This review contains spoilers.
The Terror season two has been a slow burn thus far, even as Gaman begins and ends in a completely different place for protagonist Chester, who decides that the best way to solve his problems, both with his pregnant girlfriend Luz and the supernatural, is to run away from them. Chester thinks he’s being altruistic by joining the army, but he’s really just perpetuating the same old behaviour. He’s wanted to run away from his family and his heritage since the first episode and the military is finally his way out. He doesn’t have to deal with his father Henry, who arrived to Colinas de Oro frost bitten and mentally scarred from his time being tortured at the hands of the very same army Chester has now joined. Meanwhile, Luz and her baby are left to fend for themselves in a place and with a community that doesn’t want either of them around, even as Asako, Chester’s mother, begins to warm to her by episode’s end.
Chester and Luz’s scenes flow much more naturally in Gaman. I felt that Derek Mio and Cristina Rodlo sort of lacked chemistry in the first two episodes, and Luz’s decision to follow Chester to the interment camps last week didn’t feel believable at all, but they make it work this week. I even got the sense that Luz actually liked Chester and didn’t just allow herself to be imprisoned out of some sense of duty.
Overall, the character work is top notch this week. Shingo Usami’s Henry continues to be a highlight of the second season, as is George Takei as Yamato-san, although he gets very little to do in Gaman except worry about the bakemono that is definitely haunting the people of Terminal Island, especially Furuya-san, who meets a particularly gruesome end in the woods at the hands of Yuko.
The mystery behind the vengeful spirit that’s killing off the Terminal Islanders one by one begins to unravel itself finally, as Yuko reminds Furuya in his final moments that he called her “precious” as he committed some past crime against her. While we don’t know what happened to Yuko to turn her into a yurei, we know Furuya and Yoshida immediately remembered her right before their deaths. Are these men – and others to be revealed – the reason Yuko died and became a vengeul spirit? And what does Chester and his baby have to do with all of that?
For the most part, The Terror season two has been less successful with its supernatural horror storyline than its The Thing-inspired predecessor. While Kiki Sukezane is absolutely creepy as Yuko, the scares, or at least that creeping feeling of terror, haven’t quite landed. At best, the season has provided a mishmash of familiar horror tropes and setpieces, leaning heavily on gory deaths, jump scares, and hallucinations. Furuya’s demise is certainly the best horror sequence of the season thus far, but there’s not much else to compare it to.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of historical horror to carry the first three episodes, as broken men decide to stay in bed instead of facing another day in this new reality surrounded by four walls and bright spotlights. That Chester sees no other way to help his family than to aid the very country that broke his father is a system of this terrible reality. Will Chester and his family survive it?