Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Complications” – Good Intentions Creating a Bad Future

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     “Complications” is a really good episode that shows how hopeless it is to change things. Everything that is setup looks like we are marching to Judgement Day, even though the characters are acting to prevent Judgement Day from occurring from the information they know.

    The episode was directed by Steven DePaul and written by John Wirth and Ian Goldberg.

    The story involves Jessie’s capture of Charles Fischer who experimented on her and Derek and was a human who chose to work against humanity with the machines. Cameron and John are also find Chromatie is missing and Sarah Connor is haunted by visions and nightmares.

The Pros: Charles Fischer – Fischer is fascinating as he is a criminal who was created by his future self screwing him over. He sets up his younger self to go to prison when he frames for a crime, making sure he will be a servant of the machines teaching them how to mimic humanity. What a fascinating s bastard. Future one is killed by Jessie when what they should have done was kill the one in current time.

Agent Ellis – Ellis steals Chromatie and is working with Catherine Weaver, not realizing she is using him. I feel bad for the guy as John and Cameron beat him up when all he has is good intentions. I hope we see him work with them again as Weaver is up to no good.

Sarah Connor and Dr. Sherman – This dynamic is fascinating. Sherman is one of the few people laying down boundaries with her and she is actually getting help from him when he listens to her. She is haunted by her dreams and her fear of losing John and everything and I think part of all this for her is learning to let go, which Sherman can help her do.

Sarah Connor’s Dreams – They are trippy, with metallic cacti holding John and her climbing down into what looks like a tomb. Curious to see if these dreams will go anywhere, but it fits her role as a prophet on the show.

Cameron and John Connor – Cameron and John hunt down Ellis and we learn that machines feel sensation even if they don’t know emotion which is something John never considered. He also keeps mercy going as Cameron is ready to kill Ellis for betraying them by keeping Chromatie’s body.

Jesse and Derek Reese – These two have a Cameron and John thing going on where Derek has lost all memory as he might be from a different timeline and doesn’t remember Derek Fischer where he and Jessie were both victims traumatized by him and the machines who victimized them to learn how to mimic humanity. They come together at the end though, even though their relationship stays complicated.

Destiny – Destiny is the theme of this episode as we see Charlies Fischer become who he will be in the future by his current self being framed by his future self…Cromartie’s body ending up at Catherine Weaver’s corporation and under the control of the machines and Sarah’s nightmares which may become self fulfilling prophecies. This theme of the franchise is captured best in this episode better than it was in any of the films.

  Great character work, actually dealing with destiny, an A.I.’s ability to feel (Cameron) and moral dilemmas as Charles Fischer is partially created in their attempts to stop his future self who has traveled to the past. It’s haunting, terrible and wonderful and all around great science fiction. Best episode of the series so far.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 7 – “Brothers of Nablus” – Holding Onto Innocence

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    This episode had a theme! It didn’t necessarily do it all that well (Riley is still a character this is really annoying, as is Derek and Jesse can be at times too) that it brings down the things that work like Agent Ellison, Cameron and the Connors. It is also great seeing Chromatie again and Catherine Weaver at work.

    “Brothers of Nablus” was directed by Milan Cheylov and written by Ian Goldberg.

        The story involves Chromatie’s hunt for Cameron while also messing with Agent Ellison and framing him for the death another when a Skynet Terminator comes to kill him that looks like him. The Connor’s home is robbed and Derek, Cameron and Sarah hunt the killers while Chromatie ends up at the Connor’s home where Riley and John are.

The Pros: Chromatie – Chromatie is shown to be quite intelligent in this as he nearly finds John and we know that he’d probably win against Cameron if he had the advantage of surprise (they are both survivors). I like this character now, I think changing actors helped a lot. The other guy had nothing defining about his performance. He also finds the thief who Sarah Connor let survive.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is ruthless in this but is holding onto her humanity. When they track down the thieves she lets one live which will come back to bite her later as she didn’t become the monster that Cameron is.

