If you would like to read my review of last week’s episode, click here.
Synopsis: With the end of their provisions in sight, officers contemplate a tough, risky strategy while struggling to raise the men’s worsening spirits. (IMDB)
“A Mercy” starts off two weeks later with Fitzjames and the officers discussing the current rations remaining. Turns out they discovered that Goodsir was right about the lead poisoning in their food and that puts a big hole in their main food supply. Fitzjames urges them to avoid using any portable foods and encourages the officers to lift spirits by reminding the crew of the impending sunrise after a long winter. Fitzjames sits down with Mr. Blanky, who has a fancy new pegleg, to discuss another expedition he was a part of. Turns out the crew was going insane and almost killed the officers in order to survive. The darkness consumed them and Mr. Blanky suggests Fitzjames find a way to distract the men. He retreats into Franklin’s belongings where he finds a box of theatre attire.
On Terror, Jopsen is tending to Crozier who is taking his alcohol withdrawal surprisingly well. Turns out Jopsen took care of his mother through her own alcoholism and figured he would be a great candidate to help his captain out. It is at this point that the officers announce that Fitzjames will be hosting a carnival the next day. He decides to use a lot of their supplies for the party to lighten their load when the crew embarks on the foot journey to try to find help. Collins goes to Dr. Stanley to discuss his flurried thoughts and how to tackle them. He feels despair and hopelessness and while Dr. Stanley tries to reason with him, Collins feels like it has not helped.
Fitzjames looks through Franklin’s theatre clothes when he notices his hairline is bleeding. Dr. Goodsir is called off as Franklin’s monkey is causing some commotion. Turns out the lead poisoning caused the monkey to go crazy and die. Dr. Goodsir brings his findings to Dr. Stanley, but Stanley doesn’t want to worry the crew. Jopsen informs Crozier that Fitzjames’ carnival is occurring that night to which Crozier exclaims that they are going to attend. Meanwhile, Lady Silence performs a ritual calling the Tuunbaq to her and cuts out her tongue to bind her to the beast.
Crozier and Jopsen arrive at the carnival to find it is quite the lively affair: the crew is singing, music is playing and Mr. Blanky is drinking wine from his pegleg. They inspect the rest of the party to find Fitzjames parading around dressed as a Centurion who is very surprised to see Crozier. They continue along to find Heather, the brain dead man, propped up as a king in one of the rooms. He sees two men sitting in a makeshift jacuzzi and decides enough is enough. He wants to end the party, but Fitzjames informs him that it’s to distract the men before they start their long journey. However, Crozier would rather they just tell the men and orders the crew be rounded up.
As he addresses the crew about trying to find their way home and the ideas of hope, Lady Silence arrive, bloodstained down her chest. She seems to be the least of their worries as Dr. Stanley pours wine all over the ground and lights fire to the carnival. He enters the room and ask Crozier directs him to help Lady Silence, he burns himself in front of the crew. They discover the tent is burning around them and the exits have been tied up. As crewmembers succumb to the flames and Heather is dropped to be trampled, Mr. Hickey is able to cut open one of the walls, but stabs McDonald in the process.
The episode ends as the sun rises and the crew mourn their dead. Fitzjames blames himself for the catastrophe, Crozier tells the crew that they will divide the rations between Erebus and Terror and he learns that Goodsir is the last remaining doctor. After waiting for months for the sun to rise, its appearance is brief as the sun disappears and the crew find themselves back in darkness.
- Will the men venture out by foot or continue to live on the sinking ships?
- Will Hickey lead a mutiny?
- What is wrong with Fitzjames?
- How will Dr. Goodsir take on his new role as lead doctor?
- Can Lady Silence control the Tuunbaq?
- Who is next?
Overall, this was a phenomenal episode. Rather than succumb to the “attack of the week” trope and overusing the monster, the story decides to use character moments to show the other terrors lurking within. Not only is the physical illness of lead poisoning confirmed, but it appears mental illness is also affecting the crew as some begin to feel hopelessness and despair that help accent how far the human condition can be strained before it breaks. The Tuunbaq may have made this show feel like a monster horror, but the direction the story took shows a heavier psychological element that creates a much deeper study into the human psyche than most horror stories tend to tackle.