The doomed remnants of the expedition is winding down as we lose many lives in the penultimate episode of The Terror, “The C, The C, The Open C”. In this week's exclusive postmortem, we talk to costume designer Annie Symons, actor Adam Nagaitis, and showrunners David Kajganich and Soo Hugh about setting up the look, feel, and emotions needed in this episode.
Spoiler warning: Spoilers for The Terror Episode 9, “The C, The C, The Open C,” are discussed in detail below!
It’s the penultimate episode, but let’s look back at the journey of Hickey. In the book, he was more of a black and white villain. In the series, he’s a lot more inscrutable and complicated. How quickly was that differentiation made clear to you?
Adam Nagaitis: After I met David and Soo, I was told to stop reading [the book] because our Hickey differs from the book. He's a much more complex character than the Hickey in the book. The Hickey in the book is a little bit easier with his villainy. So, aside from his name, and his role, and his movement throughout, the character is essentially different. And it wasn't hard for me to get any bits of that Hickey out. As soon as I read the script, I realized it, and then a lot of Hickey was created as we went on.
Did you spend the shoot away from the rest of the cast to create that mystique you could also employ in the scenes?
AN: Yeah, I was isolated all the time because it makes more sense to me. We'd bring our relationships home with us, but you're always in communication with the EPs and the directors. I sat down a lot with [director] Ed Berger.
This episode is the beginning of the end of this tragic story. Looking back on the demands of designing the costumes for the series, how does it stand in your career?
Anne Symons: Everything about it was so technically challenging. It was research-based, but I think it was just creating the whole, and the full spectrum. I'm proud because we went everywhere with it. And it's quite interesting because we had to invent a lot of this because there is no evidence of what they wore on these expedition slops, as they're called.
What was your reference to create the outfits that they wore while on land?
AS: We looked at much, much later expeditions. We looked at what fishermen wore. We looked at paintings. All the officers had custom-made exploration coats and whatnot. I actually wanted them to look like they were astronauts. So, some of them have flags, or Union Jacks on them like the NASA flags. And this was about very practical things because when we were shooting on Pag Island, the environment's really dangerous. Normally they'd be wearing sea boots, but we had to give them proper hiking boots and then cover them up with the gators.
We say goodbye to a lot of beloved characters in this episode from Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) to Blanky (Ian Hart) and Bridgens (John Lynch). How did you decide who needed to go and how to portray it?
Soo Hugh: We really felt that we had earned a little flexibility to do an episode like this, especially knowing what was coming up in Episode 10. What we wanted to bank on is the audience would care so much about these characters that it's their moment to say goodbye to the characters as well. Each of the deaths are different, like with Blanky finding the Northwest Passage. But Bridgens' death is very quiet. In another life, he probably would have been a beautiful, beautiful poet with a poet's death. So, because we've fallen in love with some of our characters, we wanted to give them each a distinct moment in death itself. I was really happy with it.
David Kajganich: What a beautiful episode. We knew from the beginning in the writer's room basically how the season would work. We knew we needed for an audience to feel like that had really gone on a full journey. In a way, “The C, The C, The Open C” had to operate in the way that maybe another writer's room would have asked the finale to operate. We just knew we had different business in Episode 10. And it meant that we got to relish, kind of in the operatic way, these characters dying in an episode before maybe a lot of people thought they were.
This is going to sound a bit morbid, but did either of you have a favorite goodbye scene in terms of how it played out?
DK: All of them. They're so different from one another. The one I would point to is the scene where Crozier goes to sit with Jopson and washes him. It's the second half of the scene that starts in Episode 6 when Jopson is taking care of Crozier. We knew it was scripted up to a point, but on the day we shot it, we understood we wanted to keep the camera on them and fade the sound down and pull the score up. So, we needed Jared to keep talking.
Jared asked, "Well, what am I talking about?" And I said, "Well, tell the story about trying to ride a cow." And he's like, "What?" I was like, "Just go with it. Just improvise a story about riding your neighbor's cow." And, God love him, Jared just went in there and started talking about the neighbor's cow. We had to shoot it a few times because he kept accidentally saying that the cow was owned by Colin Farrell, instead of Colleen Foley, which was the name we came up with. So, they were laughing and laughing. But when they finally got a take that worked, it was so beautiful to me. Just watching Jared's performance but also watching Liam Garrigan's performance, which is not sentimental in the least. In all of these scenes, the performances are so wonderful and that scene in particular, because there was an element of not quite being sure how we were going to end the dialogue. That meant that the actors got to step in and improvise with us. It was wonderful.
The Terror airs Mondays nights on AMC.