The Most Chilling Moments From AMC's Horror Show, The Terror (Episodes 1-10)
By Michael Rougeau and Dan Auty on
Being an arctic explorer ain't easy.
AMC's horror show, The Terror, has proved to be one of the scariest shows for years. The crews of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror--two real ships that set out from England in 1845 and disappeared for over 150 years--arrived in the frigid Northern wastes in search of the Northwest Passage. Please don't consider it a spoiler that things won't turn out great for these characters in the end. These real life shipwrecks weren't discovered until 2014 and 2016, respectively, and their crews had died long ago from cold, starvation, disease, lead poisoning, and cannibalism.
Anything that happens in The Terror between the start and that foregone conclusion is just embellishment invented by Dan Simmons, the author of the book on which the show is based, or showrunners David Kajganich and Soo Hugh. But what embellishments they are. With that in mind, we've kept a running list of all the scariest s*** that goes down in each episode of The Terror...
1. Man Overboard
Of all the things that are no doubt going to kill these characters over The Terror's ten episodes, you might think falling overboard and drowning would be the least terrible. Then you imagine your whole body going numb, your vision shrinking, and your senses deadening as you slide further into the depths, unable to move or help yourself or do anything but die. Not a great start to this voyage.
2. This Guy
We don't know what it means. We just know that he's terrifying.
3. A Boy Among Men
It's unclear what this poor kid died from, but does it really matter? It's easy to envision these expeditionary crews as ships full of brave, hardened men, big sailors with 5 o'clock shadows and tattoos of mermaids and anchors. Seeing this kid get sick and scared and die is pretty jarring.
4. Hello Again
This trip underwater is filled with so much foreboding that you spend the entire scene just dreading that something awful is going to happen. Ultimately it could have been worse, but it was still a deeply unsettling moment.
5. World of Ice
The final shot of episode 1 is the most chilling of the whole episode: The two ships are completely encased in ice, presumably with no hope of digging out any time soon. This is only the beginning of the doom, though.
Because probably starving to death in an Arctic wasteland isn't bad enough, the crew met the Tuunbaq, an Inuit creature of legend, in The Terror Episode 2. It doesn't seem very nice.
7. Bye Dad
Given that they were able to get this woman (who will come to be known by the name Lady Silence) and her dad back to the ship, there was a brief hope that they would save his life. Her frantic cries that he couldn't die below deck were terrible to hear.
8. Lady Silence's Warning
If only Lady Silence knew how right she was when she said they're going to disappear. Was it a prescient prophecy, or is she going to make sure of it? We'll have to keep watching to find out.
9. Photo Fnish
Captain Franklin poses for a photograph with the men chosen to hunt and kill the "bear." This being 1846, the group must pose for a full 30 seconds for the picture to be taken. Nothing really happens here, but the atmosphere is seriously ominous, as Goodsir watches his pocket watch to count down until the picture is done. It's almost like they are counting down to something terrible happening...
10. Tent Attack
And it does! Before the hunting party can even leave their tent, the Tuunbaq attacks, ripping open the tent from above and grabbing one of the men. As the rest of the group fire wildly into the blizzard and Franklin makes a run for it, the creature's victim loses his head in gruesome style.
Episode 3 might be filled with decapitation and dismemberment, but one of the most excruciating moments comes shortly after the Tuunbaq attacks the hunting party. Crozier hears the gunshots and screams so runs to the deck, using a telescope to see what's going on. After he spots the terrified men retreating back to the Terror, he moves the telescope away from his eye, only to find that the metal has frozen to his eyelid, pulling a chunk of skin away with it. OWWWW!
12. Franklin Checks Out
Franklin's death was a genuine surprise. He had been introduced as one the show's main characters, and his antagonistic relationship with Crozier provided much of this episode's drama. But he becomes the Tuunbaq's third victim, pulled through the ice before having his leg torn off and dumped in same icy grave that we saw the Eskimo dad's body lowered into at the start of the episode.
13. Dinner Gift
This episode closes with Lady Silence back at her camp, alone. From outside the igloo we hear the ominous sound of large, beastly footsteps and the breathing of something big and scary. But the Tuunbaq is not here to kill--it is leaving her some food (a dead seal). The final shot of Lady Silence's terrified face as she emerges from the igloo is one of the most chilling moments of the whole episode.
14. Setting Sun
Crozier and his men stand on the deck of the Erebus, watching the final rays of the sun disappear below the horizon as the months-long darkness of winter descends. "The last of the year," says one of the men. "Feels like an omen." How right he is.
