The Terror Episode 10 We Are Gone, Review and Discussion
One of the most beautifully tragic series concluded last night and I have a hole in my heart that even the Tuunbaq could’t fill.
Let me begin by saying this was one of the most intelligent, stunning series AMC or any network for that matter has ever produced. Dan Simmons’ novel lends itself well for adaptation as the story is epic, characters captivating, and monster just this side of supernatural. I loved every minute of this ten part mini series and hated to see episode ten conclude. As much as I was riveted by the show I was haunted by the history. This is, after all a fictionalized account of what must have been a harrowing ordeal for the sailors on board The HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. I felt every sharp weighty bit of fear and desolation these men must have felt and that is a huge credit to the cast, crew, show runner, and director.
This is what smart horror looks like. It is at it’s core something so normal and so human you are left wondering just who the bad guys really are. It is with this thought we began the episode. If last week’s episode was all about suffering this week was all about redemption. There was plenty of terrible things to witness. Hallucinations galore, scurvy, starvation and intense pain from poisoning in one of the most wickedly clever and self sacrificing moves I have ever seen(more on this later). I love horror movies and series but at least for the time being gone from my mind are the troves of dumb slasher films with black eyed villains and big breasted victims who can’t even pretend to possess a thimble of heart that the crew of The Terror possess.
Adam Nagaitis’ Hickey is the most fully actualized sociopath since Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector. His full commitment to the crazy train that was Hickey along with brilliant writing combined to produce one of the most magnetic antagonist on either the big or small screen. Every small detail was so carefully illustrated. For example the boots he donned this week were pilfered from Captain Fitzjames dead body. He dug him up and stole his boots. I mean…Yikes. Quite frankly he is a survivor and since yesterday found him killing and eating people stealing a dead man’s shoes is no big thing when you think about it. His ego-maniacal mind is ultimately his undoing. His ridiculous self indulgence to tell Crozier just what a twisted dude he is and that Crozier was the only match for his intellect is both a waste of time and blatantly not true. It does provide a glimpse underneath the his sardonic smile however. A crack in the facade if you will. The decision to leave Hickey apparently healthy, unmarred by sores, poison or illness was a curious one. It hinted at the true beast of this story. If one’s soul is that black even poison will not kill you. In an amazing bit of foreshadowing Hickey says,”Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what your are.” Shortly after Tuunbaq dies while attempting to eat Hickey’s recently removed tongue and than his whole self anaconda style. Evidently eating something as poisonous as Hickey can even kill mythical beasts.
In an emotional death by poison and wrist slitting Paul Ready’s Dr. Goodsir proved his loyalty and humanity until the bitter end. His bathing scene which for me felt more like a baptism than anything was moving and spoke to the man who he was. He was a kind-hearted compassionate man who also possessed a sharply analytical mind and keen sense of practicality. It was he who sussed out the canned food contamination by experimenting on the monkey. As kind as he is sometimes hard choices must be made and here was his line in the sand. Hickey praised Crozier for being his intellectual equal when in reality he should have been checking his six. Goodsir is the manufacturer of Hickey’s death and he never saw it coming. Before his suicide he warned Crozier not to eat from anything but his heel ensuring his survival and sealing the fate of everyone else. In one final act of defiance Goodsir gave Hickey the middle finger from beyond the grave and for one moment I felt his triumph, right before it hit me he was dead and naked and being carved up. Goodsir’s final thoughts were just as memorable as his words as he visualizes a white orchid, conch shell and sea anemone. The white orchid is innocence, the sea anemone is protection against evil and in the Buddhist religion conch shells herald the ending of suffering or agony both of which he had unequivocally.
The desperation these men from both camps feel becomes a physical catalyst as much as the Tuunbaq. Perhaps the Tuunbaq itself is a manifestation of this absolute abject despair. We know the Inuit believe it appears when there is an imbalance to their environment. An impurity or evil that must be expunged. If that is the case the beast may very likely be Hickey’s insanity, some of the men’s selfishness and maybe even British imperialism. As such the monsters death scene was just as poignant as many of the men’s. The Tuunbaq was a ferocious force of nature but devoid of malevolence and entirely innocent. We know the men in Hickey’s camp ate poisoned meat from Doc Goodsir but the beast seemed to choke on the poison of the soul of the person more than the physical poison itself. In some horrible twisted ritual Hickey truly believed he could become the Tuunbaq’s keeper but instead the poor beast was tainted by the evil inside the man. It was a hugely successful moment of storytelling that lent a sympathetic air to this savage animal who has killed so many sailors including our beloved Blanky.
Captain Francis Crozier is the last man standing. Jared Harris’ portrayal of this flawed but inordinately decent man is all encompassing. Even his Irish brogue which presents in the earlier episodes as a very slight accent becomes more and more pronounced as the ordeal continues. His goodness to the end served him well by allowing Lady Silence or Silna as we know her name now to save him. She decides to bring him with her to her village even of that means loss of a limb. After all he has been through he does not give up on his men until he finds them all dead some time later. In a poetic role reversal it is he Crozier who gets a fresh start not Hickey with the Inuit tribe. In the breathtaking final shot Francis is on the ice hunting seals with presumably his son. He has no desire to go back to London and is living his life with his family. The scene is so starkly white and still it evokes a heavenly feeling that can best be described as peace for finally Crozier has his.
So much imagery was laced with meaning tonight. From the sunrise as Crozier discovers the camps filled with dead sailors and the abandonment of western knowledge and hegemony seen in the books laying opened and forgotten at camp. Tonight was a brittle. delicate ice crystal. It’s time was short and the light burned through it like the most pure of prisms. In an almost perfect final act there were a few questions left unanswered. First and for most being of course what really happened to The Franklin Expedition? Will the Tuunbaq get reborn if Lady Silence now lives in exile as a result of her connection to it and the crew? What does the boat totem mean to her? Why did Edward Little mutilate his face with chains and hooks? Was this a perverse reference to the costume party the night before leaving the ship, and most importantly what am I going to watch now? More on what comes next., We have a pretty good idea. Subscribe for updates and what we think could be season 2 of The Terror.