While the program's first season covered the ill-fated voyage of Sir John Franklin and the HMS Terror, the second season changes focus to World War II and a series of bizarre deaths that haunt a Japanese-American community and a young man’s journey to understand and combat the malevolent entity responsible.
As the cast face the horrors of the Japanese internment camps, they must also wrestle with spies in their own ranks and the terror of a vengeful ghost that comes to their camp, seeking justice for past transgressions. The supernatural element of the series is based on Japanese kaidan, or "ghost tales."
The program premiered in the U.S. on August 12, 2019 on AMC and premiered on October 7, 2019 in the U.K. New episodes aired every Monday on AMC, though those using the AMC Premiere streaming service had access to episodes 48 hours early. The season finale, "Into the Afterlife," aired on AMC on October 14, 2019.
Other staff involved in the production of The Terror: Infamy include Ridley Scott (The Good Wife, Numb3rs), Alexander Woo (True Blood), Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla) and Josef Kubota Wladyka (Narcos), who serves as director of the first two episodes.
The second season of the program retains the aspect of pairing a supernatural terror with a depiction of historical events, but does not retain any of the cast, characters or setting of the first season. Regarding The Terror: Infamy, showrunner Alexander Woo quipped that "if you loved season 1, you’ll get none of it in season 2."
This season of the program is slated for release on DVD and Blu-ray through Lionsgate on August 18, 2020.
- "A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest" (premiered August 12, 2019)
- "All the Demons Are Still in Hell" (August 19, 2019)
- "Gaman" (August 26, 2019)
- "The Weak Are Meat" (September 2, 20019)
- "Shatter Like a Pearl" (September 9, 2019)
- "Taizo" (September 16, 2019)
- "My Perfect World" (September 23, 2019)
- "My Sweet Boy" (September 30, 2019)
- "Come and Get Me" (October 7, 2019)
- "Into the Afterlife" (October 14, 2019)
- Derek Mio as Chester Nakayama
- Naoko Mori as Asako Nakayama
- Shingo Usami as Henry Nakayama
- George Takei as Nobuhiro Yamato (Yamato-san)
- Miki Ishikawa as Amy Yoshida
- Cristina Rodlo as Luz Ojeda
- Kiki Sukezane as Yuko Tanabe
For a list of crew and companies involved in the production of The Terror: Infamy, see here.
This second season of the series was praised by multiple sources, but later installments received a mixed reception. Alexander Woo of TV Guide stated that "You meet in the middle and get to experience this in the skin of the characters who are at the center of our story, while Entertainment Weekly praised how the show "movingly portrays how Executive Order 9066 turned whole American communities (including that of Infamy star — and series consultant — George Takei and his family in the '40s) into wartime casualties." In another look at the series from TV Guide, Tim Surette noted that much of the real horror in the series stems not from the unknown mystery of ghosts and monsters, but from what you already know will happen. Steven Scaife of Slant Magazine praised the season for being uncompromising when it comes to its depiction of this chapter in American history, stating there is "no POV for some complicit yet intended-to-be-sympathetic outsider." Josh Bell of CBR, however, was disappointed by the series, feeling both that the show's supernatural element gets in the way of the show's potential as a historical drama, and that the show "fails to convey the scope of either the war or the internment, and its period details are a little too shiny and sanitized." Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer also felt that the real-life terror explored by the season was unnecessarily eclipsed by the excessive use of the show's supernatural element. Decider, which publishes guide as to whether viewers should stream or skip certain series, urges viewers to stream the series, stating that it "will thrive if it leans on the fear of the families while they’re in the camps, because of how real and relevant it feels to viewers." Aja Gabel of Buzzfeed, a Japanese American, praised the series, stating that she could recall only World War II film which briefly touched upon the topic of Japanese incarceration and no television series regarding it until The Terror: Infamy. Nina Li Coomes of The Atlantic felt that the opening scene of the series is the most terrifying and that the series fails to sustain the intense and wordless fear captured in its first moments. Paste Magazine stated that while the show seems at first glance an odd choice for an anthology series, it succeeds because it understands that humans can be worse than monsters. It further states that it is "good at infusing specific places and time periods with universal questions and themes, while using horror as a lens to explore the worst aspects of the real world we all know." Kelly Baker, a student writing for the West Chester University's student newspaper, The Quad, compared the second season with that of the first. She stated that while the second season may not be as terrifying as the first, it is nevertheless worthy of viewers' time and attention. Skyler Johnson of Comic Watch, as part of a series called "Slow Burn or Quick Fizzle," posted a review of the series following its finale. He gave it an overall rating of 7.3/10, stating that it was "ultimately not worth the watch." He described the Chester Nakayama character as "living out some sort of pouty, edgy teenager faze at best" and stated that it was "nonsensical" that the villain's backstory was revealed when it was. Roxana Hadadi of Pajiba felt that the show started strong with its first five episodes, but squandered what it had built in its later half. She was also disappointed that the season didn't seem to carry the same buzz at that of the program's first season, noting that she numerous stories about the Tuunbaq character of the first season as well as other aspects, but there seemed to be little mainstream attention given to the second season. Chris Flackett of 25 Years Later described the series as one of the most frustrating shows he'd ever watched, stating it had "plenty of good ideas but they were often lost amongst bad leaps of logic in the writing."
