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jewel21

S02.E01: A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest

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Airdate 2019.08.12

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In 1941, Chester Nakayama finds himself caught between his insular Japanese American neighborhood on Terminal Island, California, and his current life as an all-American guy. When extreme circumstances push both his community and personal life to the brink, Chester must grapple with what kind of a man he wants to be, all while someone watches closely.

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I liked this episode, it kept building up the dread.  I'm curious about what the creature/spirit is and why it's haunting everyone.

I was caught off guard when I saw the thing behind Chester and his cousin.  It was like something out of "It Follows".

The gory scenes made me turn my head, but I should have expected it after the disgusting stuff from the first season.

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Beautifully shot. Well-acted. I would watch this even without the horror element, which I can take or leave. First, for George and Naoko Mori (Tosh in Torchwood). Second, my mentor from my younger days was interned in a camp as a child with his family. He didn't talk about it much, but we were made aware of the insanity and inhumanity visited on innocent Japanese Americans at the time. I get incredibly angry when I think of it. At any rate, I'd watch this just for that re-telling alone. I hope the message comes across loud and clear and many others watch and learn from it. So far, they're doing a brilliant job.

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8 hours ago, peridot said:

I was caught off guard when I saw the thing behind Chester and his cousin.  It was like something out of "It Follows".

I totally missed that. Was then when they were talking at the dock where the lady committed suicide? I'll have to go back and rewatch. 

2 hours ago, Ms Lark said:

Beautifully shot. Well-acted. I would watch this even without the horror element, which I can take or leave.

True, it could have been a drama about those days without the "spirit" part. 

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1 hour ago, Superclam said:

I totally missed that. Was then when they were talking at the dock where the lady committed suicide? I'll have to go back and rewatch. 

True, it could have been a drama about those days without the "spirit" part. 

Yeah, it was behind them at the dock.  I expected her to get closer and closer, but she kept the same distance.

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My first time watching this show. I enjoyed it. The first 8 minutes or so were super creepy and visually stunning. It caught enough of my attention that I will tune in next week. I want more creepy supernatural stuff, though. 

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15 hours ago, peridot said:

Yeah, it was behind them at the dock.  I expected her to get closer and closer, but she kept the same distance.

I thought she was going to pass them and give them her evil eye and expected the cousin (too early for the lead to get it) to start choking or suffer some other ill effects. Maybe she's after Chester and needs to get him alone.

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38 minutes ago, jewel21 said:

My first time watching this show. I enjoyed it. The first 8 minutes or so were super creepy and visually stunning. It caught enough of my attention that I will tune in next week. I want more creepy supernatural stuff, though. 

I quite liked the first season and am enjoying this one as well. The Japanese culture is interesting. 

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41 minutes ago, jewel21 said:

My first time watching this show. I enjoyed it. The first 8 minutes or so were super creepy and visually stunning. It caught enough of my attention that I will tune in next week. I want more creepy supernatural stuff, though. 

2 minutes ago, PippiLongstockng said:

I quite liked the first season and am enjoying this one as well. The Japanese culture is interesting. 

I was drawn to the first season because it had an excellent British cast. I wasn't sure I would like the second season as I'm not familiar with anyone in the cast but I'm hooked again. The acting and cinematography are just as good as last season.

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I'm not exactly overwhelmed by this one, but then again I wasn't all that enamored of the first season either. Interesting that I'm having the same trouble I did last season, identifying all the characters. The show just doesn't do a good job of identifying them for us. 

I was intrigued by the closing shot of the Geisha Girl's skin peeling off a la V. Is she a lizard?

I don't know, I think I'd have to go back and watch again before I could keep going because I thought it was a bit of a mess. And I'm not sure I could sit through it a second time.

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I loved the first season and was a bit on the fence about them doing a new season with new characters (not that they can use many characters from season one!) but I was quite riveted by this. It seems like it will have a similar theme as season one, contrasting the supernatural horror to the real life horrors of the darkness of people and of society, which I liked a lot. Its almost like two horror stories for the price of one! The acting and cinematography are all excellent, and the scares with the ghost (?) were very effective and creepy. I really want to especially shout out to the people doing the music (the score is very eerie and beautiful) and the sound editing (the bone cracking sounds! Ack!) who are doing an amazing job so far.

