If you would like to read my review of last week’s episode, click here.
Synopsis: A strange illness begins to show itself while another more familiar one jeopardizes the expedition’s most valuable resource – its captain’s judgment. (IMDB)
“First Shot a Winner, Lads” starts off with Lieutenant Little from Terror meeting with Fitzjames yet again for a captain’s meeting without the commander. He gives the officer his instructions including returning Lady Silence to Terror to avoid further problem with her place onboard Erebus. Little retreats to the lower deck to get Lady Silence, but Dr. Goodsir insists he will be coming with them, despite the status of Terror.
Dr. Goodsir requests his transfer from Erebus, but Dr. Stanley couldn’t care less if his idealistic colleague left. Fitzjames gives orders to his larger crew, saying that he requires a bit more upkeep and grooming from his crewmembers. After Mr. Hornby dies of a heart attack on the walk, Little returns to Terror with his party, Lady Silence, Dr. Goodsir. He meets with the constantly drunk Crozier and explains he was unable to get any whiskey from Erebus, but Crozier demands he grabs some from Fitzjames’ personal reserve.
Hickey questions Dr. Goodsir about the arrival of Lady Silence, but he decides not to indulge him. Dr. Goodsir confronts Terror’s doctor about seeing a lining along the gums of patients believing they are experiencing some sort of scurvy while the other doctor suggests it could be lead poisoning from containers. Meanwhile, one of the Terror’s crew, Magnus Manson, is tasked with taking Hornsby’s body to the “dead hold,” but he thinks he’s seen them move. Lieutenant Irving will not have the insubordination and threatens Manson, but Hickey comes in to save him showing a further divide between the crew and their leadership.
Crozier has a sit down with Dr. Goodsir, Mr. Blanky and Lady Silence about her relationship with the monster. She refers to the Tuunbaq as “a spirit that dresses as an animal,” but won’t help them kill it. Frustrated, Crozier orders her thrown out and he is then confronted by Fitzjames for stealing his whiskey. Crozier attacks Fitzjames in a drunken rage and realizing what he has done he orders everyone to leave.
The men head to the deck where Mr. Blanky comes face-to-face with the beast itself: the Tuunbaq. It looks like a mix of a werewolf and massive polar bear. As they are torn apart left and right, Mr. Blanky climbs the mast to retreat from the monster and the crew prepare to fire the cannon at it. The Tuunbaq chases Mr. Blanky and turns his leg into cheese, but he’s able to light the monster on fire with a lantern so the crew can see it in the blizzard. They hit it with a cannonball and the Tuunbaq falls and runs off as Lady Silence uses the chaos to escape the ship. The crew bring Mr. Blanky back below deck where they have to amputate his butchered leg.
The episode ends with Crozier coming to the realization that his alcoholism is an illness he needs to tackle. He decides to quit cold turkey and knows he will be unfit to lead the expedition so he puts Fitzjames in command while he battles through his withdrawal. Meanwhile, Dr. Goodsir tests his theory about the contaminated food by feeding it to Franklin’s monkey Jacko.
- Will Crozier’s withdrawal cause a drastic change in the leadership style of the expedition?
- Will Hickey lead the mutiny?
- Will Dr. Goodsir discover there is something wrong with the food supply?
- Can Lady Silence control the Tuunbaq?
- Who is next?
Overall, this was another great episode. While the seemingly repetitive story of the monster terrorizing the crew and causing them to slowly go mad in their confinement appears to be overused, it is set up each week in a way to allow the underlying subplots of the crew and their descent into madness and paranoia to be the focal point of the story. The monster’s arrival happens as a break from the tense situations between the crewmembers to remind us and them of the terror that lurks outside. With Crozier’s bout of alcoholism, Hickey’s growing disdain for the expedition’s leadership and Dr. Goodsir’s curiosity with the unexplained disease affecting the crew, the Tuunbaq may be what’s hunting them, but it seems their demise will be caused by something onboard the ship.