Monday, May 21, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Terror' - Crozier Has One Final Confrontation with Hickey and the Tuunbaq in 'We Are Gone'

AMC's The Terror - Episode 1.10 "We Are Gone"

The expedition's epic journey reaches its climax as men find themselves in a final confrontation with the Inuit mythology they've trespassed into.

When The Terror began its season, it came with the message that the Terror and Erebus embarked on an expedition to find the Northwest Passage and quickly went missing at sea. The world at large simply didn't know what happened to those vessels and their crews for many years. Then, it was further teased by Sir James Clark Ross mounting a rescue mission only to learn from the Inuit leader that Francis Crozier warned that the men and the ships were lost. There is nothing to find in this corner of the world except pain and destruction. That was such an ominous note to start the season on. It confirmed that this was about to be a very brutal season that pushed the characters to the brink of insanity. They all essentially lost their minds while on this mission that seemingly faced chaos and destruction at every possible turn. So much went wrong with this expedition. It shows just how lethal and dangerous these missions could actually be at this particular point in time. Before this expedition, the most deadly mission only lost a dozen men. This mission lost its entire crew. The world at large was given the message that it was of no use looking for them and trying to understand what happened. The Northwest Passage isn't here. It's better to just turn their ships around and inform England about the tragedy that occurred out in the ice. They wouldn't return with any definitive answers. No one ever escaped from this world. Everyone from the crew died out there. Some died from the injuries they sustained from the Tuunbaq. Others died from the diseases that quickly spread amongst the crews - especially once they decided to embark on foot to stage their own rescue. This mission brought out the true identities and spirits of the men who went out to sea. They were confronted with the ugly realities of man. They were all changed by this expedition. Some of them became better but still fell victim to the cruel destruction of this world. Meanwhile, others embraced the chaos and destruction and used it to their advantage even though they were only leading themselves and the men who followed to their deaths as well. This is such a deadly and gruesome finale. And yet, it's such a poignant ending to the story the show told this season.

Captain Crozier is faced with the worst impulses of man by the segment of his crew who decided to flee with Hickey. They rallied around him and his suggestions that Crozier maliciously kept secrets from the crew. Crozier did everything he did in order to protect the crew and keep them strong for the journey ahead. He had trust in his men and had the determination to keep moving forward despite the loss of so many of his close, personal friends. He would never willingly leave a man behind. Crozier doesn't hold ill will to those who decided to follow Hickey's leadership. He understands that not every man in that encampment was there by choice. He knows that it may be purely coincidental in some instances. The Tuunbaq attacked and split the crew into two divisions. Hickey didn't want to follow Crozier's command while Crozier could no longer tolerate Hickey in his expedition. They kept their distance close with one another. But Hickey's men still chose to attack and take the captain away from the men who were still loyal to him. As such, there was a camp with no leader. Lieutenant Little was the man left in charge. He would nobly attack Hickey's camp in order to rescue their captain. And yet, he is swayed by the men to follow Crozier's actual orders. They believe he knew better than them. They believe he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to feed this obsession that Hickey had. After that was fulfilled, they could continue this march without having to be worried about this other camp of soldiers. They chose to follow the captain's orders instead of trying to rescue him. But that only reveals them to be monsters as well because none of them have the leadership expertise to understand how to look after so many lives while surviving on the ice. They believe they have learned over the years trapped here. But they also set out to the wilderness not knowing what to expect or how to handle it.

Meanwhile, Crozier faces this other camp and realizes the horrific practices Hickey is forcing onto the men. Crozier believes that rescue is coming. He even has allies in this camp. He believes he has a trustworthy lieutenant and doctor who are willing to follow him. They just found themselves trapped by circumstances. They needed to rely on Hickey and his supplies in order to survive in this cruel and desolate world. Instead, they were forced to become cannibals in order to keep their strength up. Hickey saw that as the only way to defeat the Tuunbaq. He is willing to launch an all-out assault on the creature that has plagued this expedition for so long. Blanky had a plan of attack at the end of last week's episode. He was the only person from the crew who ever seriously injured the creature. And now, it's clear that he failed in slaying the beast for good. He believed he could save the crew from having to constantly worry about this spirit that has possessed a dangerous creature with the intent of seeking vengeance. He failed. Hickey is now the man who believes he has come up with the strategy that will prove successful. He believes he has the weapons in order to kill the creature. He can lure it into a trap and use some of the men as bait. He's more than comfortable using some of his fellow soldiers in order to defeat the Tuunbaq and take advantage of its meat and fur. He sees it as the ultimate prey to hunt. It has outsmarted the crew at every possible turn. And now, it's Hickey's time to prove that he is the smartest person on this expedition. He believes he was surrounded by an inferior intellect amongst the men. Crozier was the only one who had a mind that rivaled his own. But it's also so telling that Hickey falls victim just like all of the other men who tried to face the Tuunbaq. His strategy doesn't prevail. Instead, it's the gentle and observant Dr. Goodsir who ultimately figures out the best way to curb these evils from the world.

