No reasonable sequel could exist to AMC’s The Terror, a brilliant series crafted from Dan Simmons’s supernatural take on historical events. However, its success means The Terror is now an ongoing anthology series. This season, “Infamy,” switches location to Los Angeles, 1941, and makes its supernatural shadings clear from the opening.

Title: “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by Max Borenstein and Alexander Woo

Derek Mio as Chester Nakayama
Kiki Sukezane as Yuko Tanabe
George Takei as Nobuhiro Yamato
Cristina Rodlo as Luz Ojeda
Shingo Usami as Henry Nakayama
Naoko Mori as Asako Nakayama
Miki Ishikawa as Amy Yoshida
C. Thomas Howell as Hallowell Bowe
Teach Grant as Stan Grichuk
Yuki Morita as Masayo Furuya
Alex Shimizu as Toshiro Furuya
Peter Kawasaki as Shogo
Matthew Tanagiya as Burt
Kasey Mazak as Wada
Greg Strasky as Lt. Commander
Camille Martinez as Miss Antoinette

Premise

In 1941, several Americans of Japanese ancestry become aware that a supernatural presence has followed them from the old country—just as very a real historic calamity looms.

Against this backdrop, skeptical Chester Nakayama tries to break free from the expectations of his traditional family, only to be drawn into both history and mystery.

High Points

Kiki Sukezane strikes the right note in a performance enhanced by staging and cinematography. She’s quietly disturbing.

Low Point

The Terror (first series) took advantage of its slow burn approach. This episode wants to put too many pieces in place, and it feels choppy as a result.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The show draws on the kaidan drama and the Japanese lore of yurei in a way that suggests a lower-key American Gods, and, thus far, has covered historical and dramatic territory many viewers will find familiar. However, a first episode deserves some slack.

Effects: 5/6 The effects this season are low-key, but effective.

Acting: 5/6 Some of the dialogue feels stilted and a little cliched, but the actors give strong performances. Takei’s take on a likeable elder works very well.

Story: 4/6 The opening feels fragmented, but the various scenes introduce elements that presumably all matter, and the second half picks up on the movement towards an event that most viewers should anticipate from the opening.

Production: 6/6 This season has a less dramatic and difficult background to recreate, but it must be said that they do a great job.

Emotional Response: 5/6 We have a good start, but not a great one. The first episode suggests this season will feel more like regular TV than The Terror (albeit with an Asian-majority cast, which remains uncommon in North American television).

Overall: 5/6 This season establishes its supernatural element from the first episode, unlike its predecessor. Like its predecessor, the real-world drama may prove more compelling, and there can be no doubt the history it revisits speaks to the present day.

In total, The Terror: Infamy, “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest,” receives 33/42

Notes

Takei serves as both actor and consultant. This CNN entertainment feature examines his role in the show, and the influence of his own personal history.