DISCLAIMER: This is a spoiler filled recap for episode 1 of The Terror: Infamy, ‘A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest’. Viewer discretion is advised.
Come one, come all! The day has finally arrived! The second season of Terror is here! This season brings us the story of a Japanese American community under attack by an unseen entity and by the beginning of WW2. A series of bizarre deaths only escalate everyone’s paranoia. Everyone besides Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio), a young photographer, who has taken it upon himself to understand and confront the evil haunting his friends and family.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I was already hyped for this new season. And after that trailer they released at San Diego Comic Con? It was like Christmas came early. Japanese folklore, unusual deaths and spooky ghosts. Need I say more, horror fans? Let’s get on with the season premiere, ‘A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest’!
This season kicks off with a woman getting ready in her home. Nothing unusual here. She’s just getting all dolled up with some light makeup, a very traditional looking kimono, then finishes her look with some hair sticks (which are called Kanzashi). Things are looking very normal, perhaps she’s attending something important?
As she walks outside it’s clear that it’s early in the morning. The sun is barely out and there doesn’t appear to be anyone else around yet. It becomes apparent that something strange is afoot when we see- and hear- that some of her limbs are contorting. This eventually causes her to stagger and fall. She quickly collects herself enough to sit up. Then things take the worst possible turn as we watch, mouths agape in horror I would imagine, as the woman takes one of her hair sticks and slowly jams it in her ear. With one final thrust she falls back to the ground. Dead as a doornail. We…we’re only 2 minutes in. What the hel-
We immediately cut to this woman’s funeral. It looks like what you’d imagine a funeral to look like. Open casket, solemn faces among the attendees, people taking turns saying goodbye or preying to the deceased, the whole nine yards. This is where we learn that this woman is named Masayo Furuya (Yuki Morita). This scene is also where we first meet our main character, Chester. At some point Chester notices what looks to be a loose thread on his shirt sleeve. After pulling at it a bunch, he adjusts his sleeve to show he’s not pulling a shirt thread but a thread coming from a gaping wound in his wrist.
Relax, it’s not real. Just a screwed up daydream. Fun stuff. When it’s Chester’s turn to pay his respects we get a handy dandy flashback showing Chester meeting with Mrs. Furuya, clearly before her death, where she is making something using herbs and goodness knows what else. The whole thing seems tense. And it doesn’t help much when Chester insists that she “doesn’t have to do this.” Obviously they’re doing something they shouldn’t. Poison? A potion? Poison seems more likely.
After the ceremony, Chester busts out his camera to take a photo of the attendees next to Mrs. Furuya’s casket. This is when her husband, Hideo Furuya (Eiji Inoue), approaches Chester to give him something. Two vials of a yellowish liquid. The finished result of whatever Mrs. Furuya was making. Hideo calls Chester a coward before reluctantly giving him the vials. Oh, it’s totally poison. Then a gust of wind appears that knocks Mrs. Furuya out of her casket. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Chester’s parents Henry (Shingo Usami) and Asako (Naoko Mori) start whispering about it possibly being an ill omen from across the sea. “Not even the dead can rest.” A fair statement.
After the opening credits we find ourselves on Henry’s fishing boat. This is where his conversation with Chester and Yamato-san (George Takei) turns to Mrs. Furuya’s funeral. “There was a Bakemono at the funeral,” says Yamato-san. The Bakemono is a creature part of Japanese folklore. Literally, the term means a thing that changes, referring to a state of transformation or shapeshifting. A shapeshifter. Chester finds this topic ridiculous but before they go any further, we’re introduced to one of Henry’s buyers.
His name is Stan Grichuk (Teach Grant) and he is actually the worst. Right off the bat he tries to swindle Henry into selling him his catch of the day at half the price. For no reason. Because he’s the worst. Grichuk ends up leaving without buying anything.
Later we see Chester waiting on a bench on his college campus. This is where we meet Luz (Cristina Rodlo). We learn that my theory is wrong. The vials with the funky liquids is not poison. Well technically it is. Just not the traditional kind. It’s actually stuff called gaiyo and toki From the way they are phrasing everything, it sounds like the duo are trying to induce an abortion.
We cut back to Henry trying to sell his fish to Grichuk. Grichuk prances around the fish factory he as he rapid fires a bunch of crappy reasons why he shouldn’t have to pay Henry full price. Then, in a much needed act of karma, his tie gets caught in one of the splitter machines when he goes to fix it. Before Grichuk loses a limb Henry springs into action by cutting his tie off. Grichuk runs off again. I get you’re shaken, dude, but no thank you’s? Rude.
Later that evening we catch up with Chester. Looks like he’s developing the pictures from Mrs. Furuya’s funeral. This is where he notices something is wrong with one of the attendees. In the photo this person’s face is so disoriented that they are unrecognizable. Meanwhile everyone and everything else in the photo looks fine. Except this one person. Could this be the Bakemono Yamato-san spoke of? Or is it simply a glitch in the camera? Either way it doesn’t seem to bother Chester too much. Instead of dwelling on it, he joins his family and the Yoshida family for dinner.
