The Terror Infamy Episode 4 The Weak Are Meat-Recap and Review
A fourth episode that rewarded those who were patient with our first look at Yuko’s true self and a very violent end was well paced and brutal.
Courtesy of Ed Araquel/AMC
Episode four marked a tonal change for the series. The claustrophobic setting of the camps gave way to the lush but deadly foliage in the jungle. Those left behind in America have plenty to contend with regardless of Chester’s selfless act and Yuko’s power knows no bounds in a seminal episode that punctuates the terror of life and war.
An episode far more poignant than the previous ones highlighted the tragedy befalling our star crossed lovers. Gentle moments with Asako comparing her son’s handsome picture to Gary Cooper provide the emotional weight of loss with a whisper. It is a testament to Naoko Mori(Asaka) and Cristina Rodio(Luz) that these soft conversations speak as loudly as the powerful scare scenes. These are American’s from different backgrounds who are on the same side of the equation. The smart dialogue written for these two by Naomi Lizuka is excellent. The story is driven by conversation as opposed to exposition making the sentiments felt more strongly.
Chester is in Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. It was code-named Operation Watchtower and the battle for this important Allied stronghold continued from early August 1942 until early February 1943. The opening shot is fastidiously littered with war detritus and feels as dirty and hot as the location must have been. True to this season dual focus between real world horrors and supernatural fears, Chester is concerned with the Yurei despite being plucked down in the middle of a war zone. He uses his new camera to attempt to take the Yurei’s picture in a sequence borrowing successfully from the Fatal Frame games. It is this simple use of a camera flash combined with the howling wind that The Terror: Infamy is doing so well. Horror at its creepiest and most beautiful. Sound design which has been very good in the previous three episodes is brilliant in The Weak Are Meat. Nature sounds that are amplified to their most extreme combine with a haunting score that is chilling. In the sorrow of later scenes the score plucks an emotional cord that rings true even after the credits roll.
It’s lonely for Luz. Chester’s Dad Henry still has not accepted her and is battling his own demons. The remainder of the family is friendly but not the same as her family. Without the lifetime of experience and dependence on each other the bonds are tenuous and unsatisfying. With only her midwife, Yuko to act as friend and confident it is a solitary existence. By providing both the cause of her fear and the sole source of companionship in Yuko the tension continues to ramp up. The danger Luz is in is unknown to her but felt keenly by the viewer. It is clear the Yurei has designs on one or both of her babies and the rattle drum is intended to provide protection. As the episode progresses her intentions prove to be nefarious, but with the death of the twins her purpose on earth is unfulfilled. That event was the catalyst for the disrobing of her prior white kimono and her new appearance. As eerie as the half dead makeup she wore earlier was, the full reveal is slightly less impactful. The mask she wears prior to her full reveal is more unsettling and hopefully a return to her less overt creature makeup will be seen moving forward.
Just as Luz is alone among a crowd so is Chester. He and his partner are looked at with distrust and contempt by the troops. The camp is designed to propagate that fear and aggression with skulls on sticks and pits of dead decaying bodies. Chester accuses the men at camp of being brutish and wasteful in their rage as they make “letter openers” out of shin bones instead of interrogating the POW’s. He’s not wrong but to speak to a superior in that manner is not smart. Lucky for Chester he is useful and creative and finds additional messages on the POW’s belt. His usefulness is proven as well as the pride his commander feels for him and his partner is obvious. The pit is just one more reminder that war is a terrible thing that demands unimaginable prices from all involved. Sounds of wet decay permeate the scene as the soldiers are forced to wade in the muck.
We finally get our first glimpse of Yuko without the benefit of her mask. The darkened veins and wet look of green slime is very effective when juxtaposed with her ethereal beauty. Her need to kill is matched by only her desire for Luz’s babies. Her broken down appearance is improved once she kills the soldier lending speculation that she is blood demon akin to Elizabeth Bathory who believed bathing in blood would keep her young. Yuko returns to the young girl visage after the soldier jumps to his death. As a result of the possession the entire camp is put at risk though. As Major Bowen(C. Thomas Howell) continues to vie for slimiest guy in America no one is safe and nothing is off limits. The soldiers go through the barracks like wrecking balls caring not about personal possessions or ancestral tributes. Even Luz’s flour sack dress is taken because they are not to have anything made from camp property. Eventually, as the stash of homemade Saki is found Walt Yoshida is forced to admit to the distilling and is taken to the stockade. The disregard for the residents possessions is appalling.
The second relationship given time successfully this week was Henry and Luz. The heartfelt and respectful letter to him demonstrated the importance of elders in both cultures. Henry’s final acceptance of Luz’s effort is powerful especially when coupled with her show of maternal strength at the mention of twins being bad luck. Twins are bad luck in Japanese culture and Asaka tells her not to write to Chester about it until the babies are born. It was believed that one baby was human and the other was demonic. Twins bring death and destruction. Prior to the 1800’s those bearing twins would commonly kill one child. With one demon in camp already it is likely that Yuko needs the infant for a new body.
Chester is feeling the rigors of war. Demons real and imagined are haunting him and their is no escape for him. His visions do come with benefits as he is able to convey the whereabouts of the missing soldier. He is not the same man he was once however. His time with the enemy army has left him changed. Chester suspects he has been taken by a Yurei, but he sees ghosts everywhere. The words of the soldier, “I will cut out your tongue, gouge out your eyes, I will kill you. The weak are meat, the strong will eat.”, do nothing to dispel his suspensions.
The perils of medical care and giving birth were realized this week. Women are amazingly strong and their bodies are capable of tremendous things, but they are also very vulnerable. Without proper medical care infant mortality would rise. It is unclear if Luz’s babies were lost to negligence, natural causes, or something supernatural but the results are the same. Curiously history showed that for many camps, Heart Mountain in Wyoming in particular, due to community support and trained medical staff, birth rates were higher inside the camp than in the state of Wyoming as a whole. The birth scene did provide yet another look inside Yuko’s abilities. The taking of bodies was subtle but very effective. A blurring of lines and shifting of weight in unnatural ways was all it took to make it clear who was now in charge.
The episode is written with the sensibility of a woman and with the subject matter a light touch was necessary. A study in emotions, highs and lows are thrown around like candy from a parade. Littered with tender letters episode four has an old fashioned feel that is stripped of the fond nostalgia World War II is often looked at by those who did not live through it. Cruelty, abuse, and injustice are shown both in camp and in the field as Chester gets assaulted by his fellow soldiers. The happiness he feels just before the desperation of the attack creates anxiety. When the rug can be pulled out from under the viewer at any second a heightened sense of tension is felt. The hopefulness of Luz as she writes to Chester of her impending birth overlaid with the sorrow of having just lost them is wrenching. After the aggression that Gaman ended with last week, episode four is pain in its many forms. As rattle drums beat deceptively quietly in the closing moments despair fills the air. There will be no happiness until the Yurei is satisfied and if the doctors death by Seppuku(Samarai self-inflicted death of honor) tells us anything she is angry and only getting started.