On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the military the authority to arrest and transport citizens of Japanese ancestry to War Relocation Camps along the west coast of the United States. Any person, even babies and children, who had “one drop of Japanese blood” and lived within 50 miles of the coast were taken from their homes and relocated to these camps.
It’s in the days directly proceeding this Order where episode two of The Terror: Infamy begins. The Japanese families of Terminal Island are gathered up, told to pack their things, and bused to a race track staging area where they are forced to live for a time in abandoned horse stalls. Chester, knowing what this means for the future of his half-Japanese child, tries to gather Luz and skip town. Unfortunately, the FBI is called by a “concerned neighbor” and both he and Luz head to the track where the rest of his family is waiting.
“While Yuko and her spooky spirits will continue to be in the shadows, the real enemy lies both in the guard towers and in the bunks next to you.”
His father, Henry, was taken by the military before the Order dropped and is spending a more prison-like sentence somewhere in the frozen wastelands of North Dakota. He and Yamato-san (George Takei) try to ward themselves against the evil spirits that they know are lurking in the shadows of this world. They are beginning to believe that there is an Obake, or a Bakemono, on the loose in the camp. These beings, in Japanese folklore, are shape-shifting spirits that can look like any familiar face but mean your death. When a young man is surprisingly changed onto their shift in the exercise yard, Yamato-san expresses his suspicions. “That is Nick Okada,” he tells Henry, “or so he says”.
Back in the race track, Yukois back up to her old tricks. She appears to several of the men in the camp, seemingly drawing them closer to her with taps of her fingernails or whispers in the dark. She manages to attract the attention of Mr. Furuya (James Saito), a lifelong friend of the Nakayama family. As he approaches the empty stall where she is standing, he seems to recognize her. He even uses her name, asking her what she is doing there. Before she can answer, Wilsonturns and starts sprinting towards Chester and his son, Walt (Lee Shorten). He screams at Chester, telling him that he has to go, when he is overtaken by an unseen force from behind. He then stands up, punches a guard, takes his weapon, and is riddled with dozens of bullets from the other officers in the yard.
Henry is seeing ghosts in the face of everyone he knows. Chester has an evil surrounding him, something that his old family friends know more about than they are letting on. His girl is pregnant with a Japanese child, and they are sent to a new, more permanent looking camp in the forests of Oregon. As the line of buses pull into the camp, the camera pulls out to see a prominent American flag waving in the foreground, proud of what it has done to its own citizens.
The first episode of this season showed us the battle between the old world and the new. Henry fought with his son about his friends, his college choices, and the secrets and “shame” he brings onto the family. This week, the old world is still present, but the battle has been dwarfed by the oppressive force of the American military. While superstitions and fears about spirits still exist in the hearts of these men and women, these become almost trivial when you are surrounded by barbed wire and semi-automatic rifles. When everyone around you hates you because of your nationality, the other concerns begin to drift away.
“While superstitions and fears about spirits still exist in the hearts of these men and women, these become almost trivial when you are surrounded by barbed wire and semi-automatic rifles.”
Never is this more apparent than in the case of the aforementioned Nick Okada. While he is not a Bakemono as the men first believed, he turns out to be something much worse. He’s a mole. A member of the Department of Justice tasked with rooting out spies from the inside. He gave the names of several innocent men, loyal men, to the government so that he could stay in his position and in Uncle Sam’s good graces. These men disappeared, while he prospered. Henry and the others were afraid that Nick was a shapeshifting spirit, but he was actually a shapeshifting American. He was a traitor to his own people, and they left his fate up to the spirits of North Dakota.
As the season progresses, we will begin to see a shift in the fights that really matter. While Yuko and her spooky spirits will continue to be in the shadows, the real enemy lies both in the guard towers and in the bunks next to you. Here’s to the hope that Chester, and the tens of thousands of other citizens of Japanese descent, can see where the real dangers are before it is too late.
The Terror: Infamy airs every Monday night on AMC. Keep your eyes on Nightmare on Film Street as we continue to recap each episode and give you the latest and greatest horror news available on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. While you’re at it, join our Facebook group, Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street and let us know what you think!