The Terror – Terror Camp Clear

Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) in Terror Camp Clear (Image courtesy AMC Studios / Amazon. All rights reserved)
Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) in Terror Camp Clear (Image courtesy AMC Studios / Amazon. All rights reserved)

“Terror Camp Clear” is the eighth episode of the TV show “The Terror”, an adapatation of a novel by Dan Simmons with the same title, and follows “Horrible from Supper“.

Note. This article contains spoilers about “Terror Camp Clear”.

Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) and Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) go to the stone cairn to update the information previously left so that someone can find out what happened to Franklin’s expedition. When they return to the camp, they find it practically in a state of war because of the intrigue by Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) and the paranoia stressed by the fog that has fallen over the area.

“Terror Camp Clear” begins with a sort of confession by Commander James Fitzjames to Captain Francis Crozier. There’s indeed a mystery around the circumstances of the birth of the historical character the fictional one was built upon adding depth to another of the protagonists of “The Terror”. Also with regard to the note left in the stone cairn, in the episode there’s attention to historical fidelity because the real one was subsequently found and some information about what really happened to Franklin’s expedition came from it.

After the experience that strengthened their relationship, the two officers must cope with the chaos they find in the camp. In this case, the psychological side of the characters doesn’t show any subtleties as fear is escalating. This episode seems to bring on the survivors of the expedition all the dangers: the effects of the progressive lead poisoning, Cornelius Hickey’s plans and the Tuunbaq creature.

Hickey is now the character I remembered from the novel with his manipulations that can cause further problems to an expedition that is already in big trouble. In “Terror Camp Clear” the emotional factor becomes very strong for both the characters’ behavior and for the resulting events.

In a situation that for all those reasons is about life and death, the characters must more than ever choose not only their side but also their attitude. This means that they have to choose whether to be sincere, in some cases first of all with themselves, or to lie pursuing some agenda. It can mean acknowledging their own weakness in a story that once again highlights the characters’ humanity, sometimes in a positive way and some other time in a negative way.

The actions of the protagonists in “Terror Camp Clear” is the culmination of the development seen in the previous episodes. Going towards the end of the season it’s certainly not a surprise to see the strength of “The Terror” from this point of view. There’s such a quality in the writing and acting that in the most frenzied moments where the action jumps here and there every few seconds the audience can immediately understand the point of the characters’ behavior precisely because they’re consistent with what they’ve seen in the course of the episodes.

At the end of “Terror Camp Clear” there really is the perception of a doomed expedition. It’s an end that was known from the beginning to the audience, still manages to impress emotionally.

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