“First Shot a Winner, Lads” is the fifth episode of the TV show “The Terror”, an adapatation of a novel by Dan Simmons with the same title, and follows “Punished, as a Boy“.
Note. This article contains spoilers about “First Shot a Winner, Lads”.
Dr. Henry Goodsir (Paul Ready) tries to learn the Inuit language from Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen) to get information about the creature that is slowly killing the crew but eventually he and some officers only manage to get a name, Tuunbaq. Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) seems more interested in how much whiskey is left to drink.
In “First Shot a Winner, Lads” the natural threats are mixed with the one coming from the creature called Tuunbaq, created by the writer Dan Simmons by freely drawing inspiration from the monster of a real Inuit legend. The relationship between Tuunbaq and Lady Silence is not clear but the connection is undeniable and part of the crew continue to suspect the woman of being in league with the creature.
The episode seems to want to offer the audience clues about the various hypothesis made over the years about the failure of the real Franklin expedition. Thus they show a sailor who has a couple of toes amputated because they got frozen and Henry Goodsir’s investigation on possible problems with their food.
References to the fact that part of the cans were defective were made in the course of the episodes, in “First Shot a Winner, Lads” the discovery of symptoms suggesting lead poisoning is added. Dr. Stephan S. Stanley (Alistair Petrie), the expedition’s chief medical officer, doesn’t consider Goodsir a true doctor, yet he’s the one who conducts the most thorough medical investigations.
The situation has consequences on Captain Francis Crozier. The first episodes showed the protagonists’ personalities and the relationships among them, often complex if not conflictual. Now their situation leads them to certain reactions, which in Crozier’s case is the search for alcohol, preferably whiskey.
In the previous episodes among the details to be paid attention there were some references to Crozier’s love for the bottle, now to him that seems the only medicine to counteract the mood created by the fact that he’s in a situation for a number of reasons not dependent on him. Obviously the result is far from positive, causing him only a state of intoxication.
The complexity of the characters is confirming one of the strengths of “The Terror”. All the protagonists have strengths and weaknesses, which they show according to the situation, and in general are very human. In a Tv show it can be difficult to adequately develop the characters’ psychology but in this case in general their motivations can be understood.
At mid-season, the sense of tension and threat that filled the first episodes is turning into real terror. “The Terror” keeps on not being based on action but the insensity seems to grow in a number of events that are sometimes frantic in an expedition on the brink of catastrophe.