'The Terror' Episode 4 Recap: "What Is Your Plan?"

Tom Nicholson
·4-min read
Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

From Esquire

For the first time, Lady Jane and Sophia get a bit of room to speak. In a typically neat bit of art direction, the pair look wildly out of place in the mahogany-panelled admiralty offices, their furs and dresses jarring against the solid brownness around them.

Quite apart from Lady Jane and Sophia being women and the navy top nobs being men, there's another dynamic at play here. It's another collision between the blasé confidence which the imperial front demands of its officers – an admission of weakness in the expedition would be an admission of weakness in the Empire, hence the "confidence absolute" in Franklin despite his shortcomings – and the reality of the situation.

"No-one can convince me that optimism or confidence are enough," Lady Jane tells them. Confidence and optimism are pretty short supply over on Erebus and Terror, where everything's getting edgier: Terror's being crushed by the ice, the tinned food's gone weird, and now a birthday party's been broken up by the unceremonious de-skulling of one of the crew. It's an apt way for the thing, whatever it is, to draw the crew out of their ship. Just as it's literally got into poor Strong's head and left his brain pulsing and wobbling like a blancmange, this is the episode when the unknown force takes up permanent residence in the imagination of the crew.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

Of course, they head out onto the ice, Crozier taking a stammering boy called Evans out with him. He doesn't feel like he's long for this world, especially if he's going to wander around with his muffler pulled down. "You won’t even feel your nose go," Crozier warns him. Unfortunately the rest of him's gone almost immediately afterwards. The beast has him. The men watch the last sunset of the year. A good vibe!

One thing you'll notice about Crozier this episode is that he's a) drunk almost constantly and b) shot like he's drunk almost constantly. The camera's always either slightly skewiff, or the background is out of focus, or he's forcing his way through the sailors going berserk in an eerie silence. He's coming unmoored from reality, split between his reminiscences of romancing Sophia and the realisation that he's up against something beyond all of his experience. Fitzjames knows all about his past, and pities him.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

"You’re gonna need all the pity you have for what’s coming," Crozier warns. He's not wrong either. What looks like a man chopped in half is left on deck, though it turns out to be two halves of different men. This is the kind of game-playing a serial killer in a David Fincher film would indulge in. Clearly, this is no bear. Stung, Hickey and a couple of mates head out to grab Lady Silence, who they reckon is controlling the beast.

He gets lashed 'as a boy' – on his bare bum rather than his back – for his troubles. With each lash, and particularly with the drop of Hickey's bum-blood which lands on a crewmate's cuff, the men's trust in Crozier is being destroyed. When Hickey hobbles back to his bed, there's a pouch of tobacco waiting for him. Now, you sense, it's not just the men against the elements, but Crozier against the mutinous tendency in his crew.

Captain's log:

  • There's one line of Sophia's which really sticks at the end of all this: "This will be the great tragedy of your life, Francis." She's talking about how his job pulls him away from the regular rhythms and expectations of life ashore, but she's also hinting at the fact that nobody's going to remember Crozier for his seafaring career; he's going to be remembered for his icy disappearance.

  • You definitely knew that poor stammering kid was going to die as soon as he turned up, didn't you? Poor fella.

  • Calling it now: Goodsir's going to get accused of conspiring with Lady Silence. Nailed on.

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