The best scene in AMC’s horror anthology series The Terror: Infamy comes at the start of the finale. Until then, the World War II–set drama followed a group of Japanese Americans living in U.S. internment camps while being haunted by a murderous spirit. But the last episode of Season 2, which aired Monday, opens in an unfamiliar new setting that resembles a dream: An elder named Yamato (played by George Takei) is walking down a country road toward a figure in black. The man turns out to be Yamato’s childhood friend Kazu, who expresses joy that they’ve been reunited in the afterlife.
Kazu explains how he moved to Hiroshima decades ago and raised a family; as he speaks, the camera pulls away to reveal a line of people standing next to him. “Your entire family? They’re all in the afterlife?” Yamato asks. The camera glides toward a small girl at the end of the line. She turns her face, exposing the keloid-covered half and revealing that she and her loved ones were killed by the American atomic bomb dropped on her city.
Though otherworldly, the emotional scene is rooted in brutal reality; it’s a high point in a series that struggled to both meaningfully revisit a dark period of U.S. history and tell a compelling supernatural tale. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode, titled “Into the Afterlife,” doesn’t maintain this balance, and the result is a dissonant finale full of conflicting ideas. In its greatest moments, the conclusion is a testament to the show’s empathy for its ensemble and its thoughtful efforts to celebrate the tenacity of the Japanese Americans who suffered in prison camps. At its worst, “Into the Afterlife” finds unnecessary new ways to traumatize its characters while seeming to abruptly forget everything they had just endured at the hands of their own government.