Goodsir has found peace with dying out here in the wilderness. He doesn't see it as a bleak world that will have claimed another victim. He believes it's his choice to die in a beautiful place like this. He sees the majesty of this environment even though the rest of the expedition sees it as a terrifying place they've been trying to escape from for years. This environment has revealed that Goodsir is naturally a good person who wants to believe in the best of humanity. Of course, that's been in such stark contrast to the reveals within the other members of the crew. He wants to believe people aren't monsters like Hickey back in England. He wants to show Lady Silence the rest of the world. But now, he only dies with the peace of knowing that the world is as it was before the ships ever landed here. That's what he wants. He wants to get rid of the people who caused so much violent destruction to this place. And so, he poisons his body and commits suicide by slitting his wrists. It's such a brutal moment. The show chooses to show him cutting himself open and bleeding out. It's hardly the most vicious and gruesome thing the show has ever shown. In fact, there's a scene later on that's even more brutal. But here, it's the show communicating what Goodsir is thinking in his final moments and how he hopes to end the barbaric rituals of his new peers. He poisons himself in order to kill the men who will consume his body. He gives Crozier a warning to ensure that he doesn't participate - or only eats the part of his body that isn't infected. This action shows that he can be a cruel and crafty man as well. He cripples the crew right before the Tuunbaq attack. That makes them easy targets. Hickey believes he can conquer the beast simply by offering a ritualistic sacrifice to it. He somehow thinks that if he cuts out his own tongue, it will be enough to satisfy the hunger of this anger spirit. It's such a horrific visual especially as it only gets bloodier once the Tuunbaq rejects it in favor of ripping Hickey apart. He gets exactly what he deserves as the sadistic murderer and liar he has always been throughout his entire life.

It's surprising to see just how effective Goodsir's plan actually played out as well. Sure, it was slow for the poison to take effect. But the audience got the clear sense it was rapidly approaching for several members of the crew while the Tuunbaq was striking them down. It also has to be a contributing factor to the Tuunbaq's death because it carries the consequences of the poison when it consumes the souls of the fallen. That's the way these men have come to approach this creature. One could argue that Crozier is able to suffocate it with the chain he is currently attached to. But another argument could be made for it choking on all of the villainy that Hickey had within himself. He was a killer long before he set foot on this expedition. He assumed the identity of the man he killed in London with the intention of finding passage to a new world that won't know his past crimes. He wasn't expecting to get trapped in the ice and forced to make these cruel and abusive choices. He still did though. That could also help the spirit within the Tuunbaq feel satisfied for the pain inflicted on this community. It's just important that Crozier survives. He is only rescued by Lady Silence. He is the only man who walks away from this expedition still alive. He loses his hand because Lady Silence cannot break the chain that confines him. It takes weeks for him to heal from his injuries. But he feels a duty to find out what happened to the good men he left behind. When he stumbles upon their camps, he understands the harsh and immoral decisions they had to make. He has to find peace with the knowledge that everyone from this crew has died. They weren't able to make it very far on their 800 mile journey to rescue. Instead, Crozier has to find comfort in living amongst the Inuit. He learns that Lady Silence's real name is Silna. And yet, he isn't able to enjoy her company forever. She is banished because she failed to ease the passing of the spirit within the Tuunbaq. She was sent into exile for failing to uphold the beliefs of her people. She caused destruction and pain. Crozier is indebted to her. But she disappears in the middle of the night. Crozier spends years of his life living in this community. He still could one day return to England and tell all of the brutal details of how this mission went wrong. And yet, he chooses to just warn James Clark Ross that there is nothing worth exploring here. It's much more meaningful to issue a deadly warning than to return to the land of the living he used to know. It's such a bleak and brutal ending. But it's once more a man being surrounded by the beauty of this landscape and truly accepting and understanding it for what it truly is. That's unique and inspirational to watch as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "We Are Gone" was written by David Kajganich and directed by Tim Mielants.
  • Lieutenant Little was the man in charge of the expedition after Crozier left and was willing to stage a rescue operation to bring their captain back. He was swayed otherwise. And yet, he is the last man to die from this crew as well. His death is a very brutal moment because his face is covered in these chains that only seem to be inflicting horror and agony. That just serves as further proof that there was plenty of destructive and immoral choices that were made after the men went on their journey without Crozier.
  • When Goodsir has decided he's going to kill himself so that the noble and good few can live, he does so with the peace that comes from him being able to keep his promises. He wants to believe that Crozier will return the ring to the sister of one of the men lost early on in this expedition. He is also comforted by the fact that Lady Silence is probably with her people right now. Of course, neither of those realities ultimately occur. Crozier stays on the ice while Lady Silence is banished.
  • It's fascinating that James Clark Ross only embarks on this rescue mission to learn what happened to the Terror and Erebus because the government is still very interested in finding the Northwest Passage. The businessmen who have never made the journey but benefit financially from it are eager to find that faster route. It just means more ships were sent out to make that discovery. The rescue aspect was only one part of the new expedition.
  • This was such a bleak show that presented the vast experience of human emotions. It was presented in such a daring and original way. I'm hopeful about it landing numerous Emmy nominations. The performers were all excellent - especially the ones credited in the opening title sequence. Those were the characters whose journeys were the most significant. And if the show's special effects team doesn't get a nomination that will be one of the biggest snubs of the year. This was often such a breathtaking show and it's all because of their hard work.
  • AMC has said that The Terror could return for a second season. It won't be a continuation of the story of this year though. It won't pick up with Crozier as an Inuit facing new threats that come from the Arctic. Instead, it will be a completely different story that embodies the same themes and emotions of this season. It's taking the season-long anthology approach should it return for more episodes. It could because these episodes have been critically praised and done reasonably well in the ratings. It's just a matter of the creative team finding the right story that they can tackle with as much detail as they did here.