This The Terror review contains spoilers.
The Terror Season 2 Episode 8
The Terror: Infamy falls back into bad habits in the oddly paced and questionably written “My Sweet Boy.” Despite a run of excellent episodes that solved a few mysteries and introduced some new ones, the show seems content with just getting to the finish line with “My Sweet Boy,” cranking out payoffs faster than we can process them. The result is an hour of television that feels rushed and clumsy, forgoing the great character work that up to this point has been a highlight of the show.
The episode begins with a time jump — it’s now January 1945 — that feels a bit unnatural to me. It just doesn’t feel like any time has actually passed for the characters since “My Perfect World.” Has Luz realistically had enough time to heal before she’s thrust right back into a relationship with Chester? It doesn’t matter because they reconnect at the whim of the writers here. One episode she’s trying to run away from her father and Chester, and the next she’s forced to sit through awkward scenes with her beau and rekindle their romance. If there was any trauma left in her — she was haunting a lake like three episodes ago!! — it’s vanished by the time her grandma gives her that most cliche piece of advice: “Just tell him how you feel.”
If I could roll my eyes into the back of my head and become a yurei, I probably would have done so during the episode’s final scene. Luz is pregnant again. While I enjoy Cristina Rodlo’s character so much and want things to turn out well for her, especially after she lost her first two babies, the latest plot twist seems excrutiatingly lazy. While the show took its time to flesh out the repercussions of Luz’s first pregnancy, which is what set this year’s terror in motion to begin with, we’ll likely see none of that nuance now with only two episodes left in the story.
The Jirou storyline also seemed to come out of the blue last week, and “My Sweet Boy” doesn’t bother to spend much time explaining its late-inning surprise. Instead, Chester asks Luz’s grandmother to perform a ritual to send him back to the time and place of Jirou’s picture so that they can play catch in one of the most cringeworthy scenes the show has ever produced. It looks and plays like something out of a Tommy Wiseau movie.
Yuko uses this moment of brotherly bonding to possess Chester (!!!) in order to get to little Jirou and carry him down to the underworld with her. She now has one of the two children she needs to finally rest in peace, even though Jirou has been dead for at least a decade before Yuko kidnaps him. The show doesn’t bother to explain any of its logic or why, if Yuko could always possess Chester, she didn’t do so much earlier in the season to take him back with her. All this time, I’d assumed there was some kind of familial connection protecting him from his mother’s otherworldly influence, but that’s not the case at all and now all of Yuko’s machinations feel convoluted as hell. Why didn’t she just possess him back at the brothel? If I’ve missed something, please tell me. Fix this for me.
Meanwhile, Major Bowen becomes Colonel Slasherguy in the episode’s most trope-y storyline. It was revealed last week that Amy had been secretly recording Bowen, building a case of abuse of power against her boss. After Bowen has Ken executed, Amy decides to act, sending the damning tape to Washington. But Bowen has a stroke of luck when the tape lands on a crony’s desk. In retribution, the major hatches a plan to kidnap Amy and tie her up in what I assume is his makeshift murder dungeon underground.
With Amy in his clutches, Bowen proceeds to rant about random things — he’s clearly not all there after his encounter with Yuko earlier in the season — until his captive is able to free herself from his surprisingly loose knot. Whatever tension is supposed to be building during Amy’s predicament is downplayed by Bowen. C. Thomas Howell is forced to deliver lines about how shitty the power grid is in camp over and over again for much of their climactic moment. Seriously, he complains about the flickering lights three or four times in that scene. I’d always thought it was illegal to have a character repeat lines in a screenplay, or at least bad writing, especially when you only have 45-ish minutes to tell a story. Perhaps it all feels like filler because it is filler.
By the end of the episode, Bowen is dead, Luz is pregnant, and Jirou’s in the underworld, and none of it feels particularly inspired. Overall, The Terror: Infamy has been an uneven season of the show — a rocky start that led to an enjoyable middle. Hopefully “My Sweet Boy” isn’t an indication of what we should expect of the season’s final episodes.