What a crappy time for Chester, his family, and his neighbors. Not only is their country now at war, not only are they being unjustly imprisoned and persecuted based on pure racism, but now theres a freaking ghost after them!

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11 hours ago, iMonrey said:

I was intrigued by the closing shot of the Geisha Girl's skin peeling off a la V. Is she a lizard?

It was briefly mentioned in the season's trailers and also in the trailer for next week's episode about Yuko's identity:

Spoiler

Yuko is a yurei, a type of vengeful bakemono (monster, or spirit) from Japanese lore caused by someone dying suddenly or violently, with their crossing over into the afterlife disturbed by intense emotion, or by not getting proper burial rites. They are corporeal spirits searching for vengeance or closure, like a combination of a zombie and a ghost.

I have some reservations so far. For me, the dread isn't quite there, yet. They're leaning a little too far and heavily on the supernatural elements and special effects, without building up the atmosphere first. I feel like good horror has to have a little creepy foreplay, first. Get the right mood going. They should've saved half of the supernatural scares in this episode for at least another couple of shows and just leaned in on the hardships already present in the characters' natural situations. 80% of the dread and horror from the first season wasn't the violence or supernatural aspects, it was the desolation of the setting, the claustrophobia of the ship, the dramatic irony in the crew's impending doom.

I wish they'd built some of that up in this first episode. Maybe I missed it, but I feel like the date should've been front and center in a bold title-card: NOVEMBER [X], 1941, then again and again, ticking down the days to that terrible attack we the audience know is coming. That would've brought back some of that dread of the inevitable from the first season right away.

Chester mentions their "small island" several times, but it would be nice to get some establishing shots of the island just to get that same scale and visually show how Chester might feel physically closed in (mirroring the same claustrophobia he might feel both from his father's expectations, and the social limitations shackling people of color in that era) instead of him just telling us. Maybe also include a scene where the Nakayamas also struggle with the elements on their fishing boat, literally "tempest tossed," and getting close to losing a crewmember or the boat, to underline their daily struggle.

I also wouldn't have used such a nice model as Nakayama's hard-earned car; cars were still a premium luxury in the late 30's/early 40's, especially so for shiny sedans like the one he bought. I'd expect him to have purchased an older model pick-up truck, something on the cheaper side that would help him in his job to haul nets/buckets/gear, etc., but he would've still had that same intense pride in finally being able to buy a vehicle. It just seemed totally out of place for a working-class man who's still battling with getting fair wages from his racist bosses to be able to afford (much less choose to buy) a status symbol sedan instead of a more rugged and useful vehicle, and kind of cheapened his financial and social struggles just from a visual story-telling aspect.

The episode also just plain jumped around a lot between all the different plot points: Chester and Luz's relationship, Chester and Henry's relationship, Henry's struggle with work and the fishery's foreman, the Furuya's terrible demises, the introduction of Yuko, then Pearl Harbor and the initial rounding up of Japanese immigrants (and later citizens). Perhaps splitting this first episode into two and dedicating each episode to only a couple of these plotlines would've streamlined everything, instead of bouncing around so much and staggering the pacing.

A lot of these nitpicks can be overlooked by the great performances so far by the cast, and some of the wrinkles in the narrative will likely get ironed out in the upcoming episodes when the setting takes a dramatic and horrific shift (no supernatural shenanigans needed), so I'm sticking around. It's tough to get lightning to strike in the same place twice (like that amazing first season of the Terror), but I can still enjoy the crack and roll of its thunder.

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9 hours ago, jaigurudeva said:

Maybe I missed it, but I feel like the date should've been front and center in a bold title-card: NOVEMBER [X], 1941, then again and again, ticking down the days to that terrible attack we the audience know is coming.

