Monday, May 7, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Terror' - Chaos Reigns After Captain Crozier Learns About Hickey's Treachery in 'Terror Camp Clear'

AMC's The Terror - Episode 1.08 "Terror Camp Clear"

Deaths under mysterious circumstances create paranoia among the men, and some of the crew may be considering mutiny.

Can truth and logic ultimately prevail during increasingly confusing and chaotic times? That's the question that The Terror is currently grappling with. It's a theme that makes the story even more timely and relevant because it's a question that still dictates so many actions in the world of 2018. Captain Crozier believes in the importance of maintaining order. The only way that the crew can survive is if they do so together. If anyone should jeopardize that mission, then they should be immediately dealt with. They should be killed for putting even more lives in danger. Crozier continues to operate with the truth on his side. He is the captain who is aware of almost everything that is going on in his camp. He is the one who has made the decisions whether or not to tell the crew about the discoveries he has made. He has had to make a lot of tough calls as of late pertaining to the lead poisoning and the deaths of the rescue party. He believes he's completely justified in his actions because he needed to keep the morale of his crew high. He didn't want to run the risk of a mutiny breaking out and destroying this crew for good. And yet, the crew is already verging on collapse. They are absolutely terrified and out of their minds. Part of that can be attributed to the lead poisoning over the last few years. But it's also out of fear of the unknown. They want to double down on their ranks and immediately kill anyone they don't immediately recognize or understand. Hickey sees the Inuits as the enemy simply because they are the natives of this land. He wants to kill them all simply for not being English. He doesn't strive to understand their way of life. To him, they are simply a threat that is ready to strike at a moment's notice. That, in turn, makes Hickey the enemy as well. But he's an incredibly crafty individual because he knows exactly what needs to be said in order to stoke these fears amongst the crew to get them to turn on their captain's leadership.

Captain Crozier believes he has done everyone right by his men. He believes he has led this expedition well. He has the clarity to lead and judge accordingly after going through withdrawal. He sees himself as a competent leader who has shown to his crew a desire to save all of them. They weren't able to save their ships. But he continues to operate with the message that hope is something that they will find for themselves in this cruel and unforgiving world. Of course, Commander Fitzjames has his own doubts about his actions as of late. He was the man who ordered the carnival that almost led to the deaths of many. It did lead to so many dying because of the madness spreading amongst the crew. He believes he has led out of vanity. He has had this compulsion to make a name for himself because of the public shame that came from him being the byproduct of an affair. This is the first time he has admitted his true lineage to another soldier. He feels the confidence to speak openly with Crozier now. This isn't the kind of relationship they had at the start of the season. Fitzjames was questioning Crozier's qualifications and willingness to be a part of this expedition. And now, there is such camaraderie between them. There is a mutual respect. Crozier sees Fitzjames as a brother who will protect him no matter what. They will support each other no matter what difficult decisions need to be made next. They see the crew as having unified leadership for the first time in this expedition. Fitzjames is being vulnerable with his captain. Crozier reciprocates those feelings by proving to Fitzjames that he is a good man who deserves the command that has been given to him. He has earned his place in this world. They deserve to be the respected leaders of this expedition. But it doesn't take long before this idea of unity is soon corrupted by the news of what Hickey did to the rest of the hunting party.

Crozier and Fitzjames return to camp to hear the crazy story of two of their men being killed by the Inuits and Hickey leading the retaliation against them to ensure that they paid for their crimes. It's this crazy story that Hickey obviously uses in order to get in better standing with the rest of the crew. Crozier looks at him and his tale with suspicion. But the fellow soldiers listen with full attention. They see him as a hero who saved them from a group of people who wished them harm. They see a leader they can trust. And now, he is formulating a way for them to unionize and retaliate against their current leadership. He has the support of so many amongst the crew. Even the marines are being swayed to his thinking. They too are afraid for their lives in this foreign and unknown land. They see the importance of protecting the perimeter of this encampment. They have a reason to fear for their lives simply because the fog is rolling in and they no longer feel safe with the current numbers that have guns. Crozier has been very clear that he only wants those with the must training and loyalty to be given a weapon to protect the camp. But Hickey and his fellow men are able to reason that the Inuits could be preparing for an attack by the hundreds. They could easily have them outnumbered. Of course, there is no evidence of this whatsoever. This expedition has only come into contact with a small handful of the Inuit. And yet, all of those interactions have been brutal and lethal. The English have killed so many of the Inuit and still view them as the most pressing threat to their survival. As such, it's not surprising that the camp is soon overrun by people willing to arm themselves just in order to protect what's theirs. It shows just how deep these ideas of mutiny actually extend. It's proof to the leaders of this expedition that this is a serious issue that they can't ignore any longer. A new threat has been revealed and it's coming from inside the minds of the crew and not from the outside world.

