Monday, October 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Terror: Infamy' - The Nakayama Family Connects to Their Past to Confront the Present Threat in 'Into the Afterlife'

AMC's The Terror: Infamy - Episode 2.10 "Into the Afterlife"

As all seems lost, Henry and Asako must look to the past to provide answers to their current turmoil. Chester and Luz grapple with their identities in hopes of saving those who are dearest to them. Amy and Yamato struggle to once again assimilate to American life.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of AMC's The Terror: Infamy.

"Into the Afterlife" was written by Alexander Woo and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye

This season wants the viewer to remember the great sacrifices and suffering of the past in the hopes of creating a better, more prosperous future. It was a twofold message as well. To the Nakayama family, they had to reckon with the secrets they have carried for years before they came back to completely destroy any hope of their lineage continuing. To the audience, we have to be aware of the true pain and cost of this country's actions in the Japanese-American internment camps to ensure that that suffering never happens again. The season started with the bombing at Pearl Harbor. It ends with the United States dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's a clear and concise journey. But one filled with horror as well. People are flooding the streets in celebration because of the apparent victory in the war. However, the characters who have been interned in the camps know the suffering and the loss of innocent life from this action. Entire families are wiped out in a single day. It's horrifying. This shouldn't be seen as a great success because the United States has the biggest bomb known to mankind. The ability to use it should always be feared because of the devastation it can cause. There has to be a respect for life on the other side of the equation. The internment camps were unconstitutional. They destroyed lives. The repercussions are still being felt to this day. The finale closes by recognizing all the people of the cast and crew whose personal lives were touched by such internment. Many had relatives there while some were actually in the camps themselves. This wasn't too long ago. Its lessons should still be at the forefront of our minds to ensure a better future. There is no certainty of that being true though. That is depressing and cynical. Of course, the show itself has long struggled to match these two parallel journeys. It was much more interested in the family trauma and tragedy happening with the Nakayamas. That gave the series a propulsive energy to move forward. It wasn't an allegory for the pain and suffering still present in the world. But that also meant all of the historical details were largely shortchanged in the end. The suffering inflicted by the government was simply happening in the background as Chester and company were fighting against this supernatural threat that hunted them down throughout the world. That story got increasingly crazy and far-fetched as the season developed as well. The twists and turns didn't seem able to justify a ten episode story structure either. It felt under-baked as a concept that unfortunately made it seem like the narrative kept going around in circles. It saw the value of big dramatic reveals that had the potential to uproot everything this family thought they knew about each other. However, that appeared to be the only trick up the show's sleeve as well. It felt as if that was the only way they could define characters and the suffering they endured. That meant a lot happened. A lot that caused a ton of pain. And yet, it remained difficult to care about any of these characters and what ultimately happened to them. Chester and Henry have bickered and never quite seen eye-to-eye. Here, Henry sacrifices himself in order to save his family. But it also comes across as everyone having some big plan for how to defeat Yuko but suspiciously not telling anyone else until the heat of the moment in this battle. That's odd. It ensures that none of these characters ultimately come across as smart. They are simply beholden to whatever the narrative needs them to be in any specific plot point. That's lame and uninspired. The core message of the show was so strong and profound. The execution just didn't know how to tell a strong parable about human suffering and connection. Yes, the family largely survives and rebuilds their lives together. That is reassuring. It just feels more like a conclusion than a massive release to the audience that everything worked out in a fitting and satisfying way.