The Tuunbaq Isn’t The Only Threat to the Franklin Expedition

Mythical monsters and very real peril plague our ill fated crew.  Why the Tuunbaq is not the only threat aboard the Franklin Expedition.

A couple more dead, a rising sickness among the crew, and worse yet a new threat that comes from within the very walls of the ship. Danger is coming from all sides.  The insanely scary, powerful and supernatural creature the Tuunbaq is not the only threat, in fact there are several more problems looming over the crew and they are very real.  AMC’s The Terror asks us what would you do, and how desperate would you become?  If you happened to miss this week’s episode or are looking for more things to obsess over, this will give you something to sink your teeth into.  If your curious about The Tuunbaq check out our deep dive here.

One of the most important creeping issues that have afflicted the men of the expedition is the sickness that has started to spread among the men.  A watchful eye could tell you there have been several complaints already of poorly welded cans. Much of the food stock has been contaminated or is down right rancid.  With what you may ask. Lead. Today we know that lead is a deadly metal if consumed by humans.  Even small quantities can cause terrible problems.  Now take the poor crew, where the risk of starvation is impossible to ignore and eating a little contaminated food doesn’t sound

so bad. The more drastic symptoms have not manifested yet but we are still reminded of how bad it is starting to get in every episode. In this weeks episode we are shown a gentleman with almost black gums. This line of bluish-black discoloration along gums known as a Burton line is one of the first early signs of chronic lead poisoning. Discovered in 1840 by Henry Burton.  From there things get worse and can quickly escalate to irritability, severe constipation, vomiting, and fatigue- all of which can produce a very unsavory climate for men being hunted by a mythical creature and an ever rising stubborn crew who fear dying themselves.  Lead poisoning as it turns out, wasn’t actually that uncommon. For British sailors within the West Indies, thousands of sailors would arrive home with the previously mentioned blue line on the gums (if they hadn’t died from excessive alcohol use).

But if we look back to the history of the expedition, we find something even worse. Aside from the general poisoning that can leach from the cans the expedition was put together in such haste the soldering job was done under extreme time diress. Remember back when there was complaints made to the chef about the cans of soup with drips of metal? That metal was lead. After a few years of that, it isn’t surprising you’d find one if not dozen of others with signs of lead poisoning.

From deaths by Tuunbaq, to impending death because of lead, there will be no shortage of bodies in the next few episodes. Unfortunately for Captain Francis, in his actions to try and bring order to the ship, he may have produced the most dangerous monster aboard the decks of the two ships and his name is Cornelius Hickey. As the fans of Signal Horizon might already know due to our previous The Terror coverage, Hickey is a ticking time bomb. From manipulative behaviors to the beginnings of a sociopathy, Hickey is one not to be trifled with.  Francis managed to not only poke this bear, but lash it on the butt “like a boy”. If Hickey is the bomb, then Francis has lit the fuse. His pain coupled with immense embarrassment at the very public shaming he received  has developed an angry sympathetic character among the crew who will now use his very manipulative ways to gain power and possible control.  A mutiny is brewing. Now Cornelius Hickey  knows there is a growing resentment  aboard the ships. Someone after all left him a pouch of tobacco on his cot.  In this setting that is the equivalent of the Hope Diamond.  It is damn near invaluable.  The crew has clearly chosen a side and it was not Crozier’s.  From the historical context we have of the crew selection this is no surprise to the viewer but to poor Crozier it is a gut shot.  Without an obedient crew and a rising authority figure a Tuunbaq isn’t even needed to raise the stakes. 

As a plot device main characters and periphery characters alike are being killed off with abandon.  The imagery is so vivid and the dread so great the viewer is along for the ride right along with the crew constantly looking over it’s shoulder, wondering who is next.  The Terror has taken a page from another little AMC powerhouse The Walking Dead and is killing off crew members at an alarming rate, including Captain Franklin.  All while keeping a feeling of trepidation between the crew and the audience. The show has done an excellent job of killing enough people for us to be scared every time we get a hint of the Tuunbaq, but still leaving the most important characters alive on the ship. By piecing together the expedition diaries we have a rough idea of who died when and how but this origin point has been used merely as a launch pad to build a very dark, anxiety laden atmosphere where no one is safe.  In any case the crew of the ships continue to trudge forward (or in place in this case)hoping to reach the beginnings of spring.

 If things start truly going south- whether it be because of lead poisoning, the Tuunbaq, the frigid temperatures( or any combination of the three) – then rest assured that Hickey will save the day!… or eat people with his bone knife… and kill a lot of men in the fight between himself and Francis.  With just a few episodes remaining and the fear and animosity growing the tide is shifting and Crozier and the rest better watch their backs.

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