The Terror Gore Review

Welcome to our weekly recaps of AMC’s new historical horror show The Terror. This The Terror review takes a look at the second monstrous episode, “Gore.” Spoilers follow.

Travel Well

In episode two of The Terror, things finally start to go right for the men of the Erebus and Terror! Oh wait, no, I’m sorry. What I meant to say is things get even worse. It’s been eight months since the ships became trapped in ice, and there’s no sign of improvement. Just don’t tell that to Franklin, who remains almost maddeningly optimistic that sooner or later, the expedition’s luck will improve.

In the meantime, Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) sends search parties out to explore the ice in every direction, with hopes of finding some way to get back on course. The parties gather in a cheerful fashion, and there’s a general attitude of camaraderie amongst the men. Spirits are high, all things considered. And then there’s Crozier (Jared Harris), still as mopey as every. Right before the search parties depart, Franklin asks Crozier if he wants to offer up any inspiring words to the men. Perhaps Crozier would like to deliver a rousing, fiery, heart-warming speech?

No, perhaps not. Instead, all Crozier can muster up is a pathetic, “Travel well.” Franklin, who had previously defended the morose Crozier to Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies), is clearly starting to grow tired of Crozier’s attitude.

Hoping to mend some fences, Franklin pays Crozier a visit aboard the Terror and tells his morose second-in-command that he’d love to repair bonds and be friends again.

“You never lost my friendship,” Crozier offers. But Franklin isn’t buying it. He knows Crozier is still concerned, and offers out an olive branch of sorts by asking if it would help if he said he made a mistake not taking Crozier’s advice eight months ago. But even this isn’t enough.

The last sliver of hope Franklin can offer is to remind Crozier that summer is coming, but this, too, is shot down by Crozier, who says that it will be summer “in name only”, and that the ice will continue to linger. Defeated, and clearly fed-up with the melancholy Crozier, Franklin returns to the Erebus and promptly complains to Fitzjames.

Soon, through the magic of flashback, we learn that the rift between Crozier and Franklin goes back much further than the expedition. Back home, Crozier has proposed to Franklin’s niece Sophie (Caroline Boulton) several times. Each time, Sophie has politely turned Crozier down. Sophie’s rejection of Crozier appears to be at the behest of Franklin, who doesn’t think Crozier – who is Irish – is of good enough stock to marry into the Franklin clan. Unfortunately, Crozier just happens to overhear Franklin saying as much. Talk about awkward.

the terror episode 2

Cold Blooded 

If Franklin thinks Crozier’s misery is unfounded, his tune is about to change rather quickly. Because in the blink of an eye, the expedition’s problems grow tenfold. Now, instead of just having to deal with being trapped in ice, the expedition also has to deal with a monster.

The search parties have rotten luck. One party ends up turning back after finding nothing for 11 miles, and reveals that their provisions were rotten. The other party, featuring kindly Dr. Goodsir (Paul Ready), doesn’t find much else either. What they do find, however, is a smashed rowboat.

What could’ve done such destruction? Everyone is quick to suggest it must be a bear, but you can probably guess that assumption doesn’t turn out to be accurate. Before the party can head back to the ships, they’re caught in a hail storm. From here, things descend into pandemonium. A rumbling, roaring sound is heard out in all that darkness, and in a moment of panic, a shot is fired. But it’s not the mysterious bear that’s hit with the bullet – it’s an elderly Inuit man, who is out on the ice with his daughter (Nive Nielsen).

Goodsir tries to tend to the injured man, and while doing so witnesses something truly terrifying – in a flash of lightning, some thing (definitely not a bear) attacks and kills one of the men, Lieutenant Gore (Tom Weston-Jones).

Back on the Terror, the men go about their daily, ice-locked lives. This includes a below-deck tryst between Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) and another sailor, Gibson (Edward Ashley). The men are caught in the midst of their sexual intercourse by Irving (Ronan Raftery), who is almost speechless at the sight. After Irving flees, Gibson worries he’ll report the sexual act, but Hickey is unconcerned. The way Hickey tells it, Irving won’t recount what he saw because to do so would require him to open his mind and think about the act – something Irving clearly doesn’t want to do. Gibson says Hickey can’t be sure of this, and that there’s a chance they’ll be lashed. “There are worse things than being lashed,” Hickey says.

Yes, like ice monsters.

Later, Hickey and Crozier share a drink, and bond over their Irish heritage. From the look on Hickey’s face, this is a moment that has boosted his ego considerably. If you think that’s going to come back later in the series, you’re right.

When Goodsir and his party return to the ship with the injured Inuit man and his daughter, and missing Gore, everyone is understandably confused and concerned. Aboard Erebus, utter prick Dr. Stanley (Alistair Petrie) refuses to even look at the injured Inuit man. Goodsir, always trying to live up to his namesake, says he’ll gladly treat the Inuit man’s injuries, and tries his best. Alas, there’s nothing that can be done – the man is going to die.

The Inuit man’s daughter is incredibly distraught. Crozier speaks Inuktitut, and is able to communicate with the daughter – he tells her it’s no use, and that her father is going to die. Weeping, the daughter pleads with her father to stay, moaning “Tuunbaq won’t obey me…”

When it becomes clear the old man is about to expire, his daughter grows frantic – she says her father cannot die on the ship; he has to die on the ice, under open sky. Before they can move the man out, however, he dies.

Later, while recounting the expedition, Goodsir tries to make sense of it all. He says they found large prints in the snow – 20 inches across. He also offers up a curious aside, telling Franklin and Fitzjames that at some point in his life, the now-dead Inuit man had his tongue surgically removed.

Crozier, meanwhile, tries to talk the grief-stricken daughter. He assures her that they mean her no harm, and that they only want to help. She shoots back that the only way they can help is by taking their boats away. Of course, that’s impossible – the boats are stuck in the icea. But that’s no matter to the woman – she tells Crozier that if and his men don’t leave now, they’re going to “disappear”. Uh-oh.

the terror gore

Gore

Hats off to The Terror for tipping its hand in the second episode! It would’ve been very easy, and perhaps more generic, to delay the inevitable and keep the show’s monster a secret just a little bit longer. Instead, The Terror breaks its beastie out in episode two. True, we don’t get a great look at the creature, but we at least know it’s there – and that it’s hungry.

“Gore” is not quite as good as episode one, “Go For Broke”, but it still manages to quicken the pulse. The Terror is settling in nicely to its “everything is fucked, no matter what” attitude, and while that might normally be overwhelming depressing, the show continues to balance things nicely.

While the occasional flashbacks to events before the expedition run the risk of derailing the show’s momentum, they actually work quite nicely, and provide us with a brief respite from all that endless ice.

Speaking of that ice, how fantastic is that shot near the opening of the episode, where the camera continues to pan out from above the ships, revealing all that white, endless wasteland in every direction. It’s the perfect visual cue to let us know how utterly alone the men of the Erebus and Terror are.

Director Edward Berger, who helmed last week’s episode as well, creates some marvelous sequences here, with the monster attack being the standout. The scene begins at night in a hailstorm, with flashes of lightning exposing the landscape here and there. We just know that any moment now, we’re going to see something terrible in one of those flashes. But Berger draws it out. Then, when the Inuit man is shot, we let our guard down. “Okay,” we think. “There isn’t going to be anything out here; it was just the Inuit man.” Incorrect! There is something out here after all. The only question now is: how long before that something finds the rest of the rest of the crew?

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