Not only does the crew of both the HMS Terror and Erebus find themselves stuck in the ice for the winter and hunted by who knows what, but they also have a captain who is more concerned about his ego than doing the right thing. This just adds to the overall tension and while it might make for a horrible place to be stuck for the sailors it is a great scenario for the viewers to watch unfold right in front of them.
It has become very clear that Captain John Franklin is not only a fool but a coward as well. This is not a great combination to have as a leader and this becomes very evident this week, especially when the two captains face off about what to do next. Franklin and Captain Crozier go head to head about their next move, with Crozier suggesting sending out what amounts to a rescue party. Of course, Franklin and his ego won’t have this and as he is in charge, shoots down the suggestion which only deepens the resentment building up between the two.
Crozier sets the plan in motion anyway, knowing full well the lives of everyone may depend on the success of this mission. Meanwhile, Franklin accompanies some men on their quest to lure out what has been hunting them and kill it. This, of course, is a great photo op moment for the glory hunting Captain Franklin but he would have been better off staying on the ship as the hunters soon realize that they are the hunted as things go horribly wrong.
The dissent between the two captains only heightens an already tense situation, with the two crews now fighting the elements, starvation and the fear of whatever is out there hunting them. The dread is almost like a character in itself, hanging over everything and giving even the calmest of moments that little extra bit of tension. As the crew begins to realize the two captains are also at odds, people will begin to take sides and that will of course lead to even more chaos.
It would be easy for The Terror to dissolve into nothing more than a monster movie/series but to the writer’s credit, they have so far managed to keep the human characters and their predicaments front and center. You can see certain characters slowly winding their way more and more into the narrative, making them more than just another voice in the chorus. This is important moving forward as the more interesting the characters the more you care about what they say and what happens to them.
I am curious to see where they are going to take the Inuit part of the story. The end of the episode showed us that the people native to this part of the world have some sort of relationship with whatever monstrosity is out there. It remains to be seen if this is just a distraction from what is going to happen or something important in the overall big picture.
Wherever they are taking us, the people behind The Terror have set the stage nicely over the first three episodes, hitting a peak with events this week in ‘The Ladder’. Here’s hoping they continue to build the tension and fear with a great payoff in the end.
Four stars out of five
- The sense of dread continues to build
- Great interaction between the two captains
- Background, set design are both wonderful
- Story drags a bit in spots