The Terror: Infamy Episode 10-Into The Afterlife-Recap and Review
As many tears as fears as a poignant season two came to a thoughtful conclusion.
A beautiful opening that is a gentle yet powerful reminder that war has costs and often that price is staggering. The defeat of the Japanese by the Allies in WWII came in the form of the worlds first atomic bomb usage. The Allies won, but at the expense of so many innocent lives. Loss of life should always be sad. The harsh reality that America celebrated so much death is difficult to acknowledge seen through the eyes of history. It is easy to laud the brave soldiers who saved so many Jewish lives in the concentration camps, it is much harder to remember we imprisoned so many innocent Japanese people in camps of our own. The Terror: Infamy has done an exceptional job showing this often forgotten part of history alongside a creepy horror story that is steeped in multicultural relevance.
The opening sequence was one of the most powerful depictions of mass death ever seen on television. All without a single drop of blood. Much has been said about the scare factor of season two. Yuko was not the monstrous beast Tuunbaq was. Her brand of fear is sneakier and less obvious. What has never been in dispute is the emotional significance the subject matter, the writing, and the shot selection has shown.
A monochromatic gorgeous view of the Afterlife ushered in the beloved George Takei. His importance in this project brought both authenticity but a gravitas that grounds every scene he is in. The initial conversation between old friends starts as a scene of beauty and tranquility until the camera shifts smoothly in a breath-stealing reveal of an entire family standing behind the man. Parents shouldn’t have to bury children and whole families should not be wiped out at once. The enormity of the bombing was felt by everyone who watched that scene. The final nightmarish shot of the consequences of the bombing and the devastation it wrought conveys the pain of war more than any words ever could.
All a dream, Yamato-san woke with a start to the sounds of Americans celebrating the bombing of Hiroshima. The episode which is quite Yamato-san-centric despite all the action with Luz and the Nakayamas is wise without being judgmental. His words to Amy that “revenge is as natural as dying”, are the words of someone who has lived a lifetime and seen both good and evil. He is counselling Amy on her guilt from killing Major Bowen, but combined with the jubilant cries of the Americans, it could just as easy be the country as a whole he is speaking about. None of those who entered camp are who they were when they first entered. They have lost all their possessions, their freedom, the lives of their friends and families, and their innocence. Amy was forced to kill, very few families are intact after the war, and the Nakayama’s are being hunted by a vengeful ghost.
Yuko continues her countrywide reign of terror. After possessing Luz’ body she moves on to a family of good Samaritans. No good deed goes unpunished and Yuko uses the young girl’s body to kill her parents and leave Luz behind. Finally Yuko learns she is not the only desperate mother with powerful magic. As any good parent would do, both Chester and Luz are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their child. Luz’ Abuella told her her mother had the gift and Luz does too. Armed with a picture of young Yuko she is ready for battle.
As father and son argue over the necessity for haste or caution we are reminded just how much these two are alike. Henry cautions for time but Chester wants to go to his baby now before it is too late. He’s angry with Henry because he isn’t willing to let him sacrifice himself to Yuko in exchange for his baby. What Chester fails to remember is that Henry is a father too. Just as Chester would do anything to save his kid so would Henry. The full circle concept of life played with so brilliantly this season is put on display as two generations battle the demons of their past.
Chester’s ability to bring completion to Yuko’s obsessive quest brought a quiet peace to the troubled young woman. Her black blooded, skewed hair and dress was a complete departure from the hopeful picture bride we saw her earlier. Yamato-san’s words regarding revenge were a thread woven into each scene as one conflict after another rang true. The absolute hate she feels for her sister Asako warped her love for her children until she was nothing left but want and rage. As she finally finds some calm among the stunning cherry trees the sweet girl she once was is set free.
The one misstep tonight was sound design which was overbearing and melodramatic at times. The music which has been a highlight up until now all but shouted that a scary scene was to come when a lighter approach would have been more effective. In previous episodes, music was used as a intricate tool as opposed to a blunt instrument. The most successful moments of fear came from subtle uses of color, silence and angles to create imagery that was unsettling instead of for shock value.
All is forgiven as Henry carves sutra on Yuko’s face to weaken her. It is a scene reminiscent of many possession movies and her defiant ripping of her own flesh to remove the weakening symbols is wildly disturbing. She truly is a monster. In a season marked with many hideous looks at Yuko’s true nature, this was one of the best. Kiki Sukezane has really done an excellent job as Yuko skirting the line between all out madness and hideous perversion. The smallest body movement and hand positioning have been used so creatively to unsettle the viewer.
This series made people uncomfortable because it forced us to look differently at things like war, fear, and selfishness. Our decisions have consequences and the final words that history should never be forgotten is as important now as it ever was. Our sins and mistakes should not be ignored or hidden. We should learn from those choices. As the credits rolled I hope everyone watched the list of cast credits alongside the pictures and names of those effected by the war. It is a terrible reminder of a time on our country’s past that should not ever be forgotten.