In this week's new The Terror: Infamy episode, 'Gaman,' Chester (Derek Mio) and his whole family are finally reunited in the internment camp when a much-changed Henry (Shingo Usami) is returned to them. Audiences get a greater sense of what the Terminal Island community must do to create their new 'normal,' which also includes Luz (Cristina Rodlo) as she tries to fit into Chester's family unit.
In our latest exclusive episode breakdown for 'Gaman,' executive producer Alexander Woo, and actors Derek Mio and George Takei provide insight into the real history, and the core relationships, that underpin the entire episode.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for the first episode of The Terror: Infamy!**
Alexander Woo, Executive Producer/Showrunner: Shannon Goss wrote this episode and it's maybe our most human episode. We're in camp for the entire episode and it was important for us to make the drama as human as possible. One of the things that was very important in our early discussions with Michael Lehmann, our director, who's someone I worked with on True Blood many, many times, and Barry Dunleavy, who was the DP of episodes three and four, was to capture not just the look of the camp for us, but the feel of the camp. The oppression of constantly being watched and not just by a supernatural being out there. There's soldiers with guns and they're not pointing out. They're pointing in, so that’s a feeling of constantly being watched and being followed.
It's that searchlight following you everywhere you go, which is something from George (Takei's) childhood. He remembers a searchlight following him to the latrines. Now, from the perspective of a five-year-old, he thought that was a really nice thing that someone was showing him the way. But for Chester, he doesn't even have the privacy to go to the bathroom. So, the idea of someone shadowing is omnipresent throughout this.
On the realities in the camp:
Derek Mio, Chester Nakayama: When my [actual] great grandfather was taken away, my grandpa had to assume that man of the house role and find shelter for his siblings. The same thing happens with Chester. Once his father's taken away, he takes on the role of the man of the house and finding temporary shelter for his own family and his neighbors. And this is all culminating at a very crazy time for him discovering that he is going to be a father soon. There's a lot of changes going on at the same time. Changes in the bigger world of what's going on in the war and with the country, but also with his own little world.
George Takei, Yamato-san and Series Consultant: Part of my job as consultant was to verify sequences. In the mess hall sequences, they had very hardy bowls and plates…a brand-new set there where they dished out the food. I never remembered them that sparkly and clean. They were chipped and cracked and some leaked when they put the slop on the plates. We corrected that by drawing in the chips which photographed well.
On the dream dance between Asako and Henry Nakayama:
Alex Woo: A lot of our favorite scenes have absolutely no dialogue whatsoever. The Henry (Shingo Usami) and Asako (Naoko Mori) dance scene really was one of our absolute favorite moments. It gives you a feeling of, ‘Oh, this is the love that they have for each other,’ which is hard to do because they're physically separated. She doesn't know where Henry is at that moment and the circumstances they're in are so miserable. So, this gives a chance to show what they're dreaming of.
And it's one example of many where it's an homage to Six Feet Under. I joke that there's multiple episodes of this show that could have been a cold open in Six Feet Under. But in addition to that, there's also these little dream hallucination sequences that let you into the interior lives of these people and that's what that Henry/Asako dance sequence is about.
On generation gap represented via the yūrei:
George Takei: We had many different kinds of tensions in the Japanese-American community pre-war time. There was a tension of the immigrants of the old beliefs, rituals and superstitions and the American-born. It was a legitimate tension between the generations. I grew up hearing about obake and yūrei, but I was a kid, so you accept anything your parents, or the grown-ups tell you.
As I got older, I put it where it was…that it came from Japanese superstition. But under the circumstances of the unjust imprisonment, the immigrant generation goes back to what they grew up with. When something horrible happens, it’s the spirit of that person that died that caused that horrible thing to happen. The American-born generation calls it superstition but it creates the tension between generations. Some people think the ghost tales were imposed just to create tension, but it’s organic to the generational difference.
Alex Woo: The number of supernatural things that happen are relatively small [in this episode]. Even the killing of Hideo (Eiji Inoue) is done naturally. [Yuko] doesn't possess him to do something to himself like she did when he went blind. She physically goes in there, bites his tongue out, so it's very visceral. It's an act of rage that she doesn't even need the supernatural to help her do this to him. She's just going to go in there and rip his tongue out and kill him.
Alex Woo: It's Chester's first real attempt at acknowledging that this spirit is real. The conversation with Yamato-san sort of confirms that. Yamato-san says, "The yūrei is wherever you go. It follows you." Chester then decides he's going to do something about it, which is very American. He's a man of action, and he still feels he has some agency. Chester's still taking this very, possibly, naive but hopefully, heroic notion of, “I'm going to do something about it.” And he has a confrontation with Henry at the end, where he's like, "Dad, you're just sitting here. All you do is you just sit there", and that's sort of defines their relationship up to that point.
On the relationship between Luz and Chester:
Alex Woo: Chester and Luz (Cristina Rodlo), they’ve spent so much of their time apart and they've never even danced together. They have a child coming, he's going off to war and they skipped over a whole lot of other stuff, so the simplest thing is having their first dance. And you can use that as a bit of a counterpoint to what Henry and Asako have had.
Derek Mio: Yes, it is a great love between them. Luz is the love of his life. I think Cristina and I brought that into every scene that we were in together. Because she's just so amazing, and the way that she plays Luz, she brings so much strength to Luz. And Luz gives Chester so much strength. But the fact that all these different circumstances are occurring around them just adds to the drama and how tragic it is that they're being pulled apart by certain forces.
New episodes of The Terror: Infamy air Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.