I take your point that they could have been less subtle. But the opening title card did tell us it was 1941, and then, there was actually something literally "front and center," namely:

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10 hours ago, Corgi-ears said:

I take your point that they could have been less subtle. But the opening title card did tell us it was 1941, and then, there was actually something literally "front and center," namely:

Yeah, I caught that at the end of the episode, shortly before they turn the focus on Pearl Harbor. I think it would be more effective to have the date mentioned from the beginning, so we the audience know how close it begins to 12/7. They only show the date the day of the attack, but having that count down from several days before would've given the episode more suspense, urgency, and narrative momentum to counteract the meandering shifts in focus as the episode bounced from plotline to plotline.

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On re-watch the episode made a bit more sense but I still think it did a fairly poor job of establishing who the characters were. I didn't pick up on the fact that the woman who gave Chester the abortifacient was the same woman who committed suicide the first time around, because those event were shown out of sequence. (We open with her suicide, then a flashback to her giving the potions to Chester). There were a lot of people at the dinner table at the Nakayama house. I figured out who Chester's mother was, but who were all those other people? He took a walk with someone named Amy . . . a cousin? Her brother is Walt, the guy they took to the brothel for his stag party? Do two families live in that house? Who was the other woman with Mr. Nakayama when drunken Grichuck came to the door? 

Who is George Takei playing? Henry's father? Just some random fisherman? 

I didn't get why some people were being hauled off to detention camps while others were left behind. Henry said something about Chester being a citizen because he was born there, but there seemed to be a lot more people left behind.

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I think the first group of detainees were first generation Japanese immigrants, that is, they weren't citizens yet.  This appeared to be happening directly after Dec. 7, and the general relocation orders weren't in effect until March 1942. 

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I wasn't sure about this season since it's set in the 20th century but I like supernatural shows and I finally got around to watching it today and I don't know, I don't think this is a scab we should pick at. We still have people of that generation living and for me it hits too close to home. It was a terrible, sad time for our Country and I just wished they would've stayed out of the 20th century.

The reason I liked the first season so much besides the supernatural element is because it's a real mystery. No one is still alive to talk about what actually happened on the ships/ land so IMO it was okay to throw in the supernatural spirit bear and embellish the story a little. But WW2 with supernatural, I don't know.

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It is hard not to compare this to the first season - and not to be skeptical since the original showrunners are not involved. 
'The Terror' had a lot going for it, being a historical mystery with actual people being represented by some very good actors. Knowing that everyone was doomed from the start and watching as the noose slowly tightened, while everyone ignored good advice from better captains and the local natives, was the reason for the fascination. The supernatural element was not that big a factor. 

While this first episode seemed well made, it did not feel as if it had any great hook to it. Instead of historical fiction, it is complete fiction within a time period. It seems as if the supernatural element of the vengeful spirit is the main element of the story - and we are not left with any doubt that things are happening because of the supernatural.

The Perl Harbor attack and the Internment camps do create an oppressive atmosphere but at this point it is difficult to tell where any of it may be going.
We will continue to watch .. and hope for the best .. 

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I don't think the acting is all that, myself. Season 1 had stellar acting. There is some good but also some terrible (the dad is terrible, sorry to say).

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Interesting episode. I liked that it was something different than anything else on tv although that made it a bit hard to follow. Although I think I got all the major plot points. It didn't help that I was watching on demand which and wasn't able to rewind. 

The broken bone effects, like the lady walking on the dock at the beginning were super creepy. 

I did find it funny though that Chester was basically wearing an Indiana Jones outfit.

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Just watched episode one last night.  I'm an amateur Franklin Expedition historian, which is what brought me to Dan Simmons' book and then to this series.  I was unaware of the self-imposed isolation of the Japanese families when they emigrated to the US in the 30s and 40s.  So, that's interesting.  The big difference I see here from the first series is that the horror factor is real and comes into play from the first ten minutes of the story.  For me, that makes this much more a rival of American Horror Story than the Franklin Expedition story did.  They both have started taking historical mysteries and serializing them -- but the FE was more of a history lesson until the Tuunbaaq started bouncing around.  American Horror Story (even "Roanoke") makes no attempt to tell history accurately. 

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