Shape-shifting spirits terrorize a Southern California community of Japanese Americans in the first trailer for The Terror: Infamy, the second season of AMC’s horror anthology series. And the hauntings are likely related to horrifying events in the Japanese internment camps of World War II.
(Some spoilers for season 1 below.)
The first season of The Terror was based on the eponymous 2007 novel by Dan Simmons that was a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John S. Franklin‘s doomed Arctic expedition to hunt for the Northwest Passage in 1846. His two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, became icebound in the Victoria Strait, and all 129 men ultimately died. Scientific studies of the evidence that survived showed that pneumonia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning, or a zinc deficiency contributed to the high death toll, along with hypothermia and starvation. There were even hints of cannibalism in the form of cut marks on human bones. Simmons’ telling added the threat of a mysterious monster (dubbed a Tuunbaq) stalking the men across the Arctic.
AMC was keen to build its horror repertoire on the heels of the massive success of The Walking Dead and thought a 10-episode adaptation of The Terror would be a fine addition to its programming. It proved a good call, since the series earned strong critical reviews and currently has a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which called it “a thriller wrapped in a prestige drama package” and “gripping, atmospheric supernatural horror.” So naturally AMC decided to make it an anthology series and began developing season 2.
This time around, the story centers on the infamous forced internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor—not just first-generation immigrants (Issei), but second- (Nisei) and third- (Sansei) generation Japanese Americans as well. But part of the story also takes place in the present, as a Japanese American community in Southern California is haunted by a mysterious specter.
George Takei is one of the stars and also served as a consultant to ensure historical accuracy, since he himself was among those interred in an Arkansas camp with his family as a young child. (His father told him they were on a vacation.) Takei seems pleased with the final series as created by Executive Producer Alexander Woo. “No project has ever dealt with the internment on this scale. It’s groundbreaking,” he told Variety.
The trailer opens with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin Roosevelt declares over the crackle of a radio. We see the resulting panic and rounding up of Japanese Americans, forced to fill out official forms to prove they are “loyal Americans”—including Yamato-san (Takei), a former fishing captain and elder of the local community.
Then we jump to the present, where Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio) muses, “Do you ever get the feeling we’re being watched?” Something evil is lurking—possibly shapeshifting spirits. “Anywhere you go, they can follow you,” Yamato-san warns. It’s a warning the community would do well to heed, especially since this might be a reoccurrence of events that happened in the camps all those years ago.
The Terror: Infamy debuts on AMC on August 12, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/AMC