“Shatter Like A Pearl” manages to conjure up some last-minute creepy imagery, but the show’s greatest horror remains its dangerously unfocused storytelling.
This recap of The Terror: Infamy Season 2, Episode 5, “Shatter Like A Pearl”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After a promising episode last week, “Shatter Like A Pearl” unfortunately reintroduces the most persistent form of horror in The Terror: Infamy – dangerously unfocused storytelling.
It’d be easy to pick holes in most sci-fi or horror stories, and usually, I wouldn’t bother. But this one’s refusal to properly explain the source or motive of its spookiness just keeps it feeling haphazard and almost random; things continue to happen, from the United States to the Pacific Theatre, but things also continue to not make very much sense.
With Chester (Derek Mio) still working as a translator at the front, “Shatter Like A Pearl” is helpfully divided into two concurrent storylines. In 1943 and at Guadalcanal, Chester and his buddy are tasked with babysitting a feral Japanese POW; back at the internment camp, Luz (Cristina Rodlo) has donned a creepy white dress and started foraging in the mud, evoking the ghostly image of the show’s elusive international phantom, Yuko (Kiki Sukezane).
We’ll start with Chester. The prisoner, who begins as a ranting madman but eventually softens and opens up, is a high-value target who presumably possesses knowledge of the region’s most dangerous officer. He eventually makes such good friends with Chester that he’s allowed to ritually disembowel himself. This is after proving himself to be human and not a supernatural menace thanks to a kind of discount Turing Test; Chester’s ability to determine who’s a yurei and who isn’t doesn’t do much good later, when his possessed translator buddy forces him to hijack a jeep at gunpoint, leading to the most appropriately creepy imagery of “Shatter Like A Pearl”, as a corpse creeps from a duffel bag and gives Chester a fondle.
At the camp, Luz’s bizarre behavior doesn’t seem to raise as many eyebrows as it perhaps should, and neither does prisoners standing around and flagrantly revealing that they answered a firm “no” on their mandatory loyalty forms as a form of protest. This all seems like illogical drama for drama’s sake to me; the only interesting bit is in how is leaves Chester’s friend Ken (Christopher Naoki Lee) stranded after everyone else is dragged away for treason; it turns out his new squeeze, Amy (Miki Ishikawa), changed all his negative answers, which he isn’t happy about.
“Shatter Like A Pearl” raises many more questions – not least of which being how the Japanese POW knew to agitate Chester by feigning demonic possession, and why the yurei is so fixated on Chester in the first place – but I won’t bother to ask them in the hope that the show finally gets around to it. At the moment, though, it continues to be self-defeatingly enigmatic, and one can only hope that we start to get some concrete answers before we stop caring altogether about what, exactly, The Terror: Infamy is trying to say.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.