Monday, May 14, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Terror' - The Bodies of the Men Betray Them as They Suffer from Disease in 'The C, The C, The Open C'

AMC's The Terror - Episode 1.09 "The C, The C, The Open C"

Hope comes in strange forms, and the question of what the men are willing to do to survive begins to be settled in both noble and horrifying ways.

The Terror has offered a fascinating mediation on the failings and corruption of mankind. So many of these episodes have been powerful because of the unique character beats that fuel every single conflict as the crew faces disaster after disaster. And here, it's important to bring up the idea of frailty. Even the heroes and leaders of this expedition have become weakened and distraught over their vices. Captain Crozier suffered from his addiction to alcohol. Sir John was blinded by his quest for fame. Commander Fitzjames was acting out of vanity to prove himself as a remarkable and noble Englishman. All of these troubling psychologies have affected the mission in severe and devastating ways. The crew being trapped out on the ice for so long has warped their minds and made them succumb to their worst impulses. The crew is now divided into two because they are so distrustful of each other. Captain Crozier was fighting hard against a mutiny. He believed he was offering the right kind of leadership that inspired hope that one day they will all be rescued and be able to return home to their families. His men turned on him because they believe he maliciously deceived them in order to keep their trust and loyalty. Hickey is no better in that regard. He has abused this land and contorted the other soldier's perception of the world in order to advance his agenda. But he's still alive. His worst impulses have brought out a monster who is in pure survival mode now. He has always managed to find a way to survive. Now, he's just indulging in even more brutal tactics because the situation grows more and more dire with each passing day. Every member of this expedition has a choice to make about the kind of people they want to be in this world. They have to decide if they are willing to die while still holding honor and dignity or if they are willing to compromise every moral fiber of their beings just in order to be rescued. It's such fascinating and nuanced storytelling that gives the audience such a searing look into the humanity of this crew.

Captain Crozier doesn't want to betray any of his men. They are left in shambles following the last attack by the Tuunbaq. The creature was able to strike when they were their most vulnerable. It has been hunting them with the sinister intention of stealing their souls and crushing their bodies. The show isn't afraid to reveal the true horror that was left in the wake of this latest attack. The crew is left feeling defeated. Crozier's men are the ones still at the camp to clean up this mess. They believe that they need to do right by the men they lost during the attack. They believe a record should be kept about who died and who is unaccounted for. Crozier still believes in doing things the proper way. He wants to honor the bodies of the dead while also leaving behind the supplies his crew can't carry for when Hickey's men return to the camp. He wants those who have left to know that he will still welcome them back and lead them all to safety. He's confident that there is still hope left in this world. That's what makes it so tragic to watch as more and more men are taken away from the leaders of this expedition. Both sides of this division experience significant loses that have a profound affect on the men leading them to salvation. It's also interesting to watch as both sides suffer from different attacks to their bodies. Yes, they are all malnourished and fending off new diseases attributed to the lead poisoning. But Crozier's men are experiencing symptoms of a new infection that is quickly making its way through the camp. Meanwhile, Hickey's men simply don't have the amount of food necessary to keep them alive for much longer. They are becoming weakened. That forces them to make some desperate decisions.

Crozier doesn't want to lose any more of his men. He has already lost too many. This expedition will already be infamous as the most lethal undertaking the navy has ever mounted. It claimed the life of their captain early on because he simply didn't know what he was facing with the Tuunbaq. But now, the creature is just lurking in the shadows. It is tracking the respective crews with the intention of attacking once more. It's ominous to think that any moment could be when the creature strikes once more and wipes out even more of the crew. But that doesn't happen in this episode. Instead, death strikes in an immediate and personal way. The bodies of the men are betraying them. So much of the series has been able the frailty of their minds and the temptations they face as a result. And now, their bodies are falling apart. Fitzjames kept his injuries to himself because he wanted to persist with this journey. He wanted to continue to contribute to the betterment of his people. It's only after he collapses that Crozier and the men realize just how crippling this new disease can be. There still is no sign of any animals they can hunt in order to give their bodies more substance. They are still eating from the contaminated tins. And now, it takes Fitzjames away. His body is failing and he wants Crozier to end his pain and suffering. It's a brutal request because the two have become such close and loyal friends. They've counted on each other to face the unknown in this corner of the world. They got strength from being able to share the pains of this journey. It's fitting that Crozier is there in the end to help Fitzjames along his final journey. It's still absolutely devastating though because Crozier sees this as the loss of one of his closest friends and confidantes on this journey.

