailing every one of her scenes this season, including a final sweet moment feeding George Takei’s Yamato-san at a barbecue.
I can’t close out the season without briefly talking about Kiki Sukezane’s stellar performance. Sukezane’s Yuko didn’t get as much material as I’d’ve liked, which makes sense considering the larger storyline at work at Colinas de Oro — there was a real sense of that the season’s historical and horror elements were in a tug of war; they never quite fit together as well as the first season’s doomed North Atlantic voyage. But Sukezane has no problem switching between the show’s two clashing personalities, at once terrifying as the stalking, flesh-stealing spirit as well as a tragic figure who just wants to reunite with her children. There’s a real sense of loss that permeates across the season and Sukezane expresses that beautifully throughout. It was such a pleasure to watch Sukezane work.
The final scene, family portraits at Chester’s new photography studio, is designed to basically put you in the fetal position, and despite the obvious trigger, I shed quite a few tears watching the remaining characters persevere — and even smile, because they’re together and they remember all of those they’ve lost. What is family if not memory in physical form? Watching Naoko Mori’s Asako pose with Henry’s portrait is an absolute tearjerker.
The Terror: Infamy might not have been this show at its very best but it is the series at its most honest and ambitious. When its mix of historical and supernatural horrors worked, Infamy was stunning television — “Taizo” remains the best episode of The Terror’s entire run. Even when it did falter, when the performances were a bit stiff, when the plot twists didn’t entirely make sense, you could hear the show’s beating heart every step of the way.
The season might have been a little long winded at times, but as the credits rolled, I felt a real need to be with these characters one last time, spend just one extra episode with them. I wanted to see them spend a few more happy minutes together. And I think that’s the point: these characters lived to tell the tale and we’re glad they did.