As of its conclusion on October 14, 2019, the season is 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with 30/36 positive reviews. In its consensus of the critics' reviews for the series, Rotten Tomatoes stated that "Real-world and supernatural horrors collide in Infamy, an exceptionally well-crafted ghost story that creeps under the skin and stays there." User reviews were somewhat less favorable, giving the season an overall rating of 71% with a total of 134 reviews.
The season did not fare well in ratings. The initial episode watched by only approximately 580,000 viewers for a rating of .2. By the third episode, this had fallen to approximately 420,000 viewers for a .1 rating. By the fourth episode, the website Cancelled Scifi placed the series on a bubble for cancellation, as it still had only 421,000 viewers.
As of its finale on October 14, 2019, The Terror had not yet been renewed. However, the website Bustle expressed hoped for its renewal, offering several ideas for new concepts that could be used for its third season.
The Terror: Infamy has been nominated for a Writer's Guild Award in the category of "Long Form Original."
The series was credited in helping to improve AMC's rating with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund in grading regarding the inclusion of Asian Pacific Americans onscreen and behind the camera.
Production insight videos
Behind the scenes
- The Terror: Infamy marks the first time that the internment of Japanese Americans has served as the backdrop for an entire season of a television series.
- The season's subtitle, Infamy is a reference to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech, but will take on new resonance as the series progresses, referring to the horror perpetrated on Japanese American citizens by forcing them internment camps.
- The real life childhood of George Takei served as an inspiration for the events of the series. Takei and his family spent three years in an internment camp behind barbed wire in an Arkansas swamp. Too young to understand at the time, from ages 5-8, he thought of it as a fun adventure catching polliwogs and watching them turn into frogs, adopting a stray dog, and making friends with the other children. It was only as a teenager that he learned the truth of the internment from his parents. Takei's own memories served as an important reference for re-creating the true nature of the camps on the sets of The Terror: Infamy.
- Showrunner Alexander Woo has stated that nothing will be the same about this season compared with the first season, with the exception of sharing "some of the same DNA." The new season will feature a new set of writers and diretors, new subject matter, and an entirely new cast.
- In publicity for the series, George Takei has compared the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II with the ongoing situation as of 2019 at the U.S.-Mexican border.
- In another story, Derek Mio assured viewers that the series is about more than just a haunting and will uphold "an aura of perseverance and tackles inherent racism."
- In order to make the series as historically accurate as possible, the crew visited the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA. They also consulted Japanese American writers, historians and organizations like Densho and the Go For Broke National Education Center.
- In all, 138 immediate relatives of the program's cast and crew were interned during World War II.
- The initial idea for the series was pitched by co-creator Max Borenstein, who saw a talk by George Takei twenty years previously and woke up in the middle of the night with an epiphany. While he pitched the initial idea to AMC, Alexander Woo was tasked to write the pilot and run the show, as Borenstein was unavailable for this.
- Showrunner Alexander Woo was initially hesitant about making the series, as he is Chinese American, not Japanese American, but ultimately decide that the story was important to tell. In an interview regarding the program, he explained that during Japanese internment, Chinese-Americans often wore buttons that said, "I'm Chinese, not Japanese." A scene was written for the series, though not filmed, regarding a pamphlet that was handed out to distinguish a Japanese person from a Chinese or other Asian type of person: "How to Spot a [racist term against Japanese people]." The pamphlet stated such things as "If you say hello to a Japanese person, they will not look you back in the eye, a Chinese person will. ... The features – the eyes are slanted in a different way."
