REVIEW: ‘The Terror: Infamy,’ Episode 5 – Shatter Like a Pearl

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Episode 5 - Shatter Like a Pearl

The Terror: Infamy is the second season of AMC’s horror anthology series The Terror. An emotional blend of historical horror and a traditional Japanese ghost story, this season has blended a story revolving around the sins of a community and the monstrous treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II that highlights levels of fear that hit hard.

Last episode, we got to see the treatment that Chester receives as a Japanese American who chose to serve in the military. Treated badly by the people who are supposed to have his back, the episode focussed on showcasing that he is not seen as American by his brothers in arms. On the other side, this week’s episode, “Shatter Like a Pearl,” highlights that he is not seen as Japanese by the Japanese soldiers. Chester is forever in the middle and despised by both sides.

When his unit brings back a Japanese soldier, Chester must put aside his grief at the news that his girlfriend Luz miscarried and begin to serve. However, as he interrogates the prisoner, his fear of that the yurei followed him abroad takes root and the soldier uses this to unsettle him, to poke at him, and to ultimately push him. That being said, Chester finds a way to push through superstition and get to understand the prisoner in a deeper way than he thought was possible.

Episode 5 - Shatter Like a Pearl

While Chester is the protagonist of the series, Luz has come into the spotlight. Having chosen to enter internment, she was been accepted by Chester’s family and ready to deliver her twins. Instead, they were stillborn. Coping with the loss of her children, Luz is lost in “Shatter Like a Pearl.”

I didn’t expect to see such a beautiful and mournful homage of the Mexican folktale, La Llorona while watching The Terror: Infamy. But that is what director Lily Mariye and writer Steven Hanna. The first we see of Luz this episode is by the river, white dress muddied, feet in the water, we watch her from the eyes of children as she sees the faces of her twins in the water.

The story of La Llorona, the weeping woman, is one that doesn’t necessarily fit with Luz’s narrative. In the folktale, the weeping woman cries for her two children after drowning them to gain the love a man. It is a tragedy, but one of her own making. For Luz, the only commonality is the number of children and her grief. While I wish that someone on the show had thought into this. Equating Luz to the weeping woman allude selfishness on Luz’s part, which is the farthest from her character’s choices thus far.

But this oversight is likely due to the crew’s knowledge of the imagery and not the deep meanings of the tale that I grew up hearing from an early age. Nevertheless, the depiction is haunting and Luz’s grief is palpable, especially as she pushed into making a choice about whether to stay with the Nakiyama’s, her new family, or to return to her old one.

Episode 5 - Shatter Like a Pearl

Like other episodes in the series, “Shatter Like a Pearl” brings in elements of life in internment as the Japanese Americans are forced to undertake a humiliating exercise that divides the community. Given papers to fill out and sign, the members of the community are forced to prove their loyalty to the United States by answering questions that diminish their identities and falsely accuse them of treason if left unanswered or if they answer no instead of yes to questions 27 and 28.

As with other elements of the series, the authenticity in the document and the divides in the community is true to the history of internment. Answer no and be tried for treason, answer yes and be drafted into a war, fighting for the people who are abusing you. The question of loyalty was no longer a philosophical one, but one that existed on a government form. Titled Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry it asks “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?” This question highlights the differences in identity among the community.

While Ken leads a group of men set on answering no, offended that they would have to answer and too aware of their mistreatment to willingly fight in a war that is being used hurt them, the Yoshidas answer yes to the question, looking to pass through the questionnaire and not cause waves.

“Shatter Like a Pearl” focuses a lot on the human, with the supernatural not coming until the end, which works to drive home the reality of internment and develop the characters more, namely Luz and Amy Yoshida. Luz is overtaken by grief and Amy refuses to let more be taken away from her by the military, even if it means hurting the man she loves.

Overall, The Terror: Infamy remains a show that questions our humanity, identities, and shocks us with horrors both human and yurei alike. “Shatter Like a Pearl” is a gem of an episode that doesn’t do much to expand on the ghost story but does everything to tell the human one.

New episodes of The Terror: Infamy air on AMC at 9/8CT Monday nights.

 

'The Terror: Infamy,' Episode 5 - Shatter Like a Pearl
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    Rating - 8/10
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TL;DR

Overall, The Terror: Infamy remains a show that questions our humanity, identities, and shocks us with horrors both human and yurei alike. “Shatter Like a Pearl” is a gem of an episode that doesn’t do much to expand on the ghost story but does everything to tell the human one.