The Terror: Infamy is the second season of AMC’s horror anthology series. Now in episode six, the show has balanced historical horror revolving around the internment of Japanese Americans with the traditional Japanese horror movie kaidan.
We have seen grotesque body horror and violent deaths at the hand of the bakemono who is terrorizing camp. But we have also seen the abuse of Japanese Americans at the hands of the United States military, the rounding up of children, and last episode, the humiliation of having to prove yourself to a country only to be sent away to die for it. Truthfuly, The Terror: Infamy balances human and supernatural horror carefully and well.
In episode six, “Taizo,” The Terror: Infamy explores the world of the bakemono and dives deep into Japanese mythology while also unraveling Chester’s mysterious connection to the force of death. In this episode, we’re taken into the past which provides insight into the evil presently stalking the Terminal Islanders. While Chester returns home to his family, he has to deal with the realization that everything has changed back in the camp. Luz is gone, his children have passed, and now his parents, Henry and Asako, shake his work by revealing the truth about his birth.
“Taizo,” written by Max Borenstein & Benjamin Klein and directed by Everardo Gout, is one of the most beautiful episodes of the season yet, both in supernatural style and storytelling. Here, we see into the life of Yuko (Kiki Sukezane) before she became a bakemono.
For those of you who don’t know, or who forgot when Yamato-san explained it to Chester, a bakemono is a spirit known for its ability shapeshift. But, it is also a yūrei, a spirit transformed by its violent death and influenced by powerful emotions like hatred, sorrow, love, and the like. This powerful emotion allows the yūrei to affect the living world while it works to satisfy its emotion. If you’re a fan of Japanese horror you know this ghost story well, and The Terror: Infamy uses it great effect.
Having been presented as a vengeful and murderous spirit up until this point, humanizing Yuko was a tall order and one the team on this episode met. When “Taizo” opens, we see Furuya-san and his new wife Yuko, who has just arrived from Japan as his “picture bride.” He’s drunk and she’s hiding herself and the pregnancy she brought with her from across the Pacific. When he discovers it, he throws her out, though we worry he will do much worse. Now, living on the streets, she’s destitute, caring for her newborn surrounded by garbage, and pulling a meal from the heap. This breaks her.
Having left her child with an orphanage, Yuko heads to a bridge and there she waits, loading her wrap that was meant to carry her child with rocks, staring into the water. It isn’t long before she jumps. But this isn’t the end. Instead of a funeral, we’re taken to a bed in a Japanese home. As Yuko awakes, she knows that something is off and while the show moves forward we see an exploration of not only Yuko’s pain and loss but a concept of the afterlife, of purgatory. This beautiful and depressing exploration of Yuko and another dead woman work to showcase another side to the woman we know as the bakemono.
She is evil now, this is true, but that evil was brought on by the evils of a world that shunned her and left her in the cold. Now, she is looking for her child, to take him back to purgatory, to love him. It’s in this that I now understand the connection between Yuko and Luz’s depiction as La Llorona. Yuko wants her son and we soon learn that its Chester.
Suddenly, the connection of bakemono Yuko to the Terminal Islanders and her very personal attacks on them all make sense, as does her relentless pursuit of Chester, even following him to war. That said, it’s here that the focus of “Taizo” switches to the titular character, Character, or as Yuko named him, Taizo. The resulting story involves family drama, anxiety, and we learn more about the Nakayama’s history as the join together to fight for the future, even if they’re splintered.
Overall, “Taizo” is a beautiful episode. It’s visually gorgeous while we see inside purgatory. Vibrant greens are matched against black and the world we enter is one that is set apart. It’s ethereal and entirely Japanese. Back in the camp, the horror elements are perfection, particularly the ending scenes involving a shocking fire.
The Terror: Infamy remains the best horror show of the year and in “Taizo” it finally dives entirely into the supernatural and the ghost story that has long defined Japanese horror cinema. American history, evil spirits, and family drama are the focus of this episode and it marks a powerful halfway point in the 10-episode series.
The Terrror: Infamy airs every Monday night on AMC at 8PM/9PM CT.
Photo Credit: Ed Araquel and AMC
'The Terror: Infamy,' Episode 6 - Taizo
The Terror: InfamyÂ remains the best horror show of the year and in “Taizo” it finally dives entirely into the supernatural and the ghost story that has long defined Japanese horror cinema. American history, evil spirits, and family drama are the focus of this episode and it marks a powerful halfway point in the 10-episode series.