The Terror: Infamy is the second season of AMC’s horror anthology The Terror. Focusing on the history of Japanese American internment and the life of Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio) while he’s haunted and hunted by an evil spirit known as a yūrei. This season has been filled with spectacular scares and rich emotions grounded in history and mythology. Last episode, Chester’s son was born while his wife Luz (Cristina Rodlo), her Abuela (Alma Martinez), and his mother, Asako (Naoko Mori), attempted to keep him away from Yuko, the yūrei and his birth mother, desperate to return to the afterlife with a child, be it hers or his. But they failed, with Yuko possessing Luz, wounding Abuela, and leaving Chester and his father shaken.
Now, in the season finale, “Into the Afterlife” all seems lost. Chester’s son is in danger, their lives are upended, and now, Henry (Shingo Usami) and Asako have to look back at their pasts to find answers on how to stop Yuko in the present and save their grandchildren. This happens while Luz and Chester struggle with their identities. While the Nakayama’s story is central in “Into the Afterlife’s” narrative, we also get to see the historical turmoil again, catching up with Amy (Miki Ishikawa) and Yamato-san (George Takei) as they are forced to assimilate into American life after being released from the internment camps.
While episode nine was all about Chester and the supernatural, the season finale is a balance, with both equally pushing your emotions, opening first with a scene that puts a bloody history in perspective. Opening in Yamato-san’s dream, he meets his cousin who has died. He then meets the entirety of his cousin’s family, victims of the bomb that struck Hiroshima. When we look back at the bombing of Japan, our history paints it fondly, removes the thousands of civilian deaths to paint a patriotic picture in red white and blue.
“Into the Afterlife” complicates that, showcasing the human toll of the war and how it further othered Japanese Americans trying to recover from having their lives, property, and identities stripped from them in the internment camps. It’s a powerful scene, and one delivered by Takei’s ability to pull you in with his voice and the emotions he wears on his face. It is painful and like The Terror: Infamy has been since episode one, it’s real.
This through-line of history has echoed through the show, and even when the most supernatural events happen, it doesn’t forget it. While it would be easy to depart from the historical trauma of internment entirely after the characters have left the camp, Yamato-san’s explanation of crying more outside of the camp than in it showcases the continued struggle of the community even after being released.
As “Into the Afterlife” circles back to Chester, his family, and their attempts to save his son, we get to move into the heart of Yuko’s character, her pain, her powerlessness, and how it fuels her rage as a yūrei. The Nakayamas have to understand her to calm her, and like most ghosts in Japanese horror, she deserves empathy, despite her deeds. But while this drama comes to a head with superb visual effects and set design it is the episode’s end which left me a ball of emotions, crying in front of my laptop.
Moving to the future, we see Chester, his family, and the other Terminal Islanders as they celebrate the Obon Festival, as Chester explains, it’s a time to remember their ancestors, where they’ve been and to keep it all alive. It’s October and at the end of the month into November, those in my culture will be celebrating Dia de Muertos a similar time in which we make altars to our loved ones and remember them, keeping them alive after they’re gone and sharing their stories. Dia de Muertos is a time to remember, to hold on to, and to share stories, much like the Obon Festival as described by Chester.
It’s in this final moment of The Terror: Infamy, after Amy has explained that she wishes being with her community didn’t bring her nightmares, after members of the Terminal Islanders community explain where they moved to and their lives that I see the purpose of blending Mexican and Japanese identities. The ways that we honor our dead, that we remember our trauma are similar, and ultimately, the Obon Festival as expressed here is the first time I have seen a practice come close to what I celebrated growing up. At that moment I thought of my grandfather, his struggle. I thought of my grandma and her fierce love. It hit me.
As the credits rolled, the connections of different members of the cast and crew to the internment camps, where over 145,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians were imprisoned by their governments were present on the screen. A picture of the present with the picture of the cast next to it. While ghost stories detach us from the world, they can also serve to exorcise those in our own histories and identities. The Terror: Infamy did this to great effect, never forgetting it’s historical side and its platform as being the first television show to explore Japanese American internment, add in the fact that many of the cast and crew had direct ties to the camps highlights how recent it really was.
The Terror: Infamy is not only a beautiful horror series but an amazing emotional experience. While the bulk of this review has focused on the history shown in this season finale, the reality is that Chester’s fight with the yūrei Yuko is just as important and weighted emotionally. The season uses Chester’s struggle to investigate ideas of identity, family, and belonging. Additionally, Yuko’s story, the lies her sister told her to have her sent the United States in her place, the way the community mistreated her upon having Chester, we empathize with her.
Overall, The Terror: Infamy is some of the best television to come out of AMC, it also improves on the first season, which is a hard a feat, and still manages to feel apart of the anthology series as a whole. History, family, and emotion all drive the horror of The Terror: Infamy and makes it a must-watch.
Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/AMC
'The Terror: Infamy,' Episode 10 - Into the Afterlife
- Rating - 8/108/10
The Terror: Infamy is some of the best television to come out of AMC, it also improves on the first season, which is a hard a feat, and still manages to feel apart of the anthology series as a whole. History, family, and emotion all drive the horror of The Terror: Infamy and makes it a must-watch.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.