the terror horrible from supper review

Welcome to our weekly recaps of AMC’s historical horror show The Terror. This The Terror review takes a look at the seventh extra-sharp episode, “Horrible From Supper.” Spoilers follow.

In this week’s episode:

  • The ships get left behind!
  • A whole bunch of severed heads!
  • Mutiny is in the air!
  • Will the real Cornelius Hickey please stand up?
  • Goodsir is very upset!

Hickey, You Jerk

Who needs a supernatural monster when you’ve got Cornelius Hickey around? This week’s The Terror lets us in on Hickey’s true, villainous nature, and what a shock to the system it is. To be clear, we all could’ve guessed Hickey was up to something, but the show has done a fairly good job making the character seem somewhat sympathetic up until this latest episode, “Horrible From Supper.” This is a big contrast from Dan Simmons’ book, which paints Hickey as an outright creep from the start and never alters course.

The Terror the show, however, made Hickey a well-rounded character, as did Adam Nagaitis‘ deft performance. It might have even been easy to say you sort of, kind of liked Hickey. Up until this latest episode, that is. Because in this episode, Hickey crosses the line: he kills a dog. Okay, he kills some people too, but really, it’s the dog I’m most upset about. You’re dead to me, Hickey.

Not only is Hickey revealed to be a murderer in “Horrible From Supper,” he’s also revealed to be a complete stranger. In two different flashback sequences to happier, sunnier times for the men of the Terror and Erebus, we see that Hickey isn’t Hickey at all. He’s an imposter, posing as the real Hickey.

As the expedition continues to spiral downward, Hickey – or whatever his name is – has had enough. And while his actions can’t be forgiven, there is a slight modicum of sympathy even here. Through the course of the episode, Hickey learns that Crozier and the men in charge have been lying to everyone, and essentially letting them poison themselves with the contaminated food. He has a right to be a little upset. But of course, he takes it too far, and people (and dogs) get hurt.

the terror episode 7

The Long Walk

Crozier (Jared Harris) has gathered up most of the men – some will remain aboard the ships – and set out to find land, or help, or both. It’s Crozier’s hope that the long line of marching men will soon rendezvous with Lieutenant Fairholme’s rescue party, which set out over a year ago. And eventually they do come across the other party. Or rather, what’s left of them: their severed heads, strewn about every which way.

Crozier orders the discovery hushed-up to the few men who discovered the severed heads. It’s not the only cover-up he’s engaging in. He’s also letting all the men continue to eat out of the contaminated tins, much to Goodsir’s horror. Crozier feels like he has no choice, but Goodsir (Paul Ready) keeps begging for a hunting party to be formed.

Things get even more dire when the morose Henry Collins, who tried to confess his bad thoughts to the dead Dr. Stanley last week, approaches Goodsir and confesses that he can’t get the thought – and smell – of the carnival fire out of his mind. Collins keeps recalling all that burning human flesh, and gosh darn it, he can’t help but feel hungry. The specter of cannibalism is rearing its nasty head, and Goodsir is understandably horrified.

Collins isn’t the only member of the crew slowly losing his marbles. Morfin (Anthony Flanagan), who had complained of headaches in previous episodes, is in total agony now. He’s become so sick that he starts begging the other men to kill him. When they won’t comply, he grabs a weapon and points it at Crozier. Crozier tries very hard to ease the tension, but it’s no use. Morfin ends up being shot to death by Sergeant Solomon Tozer (David Walmsley).

This is all too much for good old Harry Goodsir, who slinks away to his tent and has what looks to be a nervous breakdown. The only person who can calm him is Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen), who cradles the sobbing Goodsir in her arms. Feel free to start writing your Goodsir/Lady Silence fan fiction now.

Goodsir is one of the purest people on this show, so to see him so horribly upset is a signal that things have really gotten dire. And Hickey smells opportunity in all this misery. He begins to plan a mutiny, in an almost casual, rational-sounding way. He gathers with Hodgson (Christos Lawton) and Tozer and talks about how he knows that the food is going bad, and that Crozier, Goodsir and the lot are all lying.

