Published Aug 09, 2019While the first anthology of AMC's The Terror explored the cruelty of nature and man, The Terror: Infamy is about the past and old wounds never quite healing as intended. It shows the horrors of humanity are just as monstrous as those of the supernatural, becoming an important show in its representation of a time not always talked about in history.
Set during World War II, The Terror: Infamy follows the Japanese-American experience of displacement into internment camps as countries battle for supremacy. The lead, Chester (Derek Mio), gets locked into trying to find his place and to do what's right, not only for his family's honour and future, but for his girlfriend Luz (Cristina Rodlo), who is pregnant with his child.
The Terror: Infamy outlines how tradition and social acceptance become burdens on Chester and Luz, both looking to make a new life for themselves, but coming up against long-held beliefs and responsibilities as their barriers.
It's here the show really shines, its expansive story spanning from a fishing village to internment camps to behind enemy lines, showing the journey of an American life where prejudice and war reveal some very harsh truths about race during a sensitive time.
The Terror: Infamy is still a horror series, though. Much like its first season, the show finds horror not only in the supernatural and fantastical, but also through what people are capable of.
Some of these moments early on can suffer from not quite emotionally landing as expected, as they play out without much impact beyond the interesting visuals. But there are some sequences that are downright precise in capturing horror, not in the supernatural, but in events that occur every day.
Over the course of the first six episodes (out of ten), the more eerie and horror-centric moments begin to take better shape; as relationships and characters settle in and become more defined, the psychological and physical danger the opening hours only hinted at now hold much power. Reality and horror mesh with fantastic results, making the somewhat shaky start an acceptable and easy hurdle to overcome.
Its cast is a wonderful array of Japanese actors, all conveying the trying times with tragic accuracy. Derek Mio makes a brash and frustrated lead, whose Chester is being pushed and pulled in so many directions as he faces the darkness that has set its sights on him. Cristina Rodlo becomes a major highlight of the season, her transformation showing her a massive talent on the rise (after being similarly great on Amazon's Too Old To Die Young).
The production is able to display the conditions of internment camp living on a grand scale, while still staying intimate to the close-knit group the story follows; the show manages to say so much with how its characters survive and persevere.
The Terror: Infamy could not land at a better time. At a time where volatile language about the other and the spread of camps are on the rise, The Terror: Infamy shows in no uncertain terms the pitfall of that idea and the cruelty it can impose on a people who simply wish to live better lives. Terror comes in many forms, and the human spirit rises above it.
The Terror: Infamy airs on Mondays on AMC, starting August 12.