“Go for Broke” is the pilot episode of the TV show “The Terror”, an adapatation of a novel by Dan Simmons with the same title. It’s broadcast in the USA on AMC Studios and in other nations on Amazon Prime Video.
Note. This article contains spoilers about “Go for Broke”.
In 1846 the British ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are on an expedition that aims to be the first to cross the last section of the northwest passage. However, there are many pitfalls in the Arctic and the sailors begin to die for causes to ascertain.
For his novel Dan Simmons got inspired by a historic event, Franklin’s lost expedition. Until a few years ago the two ships were lost before their wrecks got discovered. There are various theories about the reasons for the tragedy that led to the crews’s death in the Arctic. In the novel, and therefore in the TV show a supernatural component is added.
I don’t have the knowledge of that period so I can’t say if the various elements have been faithfully reproduced in the show but the first episode impressed me in a favorable way for its atmosphere. For now the narrative is focused on the historical element, introducing the protagonists and the expedition, which reached at a critical moment.
As for the protagonists, also thanks to flashbacks to moments of their lives before the beginning of the expedition, we can start getting an idea of their personalities. Above all, we get immediately aware of the potential dangers that exist in the Arctic for a mid-19th century expedition.
The HMS Erebus is at risk of getting crippled by a block of ice that hits its propeller, a big problem for a ship with a steam engine, a cutting-edge technology for those times. To free it, a sailor has to go underwater with a diving suit.
A possible anticipation of the supernatural element comes from the vision of a dying sailor. There’s the possibility that he got sick with scurvy, a disease that once could hit sailors because of the limited food available during long journeys.
The feeling of danger and eeriness seems convincing to me. It’s only the beginning of a story-arc so it’s only possible to judge its potential, which seems to me really interesting in a production that already appears at a high level.