“No one knows where we are,” says Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris). “That is how you already see us, in need of saving?” replies Franklin (Ciaran Hinds). “I do,” answers Crozier who’s fearful his crew, and the crew of the Erebus, are doomed unless a group of men are sent out to find a rescue party in AMC’s historical thriller The Terror season one episode three.
It’s June 1847 and the ice is not melting around the ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. A handful of sailors have the duty to prepare the old Eskimo for his burial while his daughter has stopped talking to anyone. A few of the men are bothered by having a woman onboard the ship, something that’s considered bad luck. A little while later the men put the elderly deceased Eskimo down a firehole to bury him. One of the men suggests they should have dug a grave just for the Eskimo, but he’s told Captain Franklin ordered his body to be disposed of this way.
In his cabin, Captain Franklin is remembering when he was back home and getting ready for the expedition. In a flashback scene, Franklin’s warned by Sir John Ross (Clive Russell) that if he’s not careful, he and his men will be lost to the elements of the Arctic. Franklin also remembers his wife, Lady Jane (Greta Scacchi), talking to him about his trip and being very encouraging. She hoped the success of the expedition would restore his reputation among those in power.
A little while later, Crozier visits Franklin to ask him for permission to send out a search party to call for a rescue. Franklin won’t give permission, refusing to believe things are as bad as they are. Crozier pushes and Franklin closes the door to his cabin before tearing into Crozier. Franklin says he’s sick of his glass half empty attitude and admits they’re not friends. He tells the second-in-command that he has made himself hard to be liked and finishes his tirade by saying to him, “You will never be fit for command.”
Crozier leaves Franklin’s cabin and on his way out sees that Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) has been standing outside the door and heard everything. He heads back to the HMS Terror where some of his men are trying unsuccessfully to free the ship from the ice with axes. Crozier tells Thomas Blanky (Ian Hart) to put a search party together that he will lead himself. Blanky informs Crozier that Franklin will hate him for disobeying his order and it will most likely mean the end of his career. Fortunately, Crozier is more concerned with trying to save the lives of the men than his own future.
Meanwhile, Franklin decides to pay a visit to the men tasked with the job of luring and killing the bear that killed Gore. He delivers some nourishment and a morale boost to the half-frozen men. While bonding with his men, Franklin has his photograph taken with the group for posterity.
Just as the Captain is about to head back to the ship, one of the men asks him to stay a little longer in case the bear shows up. They want the Captain to have the honor of taking the first shot at the creature. Franklin stays and as the men sit in the tent and try to stay warm, the creature that killed Gore strikes again! It rips apart the tent from above and decapitates one of the men. The others start shooting wildly but never actually see their target.
During the chaos, Franklin finds himself apart from the men and walks toward the ships to call for help. He gets within earshot and yells for them to come help him and the others. Crozier heads out with six men to go help and Fitzjames tells three men to follow him. They still can’t see Franklin over the ridges of ice.
Franklin’s suddenly pulled down and passes out for a few seconds, coming to and realizing one of his legs has been torn from his body. He tries to call for help but can’t and is dragged by the monster – still unseen – to the firehole where the old Eskimo was thrown. The beast tosses him into it and he plummets into the depths.
Crozier is now in command of a crew who are in shock and terrified. Crozier orders the search party to head out. Fitzjames, devastated by Franklin’s death, asks Crozier to wait a day to give the men a chance to mourn the loss of their Captain and leader. They hold a burial service for what’s left of Franklin (his severed leg) and Crozier reads the eulogy Franklin wrote that he was going to deliver at Gore’s service.
The final scene shows the Eskimo woman (known as Lady Silence) back home in her igloo. She hears the growling and breathing of the creature outside her igloo. She stands, frozen, as the sunlight is blocked by the monster outside. Its heaving breathing can easily be heard as the creature stands just outside her igloo’s opening. After a few seconds, it grows quiet and the creature appears to be gone. The Eskimo goes outside and finds a dead sea lion left by the creature, almost as though it was an offering to her.
The Terror Episode 3 Review:
Tense, carefully paced, and shocking, episode three titled “The Ladder” sees the completely unexpected death of the fearless leader of the expedition by the monster of the Arctic. It’s already been revealed that no one from the expedition makes it back, but losing Franklin so early in the series is reminiscent to the deaths of Marion Crane in Psycho a little less than halfway through the film or Drew Barrymore’s character in the opening scene of Scream.
The series is extremely well paced and shot, capturing the isolation, bitter cold, and vastness of the Arctic. The series also has a constant feel of foreboding and dread in almost every scene.
With Crozier now in command and the crew becoming increasingly terrified, it should be interesting and terrifying to see how long it will take before cabin fever and mutiny start becoming factors that need to be dealt with.
More on The Terror:
- Recap of The Terror Episode 1 “Go For Broke “and Episode 2 “Gore”
- The Terror Series Preview – Plot and Photos