- The show's crew included an entire team of translators, Alexander Woo noting that it wasn't Google Translate, that they wanted to get it right.
- Each episode title comes from something spoken by a character in the episode. Yuko Tanabe describes Chester Nakayama as "A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest," Yamato-san asks Henry if he really believes that "All the Demons Are Still in Hell," Henry tells Chester that "Gaman" is what they do they do - they persevere, Sergeant Crittenden tells Chester that "The Weak Are Meat, the strong eat," Chester quotes from a notebook "To fight the enemy and to Shatter Like a Pearl," "Taizo" is the name that Yuko Tanabe originally gave to her child, Chester Nakayama, Yuko Tanabe says to Bart Ojeda in Japanese "My Perfect World," asking him how it will ever be restored, and she refers to Jirou Tanabe as "My Sweet Boy."
- Showrunner Alexander Woo stated that the ultimate lesson of the series is how we move forward from shattering betrayal. He stated that the "perfect world" often referred to in the series served as an analogue for the American dream, an idealized existence that is not quite possible.
- The Terror: Infamy (second season) on AMC
- WGA Directory - The Terror: Infamy
- The Terror: Infamy on Rotten Tomatoes
- What's Fact and What's Fiction? from IGN
- Kaidan 101 from Bloody Disgusting
- Terminal Island Life History Project - resource researched by the cast and crew in creation of the program
Notes and references
- Entertainment Weekly - Season 2 review
- New York Times - 'The Terror' Summons the Ghosts of a Real-Life Horror Story
- Bloody Disgusting - Five Minute Featurette...
- Flickering Myth - The Terror: Infamy Gets a U.K. Poster and Release Date
- AMC Studios International - The Terror: Infamy
- Rotten Tomatoes - Anthology Series The Terror Returns with New - But Familiar - Horror Tale
- BloodyDisgusting - “The Terror: Infamy” Gets DVD/Blu-ray Release This August
- Film Book - The Terror Season 2 Episodes
- The Futon Critic - The Terror
- WGA Directory - The Terror: Infamy
- TV Insider - 'The Terror: Infamy' Takes on Japanese American Internment & Folklore Spirits
- AMC - Washington Post Interviews George Takei; Alexander Woo Talks Terror: Infamy With TV Guide
- - TV Guide - The Real Horror...
- Slant - Review
- CBR - "The Terror: Infamy Explores the Horrors of a Historical Injustice"
- The Ringer - The Supernatural Isn't...
- Decider - 'The Terror: Infamy' Review
- Buzzfeed - AMC's "The Terror" and The Truth About Japanese Internment Camps
- The Atlantic - The Uneven Historical Horror of The Terror: Infamy
- Paste Magazine - The Terror Succeeds...
- The Quad - AMC’s “The Terror”: TV horror done right
- Comic Watch https://comic-watch.com/television-shows/the-terror-infamy-season-2-review-slow-burn-or-quick-fizzle
- Pajiba - Final Thoughts: ‘The Terror: Infamy’ Couldn’t Sustain a Strong Start, and Both Its Ghost Story and Internment Drama Suffered
- 25 Years Later - The Terror: Infamy S2E10 “Into the Afterlife”
- Rotten Tomatoes - The Terror: Infamy
- Showbuzz Daily (1)
- Showbuzz Daily (2)
- Cancelled Scifi - Cancellation Watch Weekly Roundup
- Bustle - Will 'The Terror' Return For Season 3? It Could Explore These Folktales Next
- IndieWire - Writers Guild Awards 2019: ‘Watchmen,’ ‘PEN15’ Among TV Nominees
- India West - SALDEF, APAMC Issue Annual Report Card...
- Variety - George Takei Examines One of History's Darkest Moments...
- Age of the Nerd - 5 Things We Found Out at SDCC
- Yahoo! - Entertainment - George Takei Praises Authenticity of AMC's The Terror: Infamy...
- Meaww - 'The Terror: Infamy's horror element...
- NBC News - AMC's 'The Terror: Infamy' brings the horror...
- Indiewire - Derek Mio and George Takei Mine Personal Family History for ‘The Terror: Infamy’
- THE TERROR: INFAMY: Season co-creator Alexander Woo on the historical horror show – Interview
- Indie Wire - 'The Terror: Infamy' and the Strategic Deployment of Japanese Language on the Show
- Salon - "The Terror: Infamy" twist ending: humanity wins, as long as we don't forget our sins