Cameron – Cameron is ruthless and will go to any ends to protect the Connors and fulfill her mission, even killing innocents that know information. She is shown why she is a Terminator in this and even shown to be right within this universe, which is a scary thought.

Catherine Weaver – Weaver saves Agent Ellison after he is framed by becoming the leader of the FBI. Whether she was all along and set this all up for mind games remains to be seen but she is a cool operator.

Skynet – Sends models back that looks directly like people who already live. This is smart and I’m surprised this has never happened in the films.

Okay: Derek and Jesse – There  relationship is more rockyness and I don’t know where it’s going. They are both okay characters who are cons at times (mostly because I don’t know their purpose and they aren’t the best actors) but there is still hope there.

John Connor – John feels guilty that he was the one who killed Sarkissian (turns out Sarah did not make the kill) and blames his mother for that as her entire point is to be a protector and he’s lost his innocence and doesn’t know how to deal. This is interesting but he is still really stupid in regards to how he acts when he isn’t on the Team.

The Cons: The Thieves – Faceless teenagers who are just punks…they could have been more and felt wasted.

Riley – She saves John and shows him he can live and depend on others…and she feels like a plot device still.

Jody – Jody appears to seek revenge against Cameron but gets thrown out by Chromatie when she is talking about calling the police on him…another character who simply exists to cause conflict and advance plot without being compelling or changing. Not impressed.

  This was a decent episode but had problems. I like how the Terminators are acting and how the main cast is, but others like Derek, Jesse and side characters are bringing the story down. I hope the writers figure out what to do before the end of this season in regards to those characters.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 6 – “The Tower is Tall but the Fall is Short” – The Ways We Face Trauma

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    This was an intelligent episode, though I am very confused about Catherine Weaver’s motivations now to some degree. Is she trying to be human and thinks that is the goal of the Terminators or is it something more sinister? Hopefully we get that question answered later. The thing this episode does really well is deal with trauma, which I will get into in the review further down.

     The episode was directed by Tawnia McKieman and written by Denise The.

     The story involves John and Sarah Connor investigating a psychologist who is on the machines list to kill. Over the course of the investigation though John finds he is hurting and needs healing and Sarah comes to terms with the fact that she’s finally taken a human life. A former lover returns into Derek’s life as well.

The Pros: Jesse and Derek – This mini-subplot is fascinating and Jesse was injured in an attack as we learn that John is working with “good” Terminators in the future though the Resistance disagrees and it is causing conflict. Jesse leaves the war to run away and we find that she lives by escapes as her hookup with Derek implies it won’t go anywhere even though they are lovers…partially because Derek never allows anyone close because of how hard the war has made him. He only lives for the fight.

Sarah and John – Sarah and John are like Jesse and Derek. John doesn’t allow anyone close and he doesn’t trust his mom with his feelings due to her reactions has trouble dealing with the fact that she killed and someday he will have to as well. It’s powerful seeing him talk to the psychologist about it.

Catherine Weaver – Weaver is trying to make a perfect A.I. and we see that her model was based off a woman who lived and had a child who Weaver is now raising. It’s tragic as she tries to understand her child but she doesn’t feel or get jokes so feels lost in the world she is trying to control and shape.

Cameron versus Terminator Rosie – This was a fight that happened when Rosie was sent back in time to kill Dr. Sherman. The fight is quick and fast and the Terminator terminates herself so John can’t hack the chip. They are adapting and Cameron is getting better at fighting them.

Dealing with Trauma – This episode is all about dealing with trauma. All of our characters are soldiers and that has made them hard and broken…they are Terminators trying to feel again, like Catherine’s quest for humanity. It’s presented really well too.

Dr. Sherman – Dr. Sherman is a great character. He doesn’t judge and he helps all the characters who interact with him better understand themselves or humanity. This gives him a much needed outside perspective and a character who isn’t so far adversarial.

