After weeks of speculating about the connection between Chester and the yurei, Yuko, we have finally been given some answers. In a very special, emotional, powerful episode of The Terror: Infamy, we learn that Yuko is not just the evil spirit we assumed she was, but she’s also a grieving mother, searching for her child.
In 1919, Yuko Tanabe crossed the Pacific Ocean to be married to the sake-swilling Hideo Furuya. After the wedding, however, she reveals to her new husband that she is, in fact, pregnant. You see, she had a moment of weakness back home before she left and was hoping that she wouldn’t be showing before she arrived. Being the stand-up guy that he is (was), Furuya threw her out into the street, knowing full well that she had nowhere to go. That she was alone in this new, cruel world.
The episode cuts to a year later, and Yuko is homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. She had her baby and is scavenging for food behind a building. As she tries to feed her child some rotten grapefruit, she has a revelation. She can’t do this to her baby. So, in a true moment of strength, Yuko takes her child to an orphanage, mumbling to herself as the door closed on her life.
“After weeks of speculating about the connection between Chester and the yurei, Yuko, we have finally been given some answers.”
Empty, broken, and still alone, Yuko finds herself on a bridge looking out over a rushing river. She is loading herself with rocks, desperately hoping that the black water will wash away her pain. She is warned about the absolute finality of her plan by a strange passerby, but steps off the bridge anyway. The last we see of her is a gorgeous silhouette, sinking slowly to the sandy bottom below.
Yuko wakes up in a soft bed. It’s bright out, and she is in an open-air bedroom in what looks like a Japanese estate. She is joined there by the strange woman who warned her on the bridge, and a menacing man who never stops raking the sand garden that surrounds the yard. The food is delicious, and her family’s ancestral seal adorns the doorway. It is perfect, it is pristine. It is hell.
Yuko learns, pretty quickly, that she never made it out of that cold river. She is in the afterlife, one designed and maintained by the other woman, an ancestor of hers. She has been waiting for someone like Yuko to come along for a very, very long time. For, you see, only blood can follow you to this place, and blood is the only thing keeping you there.
The food is great, the tea is wonderful, the air is clean, and the baths are warm. This seems like an absolutely a perfect place to live out eternity, but Yuko is not happy in her new home. Every day begins the same, with the stranger bringing her breakfast and the man raking the sand, and her every movement is controlled by her new “mother”. She is told that she must never step on the sand, and there is a door she cannot reach without crossing the perfectly raked lines. Yuko, after being frightened by the man with the rake, soon finds out what lies beneath the sand.
Death. Death lies beneath the sand. As she crosses the line between grass and earth, Yuko is pulled down into the gravel. Black, decomposing hands reach up and pull her deeper into the ground. She screams for help and is finally given a pole to grab onto at the last minute. As she is lifted to safety, however, Yuko realizes that the hands pulling her into the sand were sticking out of the same sleeves she was currently wearing. This outfit, given to her by her new “mother”, was given to a daughter once before. A daughter who was killed by her mother. A daughter who wants revenge.
“While this episode of The Terror: Infamy was light on, well, terror, it was jam-packed full of powerful emotions.”
After some trickery on her part, Yuko backs the stranger onto the sand and watches as she is pulled to her death by the hungry hands of her murdered daughter. Now satisfied, Yuko can cross the sand to the forbidden door. She opens the wooden barrier to see only dirt. Dirt, roots, and death. Yuko, desperate to get to her baby, starts to dig her way through. As her fingers finally reach open air on the other side, we pull back to see her decomposing corpse burst through the ground above her grave. The year is now 1941, and Yuko had been in that hell for the past 21 years.
When Chester, now back at the camp after a medical discharge, confronts his mother about the things the yurei had said to him and finally learns the truth about why he is being chased by a spirit. He is Taizo, Yuko’s son. Asako, Yuko’s sister, traveled to America after learning of Yuko’s death and adopted her nephew from the orphanage. She and her husband, Henry, raised him as their own and tried to protect him from the truth.
Yuko, after taking a different baby from a prisoner, attempts to return to the afterlife with the child, but only succeeds in returning with empty arms. Like I mentioned before, only blood can follow you to that place, which explains her interest in Chester’s children and her rage when they both passed away. As her spirit was grappling with her empty attempt in paradise, her physical body was left in the camp. After consulting with the elderly Yamato-san, they decide that the only way to keep her from returning is to destroy her body. So, Henry, Asako, and Chester bind the body to a table with barbed wire, soak the barracks in gasoline, and set it ablaze. On the other side, Yuko begins to burn. She reopens the forbidden door to see only flames and smoke. Desperate to reenter her physical body, Yuko leaps into the inferno, and surely, to her demise.
Or is it? As the camera pulls away from the burned down barracks, we scan the ground to see ashen footprints, blowing in the wind.
While this episode of The Terror: Infamy was light on, well, terror, it was jam-packed full of powerful emotions. It makes one wonder what, exactly, one would do to get back to the ones they love. We’ve spent the past five weeks being afraid of Yuko, hating her for what she was doing to the good people of Terminal Island. Now we see that she was trying to find her lost son, Chester. Taizo. Now, we understand. If I were in her position, I would destroy the world to get back to my son. I would grasp the very fabric of reality and tear it apart just to spend one more minute with him. Yuko is no longer a mystery, but she has now been rejected by the one thing she loves in this world. In the coming weeks, we’ll have to see just how angry that makes her.
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!