Gaman review

Have you ever accidentally bitten your tongue? Hurts, doesn’t it? Now – imagine a ghost woman biting your tongue completely off, and think about how damn painful that must be. And if you can’t imagine it, don’t worry: this week’s episode of The Terror: Infamy is here to show it to you. The ghastly, grisly, gory moment comes near the end of “Gaman”, the third installment of the new season. It’s a jolting moment in an otherwise subdued episode.

Spies Like Luz

Luz, Chester’s pregnant girlfriend, is obviously not a spy. But try telling that to Chester’s father Henry, who returns from his imprisonment in North Dakota to the Colinos de Oro internment camp where the rest of his family awaits. Even under the circumstances, this should be an emotional reunion. But Henry is a shattered man, moving about as if he’s in some sort of daze. He’s also clearly in pain – pain caused by frostbite on his feet.

A few episodes ago, Henry was proud to call himself a patriot. Now that he’s suffered at the hands of the Americans, he’s suspicious, paranoid, and emotionally broken. “They see us as rats,” he bitterly tells Chester. And after his encounter with Nick Okada, the spy working for the DOJ to gather intel on the other Japanese-American prisoners, Henry is more suspicious of strangers than ever. Luz may be carrying Henry’s grandchild, but to him, this woman is a complete stranger, and when Chester attempts to introduce his father to his gal, Henry lashes out – violently. “How do you know she is who she says she is?!” he barks.

Spying – and people not being who they seem – is a running theme this week. Chester is more convinced than ever that there’s some malevolent force out to get him. “You have to go!” Mr. Yoshida warned Chester last week before being gunned down, and Chester decides to take the dead man up on that advice. He wants to earn money to provide for his growing family, and he also wants to make sure no one else gets hurt. Especially after blind Mr. Furuya winds up brutally murdered. Furuya is first taken into the woods by a possessed soldier, and then he suffers at the hands of mysterious ghost Yuko.

“Do you remember me?” she asks, and even though Furuya is blind, he does. These characters have a past, and it’s becoming clear that several characters on this show did Yuko wrong in some way, and now she’s out for bloody vengeance. And to prove it, she violently bites Furuya’s tongue out of his head, causing the man to drown in his own blood.

After Furuya’s death, and after Luz takes a bad fall which she chalks up to an accident, Chester thinks it’s time to get the hell out of the camp before he inadvertently causes more death. His only solution: join the army. The very same army that recently tortured his father. Needless to say, Henry doesn’t take this news well and proceeds to call Chester a spy.

Just in case you needed yet another moment to underline the “people aren’t who they seem to be” theme, “Gaman” draws to a close with Yuko now disguised as a nurse, tending to Luz. What’s your endgame here, Yuko? And why are you so creepy?

Perseverance

After last week’s rushed episode, it was nice to watch Infamy slow down with “Gaman” – a word which means “patiently persevere in tough times.” All of the characters here are doing that to the best of their abilities, and some are more successful than others. Some may take issue with how low-key this episode is – other than the tongue biting scene, not a whole lot happens. But I found the character-building moments here essential to better the show.

For one thing, “Gaman” finally gives our protagonist Chester something to do other than complain and bicker. To land his job with the army he has to crack a code, and he does so with seeming ease – and real skill. And watching Henry change from a good-natured, American-loving fisherman into the hollow husk we see here is jarring and effective.

Sadly, some characters are still getting short-changed. Luz really needs more to do than wander around and remind us she’s pregnant. The character is inherently interesting – remember, she chose to go to the internment camp, unlike everyone else imprisoned there. Infamy would do well to explore her motivations a bit more.

On the positive side of things, “Gaman” is the best-directed episode of the season yet. Michael Lehmann strikes a balance here between the harshness of the world the characters inhabit, and the beauty lurking beneath it all. A dream sequence in which Chester’s parents waltz in eveningwear beneath strings of lights is stunning. And Lehmann’s direction also effectively captures smaller moments, like when Chester’s mother clips a lock of his hair before he ships off. The reason: if Chester dies in the army, and his body isn’t recovered, his hair can still be cremated to give him a proper burial. The way Lehmann lets the camera linger on Chester’s face as his mother snips the hair is subtly powerful.

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