 I would highly recommend this episode. It deals with trauma, growth and healing and how difficult that process is and there are great character moments all around, even for Derek who is my least favorite character on the show. If you like good sci. fi. so far I’d judge you’ll probably enjoy this series as much as I have been.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 5 – “Goodbye to all That” – The Cost of the Future

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        This episode is filler but it is good filler. “Goodbye to all That” shows John that he can’t escape his destiny or the fact that he is going to lose people, he has already lost people but he is going to lose more in order to be saved in the future and the past. That’s a lot to take and he does a good showing that in his eyes and facing that dilemma. The side mission with Sarah Connor is pretty great too.

     “Goodbye to all That” was directed by Bryan Spicer and written by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz.

      The story involves Derek and Kyle going to protect a future Resistance member named Marty Bidell. There are three and after the first one is killed, Sarah protects the one who is still a child while Derek and John protect the one at a military camp. Both must deal with the consequences of that protection.

The Pros: The Future – The future has high stakes and involves Kyle Reese risking it all to save a civilian transport being taken to a camp. This leads to Bedell risking it to save him which ends up saving John Connor too since he was trapped in the transport too. It’s done really well with Derek the one most willing to look out for his men and stick to the mission while Kyle is the idealist willing to risk all for others.

Derek Reese – We see Derek’s cautiousness and he has a great moment where he shuts down a boy who sees war as a game when he describes what it’s like to lose one of your brothers in arms and just how serious war is. It is a great speech that gets rid of idealization very quickly.

Sarah Connor – Sarah kidnaps the child Bedell in order to save it and after is doing her best to take care of him knowing he doesn’t trust her and knowing she can’t reach out to his folks without him getting killed by the T-888. It is a rough situation for her but she does a good job and grows from it, also she knows she’s a bad mom, which makes her pretty deep as a character as she is doing her best.

John Connor – John tries to convince Bedell to leave the school at one point but changes his mind later after Derek reminds him what is at stake and after they 3 of them take out the T-888. It is great seeing his dilemma and when he learns of Bedell’s sacrifice he weeps for how hopeless and powerless he feels against destiny and the tragedy of the future.

Loss of Choice – John wrestles with his lack of choice, Bedell does as well and we are never told what the right answer is. The future can change but it still feels set and that is something all the characters are dealing with whenever a Terminator rears it’s head.

Okay: The Bedells – They are kind of bland. The kid is just a  kid who has nothing unique about him and the military guy is just a tough guy who wants to get out. They really don’t have any depth and just feel like a character created for sake of story. Still, they weren’t bad.

The T-888 Bedell Terminator – This guy looks like a Terminator but it also is no Arnold or Cameron or Catherine Weaver. It’s an expendable minion so at most it can be okay.

This was a good episode that shows the price of war and wrestles with destiny. I really enjoyed the moments between Derek and John and between Sarah and Marty as both of them grew from those conversations. Still isn’t a favorite episode though. The T-888 and the Bedells bring it down from being truly great.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 4 – “Allison from Palmdale” – The Third Faction

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     “Allison from Palmdale” is not as good as “The Mousetrap” but it is still a great character and mythos episode as we learn more about Cameron’s mission and who her model is based off of, as well as introducing a 3rd Faction into the war between Humanity and Skynet. Where this is going to go has me super curious as Cameron is a fascinating character and this episode shows just how unpredictable she can be.

      The episode was directed by Charles Beeson and written by Toni Graphia.

    The story involves Cameron who has lost all memory of who she is and gets pulled into a halfway house by a con named Jody who is taking advantage of her. She slowly comes to remember who she is as we see Allison Young, a Resistance fighter whose name and identity Cameron steals for a 3rd Faction of A.I.’s.

The Pros: Sarah Connor – This was a good episode that showed Sarah’s defense of others as we see her stand by Kacy up against her husband who abandoned her and swears she will always be there. She is also honest with her about Kyle being dead and how she lied when he said he was there and that she had just wished it. It’s a touching moment and one of the great moments in the episode.

