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The Terror - Into the Afterlife - Review

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you have seen the ENTIRE SEASON of The Terror: Infamy, not just the season finale!

Going into the season finale of AMC's The Terror: Infamy, I was not expecting that much. Having agreed with the many criticisms of the last few episodes, there was little hope that the writers would be able to turn around a season that started out very strongly, but began turning into a sinking ship, figuratively speaking, after the mid-point of the season. Sure, it had strong episodes along the way, particularly the 6th episode that focused on its ghostly villain, Yuko, when she was alive. However, going into the climax, it started relying way too heavily on cliched horror possession tropes that felt beneath the writers, as if they had suddenly been forced to include them after lying out the groundwork for a respectful historic drama about the ramifications of Japanese internment camps for so long. One of the major issues right off the bat was that the creators seemed more dedicated to portraying a respectful representation of history rather than creating a compelling horror story, despite showcasing some of the best gore scenes basic cable allowed. While an initial slow-burn pacing might have seemed like the right direction to go on an awards-friendly network like AMC, the two mixed like oil and water and the finale's direction proved that.

 In The Terror: Infamy 2x10 Into the Afterlife, we finally get our long-awaited climatic show-down between Chester and Yuko. The only twist of this fight was how little actually ended up mattering that Yuko suddenly decided to reject Chester as one of her own. By the time Henry decides to save the day - 80s action hero style - it is clear that the creators seem to have more of an interest in exploring the relationship of Chester and his father, rather than his biological mother, whom they just spent most of the season revealing the secrets of. This seems to be a moot point in the long run. It seems to me that the writers realized they wrote themselves into a corner with that sub-plot. Yuko's quick demise lacked real poignancy and felt anti-climatic, in spite of the excellent performances.

Another mistake the writers made, I felt, was making Luz's character basically fade into the background. Cristina Rodlo gave the finest performance of the season (though Kiki Sukezane was amazing as well, navigating between the diametrically opposed tones of the season) and even thought they let her perform the ritual that made Yuko transition into the next world, I still felt she should have been more of a formidable force as a character than Chester's resourceful spouse. Seeing her send-off feeding George Takei at a bar-b-que made me yearn for more.

 What the creators got right was mining the heartstrings in the end, reminding the viewers of the gravity that the real life effects of the the internment camps possessed. Seeing Naoko Mori’s character, Asako, holding a portrait of Henry was more effective than almost every terrifying scene. Seeing the real life portraits of the survivors of the camps next to their actor descendants - and real life child survivor George Takei - reminded you how much genuine emotion went into the making of this season. Sure, the elements didn't always mix well together, but the right intentions were always in the mix, shrieking louder than the literal screams. Despite the flaws, the characters earned the viewers sympathy and attention, which is not easy to do with the glut of horror that out there on TV now. When one looks back at Infamy, whether it be on Hulu or DVD, they will more than likely remember the careful depiction of the camps and the historical context around them more than the gore and action scenes. Nothing wrong with that, but when you compare it to the effective first season, it doesn't leave you hopeful that Ridley Scott doesn't get too busy with his new HBO MAX series, Raised by Wolves, to pay attention to a potential third season, if the abysmal overnight ratings don't stop AMC from ordering one. Scarier things have happened.


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