“Punished, as a Boy” is the fourth episode of the TV show “The Terror”, an adapatation of a novel by Dan Simmons with the same title, and follows “The Ladder“.
Note. This article contains spoilers about “Punished, as a Boy”.
In 1848, Lady Jane Franklin (Greta Scacchi) and Sophia Cracroft (Sian Brooke) appeal to the Admiralty to start a new rescue expedition to the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, of which there is no news. Their crews must survive frozen in the ice and now face a new, intelligent, threat.
At the beginning of “Punished, as a Boy” they show all the sexism of the British Royal Navy against Lady Jane Franklin, wife of Captain John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds), and her niece Sophia Cracroft, answering their request for help. They also clearly show how 19th-century explorers could become so isolated that the lack of news from the Franklin expedition is not considered a serious problem.
The optimism displayed by the officers looks like Captain Franklin’s, but it’s not enough to appease Lady Jane, who shows strength and courage by not allowing them to subdue her. She’s aware of her husband’s faults and evidently realizes that at least in part they’re shared by his fellow officers. This is not a particularly long scene, yet it contains a lot, not a surprise in a series that already in the previous episodes showed it contains a lot of substance.
In Sophia Cracroft’s case, in the beginning of the episode she’s mostly accompanying her aunt but in subsequent flashbacks shows further details of her complex relationship with Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris), who can only remember the days spent with her and hope he can see her again.
Those hopes suffer new blows when the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror start being attacked by a cunning enemy. There’s no longer just a sense of threat due to the harsh conditions in which the crews are trying to survive. The information held by the Inuit woman nicknamed Lady Silence could be vital but some people think that she’s an enemy of the expedition.
Having read the novel several years ago, I’m not checking the differences from the TV show, which is inevitably different, but there are times when it seems to me that important changes were made in this adaptation. In “Punished, as a Boy” the character of Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) is central to the plot. In the TV show, so far he seems mostly a likable rogue while in the novel he’s absolutely treacherous and evil. His fellow sailor Magnus Manson (Stephen Thompson) in the novel is gigantic but with some mental deficit and depends largely on Hickey.
In a show that so far showed great attention to plot development offering details full of meanings, seeing what at least apparently are changes with respect to the novel makes me curious. There are still many events to be told in an atmosphere that’s becoming increasingly gloomy and not just because of the Arctic winter.