15. Heather's Brain
The marine named William Heather is laid out on the operating table after being attacked at night by the Tuunbaq. His head is half-open and his brain is on display, but amazingly, he's still alive. The whole scene is so spooky that even the doctors are forced to seal his eyes shut so he doesn't stare at them while they operate.
16. Two Men, One Body
In Episode 4's creepiest scene, Hickey creeps along the deck of the Erebus towards a mysterious figure seemingly leaning over the edge of the ship. As he reaches out to touch the figure, the body falls to the ground in two pieces. Even worse, we discover in the next scene that the top and bottoms halves of the body belong to different victims and have been stacked by someone--or something--in this macabre way.
17. Hickey's Confession
Hickey takes matters into his own hands and kidnaps Lady Silence, bringing her back to the Erebus. When Crozier demands to know what happened, the officer describes seeing the Tuunbaq up close. It doesn't sound good. "It was three times that of any bear we've seen. With a different... set to its head," he says. "I do not believe it is an animal we battle."
18. Hearing Voices
A crew member named Manson is helping move yet another body into the lower decks of the Terror, into what is called "the dead room." Except the terrified Manson doesn't want to go; he tells Lt. Irving that he's heard the voices of the dead trying to escape...
19. Why Do You Want To Die?
In his drunken desperation to find out how stop the Tuunbaq, Crozier yells at Lady Silence, demanding to know how the creature can be killed. Her reply is as unsettling as it is accurate. She stares straight into Crozier's soul and tells the pathetic, sorrowful man, "You don't want to live. Look at you. Why do you want to die?"
20. Up The Mast
In the show's most terrifying sequence so far, the Tuunbaq finally boards the ship in search of victims. Poor Blanky is sent by a drunken Crozier to pointlessly observe the ice, and in doing so is chased up a mast by the angry beast. We get the best look at it so far, just before it slices into Blanky's leg.
21. Sore Saw
Speaking of which, unfortunately Blanky's leg can't be saved. And this being the Arctic wilderness in the 19th century, there's nothing that can be done except take a swig of whiskey, put a stick between your teeth, and get busy with the saw. We don't really see much, but the sound of the saw and Blanky's screams are truly horrifying.
22. "A Darkness… With No Firm Hand To Stem It."
Blanky tells Fitzjames a story about a previous expedition he was on, where the odds of survival were about as low as they are for the crews of the Terror and the Erebus. The point of this eerie scene is to foreshadow the creeping madness in this episode, and Ian Hart's performance makes for a chilling scene.
Lady Silence sits on the ice with the Tuunbaq and reveals that her father was its master. "You cannot be with a shaman for so long," she tells the creature. "Accept me in his place." And then, with the beast looking on, she raises a knife and starts to cut out her own tongue.
24. King Heather
Poor old Heather hasn't had the best winter. He was mauled by the Tuunbaq in Episode 4 but survived, and since then has been lying on a gurney with his brain exposed. But if that was enough of an indignity, he ends up as the centrepiece of Fitzjames's carnivale, propped up as a macabre king with a paper crown on his head.
25. Lady's Back
Lady Silence returns to the ship, minus her tongue and covered in her own blood. Has her sacrifice given her control of the Tuunbaq? I suspect we'll find out soon enough.
26. Fire And Ice
In a great bit of misdirection, Collins sits with Dr Stanley early in the episode, describing his feelings of isolation and general mental disintegration. But in the end, it's not Collins but Stanley who cracks first. He sets the carnival tent ablaze and then immolates himself, staggering towards the terrified crew with his arms outstretched. It's a truly horrifying scene.
27. Cooking With Gas
Collins' mental disintegration continues. He tells Goodsir that the smell of "gas" is everywhere, ever since the ill-fated carnivale. Goodsir presumes he means the fire itself, but Collins is more specific--he is continually smelling the "meat" of his friends, burning alive. "They were cooking, like fillets grilling."
28. Heads Off
The one glimmer of hope that the stranded men had was the rescue team sent out after Franklin's death in Episode 3. Unfortunately, as we discover in the most gruesome way possible, the team only made it 18 miles. Hartnell finds their severed heads lying in the snow, presumably removed weeks earlier by the Tuunbaq and now displayed as gruesome frozen trophies.
29. Morfin's Madness
Madness continues to creep amongst the men, and a crewmember called Morfin is its next victim. The camp is awoken by Morfin screaming at the others, demanding that they cut off his head and lay it with those that they found the previous day. While his colleagues are obviously reluctant to do that, his death wish is soon granted when his gun malfunctions and explodes in his face.