He then reveals he’s killed Neptune, the dog. Tozer, to his credit, is alarmed by this. But Hickey is actually able to use the dead dog to help prove a point. The way Hickey sees it, there’s enough dog meat to satisfy a small group of hungry men. But the current large group they’re traveling in would only get small scraps and continue to starve. In other words, Hickey wants to thin the herd a bit. And he’ll need an officer like Tozer to help.

Later, Hickey begins to put his devious, dangerous plan into action. He accompanies a hunting party that includes Lieutenant John Irving (Ronan Raftery) and Thomas Farr (Máté Haumann). And wouldn’t you know it – a glimmer of hope appears. From up high on a hill looking down into a valley, the three men spot an Inuit hunting party.

Irving ventures down to talk with the hunting party while Hickey and Farr remain up on the hill. The Inuit hunting party is helpful, and willing to trade seal meat for a telescope. Huzzah! Things are looking up! Except no, they’re not. Once Irving goes back up on the hill, he finds a shirtless, feral-looking Hickey crouching over a dead Farr. Hickey then brutally and quickly attacks Irving, stabbing him over and over again.

It’s a genuinely terrifying moment. Scarier than any scene of this show involving the monster. There’s a raw brutality to the act – the swift, almost mechanical way Hickey keeps jamming the blade into Irving’s chest. And then there’s the way the scene is constructed: all in-scene sound is stripped away, replaced instead with music that sounds as if it’s emanating from hell itself. Composer Marcus Fjellström combines bells, bangs, hums, and sounds of either a man chanting or just speaking – it’s not entirely clear, but it’s fucking scary. I can’t remember the last time I felt so unnerved by a scene from a television series as I did here. What an incredible work of horror this TV show is.

the terror episode 7 review

Horrible From Supper

Things are pretty damn dire in this episode, but there is a sliver of light in a scene where Crozier gives his steward Thomas Jopson (Liam Garrigan) a promotion. Jopson seems humbled and stunned by the act, and the other officers – including an uncharacteristically smiling Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) – are all quite happy with the move.

Beyond this brief happy moment, though, “Horrible For Supper” is misery through and through. The Terror has reached a point where its bleakness is almost overpowering, to the point where I can understand if people want to pull the plug and escape the show for the sake of their own mental well being.

Still, “Horrible For Supper” is a perfect example of what makes this show so remarkable. Absolutely nothing supernatural happens in this episode, and yet this may be the scariest episode to date. The overwhelming sense of dread continues to mount, and it’s aided by the show’s cinematography. Now that the men have left the boats, the scenery has changed, from the pure, unblemished white of the snowy ice to a bombed-out-looking landscape of pale, rocky white that looks as if the men are trekking over bones.

There’s also a fresh new feeling of hopelessness at play here, made even more hopeless by the final few minutes of the episode. The expedition had finally found help, and then Hickey went ahead and did something terrible that will likely muck it all up. “Survival is a nasty piece of business,” Hickey says, and I have a feeling it’s about to get nastier.

Stray Observations

  • R.I.P. Neptune the Dog. You’re in a better place now.
  • So if Hickey isn’t really Hickey, who is he?
  • Goodsir is still lugging around the dead body of Jacko the monkey, because of course he is.
  • As Crozier departs for his long walk with the men, the Terror truly becomes a ghost ship. The camera lingers on its empty interior after Crozier is gone – silent and eerie.
  • Director Tim Mielants did an amazing job overall in this episode, but I particularly love the way he frames the Hickey, Farr, and Irving scene. As Irving is communicating with the hunting party, we see the silhouette of Hickey and Farr in the distance up on the hill. As the scene progresses, we see the two figures recede until they vanish from sight, and we just instantly know something bad is happening. It’s brilliantly staged.
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