The world in The Terror: Infamy is changing rapidly. Originally, the setting of the second season of AMC’s horror anthology series The Terror was focused only on life in the camp. Now, in episode eight, “My Sweet Boy,” the lead character Chester Nakayama (Derek Mio) has reunited with Luz (Cristina Rodlo) and believes that Yuko (Kiki Sukezane), the yūrei haunting him is long dead, and is ready to begin his new life as Taizo. But while Chester, now Taizo, works to move forward and away from his family, the Terminal Islanders back at camp are just trying to stay together as Amy (Miki Ishikawa) faces the consequences of recording Major Bowen (C Thomas Howell) and sending his execution of Ken to his superiors.
“My Sweet Boy” begins calmly. While we know that Yuko is making her way to her son, his life has become peaceful. Staying at Luz’s Abuela’s (Alma Martinez) house, working their land, and building a new home, Chester has left the camp and his fragmented identity behind, cementing that when he marries Luz. But all of this changes when Luz learns of her father’s disappearance, which we saw happen under the influence of Yuko last episode, and the world is upended again. This time, it isn’t Japanese myth and folklore coming into play, but Mexican.
I’m understandably skeptical when watching representations of Mexicans and Mexican Americans on screen. While it hasn’t been explicitly stated, given the time period, location, and customs shown in the episode, specifically the use of the rosary in the Catholic ceremony that Luz and Chester had, it’s safe to assume that Luz and her family are Mexican. Since we’re extremely underrepresented in television and movies I’m protective of moments that showcase our identity, especially our folklore. This was showcased in my review of episode six which featured an ill-used allusion to La Llorona. So, when Luz’s family became center-stage, I was slightly concerned. That being said, “My Sweet Boy” is beautifully done.
Not only does the episode utilize Spanish, but it also does so in a way that Mexican-Americans would talk, dropping in English and using colloquialisms fit our culture. Specifically, series and films tend to utilize the language in a way that sounds more like Google translate and less like a real emotional conversation that the characters are having.
Others, like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse use the language to accentuate the authenticity of its characters and their lives. In “My Sweet Boy,” Chester’s use of Spanish highlights how much he has been taken in by Luz’s family. In addition, Luz and her family’s communication carries a different, ease, tone, and word usage reflective of how family members, young to old speak to each other in the language.
While the use of Spanish made me feel like I was back at home in San Antonio, it was the introduction of curanderismo that made me excited. Abuela is a cuandera, a woman, as they explain in touch with old magic. While this isn’t wrong, there is much more to the role of the cuandera, at least that’s what my abuelo taught us about his mother. Those who practice curanderismo throughout Latin America are healers, shamans, dedicated to curing their communities mentally, physically, and spiritually. In “My Sweet Boy,” Abuela’s power is well beyond that, allowing Chester to visit his brother in a photo.
While this is something I’ve never heard of, the importance of death and imagery in the Mexican imagination is strong. We keep photos on our altars during Dia de Muertos to honor our loved ones, allowing them to visit us and survive long after death. It’s here that I believe the showrunners were able to blend concepts and do so in a way that treats Luz’s family with the same care it treated any of the other Terminal Islanders practicing their beliefs or teaching others about myth. Then Yuko appears, and the fear around the fire is just as real as Amy’s fear in the camp.
Having attempted to hit back at Major Bowen and the camp that has dehumanized her community, killed her father and now her boyfriend, Amy is in danger. Once again, the two storylines in this episode deal with reality and the fantastical. Where Chester leans into magic, Amy is subjected to violence at the hands of the man in charge. Drugged and kept captive, Amy is brutalized by Bowen.
In my interview with Lee Shorten, who plays Amy’s Brother Walt Yoshida, the actor mentioned that the stars of the show would end up being the women, especially Ishikawa as Amy. “My Sweet Boy” marks this, as Amy fights back. While we get to see her push back against a man who would take away her agency, it was at the beginning of the episode when we learned that she turned Bowen in that her bravery was front and center.
Beyond that, while Yuko is a woman bringing death, Abuela and Luz show women bringing life. While Chester’s story is still the main one, the women around him are filled with power, story, and identity, a stark contrast to how The Terror: Infamy began the season.
With only two more episodes to go, “My Sweet Boy” has set the stage for more magic and more monsters as Chester and Amy’s fights take shape.
The Terror: Infamy Season 2 is available on streaming and VOD.
The Terror: Infamy, Episode 8 - My Sweet Boy
Beyond that, while Yuko is a woman bringing death, Abuela and Luz show women bringing life. While Chester’s story is still the main one, the women around him are filled with power, story, and identity, a stark contrast to how The Terror: Infamy began the season. With only two more episodes to go, “My Sweet Boy” has set the stage for more magic and more monsters as Chester and Amy’s fights take shape.