*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*
My biggest concern for The Terror has always been how they could possibly manage to keep up the high levels of fear, terror, and dread that has been building each and every episode. To this end, “A Mercy” seemed to highlight those fears, as it began with a rather slow and plodding pace. However, it quickly ramps up the tension and by the end, it could easily be the most haunting and terrifying episode that we’ve seen yet.
The tension begins to build during a simple conversation, where James is asking Mr. Blanky about another expedition and what really happened, as opposed to what’s written in a book. Mr. Blanky describes how the dire situation, not unlike the one they are in now, began to play on the mind, something we see later on this episode in a few different ways. It was a wonderful way to foreshadow what was to come and finally discuss openly how mentally daunting an expedition like this can be when things go horribly wrong.
At first glance, the carnival to raise the men’s spirits seems like a grand idea. After all, they need some joy, especially when they are about to learn they are going to abandon both ships and start hiking back on foot for help/to get home. There are a lot of insane and creepy things going on at this carnival though, from costumes to makeup to playing with the dead, it really was well thought out and filmed. Suffice to say that some of these men have already started listening to that ‘voice’ in their head, telling them to do things they normally would never do.
I felt bad for Dr. Stanley, who listened to Collins and his deteriorating mental state, then Goodsir’s revelation, his fears confirmed after testing his theory on the monkey, that the men were slowly being poisoned by the preserved food. Alistair Petrie played this perfectly, never letting the audience fully grasp how the doctor had thrown in the towel and believed it was his duty to kill all the men, a mercy for what was to come. His haunting, painted face was chilling as he ended his own life, which concluded a very brutal and horrifying scene.
Lady Silence also made an appearance, after she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps by removing her tongue, a ceremony that was presided over by the creepy looking monster. She crashed the carnival, bloody and exhausted, but to what end I do not know. Did she make a pact with the creature to kill all the men, who at this point think it is dead? I’m sure we will find out soon enough.
As I have mentioned before, the greatest feat The Terror has pulled off so far is its ability to somehow increase the amount of tension and dread on the show each and every week. Sometimes it is only by the smallest fraction, a simple scene or speech, but then you have this week where the backend of the episode was just so chilling and bizarre. This is definitely a special series and while I pity the men, I can’t wait to see what else the writers have in store for them.
Four and a half stars out of five
- The most haunting and disturbing episode so far
- Actors do a great job selling their deteriorating mental state
- Who thought, six episodes in, this series would be capable of more tension and dread each and every week?
- Slow start, thought the episode was in trouble