That only continues to happen as the episode goes along too. While Fitzjames is being buried, Blanky comes up to Crozier to say that he doesn't have much time left in this world either. He has accepted his fate. He has been willing and able to make this journey on foot despite losing a leg and needing to just limp along. But now, his leg has grown an infection. He's at risk of losing more of it. He doesn't want to inconvenience the expedition further when he knows he is still strong enough to do some good. Blanky really is the purest hero of this story. He was loyal to Crozier no matter what. And now, he is willing to protect the crew by sacrificing himself in order to kill the Tuunbaq. He's the only person who has faced the creature and actually done some significant damage to it. His assault on it seemed to actually keep it away for awhile. Of course, the Tuunbaq eventually returned and ripped the crew apart. But before then, it was easy to see Blanky as the man willing to do anything in order to protect the crew. That's still his mentality here as well. It's brutal for Crozier to lose so many of his closest friends. And yet, that just adds to the overall tragedy of this piece. The crew set out to find the Northwest Passage. Blanky only finds it in death. He is sitting idly by content that he has made the greatest discovery of the world. He is ready to face the Tuunbaq and save the crew so they too can make this discovery. Of course, things are still incredibly brutal back at the camp. Jopson is the latest member of the crew to fall ill. He too has meant so much to Crozier on this journey. Crozier once again has to sit by and watch someone he truly cares about die in front of him. It's brutal and then Hickey's men take him away from the rest of the crew. He is forced to abandon them in their time of need hoping that they will be able to succeed without him. That's absolutely brutal.

Things are just as traumatic and horrifying over in Hickey's camp as well. Hickey is operating with the information that the tins are poisonous and are slowly killing the crew no matter how much they eat or how quickly they go through their supplies. He is faced with an impossible choice to make. His lover from the early days of this expedition won't make it through the night. He is dying and Hickey gives him a quick death as a reward for his faithful service in this mutiny. It's devastating to him because it's clear this connection actually meant something of great importance to him. To Goodsir, Hickey presents as a madman who is willing to kill anyone who will potentially slow this crew down. Hickey is always operating with the awareness of where Crozier and his men are. He doesn't want to put too much distance between them just yet. He is stalking them just like the creature is. This crew knows that the Tuunbaq is lurking ready to attack once more as well. They understand the horrors and devastation of this world. They are willing to turn back to the sanctuary of the ships believing that the ice is finally about to break and they can sail away to safety. That would be much easier than making this 800 mile journey on foot. Hickey is faced with a potential mutiny on his hands because he doesn't know how to lead. And yet, he offers them a meal that he sees as pure and life-sustaining. It just means killing his friend and eating his body in order to feed the crew. They all see it as this brutal and vicious thing. But they are too weakened to be bothered by the morals of it all. Goodsir ultimately cuts the body apart and hands it over. But he doesn't participate in this barbarianism. He wants to believe he lives in a world that is better than that. He has not yet been broken by this destructive and dangerous voyage. But he remains more isolated now than ever before. He's in the camp where he doesn't want to be knowing that he is contributing to the darkest impulses of man. He is supporting these actions even though he is absolutely horrified by them. He is trapped with no way out. That's a position the characters have been in for quite some time. But now, it's truly devastating because it's clear they are all pushed to the brink of sanity that is bound to get them all killed very quickly and soon.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The C, The C, The Open C" was written by Soo Hugh and directed by Tim Mielants.
  • When left on his own following the attack on the camp, one lieutenant is willing to eat the sole of his shoe before being rescued by Hickey's crew. It's not the camp he wishes to be a part of. And yet, it's the only way he can potentially survive in this cruel and unforgiving world. He doesn't believe that Hickey should be a free man for the murders he has committed. But he also wishes to survive. He just sees this as the best way of doing so. He is willing to contort into these changing situations in order to do so.
  • It's absolutely breathtaking and emotional when that same lieutenant opens up to Goodsir about being raised by a new family when he was 7-years-old. He shares that they were a religious family that took him to church only once. It's an occasion he still remembers to this day because it was a perfect moment in an imperfect world. He never returned but it brings him peace to remember it now. He knows that the world has only gotten more imperfect. And now, he has a new body to restore his strength and faith.
  • Lady Silence has returned home to her people. It's there where she learns that her community is moving away from this land because all of the creatures have been chased away. It's these invaders who are infecting and changing their world without any awareness of the damage that is being done. And yet, Lady Silence must stay behind because the Tuunbaq is still her responsibility. She has to find a way to calm the soul of the vicious creature.
  • Crozier is led into a trap where Hickey's men are waiting for him. They have the advantage on him because they have the higher ground. Both sides have weapons but Crozier doesn't want anyone else to die. He will abandon his crew in order to abide by the sick perversions of the leader of the mutiny. However, another man does die. It's a complete accident. But those can be just as deadly as the many forces that have attacked the crew this season.
  • It has been awhile since the show gave an update on what's going on in England with the rescue mission. Now, it's clear that Sir John's wife is nowhere near being able to mount an expedition to rescue the crew. She is still just fighting for support. Her family is left isolated in this world as well because they are the only ones worrying about their family and the crew left out there in the cold.