Here's how The Terror: Infamy fits alongside The Terror season 1. The AMC series is rooted in historical horror, but if you were expecting Antarctica chills and Japan shocks to someone be connected, you may be in for a surprise.
The Terror season 1 is based on Dan Simmons’ 2007 novel of the same name. The narrative follows Captain John Franklin’s 19th-century expedition to locate the Northwest Passage, in which 129 men disappeared. For dramatic purposes, showrunner David Kajganich incorporates a supernatural element to explain what could’ve happened to the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which were ultimately discovered in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
For The Terror: Infamy, a completely different cast and production crew tells a story about Japanese-Americans living in U.S. internment camps during World War II. The new season was developed by Alexander Woo and Max Borenstein, featuring a narrative that once again blends facts with fiction. The Terror: Infamy season premiere begins with a mysterious suicide and concludes with Japanese-Americans being detained after Japan’s real-life December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Both The Terror: Infamy and The Terror season 1 have standalone storylines. Audiences can appreciate the horror elements but don’t need to watch one season to understand the other.
As a whole, AMC’s The Terror anthology franchise uses a horror premise to explore real-life historical events, and ruminate on what can be learned from the past. The Terror season 1 includes real historical figures that were part of Franklin’s lost expedition, whereas The Terror: Infamy focuses on the fictional Nakayama Family. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about the thematic similarities between The Terror season 1 and The Terror: Infamy, the aforementioned Woo provided a telling response:
"I think we do share a lot of the DNA. The idea of The Terror as an overarching franchise is that we're telling an historical story using a genre vocabulary… Now that is a pretty broad definition. The tone is very different from season 1 to season 2, but we do share some similarities in that both shows are about a group of people who are in a land where they're not welcome and that the horror is as much human-generated as it is supernaturally generated.”
In that sense, the unique settings are crucial. The Terror season 1 doesn’t take place in one specific country, but rather near the Arctic Circle. A section of planet Earth that functions as the unknown, or “The Other,” and so a supernatural element oddly feels organic as the main group of characters simply can’t know for sure what they’re experiencing. In contrast, The Terror: Infamy is very much about the conflict between two countries. The violence of World War II serves as the horror foundation, while American fear and confusion adds another layer of subtext.
Like The Terror season 1, The Terror: Infamy accentuates that real-world isolation with recognizable supernatural fears. The premise is based on Japanese ghost stories, which allows the series to explore specific traditions that are seemingly rooted in reality rather than fantasy. As depicted in The Terror: Infamy season premiere, some Japanese-Americans fully believed that spirits from the past followed them to America during World War II.