Hello fellow Terror: Infamy watchers! Last week we saw Chester make his escape with Luz to her Mexican family with Yuko in hot pursuit, while back at the camp Amy Yoshida secretly tape recorded Major Bowen confirming his killing of Ken with the phrase “some dogs just need putting down.”
What would the fallout be? Let’s take a look at this week’s episode, “My Sweet Boy,” starting with everybody’s favourite unlikely couple, Chester and Luz.
‘Do You Want Me to Leave?’
The more I see Chester and Luz together, the less likely they seem as a couple. There are times where Luz even seems to openly find Chester a pain in the ass. And yet the romance of the odd couple continues, now in sunny Mexico.
It seems like Chester has been at Luz’s family’s farm for a little while now, finding odd jobs to do so that he doesn’t have to leave, promising to go once he’s done this last job.
What’s he waiting for? Somewhere to go? No, he’s waiting for Luz, of course, waiting for her to make the first move like some lovesick teenager who hopes but cannot act upon that hope.
Luz, for her part, stresses that she doesn’t want Chester to leave but that she doesn’t know what she wants. She obviously does, but she doesn’t want to admit it. There’s so much pain and trauma in their shared past that there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t continue, whatever the likelihood.
It takes family friend Doña Maria telling Luz to just be open with her feelings with Chester for the elephant in the room to be addressed. Luz brings Chester some blankets and the next thing you know they’re in bed together. Of course they are. Because it worked out so well last time…
They decide to keep their forbidden love hidden from Luz’s family, creating a situation where Luz sneaks from Chester’s room every morning back to her own to avoid detection. Chester is getting fed up with this but he has a solution—can you hear wedding bells?
Whilst getting married so as to avoid sneaking around might sound like an extreme solution, what is quite heart warming about the impromptu wedding in the barn of the farm is how easily and happily Luz’s family accepts the situation and welcomes Chester. Maybe it’s because, as Mexicans, they can relate to Chester and what it’s like to be deemed alien and second rate by the United States. And to the show’s credit, with contemporary American-Mexican relations being what they are, it doesn’t over-play its hand in this regard.
Yes, it’s nice to see our favourite doomed romance have a moment of genuine happiness. But there are storm clouds on the horizon. Chester had heard the voices of the yurei on the wind whilst working in the fields and now, with a familiar neck crack and glare, it appears Doña Maria might not be wholly Doña Maria anymore…
The Rules Don’t Apply
Back at the camp, Amy Yoshida is anxious. Very anxious. It should be a time of celebration, or at least relief. The American government is finally letting Japanese citizens leave the camp, provided they get a sponsor for whom they can employ a trade (proving there must be American citizens who bore no grudge against the Japanese citizens—either that or they were quite happy to exploit cheap Japanese labour).
Of course, you don’t need a trade to exploit the system. Henry, as Asako points out, is not a gardener, but that doesn’t stop him telling the officer in charge that he is. It’s a small price to pay for freedom, however limited. And a small price is what Henry and Asako are paid by the government in return, as they are given $25 each and a ticket to their destination. For a moment I thought Henry would snap but I was glad he kept his head and remained silent.
But Amy has other things on her mind. Major Bowen has been away in Washington on account of an “anonymous” tape that was sent to military headquarters and that contained his confession of sorts for the killing of Ken. And now he’s back and he’s…rather cheerful?
Seeing Bowen, usually so arrogant and macho, spreading a kind of good-natured geniality everywhere he goes, is a disorientating sight. As it is for the audience, so it is for Amy. What the hell happened in Washington? Not what was supposed to, that’s for sure. No wonder Amy’s nervous.
Meanwhile, Amy’s brother Walt has returned with his unit to recruit new members from the camp. He toes the party line in public but as he later tells Toshiro Furuya, now 18 and eager to fight, “anywhere that’s too dangerous to send the white soldiers, they send us instead. The guys in my unit are dying faster than can be replaced. That’s why I’m here.”
(Incidentally, Toshiro wins the award this week for “most poignant speech” when he tells Walt “all I’ve seen is people die around me, my mom, my dad, my friends. I graduated high school in a goddamned prison. So help me, but all I want to do is kill me.” Heartbreaking.)
Walt gives Amy a warning: “you know, a guy like that, the rules don’t apply to him. If someone in his circle found out what you did…” The problem is, the circle isn’t at the camp. Bowen is. And Amy can’t shake the feeling all is not as it should be.
‘I Really Liked You Amy…’
There are a couple of moments that give Amy uncertainty. She distrusts a cup of coffee he makes her, returning the favour, he says, for all the cups she made him. Very generous. Later, he takes Amy on a drive to accompany him to pick up supplies for a party he is throwing for the departing Japanese. (If that wasn’t a giveaway!) Amy asks him how much further and he says he doesn’t know; he still hasn’t learned his way around the terrain. A warning sign that something is off for sure, but luckily they come across the supply truck, broken down, and the moment passes.
When the party goes ahead, Amy finally lets her guard down, taking it as a sign that Bowen doesn’t know it was her who sent the tape to Washington. She has a drink, but that’s not all she has. As she stumbles around outside, body moving drunkenly when it is not so, Bowen comes out of the shadows. “Miss Yoshida,” he says, “you’ve had too much to drink.” The net has its catch.
