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This is based on the novel by Dan Simmons . He is a competent writer, so something may well have been lost in the process of adaptation.
The story starts with a Victorian-era Royal Navy officer interviewing some Innuit people in northern Canada. He wants to know what happened to the Franklin Expedition, which disappeared years before while Venturing into uncharted territory in an attempt to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. This nicely sets up some suspense.
The Royal Navy expedition has become trapped in the ice. All we got in the previous episode was a couple of creepy sightings, but this week one of the crew is attacked by a predatory beast. Yes, after two hours of storyline that is the high point so far.
The ships have been trapped in the ice for many months now. Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) requests permission to send a party to the nearest habitable place, eight hundred miles away. Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds - Rome ) refuses to allow permission, because he believes the crews will be able to survive a second winter. That said, he sets the Royal Marine up to trap the beast that is stalking them.
Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) is now in charge. Some of the crew decide to disobey orders, and abduct the Eskimo woman. Crozier has the mutineers whipped. The episode title refers to a specific punishment, which sees the lashes received on the buttocks instead of the back.
The monster has not been seen for a couple of episodes. Now it attacks one of the ships. This leads up to an action-packed climax.
The monster has not been seen in a few months. In order to raise the mens' spirits, Cdr. James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies - Outlander ) holds a party in a big tent out on the ice. What could possibly go wrong?
What actually goes wrong is something unexpected. It has been established that the crew are suffering from lead poisoning, because their food was packed in lead-lined tins. After all, the food was supplied by the lowest bidder - which explains why a lot of it was unfit for human consumption. Now one of the crew snaps under the stress.
Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) has recovered from the delerium tremens, and is now back in charge. The ships have been stuck in the ice for a couple of years, and despite losing a couple of dozen men they still have about a hundred mouths to feed. As a result, Crozier has a couple of jobs. The first is to get his men to safety. The second is to find an alternate food supply. Both goals will be fulfilled if the crew head south and start to hunt wild animals as game.
One of the crew gets mutinous again. He has worked out that the food is contaminated with lead, and he now chooses to resort to cannibalism instead.
The story of this expedition, and of the real-life troubles it experienced, are far greater than the supernatural element this story includes.
Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) has to clear up the mess that the mutinous murderer created in the previous episode. He holds an execution ceremony. Unfortunately he lets things go on and on.
The monster has not been seen in a few episodes. About time that it made a reappearance.
Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) leads the main group of survivors.
The mutineers formed their own group, during the climax of the previous episode. They are able to keep track of both Crozier's group and the monster itself.
Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris - Fringe (2008) ) is in the hands of the mutineers. They have plans of their own.
The monster makes its final attack. Which group will it pick? And will it win?
There is an extended post-climax sequence. The show itself has been very long and drawn-out, with minimal appearances of the monster itself, and there is no reason for it to improve at the last stage. In reality, this story could have been told in a couple of hours if the supernatural element were removed and the storytelling tightened up a bit.
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This is set in 1941, on an island off the coast of California. The inhabitants are Japanese-American fishermen and their families. Of course, there is a stereotypical white man who bullies the Japs. But the cliched racism is just a small part of the overall discomfort inflicted on the audience. The community is subject to ghostly encounters with a young woman, like in a very toned-down version of what happens in J-Horror movies.
The main character is a young Japanese-American man, who is completely integrated into American society. Unfortunately he has been having pre-marital sex with his Latina girlfriend, and she is now pregnant. They have decided to keep their options open, so obtain a traditional Japanese remedy for unwanted pregnancy. After all, this is the pre-Roe Versus Wade era.
George Takei ( Star Trek: TOS ) is not only a cast member but a consultant. This is because he lived through the real-life events upon which the storyline is based.
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, Yamato-san (George Takei - Star Trek: TOS ) and the older men who still have Japanese citizenship have been rounded up and sent to a prison in South Dakota. There is a young man imprisoned with them, and the elderly gents think he may be the demonic entity responsible for the deaths in the first episode.
Meanwhile, the women and younger men are sent to a makeshift camp. The actual demonic entity, the ghost of a young woman, has come along with them. She claims another victim, in what is made to look like suicide of sorts.
The main story is the young Japanese-American man, Chester, who wants to protect his pregnant Latina from American society. After all, every child with one drop of Japanese blood is to be stuck in the internment camp. Her choices are simple - abortion, go on the run or turn herself in to the FBI and get interned with her lover.
