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

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 1 – “Samson & Delilah” – John and Cameron and Skynet Revealed

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    Season 2 starts out being great! Which is wonderful considering so many threads from last season combined with the writers strike lead to the weakest episode of the series prior. I got ot say, I like the T-1001 Catherine Weaver and I like that Cameron was shown to have free will and be more than her programming. This is an example of what the show can do when it remembers it’s themes and focuses on character development.

   “Samson & Delilah” was directed by David Nutter and written by Josh Friedman.

    The story picks up where we left off with Agent Ellison choosing silence as Derek works with Charley to find John and Sarah as Cameron hunts them as her chip is injured and she has returned to old programming. We also meet Catherine Weaver who is seeking the Turk for her corporation.

The Pros: The Opening – As Cameron hunts Sarah and John “Samson & Delilah” plays and it is an awesome song that shows the intimacy of the fight that is going on as the Connors run from the one who was their protector.

Agent Ellison – Ellison chooses to go silent but not help the machines as he realizes that no one will believe the truth. It is realistic and it is great seeing him face Chromatie and tell him no. It shows that even when he is scarred and in over his head, he won’t cave to monsters.

Derek Reese – Derek is the one testing everyone on their loyalty…be it Cameron and wanting her destroyed to seeing if Charley is willing to go all the way to join the team and how serious he is about his marriage. It’s nice to see him in this role as he is just a minor character and not major, as he should be if they won’t kill his character off.

Sarah Connor – This is a good Sarah Connor episode. She is ready to die for John on multiple occasions but shows that she will listen to the other side if it comes down to it as she doesn’t stop John when John decides to save Cameron (who is hunting them) rather than destroy her. It is powerful and shows she respects her son’s choices. She finally kills in this when her and John fight Sarkissian.

John Connor – He gets the look that John has in “Terminator: Salvation.” I like the look better on Christian Bale, but it at least works for the character, and it shows how he is dealing with all the trauma of being hunted by his own creation and having to fight his Uncle and Mom to save her life. That would take a toll on anyone. He kills for the first time when he and Sarah murder Sarkissian in self defense. This makes him harder than who he was before showing echoes of the Resistance Fighter to be.

Cameron – Cameron is in old Terminator mode after the attack on the jeep. She nearly kills John a few times before Sarah and John trap her and John removes the chip. During that times she claims to be fixed and that she loves John. We never know if he believes her or not, but he pulls the chip out. Later he puts it back in when he realizes how much they need Cameron and that he loves her too.

Catherine Weaver / T-1001 – Is the CEO of the Zeira Corporation and with a new team plans to use the Turk to create Skynet. She is a Skynet agent from the future and a Liquid Terminator like the T-1000, though she is a slightly more upgraded model being a T-1001, she also has feelings as we see her kill someone who she hated after the meeting. She is deadly and I like her as an enemy.

This was the first time the show felt like more than a test run. If the rest of the season is like this it will be one of my favorite shows. All the buildup in Season 1 lead somewhere. Sarkissian lead to the Connors killing a human, the Turk now is in Skynet hands and Ellison is going underground and refusing not to fight them. Cameron is also back as an ally once more. This is good television.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 7 – “The Demon Hand” – Revelations

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     This is one of the more messed up episodes that has Detective Ellison in the “Sarah Chronicles” version of the “X-Files.” From dealing with crazy people and seeing “the dead” he is faced with rethinking and once more considering all his assumptions. We also get some great exploration of Cameron as a character and Derek too (though I still dislike the guy). This was an episode that showed the power of choices and captured one of the first real themes of the show.

     “The Demon Hand,” was directed by Charles Breeson and written by Toni Graphia.

     The story involves Dr. Ellison and his investigation with the Terminator hand and it leading him to Dr. Silberman (the Psychiatrist keeping Sarah Connor looked up in “T2”) and extreme events that happen from there. Cameron takes up ballet and Derek continues to be hostile to the Connors.

The Pros:  Dr. Silberman – This guy went insane after seeing Arnold in action and realized just e Show wrong he was about “Judgment Day.” To this end we see him test to see if Ellison is a Teminator and later trying to kill him to protect Sarah. He is messed up and ends up at the same facility he had kept Sarah in.

Sarah Connor – In this we see that Sarah is not Derek Reese. She lives for more than the war and rescues Ellison from the fire Silberman starts, which begins proving his assumptions about her wrong (including the one she was dead). This was a huge moment for her as is her defense of Cameron who is much more stable than the loose cannon Derek who lives with only hate.

Agent Ellison – This is Ellison’s arc and shows how he is coming around to seeing Sarah’s point of view. We also see that he is a man of faith and that is what helps him deal with nearly dying to Silberman. I really like the character now and hope he survives the series. He isn’t static and changes by what he learns and experiences.

Cameron – Cameron like Ellison changes from circumstances. She defends a woman from a gangster, learns ballet and how to improvise and we see her acting out of what could be deemed empathy. It’s a great arc and no wonder it causes Derek to cry.

