the terror punished, as a boy review

Welcome to our weekly recaps of AMC’s new historical horror show The Terror. This The Terror review takes a look at the fourth gloomy episode, “Punished, as a Boy.” Spoilers follow.

In this week’s episode:

  • Drunk Crozier!
  • More monster!
  • Insubordination!
  • Scurvy!

Last Sunset of the Year

Episode 4 of The Terror, “Punished, as a Boy”, opens not in the frozen arctic nothingness we’ve come accustomed to, but rather in the stuffy, ornate halls of The Admiralty. Sir John Franklin’s wife Lady Jane Franklin (Greta Scacchi) and her niece Sophia Cracroft (Sian Brooke) have come to implore the officers of the Admiralty to send out a search party to try and locate Terror and Erebus. It’s been far too long without word from the men, and Lady Jane is understandably growing worried. Little does she know her husband is already dead, leaving behind nothing more than a severed leg.

The officers are unmoved by Lady Jane’s pleadings, and shrug her off by saying if they haven’t heard from anyone by 1850, they’ll finally get off their asses and do something. For now, the men of Terror and Erebus are on their own.

Of course, as we know, they aren’t on their own. Something is out there on the ice, stalking them. This week, it becomes quickly apparent to every member of the expedition that it’s no mere bear that they’re up against. For one thing, bears don’t plan sneak attacks. They don’t taunt their prey, or set traps. But whatever creature is lurking out there is doing just that.

The monster quickly kills one man on board Terror – “It’s come onto the ship,” a drunk Crozier (Jared Harris) rasps – and then takes another man off with it. One man attacked by the monster is somehow still alive (though unconscious), despite having the entire top of his cranium ripped off, exposing his brain. 

Crozier decides to go looking for the missing man himself, and is talked into taking a ships boy named Thomas Evans (Joe Hurst) along with him. Guess which one of these two will be coming back from the search?

Out on the ice, with the aurora borealis lighting up the darkened sky (sorry, no steamed hams, though), Crozier and Evans find the monster pretty quick. Or rather, the monster finds them, killing Evans and carrying his body away.

After returning to the ship alone, Crozier proceeds to get even drunker and even more miserable than usual. Sadly, his only confidant is Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies), who suggests that Crozier might want to sober up…just a bit. This is a laughable suggestion to Crozier, who counters that nothing really matters anymore. The mission is lost, and the only thing left to do is to try to survive till the thaw…if the thaw should ever come.

Meanwhile, the men have just seen the last sunset of the year. Needless to say, the mood is grim, and everyone is growing exceedingly desperate. So desperate, in fact, that some are willing to risk a flogging in the name of getting answers.

the terror episode 4

30 Lashes

After the monster attacks again, and leaves behind two halves of two bodies – the top half of one man, the bottom half of another – propped up together like a ghoulish scarecrow, Hickey, with his delusions of grandeur, decides to take matters into his own hands. The way Hickey sees it, the mysterious Lady Silence must have something to do with all this. Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) sets out with two other men, Hartnell (Jack Colgrave Hirst) and Manson (Stephen Thompson), to find Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen).

Before they return, however, Crozier has himself a good old fashioned flashback. Here, we see one of the two failed marriage proposals between Crozier and Franklin’s niece Sophia Cracroft. Crozier claims he wants nothing more than to be with Sophia, but Sophia is unconvinced. In her eyes, the only thing Crozier really loves is the sea, and she has no wish to be a captain’s wife. Before they can get any further on the matter, Lady Jane shows up and throws even more cold water on the whole thing, making it clear that Sophia marrying Crozier is quite out of the question.

Crozier’s trip down miserable memory lane is interrupted by a commotion up on the deck. Hickey, Hartnell and Manson have found Lady Silence, kidnapped her, and brought her back to the Terror. Now, the men on deck are in a frenzy, surrounding Lady Silence and threatening violence against her. Crozier is able to break it up and have Lady Silence sent over to Erebus to be safe. He then interviews Hickey, Hartnell and Manson below deck.

Hickey does most of the talking, claiming he actually saw the bear-monster communicating with Lady Silence. Crozier listens to Hickey’s story with a look of bemused fury, and rasps that Hickey had no orders to go after Lady Silence, meaning he’s guilty of desertion, insubordination, brutality, and whole laundry list of crimes. He sentences the three men to 12 lashes each. Hickey, who previously thought he and Crozier were now BFFs after having shared a drink in episode 3, tries to argue that he was in the right, and Crozier keeps upping the lashes, from 12 to 20 to 30. Finally fed up with Hickey’s bullshit, Crozier orders that he’s to be “punished as a boy” – that is, instead of having his back lashed, Hickey will have his bare rear end whipped in front of all the men. Ouch.

While Crozier may be justified in his actions – Hickey was acting like a lunatic, after all – there’s a sense, as we watch Hickey be lashed, that this is a bad move. That this will probably come back to hurt Crozier as the men grow more and more desperate. But Crozier, who spends pretty much this entire episode drunk as hell, likely isn’t thinking that far ahead.

“Punished, as a Boy” is a particularly bleak, hopeless episode, even for a bleak, hopeless show like The Terror. The one ray of light comes from the nicest member of the crew – dear Dr. Henry “Harry” Goodsir (Paul Ready), who really wants everyone to just get along. Aboard Erebus, Goodsir brings Lady Silence supper – a supper she’s clearly not very taken with, nibbling on certain items and instantly spitting them out.

Goodsir tries to make apologies for the actions of the other men. “I don’t recognize this behavior,” he says. “This is not how Englishman behave.” He also tries to explain why the ships are there to begin with, but Lady Silence is indifferent. She either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care. All Goodsir can do is point to himself and repeat his own name.

the terror episode 4 review

Punished, as a Boy

After last week’s pulse-pounding episode, “Punished, as a Boy” tones the action down a bit. There are more monster attacks, but they’re muted – mostly off screen. Still, the tension is mounting, and this week’s theme seems to be “from bad, to worse.” There’s more talk of provisions going bad, and Goodsir realizes one of the men he’s treating has scurvy. The men are deteriorating fast, most physically and mentally. This is a powder keg of a situation, and the presence of a monster out on the ice is taking a blowtorch to the fuse.

Perhaps sensing that “Punished, as a Boy” is slightly more low-key than previous, director Edward Berger amps up the visual flourishes. The shot of the aurora glowing an eerie green above the dark ice is stunning, as is the moment where several men stand on the deck of the Terror and watch the final sunset of the year. That pale, orange light vanishing into the horizon, casting everyone in what will be a very long darkness, is enough to send a chill up your spine.

Matching all these stylish flourishes is the performance of Jared Harris. Crozier is pretty much shitfaced through this entire episode, which means Harris gets to have a little fun with Crozier’s moods. The scene where he orders Hickey to be punished as a boy is a particularly memorable moment – as Adam Nagaitis, as Hickey, rants and raves, Harris slams his own fist down on a table, and the look Harris gives – fury mixed with a strange, almost scary smile – is incredible.

I know all these men are doomed, but I really want someone to swoop in and save Goodsir. Maybe The Terror can pull a twist and have a time traveler show up and take Goodsir to the future, away from all the ice, and scurvy and bear monsters. That’s probably unlikely, but I can dream. Protect Dr. Goodsir at all costs, please.

Six episodes of The Terror remain. Who knows what horrors await us in the future?

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