Crozier is even able to reason with the men a little bit as well. He has the facts and the truth on his side. He looked at Hickey's story with suspicion because he has come to expect lies and deceit from Hickey. He has made false statements in the past. And now, he's jeopardized the entire crew with his treachery. Crozier is able to visit the site of the murders. He can examine the bodies to see what has happened to them. And yes, it's easy for the men to believe the Inuits killed Irving because they have some of his possessions. They don't know that Irving actually gave his telescope to the Inuits in return for their sharing of the seal meat. That's a part of the story that Hickey conveniently left out. He is protecting himself and his violent impulses. And yet, it's the seal meat that ultimately proves that he was lying. Irving enjoyed that first taste of fresh food. He was very appreciative of that and was then immediately murdered by one of his men. Now, Goodsir is able to open up his stomach to learn that Irving was actually making the right approach with the Inuit. Hickey is the one stirring chaos. He has spread lies and distorted reality in order to turn public opinion against Crozier and the other leaders. Crozier knows and accepts that he has been deceitful. He is more forthcoming with the truth when it comes time to carry out Hickey's public hanging. Hickey needs to pay for his crimes. Crozier resents having to lose the life of yet another man on this expedition. But he sees it as necessary for the survival of their people. He sees Hickey as a man willing to toss everyone else aside in order to advance his own agenda. That mentality has spread like wild fire though. And in the end, Hickey manages to still gain some support by relying on the truth. As such, it seems likely that the show believes the truth will ultimately prevail no matter what despite how destructive it may become. Hickey uses the knowledge that Crozier was willing to walk away from this expedition before Sir John's death in order to create such a stir at his hanging. It allows him to survive just long enough before devastation reigns down on the camp once more.

It has been a couple of episodes since the Tuunbaq has attacked the crew. They believed that it was either dead or injured badly enough that it knew better than to continue coming after them. Now, it's clear that both of those beliefs were wrong. It's such an eery sight to see Collins rolling out of the middle of fog completely high on Goodsir's most potent drugs. He is then immediately followed by the chaos and destruction that comes from the Tuunbaq's sudden appearance. It ensures that the crew is physically in disarray. It ensures that they will be split and torn apart even though justice had seemingly prevailed in regards to this mutiny. Hickey still had more that he would like to say about the lead poisoning and other lies from Crozier. But this chaos allows him to escape and continue to be perceived as a leader of this crew. He has a plan that is able to quickly take action. Sure, plenty of the men die during this latest encounter with the Tuunbaq. In fact, it may be the most lethal attack on the show so far. The men were so worried about the hundreds of Inuit running straight through camp being able to completely wipe them out. Those fears ultimately come true. But it's not the result of man's own treachery and the need to create enemies. It's instead from this vicious creature that feels the need to attack the people responsible for hunting it so many times in the past. The crew is still able to put up quite a fight against the creature. Fitzjames is armed with the most powerful weapon. He has missiles that he can fire at it. That seems to inflict a fair amount of damage too. But it's not enough to put the crew back together in unity over having finally conquered this beast that has been hunting them for so much of this expedition. Instead, the hour closes with the Tuunbaq feasting on the man who seemingly brought it back to camp. Collins dies while the rest of the crew just disappear into the fog in complete disarray. It's such a chilling final image.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Terror Camp Clear" was written by David Kajganich and directed by Tim Mielants.
  • That final sequence with the Tuunbaq's attack is so remarkably directed. So much of this show has been done in confined spaces that the crew has been forced to live in together. It's made those spaces eery as secrets abound and the truth spreads. And now, they are out in the open but trapped within new confined spaces. Everyone is racing towards their weapons to battle this creature and forge ahead on their voyage. But it's so fantastic seeing the direction keep cutting back and forth on the various agendas currently taking place while the Tuunbaq attacks.
  • In addition to all of this, it's clear that a new disease is spreading through the crew. The lead poisoning may now be leading to unknown bruises and blisters that are painful to the touch. That is certainly ominous. It's most dangerous when it's clear that Fitzjames is tending to these new wounds instead of looking over the armory to ensure that the soldiers don't arm themselves against the threat. 
  • Lady Silence is absolutely horrified by the act of monstrosity that has attacked her own people once again. The rest of the crew is taken aback too by these soldiers being willing to kill everyone from the Inuit party including the elderly woman and the young daughter. It's so traumatic. And then, it's even pointed out that Lady Silence knew these people and considered them to be friends.
  • All of this hatred against the Inuits forces Lady Silence to leave the camp. She isn't there when the Tuunbaq shows up again. The creature may continue to act out of retaliation for the senseless murders of the native people. That's a mystery. But it's also just as powerful and tragic that Goodsir wishes Lady Silence could see the real England and know that the men usually aren't like this at all. And yet, she walks away with the understanding that men are like this all around the world.
  • There's no way for the crew to come back from this attack. Not only is the Tuunbaq ripping them apart, they are actually turning on each other. They attack one another during these events as well. They are all racing towards the weapons and ensuring they get as much supplies as possible. They form different sides with the intention of surviving in this cruel and unforgiving world. But they are no longer a unified crew on this expedition. And that will be just as destructive.