Coming to in an underground room far from the party on the other side of the camp (who else has been in this room and what have they suffered?), Amy is confronted by a Bowen whose pride has been hurt (“she said that you wanted to help your country during a time of war. And I believed her. And I believed you”), and the only way he can think to restore balance is to re-establish his physical dominance over Amy, his inability to reconcile his own emotions instinctively leading to violence.
Yes, the tape reached Washington. But unfortunately it reached the hands of one Bowen’s friends working there. The issue never made it to the right place in the chain. And now Bowen, wounded and knowing Amy would never love someone as corrupt as him, will attempt to remedy this with force.
It’s his language first that intimates the stamping of his sexuality into his authority over Amy: “if you’ll just control yourself, perhaps we can discuss the current situation and how we’re going to handle it and our potential future together.” There is already the suggestion of ownership and coupling. What is there to discuss but consent?
He progresses from talk to physicality when he leans in for a kiss and snaps one of Amy’s fingers as a riposte for her spitting in his face. He was touching her thigh and taunting her that she missed her dead partner’s touch, so, y’know, he can’t really claim the moral high ground. Yet it is this act that confirms Bowen’s central issue is one of sexual jealousy. “I really liked you Amy,” Bowen whimpers as the finger bone snaps, “hell, I still do.”
This is not the only vulnerability Bowen shows, also making reference to his suspicion the camp is haunted. Amy admirably picks upon this and pokes the bear, taunting Bowen in return with her knowledge of Yuko. While Bowen gets hot and bothered by the ghost talk, she has been able to untie her hands and gives Bowen a good crack around the head with a chair.
Here Amy pauses for choice, but all that pent-up anger and loss must out somehow and out it does as Amy holds Bowen’s head down, suffocating him. Revenge killing should never be a feel-good moment, but nonetheless I felt really good for Amy here, finally asserting herself against the authority that has patronised and exploited her. It will be interesting to see her next steps in the face of Bowen’s death, but for now a victory of sorts has been won.
‘A Moment in a Spirit’s Life’
Back in New Mexico, the police make a surprise nighttime visit to Luz. But for once it’s not Chester they’re after. Luz’s dad has gone missing, which of courses panics Luz, but it sends Luz’s grandmother into a supernatural whirl. Her instincts, knowing the punctual man Luz’s father was, is that he’s not just missing but dead. She suggests using curanderismo magic: “an old belief that when a person passes on, there’s some part of their spirit that remains in their bones, in their hair. In pictures as well. An image captures moment in a spirit’s life. The curanderismo can take us to where (Luz’s father) sat when he took this picture but only if he is dead.”
Luz isn’t keen, is adamant in fact that her father isn’t dead. While the uncertainty is tearing her up, there is at least the possibility of her father still being alive if no definite conclusion is reached. It’s a small hope but a hope nonetheless.
True to form, Chester bypasses his wife’s pain to think about his own: he wants to use the magic to see if his twin brother Jirou is still alive. Honestly, why did Luz marry him? And after giving Chester the warning that some people don’t want to come back after seeing the other side, why do they let him go ahead with it anyway? The mind boggles.
In any case, Chester travels metaphysically to the time and place of the photograph, via a shamanistic ceremony, armed with the knowledge that if Jirou is there then he will be dead, and that the dead will not know they’re dead.
Sure enough Jirou is there, but disappointingly(?) it does not appear anything sinister happened to him. Reading between the lines, it seems he was a severely poorly child that was finally overcome. There is a sadness and a sense of relief in Chester’s reaction to this. It is short lived.
In New Mexico, Luz and her grandmother panic as Chester appears to be overcome by an outside presence. They’d panic more if they could see Chester’s vision: mummy’s here and she’s come to take her baby Jirou back to the “perfect world” she has made for him. She grabs him and they sink into the ground in the same way The Woman in Black did when she was dragged into hell by demons, a nice little link and a reasonable metaphor for Yuko’s actions.
Sure enough, Chester returns back to his body, and the photo of Jirou is now just the photo of an empty swing. Realising, at long last, that Yuko is back, he goes on a hunch and looks at the wedding photographs. One of the guests is indeed blurred and the penny drops: Doña Maria had been inhabited by Yuko all along. It was Doña Maria in fact that had encouraged Luz to reveal her feelings to Chester back at the start of the episode.
With a sinking feeling, Chester goes to Doña Maria’s house, only to find her corpse with a baby costume in her hands. Chester is confused but Luz understands only too well. She’s pregnant again. It was never Chester she wanted (I assume his age would be too much to maintain the illusion for Yuko: she gave up her children as babies, so babies she must have). But she needs Chester’s blood so he must procreate to pass this on to a baby in the form of his child.
While a reasonable plot development, this was already suggested all the way back in Episode 4, and it seems the show has taken a further episode detour just to shake the audience off the scent so they can bring it back as a shock in time for the climax. But it doesn’t work. As viewers, our memories aren’t that short and the fact Luz’s stillbirth was traumatic in itself means we are even less likely to forget.
It has been a failing of the writing throughout that the good ideas and characters that are here have been frustrated by a lack of internal logic that has ultimately done the show more harm than good overall. A shame really, as there is really a lot of potential for a great show here.
What do you think? Do you agree or am I talking a load of old nonsense? Let me know in the comments!