Many, and perhaps most, prestige television shows traffic in death. Name your top five dramas right now and chances are good the majority are about people who kill other people for a living, or at the very least on a pro-am basis. Yet for all their fixation on mortality, violent or otherwise, few shows bother attempting to answer the unanswerable question of what death feels like. [...]
Which makes “The Ladder,” The Terror’s horrific third episode, one of the year’s most impressive hours of television. Climaxing with the surprise death of a major character—a shock tactic you’ve almost come to expect from high-profile dramas—it takes the opportunity to root the viewer in the experience of dying, and dying horribly. Using dizzying camerawork, surreal editing, brutal gore, and a simple but staggering performance by Ciarán Hinds, the episode makes the killing of Sir John Franklin a real voyage into the unknown: the mind of a man who suddenly finds himself in the grips of panic and pain from which there will be no return.
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