This The Terror review contains spoilers.
The Terror Season 2 Episode 4
The Terror: Infamy finally starts to come together as a horror show in “The Weak Are Meat,” a grotesque episode that sees several characters fall victim to the yurei haunting Chester Nakayama and the rest of the Terminal Islanders. While the horror continues to lean a bit too much on the gore factor, the episode also ups the supernatural element that has been missing from the series since its second season began.
The first three episodes focused heavily (and rightfully so) on the internment camps themselves, showing the length to which people will go when they’re overtaken by fear. The Terror needed space to develop that story with respect, and adding too much shlocky horror to the proceedings would have cheapened the exploration of this dark moment in American history. When the creepy Yuko did pop up here and there, it felt more like a cameo that didn’t quite connect with the rest of the show, a dissonnance between the supernatural and the historical, as if the show were just checking off the mandatory horror boxes.
With “The Weak Are Meat,” The Terror allows itself to be more of a horror show again (in a conventional sense, anyway), from the mass grave Chester has to dig through for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing sergeant to the yurei-possessed doctor performing seppuku in the final minutes of the episode. The mix of horror tropes, such as the slasher bit where Yuko is wearing that creepy mask and walking slowly towards the doctor, really land here, giving us true moments of…well, terror.
Kiki Sukezane is brilliant in her dual role as Luz’s midwife and the vengeful tormentor exacting revenge on those who wronged her. I’m still a bit confused about the nature of Yuko’s hauntings and the show has been content with throwing terms like “obake” and “bakemono” around without fully fleshing out exactly what they mean. Chester asks questions about yurei but doesn’t receive a straight answer either, and he, like the audience, is left to find out for himself.
We know Yuko can possess people and is slowly decaying, taking on a monstrous appearance by the end of the episode, her face heavily scarred, bald patches of gray flesh where her hair used to be. Were Chester and Luz’s babies somehow powering her, allowing her to assume her youthful look? That would add a bit more context to the mystery of why she killed Mrs. Furuya, the woman who made the potion that would have killed the babies at the very start of the season. Either way, Yuko needed Chester and Luz’s babies for an unknown reason and is eager to punish the doctor when they’re both stillborn.
Cristina Rodlo has really nailed it as Luz so far, and she absolutely killed the two best scenes of the episode: winning over Chester’s dad with the name “Enrique” and watching as her dream of having a family and her “own little acre” died on the delivery table. It’s been a delight watching Rodlo take on a more starring role as the season progresses, even as her character learns of an entirely new level of suffering.
Meanwhile, Chester is somehow spared from a very gruesome death, as a possessed (?) Sgt. Kessler lights a group of his own men on fire. Again, the rules of Yuko’s hauntings are unclear here. We’ve watched some of the older characters, particularly George Takei’s Yamato-san, speculate about how spirits could have followed the Terminal Islanders from Japan to California, and I guess that must mean that Yuko is able to be in two places at once as the war rages in the Pacific Theater while the Nakayamas live out their unjust imprisonment back in the States.
Unlike the racist white men who attacked him in spite of his role in saving their sergeant, Chester isn’t meat yet, but he’ll soon find out that he’s lost something much worse than his life as the show gains a bit of momentum. Almost midway through the season, The Terror: Infamy finally begins to find its rhythm.