If you would like to read my review of last week’s premiere, click here.
Synopsis: With something now stalking the ships, the captains debate their options, testing their loyalty to one another against their duty to their crews. (TVGuide)
“The Ladder” starts off with the crew of the Erebus collecting the Eskimo man’s belongings and body before dropping it into a hole in the ice, giving him a cold, watery grave. Tensions rise as the men refuse to leave the ships without an armed escort and the toll of losing crew members begins to weigh on Franklin’s conscious as he remembers his fallen Lieutenant (who was brutally eaten by the Tuunbaq last episode).
The two captains continue to be on opposite sides as Crozier suggests they send out a search party in the hope of being rescued, but Franklin is adamant that they must stay put and will not agree that they are in need of saving. Franklin and Dr. Goodsir venture out to the expedition’s makeshift Tuunbaq trap to check in on the men. Meanwhile, the food onboard the ships appears to be going bad and Hickey’s bunk buddy decides to end their nefarious affair.
After Dr. Goodsir takes a photo of Sir Franklin and his men, they retreat to the tent and wait for the Tuunbaq. As they stand quietly, a man’s face is ripped off from above the tent and terror consumes Franklin. He backs off and retreats from his men, calling out to the ships. Crozier sees him, AND PEELS OFF HIS EYELID FROM THE FROZEN TELESCOPE. Franklin climbs over a ridge, but finds himself grabbed by the Tuunbaq and dragged to the hole in the ice. It throws him into it and lets him sink to the bottom, leaving only his leg at the surface. James Fitzjames tries to save the captain, but it’s too late.
Captain Crozier orders the men send out a search party in the hope of rescue while Fitzjames questions Crozier’s lack of mourning. The crew holds a funeral for their fallen captain as Dr. Goodsir puts Franklin’s leg in a coffin. Crozier recites Franklin’s final journal entry, an uplifting speech to boost the morale of the sailors citing reference to Jacob’s ladder. While he does so, Hickey takes a dump on his old bunk buddy’s bed. The episode ends with Lady Silence, alone in her igloo, who hears the Tuunbaq approach outside; it breathes heavily a few times and then disappears leaving a dead seal at her doorstep.
- Will Crozier save the crew?
- Will Fitzjames work alongside Crozier or plan a mutiny?
- Where will Hickey’s storyline go?
- Will Dr. Goodsir’s role on the crew change?
- Can Lady Silence control the Tuunbaq?
- Who is next?
Overall, this was a fantastic episode. While this show is a historical horror, it uses its horror elements just enough to make the suspense and shocking moments hit, and hit hard when they do. The tone feels more and more like scenes from North of the Wall in Game of Thrones meets any John Carpenter film in a way that continues to build a tense, desolate atmosphere. While the surprise death feels like it should have been a major plot point or cliffhanger, it’s thrown in like a lesser story beat letting the audience know that no one is safe on this harrowing journey.
It’s more than a show about monsters hunting people, but a look into nature versus humanity and how far the human condition can be stretched until it inevitably snaps. What is the real Terror? That will be revealed in the coming weeks. This is by no means a realistic depiction of what happened to this crew, but damn does it make for some great TV.