“All the Demons Are Still in Hell” was another slow-paced chapter of The Terror: Infamy, focusing more on real-life historical horrors than anything supernatural — for now.
This recap of The Terror: Infamy Season 2, Episode 2, “All The Demons Are Still In Hell”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s a cliche to say that The Terror: Infamy is scarier for its lack of supernatural menace. That’s what you’re supposed to say. The second season of AMC’s anthology series is explicitly making present-day political commentary through the lens of historical horrors; it’s to be applauded for doing that so obviously, even if it is leaning so heavily against its timeliness that something about it feels lacking. But it’s also pretty difficult to deny that on many levels the show’s approach is working. The scariest scene of “All the Demons Are Still in Hell”, by far, was when an American infantryman rounded up Japanese children to be shipped to concentration camps. Any drop of Japanese blood will do.
This obviously presents a problem for Chester, since his girlfriend Luz is carrying his child. A big moment in “All the Demons Are Still in Hell” that rang false was her volunteering to be taken to the Colinas de Oro “War Relocation Center” with him. It’s the fault of both the slightly too large ensemble and some lackluster characterization; I never got the sense these two were that kind of couple — or even a proper couple at all, really.
Henry once again had better scenes. Late on in “All the Demons Are Still in Hell”, he and a couple of others confront a fellow inmate they believe to be a shape-shifting spirit; it’s revealed he’s actually a spy, a traitor to his people, which reinforces this second season’s underlying themes of real-life being a more present and dangerous threat than the supernatural. It’s a tense sequence playing out on the splintering North Dakota ice, and also the best marriage so far of historical context with in-the-moment tension. Another good one plays out a bit later, as Wilson is possessed by the spirit of Yuko (an appropriately creepy Kiki Sukezane) and forced to get himself shot to death by the camp’s guards.
Yuko hovers in the background of “All the Demons Are Still in Hell”, never quite making herself felt enough to justify her inclusion just yet. The supernatural elements of The Terror: Infamy feel somewhat tokenistic at this point, something on-brand, and not integral to a story that is tonally, thematically and structurally distinct from what came before. The first season was leaner, meaner, and more engaging; this one is meaningful and undeniably bold, but I’m not entirely sure it works quite so well. Not yet, anyway.