This strange, surreal episode so entirely changes the direction of the show it requires a stand-alone review.

The ships remain trapped, madness encroaches, and the men party like it’s the last night of their lives.

Title: A Mercy

Directed by
Written by
From the novel by Dan Simmons

Cast
Jared Harris as Francis Crozier
Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames
Paul Ready as Henry Goodsir
Adam Nagaitis as Cornelius Hickey
Ian Hart as Thomas Blanky
Alistair Petrie as Dr. Stanley
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
Jack Colgrave Hirst as Thomas Hartnell
Nive Nielsen as Lady Silence
Kevin Guthrie as Henry Peglar
Mike Kelly as John Gregory
Anthony Flanagan as John Morfin
Owen Good as Charles Best

Premise

With no hope of surviving another season, the remaining officers and crew realizes they must strike across the ice soon. Requiring a final Hurrah! they throw a carnival to welcome the sunrise.

The party proves less of a success than everyone had hoped.

High Point

The trappings grow increasingly surreal, and the horror develops from small realizations of what is happening to these men into the full-blown terror of the episode’s climax. The Tuunbaq has not been as terrifying as what we see here.

Low Point

This episode works so well I hate to raise any objection, especially to the key sequence. Nevertheless….

Possible effects of character point-of-view aside (and consideration for the fact that they have to dispose or leave many things behind): does the show not ask us to believe the men accomplish quite a bit in making that carnival, with stores that have been strained for more than a year?

The Scores

Originality: 3/6 This episode contains a dramatic and effective departure from the source material. Of course, we’re still watching an adaptation of a novel, and a sequence that borrows quite consciously from Poe.

Effects: 6/6 I’ve read some accounts of how the showmakers staged those inflammatory sequences, but even a cursory reflection on what we see, added to The Terror‘s already impressive visuals, should put any viewer in awe at the technical accomplishment.

Story: 6/6

Acting: 6/6 The episode demands much of Alistair Petrie and Jared Harris, and they deliver.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, A Mercy receives 38/42