“The Ladder” is the third episode of the TV show “The Terror”, an adapatation of a novel by Dan Simmons with the same title, and follows “Gore“.
Note. This article contains spoilers about “The Ladder”.
Captain John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) and Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) argue about the actions to be taken to save the expedition. Their ideas are conflicting but soon those disagreements become the least of their problems.
“The Ladder” is an episode based especially on personal contrasts, in particular between the two Captains. Not only from this point of view it continues the plot developments from the first two episodes as expected in a very serialized story-arc. There are leaps forward in time but there’s also a strong narrative continuity.
Captain John Franklin has always kept a strong optimism regarding the chances of success of his expedition even during winter 1846-1847. Instead, Captain Francis Crozier manifests his fears and practically begs the expedition’s commander to send a team in search for rescue. Crozier is a veteran of Arctic expeditions but Franklin doesn’t want to show any signs of weakness and keeps on be confident in his success, for the glory of the British Empire and of course also his own.
Far below in the hierarchy, there’s a contrast between Cornelius Hickey and William Gibson, who were literally caught pants down. Their story reminds us how homosexuality was seen in the 19th century and how strict the discipline was for sailors.
It’s not exactly the quiet before the storm but for much of this episode the sense of threat seems more vague compared to the previous one. Some moments connected in particular to Dr. Henry Goodsir are even funny for some of his awkward behavior. There’s further reference to the fact that some of the canned food is rotten but there’s no clear perception of a risk for the crews to starve.
The contrast with a pace slower than ever makes the events of the last part of the episode even more intense. The developments related to the Inuit girl nicknamed Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen) show that the horror element starts becoming really important after having just some brief moments in a plot that was focused on the historical drama.
It’s increasingly clear that details are important to fully appreciate the plot developments of “The Terror”. It’s a sophisticated show that is bringing the novel on screen really well offering excellent visuals as well.