Up until now, the fear of the old spirits in The Terror: Infamy could be written off as superstition. They were merely ways for a stressed-out group of people to explain their misfortunes. It’s reasonable for them to assume that Chester, struggling to come to terms with his heritage, believed that a vengeful spirit from the old country was out to get him for betraying his people. We, as viewers, knew better, but for the people living in that world, there was no proof that their beliefs and fears were justified.
Now, after the fifth episode of the season, the Yurei is no longer a myth. It’s no longer the maniacal imaginings of a superstitious mind. After Yuko used her finger to open that duffel bag from the inside and uncurled her decomposing body into this world, those fears became manifested in the real world. Chester, after spending months trying to find the Yurei in Guadalcanal, finally came face to face with his tormentor.
“…. the Yurei is no longer a myth. It’s no longer the maniacal imaginings of a superstitious mind…”
This episode was chock full of important events, but they all boil down to the same theme and concept. What, in your deepest reality, are you? Some of the people on the show refuse to consider the question, saying that “That’s a little too philosophical for my speed”. Others, like Chester and those still interred in the Japanese camp, don’t have that luxury. They are forced, whether by a POW or by an official questionnaire, to confront their true selves. They must determine, once and for all, what they are.
In 1943, the United States War Department created a questionnaire to be answered by all of the Japanese prisoners in the relocation camps. This “loyalty test” was thought to be a way to weed out the potential threats to American safety, while also selecting men for service in the military in a new all-Japanese combat unit. Most of the questions on the Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry form were benign, asking about the prisoner’s education, familial connections to Japan, foreign investments and religious beliefs and membership. However, there were two questions on the form, questions 27 and 28, caused a great deal of confusion and anger within the camps.
Question 27 asked the men of the camps whether or not they would be willing to serve in combat for the United States Military, no matter where they were dispatched. Many men in the camps knew that they were creating an all-Japanese combat unit and resented the implication that they could only serve with those that looked like them. While they were upset about the question, many still said “yes”, and willingly opened themselves up for the draft. Question 28, however, brought the question of what they are into their lives. It reads: Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America, and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and foreswear any allegiance or obedience to the Japanese Emperor?
The vast majority of these people were born in the United States. They were always raised as Americans and were full American citizens with all of the constitutional right afforded to them. They hated the question because they never had any allegiances to the Japanese Emperor, at all. There was nothing to foreswear, but because of the horrific racism of those in power, they were assumed to be obedient members of the Imperial Army. Many of the men in the camp answered “no” to both of these questions, as a form of protest. For their troubles, these “No-No Boys” were rounded up and shipped off to a maximum-security prison.
You believe in the old spirits. Me too. That’s why I am looking forward to the next life. That’s what I am, a man unafraid to die. You, Chester? What are you? -Tetsuya Ota
In Guadalcanal, Chester has learned the news about his sons. He is broken, angry, and is starting to question his worth in the world. He joined the Army to protect Luz and his family from the yurei he thought was following him. Now, he realizes that it stayed in the camp. Luz is nearly comatose with grief, and Cheste risn’t there to comfort or take care of her. “Useless to our country, useless to our families,” says Chester Nakayama, “What are we?”
Things begin to turn around for him when he is given permission to interrogate a Japanese prisoner of war. The man, tied to a pole in a tent, lashes out at Chester. He claims that he is not Tetsuya Ota, the name on his dog tags, but rather a spirit from the beyond. “There is no more Ota,” he yells at Chester, “He is dead. My onnen (grudge, malice, or hatred) has wandered the Earth, insatiable, hungry for blood.” The man then goes on to say that he will piss on the graves of Chester’s children.
After taking the man’s picture, and seeing that he is not a Yurei, Chester begins beating the man for mentioning his children. After a few good punches, he calms down and the men begin to bond over baseball and their fear that they have brought shame to their families. Ota, because he was too cowardly to take his own life after he survived his plane crash, and Chester, because he wasn’t able to protect Luz and his sons.
Tell me more about my dead sons.- Chester
They are lucky…Lucky to have been spared this world. – Ota
Once he learns that Ota will be taken to a POW camp and interrogated for years by white soldiers, Chester unties his and gives him back his dagger. Ota, thankful for the opportunity to restore his honor before his death, takes his own life. After squaring things away with his bosses,Chester is confronted by his normally level-headed partner, Arthur (Marcus Toji). Arthur is holding two things: a gun and a bloody duffel bag brought to the front lines by a certain translator from America who walks very peculiarly. “Drive,” Arthur tells his friend as they get into an Army Jeep. As they drive away, the troops open fire on the presumable deserting couple, forcing the vehicle to lose control and overturn into a ditch.
Arthur is killed instantly, and Chester is badly crippled by the crash. They weren’t the only ones involved in the crash, however. It turns out that there was another passenger in the Jeep, and she slowly opens the duffel bag to reveal her true form. Yuko is decomposing, she is falling apart. She contorts herself into a grotesque vision of what is supposed to be a woman. Instead of attacking the helpless Chester, she reaches out and touches his face. Before the screen goes black, she opens her lipless mouth and says: “It’s time to go now, Taizo”.
Taizo is the name of next week’s episode. It is also a traditional masculine Japanese name. It means “The Third Son”. 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 the web. While you’re at it, join our Facebook group, Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street and let us know what you think!