TV Review: Horror And History Go Hand In Hand In ‘The Terror: Infamy’

by Rachel Bellwoar

For reasons that will be apparent to anyone who’s seen the first season, “infamy” isn’t the only thing different about The Terror. Season two of the anthology series returns with a brand-new cast and story set a century after the events of season one. Instead of a British expedition to the Arctic, The Terror: Infamy looks at how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. Forced out of their homes and into internment camps, episode one ends with Pearl Harbor and the season finale opens with Hiroshima.

Chester’s life was already in upheaval, though, by the news that his girlfriend, Luz (Cristina Rodlo), is pregnant. Unable to get married and with little chance of earning their parents’ approval, Chester (Derek Mio) and Luz go to a family friend of Chester’s for help. When that friend (Yuki Morita) commits suicide, however, Chester fears that he might be responsible.

At the funeral, her coffin gets knocked over by the wind and it sends the guests talking about “bakemono” and bad omens. Later other terms get used as well: “yurei,” “obake,” “kwaidan.” The show is always careful to be specific but doesn’t always get into definitions, like the ones Megan Navarro provides in an overview for Bloody Disgusting. It would’ve been great if the Blu-Ray could’ve included a featurette on Japanese folklore or even one on the history that this show covers.

In the closing credits of the season finale some of the cast and crew members are shown with photos of their relatives who were sent to internment camps. George Takei experienced the camps firsthand and is credited as a consultant as well as an actor on the series.

Naoko Mori, James Saito, and Alex Shimizu (Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/AMC)

The biggest difference between season one and season two, though (and you don’t have to be familiar with season one to watch Infamy) is Infamy feels like a story that could’ve been set at any time. That feels like a strange thing to say but, in terms of the supernatural elements at least, Yuko (Kiki Sukezane) showing up when she does is a coincidence. In season one, the Tuunbaq that was terrorizing the sailors offered an explanation – however improbable – for why they disappeared. Yuko’s intentions aren’t always clear, but her reasons for haunting Chester are personal and not related to what was going on historically at the time.

One thing that stands out about Yuko is how prominent she is in the The Terror. Unlike series that stick to the old adage that a monster shouldn’t be seen too much, Yoko lets herself be seen all the time (and her origin story in episode six, as directed by Everardo Gout, offers some chilling visuals). The series is even a little excessive with giving her tells. You never have to guess who she’s possessing at any given moment.

Sometimes it feels like the show has characters withhold information to draw out storylines. There are also some ongoing plot points that don’t make sense, like Chester being allowed to keep his camera despite being told early on that he’d have to hand it over because he might be a spy. The inclusion of Spanish folklore through Luz’s side of the family is a great touch in episode eight. If there’s one thing I would change about this season, though, it would be that the folklore and history be integrated more, or maybe it’s just that the series tried to squeeze two shows into one. I’d eagerly watch either program, but I don’t know that they serve each other well together.

The Terror: Infamy is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD from Lionsgate.

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