An Ill Omen From Across the Sea Haunts Japanese Americans in ‘The Terror: Infamy’

Ed Araquel/AMC

Season 1 of AMC’s The Terror was inspired by the true story of the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition intended to discover the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Capt. Francis Crozier (Chernobyl’s Jared Harris) and the crews of the Terror and Erebus struggled to survive the brutal climate and starvation while being stalked by a bloodthirsty beast, Tuunbaq.

AMC decided to take the anthology route with The Terror, and each season will be set in a different time and place within real historical events. Season 2, dubbed Infamy (Mondays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Aug. 12), uses the forced relocation of Japanese Americans into concentration camps during World War II as its backdrop. Star Trek’s George Takei, who spent several boyhood years in war relocation centers, is in the regular cast and also serves as a consultant.

The story begins in 1941, when American-born college student Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio) is trying to break free from his family’s old-island traditions. His immigrant father, Henry (Shingo Usami), has worked hard as a fisherman to provide a decent life for his family in Southern California.

A neighbor’s suicide starts a series of strange occurrences that have their community fearing an evil spirit may have followed them from across the sea. Then all hell breaks loose on Dec. 7, when the attack on Pearl Harbor results in widespread paranoia that loyal Americans of Japanese descent are spies or conspirators. As the Nakayama family is separated and forced into camps, they are visited by the shape-shifting spirit Yuko (Kiki Sukezane), who materializes as a beautiful young woman.

As with Season 1, the most effective scares in Infamy come from an unknown but ever-present malevolence surrounding the characters, but the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II is more haunting than any ghost.

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