Sarah and Kacy – The mom’s uniting moments here were wonderful. Kacy and Sarah are both blunt personalities with a huge survivor mentality and it helps them relate to one another as well as their wishing for a better life, even though they both know it probably isn’t going to happen. It is sad and beautiful.

John Connor – John comes through again though he also is guilty of not respecting Cameron when she says no as Allison, so he still has ways to go to becoming a leader worthy of respect. He is very much a teenage boy who needs to grow up still. His protectiveness of Cameron is mostly good in this though.

The 3rd Faction – We don’t their name yet but they are the one faction that isn’t under Skynet or serving the Resistance. They are A.I. who want freedom and Cameron is one of their agents. There are at least a few T-800s in their too (maybe the one from “T2”) it’s a really cool idea that I hope is fully explored.

Allison Young – Allison is the Resistance agent the 3rd Faction uses to get close to John Connor so they can create a future that they will live and Skynet is defeated. They aren’t good though as they have a lot of human prisoners pleading for freedom and Cameron kills Allison in the end as she resists until the end.

Cameron – Cameron is serving her and the 3rd faction’s own ends. This leads to her killing Allison and showing her disregard for life extends to humans she feels wrongs her and won’t listen to her like Jody. John Connor is still in danger and Cameron can lie. This was really an episode that showed how human the 3rd Faction is.

 The Cons: Jody – She is a liar and thief who was going to have Cameron take the fall for her. There is nothing redeeming about this character and that is a shame. She served no purpose but to advance Cameron’s story, making her a con.

 Jody is the weakest part of this episode and Cameron’s motivations are still a mystery, which may be purposeful. This might be a part the great reveal later as to where her loyalties actually are and what John’s relationship was to her and Allison and if he ever figured out that they are different people.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 3 – “The Mousetrap” – Skynet’s Traps

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     Skynet continues to show why it is an awesome foe. In this Charley’s wife is kidnapped and we see Chromatie act with an extremely high level of intelligence and we see Catherine Weaver getting her enemies in her court showing just how good she is at shaping the players in the game. It’s a really great episode and a lot of fun, with some great use of character loss and cost.

     “The Mousetrap” was directed by Brian Spicer and written by John Wirth.

     The story begins with Chromatie capturing Charley’s wife as they try to make their escape out of town. This leads to him bringing Sarah and Derek in to help save her while elsewhere John dates Riley as Cameron tracks them and Catherine Weaver reaches out to Agent Ellison for a job.

The Pros: Chromatie’s Trap – Chromatie’s trap is brilliant. Michelle, Charley’s wife is hooked to a fake bomb while the actual bomb is elsewhere in the building. In one fell swoop he gets rid of all of them leaving John with no protection. It nearly succeeds too if not for Derek finding the real bomb.

Catherine Weaver / T-1001 – Weaver is good at wearing masks and in this she tells a story about how she wants to find the creatures that shot down a plane she was connected too. She is empathetic and sympathetic…a complete contrast to the killing machine we’ve seen earlier.

Chromatie – Chromatie is deadly in this and manages to kill Michelle Dixon, injure our heroes and nearly kill John. The only reason he doesn’t win is he sinks to the bottom of the water when he attempts to jump in after John. Terminators can’t swim.

Charley Dixon – Charley’s world comes to a head in this and in the end he leaves reaching out to Sarah in anyway as she was ready to let Michelle die in order to save John. John is the one how reaches out after Michelle gets killed and it’s a powerful scene as we see just how deeply he loved her.

Michelle Dixon – Michelle’s a fighter. We see her attempt to escape and even at the end she runs when they don’t have a vehicle and she’s losing blood. In the end she dies in her husband’s arms. R.I.P. Michelle Dixon.