30. Hacking Hickey
The episode ends with a shocking death, but it's not a Tuunbaq attack. Having encountered a group of Inuits, Irving races back to tell Hickey and another man. At this point Hickey fully becomes the evil character that the show has been building up to, and having already killed the other man, brutally stabs Irving several times through the chest. The episode concludes with the reveal that he is not Hickey at all, but someone else who has assumed his identity to board the Terror before it sailed.
Suspecting that Irving didn't die at the hands of a savage gang of Inuits as Hickey reports, Crozier insists on viewing his body. The camera pans gruesomely down Irving's corpse, which has been scalped and castrated, revealing the extent of Hickey's savagery.
32. Tuunbaq attack!
After a slow build-up with very little actual horror, this episode explodes into mayhem as the Tuunbaq makes his reappearance, pursuing Collins into the midst of Hickey's impromptu trial. The creature bursts through the fog and lays bloody waste to the camp, trampling, biting, and clawing every man in sight.
33. Collins No More
While the fog-shrouded chaos of the final sequence makes it hard to see who exactly the Tuunbaq is killing, we do get Collins' demise in an excruciating close-up. The creature flattens him and proceeds to tear him apart, while he lies on the ground screaming. Bye Collins!
34. Whose head?
The grim business of gathering the bodies from the Tuunbaq's attack is underway, and it opens with this gruesome shot of one poor victim. Luckily Blanky is on hand to help the poor lad given the job of identifying the dead. "Mr Honey the carpenter," he says. "I recognize his neckerchief."
35. "What are we willing to eat next?"
Food is desperately short for both Crozier's men and Hickey's gang of mutineers. And of course, it is over in Hickey's camp that the previously unspeakable taboo of cannibalism is raised. Stating that they never really knew what was in cans of meat that they have been eating for years anyway, Hickey argues that eating human meat wouldn't be much worse. "Our needs have changed," he says.
36. Gibson Goes
Having made the decision that the only way to survive is to eat their own dead, Hickey is quick to supply a main course. After the captured Goodfellow tells him that the increasingly sickly Gibson is unlikely to live past a few days, Hickey speeds up the process and brutally stabs him to death.
37. Dinner Is Served!
Goodfellow is forced to carve up Gibson and deliver the choicest cuts of meat to the rest of Hickey's men. They sit silently around the table, grimly eating the lightly-charred meat. It's a dark scene, but one that also that evokes great sympathy for these men who have been forced into this terrible situation. Well, except for Hickey of course, who looks like he's really enjoying his dinner.
38. Soul Man
Although the bulk of Episode 9 is filled with murder and man-eating, there is a haunting sequence in which Tozer tell Hickey of what he saw when the Tuunbaq devoured Collins in the previous episode. "I saw my Collins' soul… and I watched that creature inject it. Feed on it." Chilling indeed.
39. Goodnight Goodsir
Knowing he will never make it out of Hickey's camp alive, Goodsir makes one final plan to stop the mutiny. He covers his body in poison, lies back, and cuts his wrists. He dies, leaving not just a corpse but a poisoned breakfast for his captors next day.
40. Feet First
Crozier is awoken the next morning to the grisly sight of Goodsir's butchered corpse. Hickey and his men have already taken their choice cuts of poisoned meat from it, and force Crozier to do the same. He slices a chunk from Goodsir's feet, as the now dead man instructed him to in order to avoid eating the poison.
41. Hacking Hickey
It is the final showdown with the Tuunbaq. As his remaining men are slaughtered all around him, Hickey attempts to tame the beast by slicing out his tongue as an offering.
42. Tuunbaq Bites
Unfortunately for Hickey, his plan to possess the Tuunbaq doesn't work. The creature devours his whole arm before throwing him into the air, literally tearing him in half. In an episode filled with sadness and death, the demise of this insane, evil man is a satisfyingly grisly one.
43. Camp Death
In one of the most chilling scenes of the whole show, Crozier and Lady Silence (who we now know is named Silna) find the rest of his men in a dilapidated camp. They didn't get very far, ultimately succumbing to starvation and illness. The remains of half-eaten body parts sit in a cold stove, and the bodies of the men lie next to one another in a tent. The only man who is clinging to life is Little. His face has been pierced with tiny gold chains--by whom it is not clear. He says one final world--”close”--before slipping away.
In the final shot of the show, Crozier sits on the ice with a young boy, fishing. It is years later, and having decided never to return to England, he has made some semblance of a new life for himself amongst the Inuits. But even though Crozier survives, knowing what he has lost to get to this point, makes for a chilling final moment of a brilliant show.