The Terror Season 1 Recap: ‘First Shot a Winner, Lads’


[Editor’s Note: Before we say anything, this recap will obviously go into detail about this episode of The Terror, so there are going to be a ton of SPOILERS. Beginning now.]

Halfway through the season and no signs of ceasing its relentless grip on the throat of its audience. In a series that features toes being shorn from sailors without missing a beat, it’s hard to expect any less.

Pacing. Features often lack the runtime to do it effectively which is a shame. Pacing can be more effective than big reveals, millions of dollars of special effects, and overly complex plot lines. Knowing how and when to release narrative tension through action that hits an audience at just the right moment can make a series stand head and shoulders above its peers in a crowded content marketplace.

The Terror, in ‘First Shot a Winner, Lads,’ proves to be more adept at this than most anything else. Once more, the routine (if you can call it that) of life trapped on the arctic ice factors heavily into the plot. I’ve likely already said it, but The Terror could probably sustain itself nearly as dramatically minus any supernatural elements whatsoever. In this episode alone we deal with human machinations, alcoholic captains, lead poisoned water supplies, frost-bitten amputations, skin being ripped from hands coming into contact with sub-freezing surfaces, and winters that don’t end with sustained -50 degree temperatures.

It’s horrifying, a sense conveyed with eerie ease every time the opening title sequence plays and two animated ships are cast adrift on freezing sheets of ice.

Add to this well-constructed backdrop “the creature” that haunts the expedition and the fear factor is all-consuming. But owing to this same backdrop’s multifaceted danger, the creature need not be onscreen at every moment. In fact, large tracts of story unfold with the creature never making an appearance and the focus directed at some other terrifying facet of their daily lives. Compelling is a possible understatement.

For some reason, they’ve not questioned the woman for a month while she’s been onboard their ship, but now they do, and she seems to understand her captors quite well. While the sailors are convinced she’s responsible for the creature’s presence, and potentially even controlling it, she maintains that she has no mastery of it. The truth is less than self-evident.

Either way, this tale of supernaturally intelligent creature versus man is still better than AMC’s better-known series The Walking Dead. It’s not even a contest, not even with the better than average season finale that just aired last night. 

Bear Thoughts:

  • What’s Mr. Hickey up to? He was already a devious one not to be trusted before he had his ass whipped to bloody strips last week. Now he’s seeking to know the mental states and weaknesses of his officers? To what end? Clearly, he has no good in mind for revenge.
  • Good thing they cleared almost all the soldiers from one of the ships as they’re about to attempt a rehab, complete with alcohol withdrawal and will need a private space to do so.
  • I don’t know the character’s name, but the dude who outwitted the creature in this episode is an original badass. Good thing he pulled through, too, as he’s one of the only two expedition members who seems to be able to fluently converse with the Eskimo woman. It seems that will come in handy, eventually.