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The Terror - Come and Get Me - Review

15 Oct 2019

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The Terror - S2

SPOILERS AHEAD: Do NOT read this article until you've seen the episode! 

Unevenness has not exactly become The Terror: Infamy. And, yet, that is what the production has stuck us viewers in for a last few weeks. While the second season to the acclaimed, but relatively under-watched, first season started out with a real opportunity to deliver an unconventional Asian-centric TV ghost story not seen since the glory days of J-Horror in the 2000s, it has steadily been losing steam ever since they humanized its own villain-ess mid-way through the season.

In this penultimate episode, its initial promise is all but seen evaporated. But, it still holds the promising of delivering a satisfying ending against all odds. I incorrectly assumed that the second season would spend its entire duration chronicling the Nakayamas' stay in Colinas de Oro. However,  this episode starts on the last day of the stay in the internment camp. The family returns home to Terminal Island, only to find a wasteland where their happy home once was. This leads Chester and Luz to escape to New Mexico to hide from Yuko's possessions and Henry gets work as a gardener. There is also an obligatory time jump since the writers probably realized too late that making their best character of the season, Luz, into a shallow, but convenient plot device wouldn't give them enough time to fully explore the 2nd (yes, 2nd) pregnancy drama. Yes, after dragging the viewers through a tragic and poignant stillbirth, the writers decided a sudden surprise pregnancy would be the perfect plot device to have the Yuko potentially possess the baby (or does she)?

The creative team here seem to have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater (pun intended), removing the blend of the supernatural and real works they successfully utilized in 2x07 My Perfect World or 2x06 Tazio and seemingly attempting to make the viewers forget about the careful historical slowburn they laid out for the first 1/2 of the season with fast-paced horror cliches and plot holes. The respect toward the representation of the history of the interment camps is starting to feel more like a bait and switch on the part of the producers more than what could've been a groundbreaking stereotype-free basic cable representation of Asian-American folklore. Like so many horror series, the temptation of going toward the commercial tropes of the genre and instead of pleasing the critics was just too easy for The Terror to play into.

Granted, this episode works better as empty thrills than the previous installment, 2x08 My Sweet Boy, which wasted our time with a cringeworthy ball-catching scene. There was even a wonderful scene where Asako has a private moment on a bridge in an unfortunately basic cable-budget CGI-rendered landscape (a trope of the series itself at this point), so it was not a complete embarrassment. I understand I previously complained that there wasn't enough horror in this horror anthology series (it's even in the title, for goodness sakes!), I still feel they could've tried harder than by introducing a sub-standard possessed priest sub-plot in this episode. Seriously, the family even let this questionable priest into their house after taking all precautions, including after Henry travels all the way to New Mexico and berets Chester for trying to outrun a demon. Any sympathy you might have felt for the family goes out the window with decisions and subsequent leaning on supernatural possession cliches like this. And having Chester think finding a dead rat means he and his family are safe is just a cheat and beneath the quality of writing these writers are capable of.

Without going through an obligatory laundry list of who gets possessed (at this point, it becomes who hasn't been possessed), let's just say the "protection" this priest promises doesn't exactly deliver what the Nakayamas were hoping for. While I am sure the producers' good intentions are still intact, the plotting is starting to feel more nilly willy than deliberate. It is not much of a surprise that Yuko not only finds the family and spends the majority of the episode jumping from vessel to vessel, amounting to Luz becoming even more of a means to an end by possessing her and commanding her to leave the house with her newborn child. None of this felt suspenseful and came off as all but eventual.

I will not go so far as to claim this episode was "inconsequential," as other viewers and reviewers have claimed since it did move the story slightly toward a potentially satisfying/horrifying conclusion involving sacrifice and/or atomic explosions (fingers crossed), but "Come and Get Me" does go to show that just b/c you have 10 episodes to fill for a complete season, does not mean you have room to waste viewers' time on trivial twists, wheel spinning, and story padding. I still have hope that The Terror will live up to the Infamy of its sub-title instead of being a synonym for shameful.