The conversation jumps in between topics like Walt Yoshida’s (Lee Shorten) upcoming wedding, Chester moving to the mainland, Chester insisting he doesn’t want to stay on Terminal Island despite his parents’ concerns. Oh and picture brides are mentioned. Double yikes. After dinner Chester and Amy Yoshida (Miki Ishikawa) take a late evening stroll. This is where Amy reveals she’s dating a hakujin (code for white dude) from a nearby naval station. Basically they’re just gossiping. Which is fine until you notice they are totally being followed by someone. Or something. But this thing disappears pretty quickly as the two approach the area where Mrs. Furuya killed herself.
Back at the Nakayama household, Henry receives a late night guest. It’s Grichuk. To make a long story short he basically gets fired for breaking the machine he almost died in, he blames Henry for it and now he wants Henry to give him something to make up for it. Because that makes sense. So he blackmails him. A classy move. He says he’ll report Henry for failing to register his boat in compliance with a government anti-spying ordinance unless he pays him off. So Henry pays up by giving Grichuk his beloved car. A car he worked 20 years to get. The worst human being on Terminal Island.
When Chester find out he is pissed. The whole situation makes Chester grapple with what kind of man he wants to be. Next we catch up to Hideo Furuya. Obviously he’s not doing too well. He’s resorted to drinking his days away as he grieves. During one of these benders he steps out of the bar he’s at to find a bathroom. He then walks by a girl that makes him do a double take. This is when something seems to take over him, causing him to go blind instantly. Like in the span of a few seconds.
The next scene takes us to Walt’s bachelor party. In a brothel. Oh, Chester. Only you would bring a camera to a brothel. Instead of spending the night with one of the girls, Chester instead pokes around the brothel’s decor and he eventually stumbles upon another girl. Apparently an employee. So he takes her picture. No hello, no cough to get her attention. Just takes her picture on impulse. Why was that your first instinct, Chester?
The girl introduces herself as Yuko (Kiki Sukezane). And she comes off as a bit of an empath. Right away she can tell something is troubling Chester. It doesn’t take much for him to confide in her. So Yuko offers to read his tea leaves. Tea reading is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in the leaves. Chester’s hesitate but goes along anyway. “They say you are two people. Light and darkness. Life and death. You live in two worlds, but are home in neither. You are a sparrow in a swallow’s nest. The moment you believe you’re safe, the swallows will peck you to death.”
It’s all very cryptic. However Chester actually gets something out of it. He’s had an epiphany, you see. This epiphany leads him to the home of Stan Grichuk where Chester steals his father’s car back and drives it to Luz’s place. Unbeknownst to Chester, Grichuk witnessed the whole thing. Once Chester gets to Luz’s he lays out a plan of them running away together. With the baby, giving us the official confirmation that Luz is pregnant. It’s a very sweet sentiment however Luz makes it clear that they have no future together. That’s cold, girl.
We catch up with Grichuk as he makes he way down to Henry’s boat. Obviously pissed his new toy was stolen, Grichuk begins pouring Kerosene all over the boat’s deck. Just as he’s about to light it up something stops him. Like at Mrs. Furuya’s funeral there is a strong gust of wind. It’s so strong that it knocks Grichuk off the boat. We learn of his fate just minutes later when it cuts to the next morning. Yamato-san points out that there is something wrong with Henry’s net. So the boat hands pull it up to investigate and find Grichuk’s body wrapped in it.
However his death isn’t investigated too thoroughly. Ear splitting sirens go off all over the island. Chester wastes no time getting his father home. What now? What could it possibly be now? Two deaths and one blinding, what else could go wrong?! A lot apparently. Turns out all the fuss was because of a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against a naval base in Hawaii. Better known as Pearl Harbor.
As his parents listen to the news, Chester retreats back in his photography cave to develop more pictures. This is where he notices another very specific disorientation. It’s the picture Chester took of Yuko. It’s her face that looks so messed up, almost like it’s been wiped away.
Once again, Chester is pulled away from this anomaly when he hears a commotion outside. Several of the Japanese men, Japanese men that weren’t born in America, are being forced onto buses by the FBI. “For safety,” insists Henry. Though that doesn’t seem to convince his family much.
We finish off the episode with a scene featuring the mysterious Yuko. After her neck makes a very familiar cracking sound Yuko begins to wash her fac- did a chunk of her face just peel off? Okay, well, she quickly gets to work on fixing that by sewing her face back together. No flinching. Unphased. Unbothered. Like this is very normal. Oh…oh my. Me thinks Yamato-san was right about that Bakemono stuff.
What we know so far/ Thoughts:
- Well…that was a lot
- So. So Henry’s been taken, Luz may or may not have taken the gaiyo and toki, and Yuko is out here being creepy as hell. Cool, sis.
- As far as season premieres go, that was one hell of a promising start. A pretty brutal death in the first few minutes? That’s one way to capture the audience’s attention.
- Where are they taking Henry and the others? Since Amy is dating a naval officer perhaps she could find out through him? Or through Chester’s friend at the base. We know where this goes though – Japanese Americans were put into internment camps during WWII.
- And what’s the deal with Chester’s photos?
Check back next week and I may have some of the answer’s you’re looking for. The Terror: Infamy airs Mondays at 9pm on your AMC affiliate.