'The Terror' Episode 7 'Horrible from Supper' Turns from Nature to Man

Captain Crozier is keeping a secret from his men, but its consequences bubble to the surface in The Terror , episode 7 "Horrible from Supper," anyway, as lead poisoning begins to transform the men of Terror and Erebus from duty-bound, stiff-upper-lip Brits into gibbering, vicious, desperate men. But while the minds of Crozier's men grow more disordered, one character's thoughts have taken on a particularly deranged focus, as Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) begins his murderous rebellion against the expedition's leadership.

The Terror has thwarted the narrative conventions we've expected from characters throughout. Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) started the series as a pompous and cocky fool, destined to butt heads with Crozier. Instead, the arctic has humbled him. Crozier (Jared Harris) turned around his own dark star trajectory, overcoming both his melancholia and alcoholism. But Hickey hasn't been so lucky. Instead, the lovable rogue who chats up officers and pops down to the lower deck for a little consensual fun has been plowed under by both resentment and the conspiratorial certainty the shipboard officers have betrayed their men.

Hickey is hardly wrong. He was ritually humiliated by Crozier at the captain's lowest and most resentful; not just lashed, but " punished, as a boy." And while Hickey seems to impute sinister motives to Dr. Goodsir (Paul Ready) and Crozier, he expertly diagnoses their cover-up of the lead building up in their bodies and affecting their minds. But despite his cleverness and overconfidence, Hickey is more victim than mastermind by the end of "Horrible from Supper," succumbing to the same unfocused rage and violence warping the sailors most vulnerable to the lead in their food.

Even before setting out across the ice, as they load up the rowboats (dragged on sledge rails) and prepare to abandon ship, Hickey prepares to break off from the expedition. The conspiracy widens once they establish a base camp on the rocky, lifeless tundra of King William Land. After failing to secure guns, Hickey works to get an officer on his side, but what was once a coherent plan has turned strange, undercut by the buzzing in Hickey's ears and intimations of cannibalism. When Hickey kills his two fellows on a hunting party, the transition is complete: he has gone from a plotter to a madman, lashing out with an egomania so forceful he can't even feel the cold.

Captain Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) inspects the camp's perimeter. Aidan Monaghan/AMC

"Horrible from Supper" is the first episode of The Terror where the dangers of nature recede. The Tuunbaq is nowhere to be seen. It's warm enough that some of the men aren't even wearing hats. Even the light has taken on a certain softness, altering the whole aesthetic of the show as vibrant blues and reds, once hidden in darkness, pop off their uniforms. But the expedition is more imperiled than ever, their minds fully infected, not just by lead, but by the horrors they've survived so far.

A flashback from "Horrible from Supper" provides us with an odd piece of information: Hickey faked his way aboard and has no experience sailing. He's plunged into an adventure for which he was wholly unprepared. Now, it seems he's doing the same, just for murder and mutiny this time. Hickey's final moments in the last episode of The Terror don't inspire confidence that his band of rebels, still plotting to get away from the main expedition, have much chance of surviving on their own. But if Hickey's own decay is indicative of the crew at large, there's much more chaos ahead.

Though punctuated with violence and demonstrating a mass cognitive decline, "Horrible from Supper" is very nearly the least grim episode of The Terror yet. Characters even contemplate, for the first time, making it back to England. Even the episode's darkest reminder of the Tuunbaq—the heads of the rescue party, frozen and lined on shelves of ice like trophies—can be interpreted as a sign of changing fortunes. That party only made it 18 miles from the ship, but Crozier, Fitzjames and the rest of the men have already surpassed them. Now, with the minds of the men turning back toward disaster, it will only take nature's ferocious return to end this temporary thaw.