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The Terror - Double Episode Premiere - Review

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Three months ago, I bought the novel this show is based on, determined to read it before the premiere. Two weeks ago, I read the first chapter. Yesterday, I gave up because I'm terrible at sticking to my guns. However, I can say that the show excellently captures the tone I got from those first 15 pages! The tone is actually what helps make this such a solid opening, along with several other elements, of course. Let's dive in and take a look at what these first two episodes had to offer us. Mind the sea creatures, they don't look to friendly.

Go For Broke

In 1845, two Royal Navy ships left England in an attempt to finally discover a navigable passage through the Arctic. They were the most technologically advanced ships of their day.
They were last seen by European whalers in Baffin Bay awaiting good conditions to enter the Arctic labyrinth.
Both ships then vanished.

This is what we are given for the first 30 seconds of the show, quickly establishing its mysterious and somber tone and instantly pulling you into the story. Furthering the mystery, we immediately join a conversation in which two English men li
sten to an Eskimo man describe some sort of creature, presumably in response to inquiries about the crew of The Terror and The Erebus. They then ask what Francis (Aglooka in Eskimo) said to him, which was a message to give anyone looking for the crew that  basically amounted to "Don't look for us. We're dead. This place is kinda awful, so get outta here." You know, just to paraphrase a bit.The Eskimo man then set down cufflinks on pictures of the crew members. It's not looking good for them. 

We then jump back in time four years to 1846 in order for the pilot to do all the things a pilot does. For the remainder of our hour, we spend most of our time getting to know our ships, and being introduced to our main characters. For the life of me, though, I can only remember the names of Francis and John Franklin, which in all fairness is only because they are the captains of the ship, and mostly because I remembered them from what little of the book I actually read. Aside from these introductions, there were three events of note. The first, and most disturbing, is a man on the ship coughing up tons of blood one evening due to an illness he neglected to report. That'a a big no-no. The man dies a few hours later, but moments before he passes, he sees an ominous-looking man in the corner of the room and screams "it wants us to run" until he is gone. Pretty foreboding. The second event involves a man going underwater in 19th century diving gear, which is nerve-racking  all on its own. After knocking some ice out of the ship's propeller, he sees an entity floating in the water in the distance that had a dark body and a face that seemed like it might be the same as the one the man who died saw. Our final noteworthy event involves Francis presenting his plan for how the crews of Terror and Erebus can survive the upcoming winter together. He suggests abandoning the Erebus and sailing away on Terror, however, the plan is not well received and they try to pick through the ice and sail away on both ships. Of course, this doesn't work and they end up iced in, just as Francis predicted. The episode ends as the men realize their situation and begin preparations for the winter.

The next episode picks up 8 months later and sees our men sending three scouting parties out into the tundra dragging boats behind them in hopes of finding a way out of their predicament. The westward team is our main focus, and things certainly don't go very splendidly. In the interest of continuing to move forward, the boat must be left behind for a bit, and they later return to find it mostly ruined, as were most of the supplies they brought with them. They decide to set up camp for the night and are soon greeted by some pretty dangerous sized hail. As they huddle in a tent for shelter, they hear first a roar that could certainly be from a bear, followed by a few noises that don't sound particularly bear-like, but I'm also not an expert on bear noises. When the hail dies down, they step out with shotguns ready to blast the bear. They fire at the first sign of movement, but it turns out they actually shot an Eskimo man who was out with his daughter, and it certainly doesn't look good for the man. They all rush back to the ships (minus Lieutenant Gore who is totally destroyed by a bear) in hopes that their surgeon can do something for the man, but when they arrive the next day, they discover the bullet went in too deep for any help to be given. The man dies shortly after (and I gotta say he looks a lot like face the dying man from the first episode saw, and the face the diver saw underwater, but maybe that's just me) and his daughter loses her battle to let him die on the ice. Later, Francis speaks to her to find out more information about her people and claims they want to help. She tells them they can help by taking away their ships, and that if they don't leave they will disappear. She then mimes as though she's pulling something (her soul) out of her mouth and letting it float into the air.

Though the pace of the show moves only slightly faster than the frozen in ships, The Terror has managed to make its first two outings very engaging. There's constantly an ominous presence felt in the air, and every scene has something for you to pick up and use to start crafting  theories and speculations about just what these men are up against. For me, the least engaging parts of the episodes were the brief flashbacks we were given for Francis and John, and I'm sure they are going to be useful in informing some of the characters' actions moving forward, but after watching both episodes twice, I can't really tell you what went on in those flashbacks. They are a necessary evil, but I do hope they are not too often. The show has certainly pulled me in with the dark and mysterious things happening, but they also set aside some space for some more upbeat moment, including the men playing soccer/football on the ice to pass the time, as well as introducing what is either a romance between two men in the crew or just two men hooking up below deck to pass the time. Either way, it should be an interesting subplot to explore.

What did you think of the premiere? Was the man they shot the ominous presence in the first episode? Was anyone else morbidly pleased when the title of the episode not only referred to Lieutenant Gore, but also to Lieutenant Gore's gore-y demise? Sound off in the comments below!

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