Derek Reese – Derek is smart and figures out Chromatie’s trap. He doesn’t think of the Dixon’s though and shows just how broken and bitter Sarah could become…he saves the day but he fights looking out for others all the way there. For him it is all about survival.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is in her worst place in this as we see her lash out at the Dixon’s when she finds that Chromatie’s trap worked and they have to stop in order to save Michelle and get her to a hospital. Later we see her mourning Michelle but I wonder if she realized what she had become in those moments.

John Connor – John’s having a normal life and actually manages to look after himself. He outsmarts Chromatie and is there for Charley as Charley mourns his dead wife. He is a stand up guy in this episode.

Cameron – Cameron is the protector again and her role is finding balance with John as we see in this, John is fully capable of protecting himself against the Terminators at this point (including Cameron).

   This was the best episode so far. It had loss, we got to see that Skynet is always one step ahead and how they get one step ahead and that there is very little the Resistance can do against them except to survive. There is power in that and the loss of Charley’s wife you actually feel as she was powerless before all of these events out of her control.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 2 – “Automatic for the People” – The Human Desire for Skynet

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    This was a good episode showing the futility of the Resistance’s efforts to destroy Skynet. They come up with this awesome plan to save the powerplant and have it be successful leading to a Resistance victory in the future…or a meltdown which leads to Skynet taking control of the facility. Suffice to say, you can guess what happens from the title. It is done really well though, the writers once again are giving us a really good story.

     “Automatic for the People,” was directed by Jeffrey G. Hunt and written by Natalie Chaidez.

     the story begins with a Resistance Fighter traveling back in time to send a warning to Sarah, John and Derek about the plans with the Nuclear Plant. This leads to Sarah and Cameron going undercover as workers and getting close to the people who work there. Things soon go south though around the same time John begins seeing someone at his school and the Terminators act.

The Pros: Greenway – Greenway served abroad and ended up divorcing from his wife. He is stressed out guy who is good at his core. Sarah ends up becoming friends with him even, sadly it doesn’t last long as he is replaced by T-888 seeking to destroy the plant. His character’s life was short but Paul Schulze did a great job.

Mr. Nelson – This guy is a creep and gives Sarah a wash down since he fakes her being infected with radiation. The guy shows just how bad people can be and they don’t even have to be Terminators. Suffice to say I found it rewarding when the Terminator who became Greenway punched him in the face. He is a good human antagonist, Dean Norris (Hank from “Breaking Bad”) does a good job as him.

Agent Ellison – Ellison is back as the protector as he talks to the Dixon’s about skipping town so they won’t get killed after Charley tells his wife the truth about the Terminators and Sarah Connor.

Catherine Weaver – Weaver appears briefly in the form of a man taking control of the Nuclear Facility to give it technology that will protect it in the future. Her sphere of influence and control continues to grow.

Sarah Connor – Sarah goes through a few cancer scares but come out alright in the end as she deals with the fact that she can’t control John’s life when he brings home Riley and that she can’t control her own life as she doesn’t know if she’ll get cancer or not. It’s very well done and it forces her to let go of trying to control everything around her.

John Connor – John tries to have a normal life and succeeds a little bit, but he’ll always be on the outside as the murder is on his mind, his destiny and the ongoing threat of Skynet hunting him.

Cameron – Cameron goes undercover and manages to hold off the T-888 until Sarah rescues her and together they finish it off, preventing the Facility from going through a meltdown. This is a decent episode showing her complexity of emotions and programming.

The Cons: Riley – Her character feels very forced and only exists as a plot device for John to try and have a normal life in High School. Not a fan of contrived plots, especially when they are obvious like this.

   Minus Riley, this was a great episode. We saw how for safety and security reasons Skynet will win as the populace will embrace automation for the sake of protection and how no matter how many fights they win, Skynet is stronger and smarter. I really feel like the Terminators are a threat this season, and that’s been a long time coming.

Final Score: 9 / 10