As the once groundbreaking and eerily mesmerizing zombie slayfest known as The Walking Dead dissolves into a confused mélange of impossibly long firefights, implausible alliances and sermonizing – fans of edgy storytelling and crisp writing have been left to wonder: “Now what are we going to watch?”
Well, it was a labor of love and cut across the grain on many fronts but, for us, it was The Terror – a deeply absorbing and twisty look at an ill-fated 19th Century expedition which finds itself in the grip of the arctic ice pack and hunted by a – possibly – mythical creature with an unnerving connection to the production’s sole female character.
With some knowledge of the actual expedition – British, 1845, things did not go well – we weren’t sure what to expect when AMC, the folks who brought us The Walking Dead, hooked us up with and pretty quickly hooked us on The Terror.
But with some mighty fine acting from the largely English cast and great attention to historical accuracy (right down to the buttons on the corps’ tunics) it was pretty clear we were in the grip of a quality production – and then all sorts of things started to happen. We won’t ruin the writer’s many hooks and sub plots, but will say we respected the way they tended to extrapolate from actual events, lending to the air of credibility and icy claustrophobia that set in as the expedition’s vessels were locked in the arctic icepack and slowly, cracklingly crushed – timber by timber – by the unrelenting floes.
The viewer is left to realize that there are, in fact, many Terrors in play, with one of two ships used in the expedition actually bearing that name (the ship’s wreckage was found in 2016), the men gradually coming to grip with their own fears – hunger, dashed hope of rescue, isolation in an unforgiving and sterile land – all while another very active terror stalks the hapless crew and appears quite capable of picking them off at will.
Many of the creeping moments of dread we felt with The Walking Dead when that series was fresh and new were resurrected with The Terror as survival skills are tested among their creeping madness and increasingly desperate mortal breakdown the survivors experience as they fight to stay alive. While some viewers may have looked around in boredom as the crews of Erebus and Terror set off to save themselves, dragging their supplies with them and set against an impossibly desolate backdrop of ice-crushed rock, we found ourselves pulled in even more deeply, wondering what we would have done in the same harrowing circumstances and knowing, to some degree, what was to come.
Anyone else up late at night and watching this series? Let us know what you thought of it.
The Terror is available to stream on AMC.