When Machines become Human – Cameron changes, just like Ellison. From her protecting others, doing more than just orders and her way of relating to others. She is an A.I. and not simply a Terminator bent on the destruction of her enemy.

Okay: Derek Reese – The guy is filled with hate with a few moments of awe towards Cameron’s humanity but he still feels so raw. I like Ellison, I don’t like Derek….he would almost work better as an antagonist on the other side, not an ally.

Derek was the weakest part of this episode, but I now consider it a favorite. The work done with Sarah, Cameron and Ellison carries this as we see characters truly change, be faced with difficult trials and come out of them better people than they were before. This is the show at it’s best.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Queen’s Gambit” – Arraying the Board

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 Well the T-888 is finally gone and as is the more interesting character who is replaced with a more standard bitter hero. I really hope Derek Reese isn’t wasted, but I’m not having much hope on that, though I could be wrong…it’s just there wasn’t much with him this episode, he’s pretty much only there to cause drama.

    “Queen’s Gambit” was directed by Matt Earl Beesley and written by Natalie Chaidez.

     The plot unfolds when Andy is killed a Turk Chess competition as Derek Reese arrives on the scene and finds himself being tracked by Sarah Connor before he is captured by the police. Agent Ellison discovers past Terminator battles and seems willing to listen to what Derek has to say but the T-888 who killed the Resistance fighters appears to come finish the job it started.

The Pros: Agent Ellison – I’m starting to like this guy. He is after the truth no matter how crazy it is and is even willing to listen to Derek since he wants to know why there is synthetic blood at every crime scene. He loses his chance to learn the truth though after the Connor’s break Reese out.

Cameron – Cameron is ruthless and doesn’t get people but she also proves herself as an ally of the Resistance even when Derek Reese tries to kill her. She’s super alienated at school at this point though.

Sarah Connor – Sarah saves Derek as she sees family as all she has left. This leads to her being reckless but also gives her hope for the first time she’s had in a long time, especially after she learns Derek did not kill Andy.

The Battle – The battle to save Derek Reese is fantastic! The T-888 fights them at the prison, on a truck and later it’s chip is taken out by Cameron, which finally leads to it’s defeat.

Okay: John Connor – He’s just kind of there. He tries to be there for the girl whose sister killed herself but he is pushed away and he picks up a creepy friend who hits on Cameron.

The Cons: Cromatie – Cromatie questions Charley Dixon which is just to cause drama between him and his wife and we see him mimic Ellison’s words on getting back to him if they have more information. Just kind of there, doesn’t feel like a threat.

Derek Reese – He’s meant to be intense like Kyle Reese from the original “Terminator” film but he isn’t. He doesn’t do a bad job but he feels unnecessary and his character is wasted this episode as he is mistaken for the one who killed Andy and stole the Turk until the T-888 arrives on the scene.

  This was a good episode, though that has been the entire series so far…at the same time though there haven’t been any great episodes since they all lack focus. There are great character moments and events but nothing that really binds them all together which makes Sarah’s narration at the end have less power since it is hard to really place the theme of each episode since there isn’t focus.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 4 – “Heavy Metal” – First Strike in the Series

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     This is the episode where John Connor stops running and with that Sarah Connor begins to finally let go a little bit to let him develop into the leader he needs to be. It is a good episode as the stakes are high and we see Skynet in action laying the stakes for it’s future rise. We also see Cameron kick butt too.

     The episode was directed by Sergia Mimica-Gezzan and written by John Enbom.

     The story involves Cromatie adopting a new identity and another Terminator stealing a shipment of metal in preparation for Judgement Day. John chooses to fight rather than run away leading to a showdown in the Warehouse with Agent Ellison continues to research the mysterious events surrounding the deaths from the Terminators.

The Pros: Agent Ellison – He actually feels like a character this time as he questions the man whose identity Cromatie eventually steals and we see that he knows something is up giving the missing fingerpints and false blood.

Cameron – Cameron is great in this as we see her once again take on much larger Terminators than her and relate to Sarah Connor as she expresses she would have no purpose if anything happened to John, making Sarah realize how much of a psychological problem she has.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor goes through the process of starting to let go and let John become the hero he was born to be in this one. When John tracks the truck she allows it but panics later but later on is working with him to steal the metal that the Terminator is going to use to create more of it’s kind when Judgement Day arrives. It’s a powerful moment with good showing and not telling.

John Connor – John sets boundaries with him mom in this one and we see him be the leader and fighter everyone keeps talking about him becoming. From stealing the key to a hibernating Terminator and fighting it in the truck…in this he is coming to his own and is ready to fight.

The Cons: Cromatie – We see him creep and pretend to be human but he is still generic and the actor is no Arnold, just like the last guy who played this Terminator. He just isn’t compelling as a villain.

Terminators and Human Minions – The minions are stupid and don’t listen to John and the Terminator is a nameless soldier with nothing unique about it.

   The series still suffers from having villains that aren’t compelling but the leads are fantastic! Even John Connor begins to grow on you after a while even though Lena Headey and Summer Glau are clearly the ones carrying the drama and conflict and are the most compelling part of the show.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10