[TV Review] The Terror Season 1 (2018) ★★★★★

Men rowing in a boat from the Erebus to the Terror in The Terror season 1

The Terror is a breathtaking historical spectacle with outstanding quality storytelling. 

The Terror is a historical report of a polar expedition in 1845 with a supernatural mythical element. The Terror is the name of one of the ships that set sail to find a new route through the arctic sea, but it’s also what the crew must endure. Terror and dread are both very tangible and real but are also the result of something supernatural that roams the ice planes. 

The series is based on the novel The Terror written by Dan Simmons in 2007. His book is based on the real events of the ships the Terror and the Erebus with Captain Sir John Franklin, Captain Francis R.M. Crozier and Captain James Fitzjames who failed in their expedition and went missing, never to be found again. Dan Simmons has combined this real historical event with supernatural elements resulting in an enthralling, gripping and bone-chilling story. 

This first season consists of 10 episodes with each a duration of 42-56 minutes. It has a continuous storyline, wherein the circumstances are getting worse and worse for the crew and their expedition turns into a fight for survival. 


In 1845 ships The Erebus and The Terror set sail to the Arctic to find a new sailing route. They start out hopeful and full of bravados but when the propellor of the Erebus gets frozen they encounter their first problem. While Franklin stays arrogant, Crozier who has been to the Arctic before knows the danger they’ll soon be in, if the ice freezes around them trapping them in the ice. 

When a supernatural creature seems to stalk them and kills Franklin, Crozier is left in charge. He now has to stand up against an upcoming mutiny, the extreme circumstances, and the hardship, while he faces the biggest dilemmas in his life. 

Why you should watch it

The cinematography, the set design, the art decoration alone will blow you away. You can hear the ice crackle, you can feel the cold and the despair, and the isolation is very tangible. The realism of the actions, the dilemmas, the difficult choices, the different characters is exceptionally done. The series looks outstanding and the story is well-crafted. It’s gripping, enthralling, terrifying at times and it is man against man, where good and evil no longer seem to exist, only survival is left, resulting in bad decisions. The moral dilemmas and the action are spine-chilling and form the real terror and dread of the series. 

These decisions and character developments are depicted by their actions but also by means of flashbacks where we get to know the Captains better in their more natural habitat. Each Captain differs greatly from one another, with each their own personal motivations which bring friction and tension to the story. 

It is therefore very much a character driven plot and what happens is mainly due to human behavior. One is too arrogant to make good decisions, another is too afraid and inexperienced, and another is struggling with alcoholism which makes him a leader who only few will trust and follow. That makes the story all the more interesting. Even more so when some crew members are very loyal and goodnatured, while others are bad to the core to begin with and their bad traits only increase when the situation gets worse. 

They have to deal with great ordeals and hardship, lack of food and disease, the frozen sea, the isolation, homesickness, hallucinations, madness, mutiny, cannibalism and even murder. But that’s only the human and realistic side of the terror they have to endure.

The mythical creature that roams the ice is a Tuunbaq. The Tuunbaq is a mythical spirit summoned by a Shaman to help the Inuit people to provide for food and protection. And now the English are a threat to the peaceful Inuit people. Due to their own reckless actions, the Tuunbaq gets even more dangerous. While the Tuunbaq isn’t the focus of the story, it is a magnificent presence in the background making the story more alluring and elusive. 

The Tuunbaq is beautifully created and impressive, although we don’t get to see much of it. The whole series is beautifully depicted and really does bring the ordeals and the beautiful nature to life. 

The Terror is a very impressive series with a gripping story that is very addictive and thrilling. It’s adventurous and intriguing instead of full of action and therein lies the strength of the series.

My favorite part

Although this isn’t a series or story I usually am drawn to, this one grabbed me from the first second. It’s highly appealing due to the design and storytelling. You just have to  keep watching once you start. I normally don’t like the realism, how unbearable circumstances can bring out the worst in people turning against each other. Real life can be hardship enough. But this got me hooked immediately. Of course the Tuunbaq played a big part in this, but the cinematography, the acting, the whole vibe and atmosphere is outstanding and very addictive. So sometimes stepping outside your own bubble results in the most surprising discoveries. 


Rating: ★★★★★

Thrill factor: ★★★★☆

Drama factor:★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Read more about the Terror:

Cast and crew

The Terror is based on the novel of the same name written by Dan Simmons in 2007. The series is created by David Kajganich. It stars Jared Harris (Captain Francis Crozier), Tobias Menzies (Captain James Fitzjames), Paul Ready (Henry Goodsir), Adam Nagaitis (Cornelius Hicky), Ian Hart (Thomas Blanky), Nive Nielsen (Lady Silence) and Ciarán Hinds (Captain John Franklin).

Music: Marcus Fjellström. Cinematography: Florian Hoffmeister, Frank van den Eeden, Kolja Brandt. Production company: Scott Free Productions, Emjag productions, AMC Studios, Entertainment 360. Original network: AMC.

Check the trailer below

Support BHG: