The Terror Review: Episodes 3-5

We’ve reached the midpoint of the… Season? Series? and the situation grows increasingly bleak for the men of the expedition–

–at least, for the ones who remain alive.

Titles: “The Ladder,” “Punished, as a Boy,” “First Shot a Winner, Lads”

Directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Edward Berger

Written by Gina Welch, David Kajganich, Josh Parkinson
From the novel by Dan Simmons

Jared Harris as Francis Crozier
Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames
Ciarán Hinds as John Franklin
Paul Ready as Henry Goodsir
Nive Nielsen as Lady Silence
Adam Nagaitis as Cornelius Hickey
Greta Scacchi as Lady Jane Franklin
Ian Hart as Thomas Blanky
Tom Weston-Jones as Lt. Graham Gore
Sebastian Armesto as Charles Des Voeux
Edward Ashley as William Gibson
Ronan Raftery as Lt. John Irving
Charles Edwards as Dr. McDonald
John Lynch as John Bridgens
Richard Riddell as Sgt. David Bryant
Christos Lawton as Lt. George Hodgson
Alistair Petrie as Dr. Stanley
Jack Colgrave Hirst as Thomas Hartnell
Kevin Guthrie as Henry Peglar
Sian Brooke as Sophia Cracroft
Mike Kelly as John Gregory
Anthony Flanagan as John Morfin
Owen Good as Charles Best
Matthew McNulty as Little


In 1846-47, the lost Franklin expedition faces the horrors and privation of the arctic, which include an apparently supernatural creature. The man left in charge begins to realize what the others know: he is no longer fit for command.

Lady Silence speaks, but she provides few answers.

High Point

The most graphic attack by the creature occurs in “First Shot a Winner, Lads.” The remarkable scene shows sailors still holding out hope, battling a curiously plausible monster….

Low Point

…but it brings out a central question of this show. Do we need the monster, frightening and metaphoric thought it may be? I suspect the show wouldn’t be as suspenseful without it, and AMC, in the end, is not filming a literal adaptation of what might have transpired in the 1840s. They’re adapting Dan Simmons’ historical horror novel. Nevertheless, the actual dangers and conflicts feel more compelling and visceral than a supernatural beastie.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 6/6 My comments on Production and Effects that accompanied the review of the first two episodes have not changed. The production company has created a bleak but often beautiful work of art.

Story: 5/6 I like how the story takes on metaphoric and symbolic significance, commenting on empire and exploration, without becoming ponderous and overly didactic. Believable humans propel the story, as they face the dangers that will destroy them.

Acting: 6/6 The actors may look better than one might expect after more than a year in the ice, suffering from disease, isolation, cold, cruel discipline, and sporadic monster attacks– but the acting remains strong.

Emotional Response: 6/6 I found myself in a discussion over “Punished, as a Boy,” and some people said they flinched, recoiled, and generally felt sick.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, The Terror‘s third, fourth, and fifth episodes receive 36/42