Yamato-san (George Takei - Star Trek: TOS ) and the older men who still have Japanese citizenship are reunited with their families in the internment camp. The camp commandant (C. Thomas Howell - Red Dawn ) is a bit of an asshole, but an Army Colonel (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ) is in the camp to recruit fluent translators. Chester decides to try his luck.
The ghost girl has strange powers. She can be invisible when she wants, but otherwise she seems to have physical form. This means she can be spotted by people when she does not want to.
Chester is serving as translator for the Army Colonel (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ) in the South Pacific. They are tasked with helping the infantry to rescue a sergeant who went missing on patrol. Unfortunately Chester is sleep-deprived because he thinks the ghost is watching him.
The ghost is back in the camp in the USA, posing as the midwife that Chester's Latina wife is attending. Doctor Kitamura (Hiro Kanagawa - iZombie ) does his best, but he is out of his depth.
Chester is serving as translator in the South Pacific. The mission of the week is to interrogate a Japanese pilot. Since the prisoner is showing symptoms of ghostly possession, Chester becomes obsessed - even when the Army Colonel (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ) orders him not to.
The ghost has certain rules to follow. It can possess the living, but it must keep its dead body nearby. As a result, the possession victim must carry the corpse around in a rucksack.
Chester is back in the camp with his family, invalided out as a result of the events of the previous episode. Worse, he discovers a family secret.
The good news is that Chester discovers the ghost's dead body, and the family arrange a secret cremation.
The ghost possesses an undertaker, and reconstructs her own body with bits and pieces from different bodies in the morgue. How much of her survived the cremation is not explained.
The camp commandant (C. Thomas Howell - Red Dawn ) is briefly possessed by her, but she lets him go without killing him. Instead she just leaves him with PTSD, so he is embittered towards the Japanese-American community. When there is an outbreak of influenza in the camp, the commandant is reluctant to summon ambulances. Not because he is afraid the contagion will spread in the local hospital, but apparently because he is racist. One of the Japanese inmates, who is particularly obstructive, ends up confronting the commandant.
The US Army sends recruiters to the camp. While the 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment was the most heavily-commended unit in the US Army, this show gives a very cynical explanation. Apparently the Nisei soldiers are considered expendable, so they always get the most dangerous missions.
The camp commandant (C. Thomas Howell - Red Dawn ) is away in Washington DC, explaining things to his superiors. When he returns he seems very happy with his secretary, who is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Chester and his fiance go to live with her relatives in New Mexico, near the border with Old Mexico. Her grandmother is a wise old Mexican witch-woman. This allows for a nice cross-over, with Mexcian magic versus Japanese magic.
The gates of the camp are opened, and buses are provided for the inmates to return to Los Angeles. The camp commandant (C. Thomas Howell - Red Dawn ) is mysteriously missing, on account of him being secretly murdered in revenge for him expecting the Japanese to integrate into mainstream America. Of course, when the Japanese return to Terminal Island they discover that the US Government has bulldozed their entire colony.
Somehow, Chester finds the phone number for the place where his parents are lodging. He invites them to come and help him in New mexico. Of course, Chester's foster-father is unhappy about this ... but since he hates his job as a gardener, and the family is literally living on Skid Row, he should really be grateful for Chester's call.
Chester's wife is about to give birth again. The local catholic priest drops by, and we get to see if The Power Of Christ can compel a Japanese ghost. Then the family goes on the run again, hiding out at a secret US Government facility nearby. Yes, this is New Mexico ... so they take some pre-emptive revenge on a nuclear scientist.
The good news is that the war is about to end. The bad news is that Hiroshima has been destroyed. Of course, this is shown completely out of context. More Japanese people died in the fire-bombing of Tokyo, and more Germans died in the Dresden bombing.
In New Mexico, Chester and the family try to hunt down the baby-snatching ghost. They just follow the trail of bodies. Ironically, it is the one time that the ghost shows mercy that leads to her downfall. By sparing a life she spreads the deadly net of knowledge. The family realise that magic scrolls can trap the ghost, like in the Hong Kong ghost movies from the 1970s. A pity they did not realise this a few episodes previously.
The end credits match some of the stars with their ancestors who were interned in the US concentration camps in World War Two. The exception is George Takei ( Star Trek: TOS ), who lived in the real-life camps.