Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episodes 18-19 – “Today is the Day” Parts 1 and 2 – To Be John Connor

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      These episodes made me realize again why I have hated the character of Derek Reese. He is a bit of a hypocrite and the fact that it is left ambiguous that he did a horrible act does not reflect well on his character as a person. He is clearly no Kyle Reese and never was.

   The episodes were directed by Guy Norman Bee and written by Ashley E. Miller and Zack Stentz.

      The story involves Jesse’s backstory as we learn what happened when she was sent on a secret mission that was being run by a Machine working for the Resistance. In the present the lie of what happened comes to the surface as distrust of Cameron continues to grow.

The Pros: The Mission – The mission is to do a pick up at a Oil Rig and deliver it to John Connor. Distrust of the machine in control of the mission leads to the crew rebelling and the T-1001 in the case being released and killing one of the crew in self-defense. It ends with the T-1001 telling Jesse there will be no Alliance with them. It’s sad but it shows why Jesse no longer trusts “Metal.” I really liked how they handled this two-parter episode.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is the one trying to protect John from Cameron and is onboard with killing her until they learn the truth about Jesse being the one to have killed Riley. We see just how much her distrust has grown.

Cameron – Cameron is shown to have a good core again in this as she does everything to show she is trustworthy and we get to see why John trusts her as they share more tender moments together. It’s a great relationship.

John Connor – This episode is really about John Connor embracing his role as we see that he did not protect Riley but let her make her own choices and he does the same with Riley, Derek and everyone else. He has become the detached leader with the only real close person to him being Cameron.

Jesse – Jesse’s story is a tragedy and in my opinion she is one of the best characters on the show. It took the 3rd Faction of machines killing her people on the sub for her to turn against them fully as we see she had no problem working with them prior. In the end she loses her’s and Derek’s baby in the miscarriage but is never given the chance to share that with Derek as he has gone all paranoid. She is a flawed character but is no more better or worse than any other character. They should have still used her as part of the team not exiled/killed her.

The Cons: Derek Reese – Not even the suggestion of killing Jesse…Jesse was flawed but everything she did in the fight was in self-defense, she was also one of the few allies they had against Skynet…great going hero, if you did shoot her you stabbed yourself in the foot and killed the person you love. What sympathy I had for this character went away since there is only the possibility he didn’t kill her and that isn’t enough to save how much the alternative makes this character a bastard.

 This was a solidly great episode and one that really shows what the future is like and how the work camps have made humanity raw and angry and that things are not as they appear…from Jesse learning she was pregnant from Cameron, the T-1001 being a possible ally against Skynet. This was a beautifully tragic episode that really illustrated the best this episode had to offer.

Final Score: 9 / 10

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 17 – “Ourselves Alone” – Jesse’s Plan

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    “Ourselves Alone” finally reveals Jesse’s endgame and shows the promise in John Connor in regards to the future, as well as how different people view him and just how isolated Riley is becoming and the price of all the lies and half lives.

    The episode was directed by Jeff Woolnough and written by Toni Graphia and Daniel T. Thomsen.

      The story involves Riley fearing Cameron has discovered her secret as Cameron’s glitch has returned and Sarah Connor begins to fear that they have stayed in one place for too long of time and just how out of the loop she is in her son’s life.

The Pros: Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is trying to return to stability again in this and we see just how out of the loop she is. In some ways she pushes herself further away from John but we also see how much she truly cares about Riley. There are some good character moments of her just trying to be a mom.

Cameron – Cameron is shown to have a human side in this as we see her let John fix her glitch and that she does have feelings for him. It’s a powerful moment and we see she is at the point where she respects John’s feelings for Riley and won’t interfere. This is huge and plays a part in the next episode.

Riley – Riley’s life is being manipulated by Jesse so that Cameron will kill her and turn John against the Machines. It’s tragic and when she finds out she fights Jesse for ruining her life. This ends in her death. I actually felt it too as she was finally developed enough as a character in the last few episodes.

Jesse – Jesse’s plan is revealed in this though we don’t know her motivation for turning John against Cameron. We see how devoted and like a Terminator she has become in the process though she isn’t heartless as she never meant to kill Riley and only does so accidentally in self defense and we see how much that breaks her.

John Connor – John Connor is shown to becoming John of the future as he is distant from Riley and lets people make their own choices, even if it ends in their own destruction. In this he is so distant when he could speak up and be honest, but he never does. He’s afraid of getting hurt and becoming the man alone with Cameron as his only confidant.

The Cons: Derek Reese – He is just kind of there. He only exists so Jesse cannot tell him the truth of who she is and what she knows. Sadly this doesn’t go anywhere at all. Wasted character.

   This was a good episode but not a favorite. There was more that could have been done with Derek and even with Sarah Connor too as they are doing side quests while the main story revolves around the Jesse and Riley and Riley and John drama. The ending is good though and is sadly the only way it could have gone. Things are coming to a head and the story needs to refocus on the threat of Catherine Weaver and Skynet.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 13 – “Earthlings Welcome Here” – Price of Deception and Truth

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    “Earthlings Welcome Here” is really illustrating a problem I’m having with this series. It’s enjoyable but it keeps bringing up ideas that it never follows up on, especially in regards to Sarah Connor and her visions. The John Henry Arc is going really well at least and now we finally find out what Riley’s purpose is too and she gets development!

     The episode was directed by  Felix Enriquez Alcalá and written by Natalie Chaidez.

    The story involves Sarah Connor tracking a blogger from the UFO convention who has posted pictures of alien ships with the 3 dot symbol Sarah has been seeing everywhere. Things get more complicated as the blogger is hunted and Riley’s history and connection to Jesse is revealed.

The Pros: Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor investigates a blogger and we see how her drive and alienness from others leads to her being more isolated among the UFO folks and from herself. This episode is great at exploring her psychology.

Riley – Riley is tired of lying to John and more the more questions John and Cameron ask and her lack of support from Jesse lead to her attempting to take her life. She was a refugee in the Apocalypse chosen only to keep Cameron away from John…poor girl.

Cameron – Cameron is the protector once more and we see her being right about Riley lying. I’m not sure Cameron has met Jesse yet, but I don’t expect it to go well when they do eventually meet.

John Henry and Ellison – John is trying to counter what Jesse’s approach is as he teaches John Henry morality. His approach of saying “God is the reason and created people as sacred.” Doesn’t really give a reason wholly though. I really want him to go into philosophy.

Jesse – Jesse is cruel but her purpose makes sense. Her goal is to protect John from Cameron and from that a future where there can be any understanding between machines and humanity. I like it since it is the future she came from so fear is all she knows.

The Cons: John Connor – He’s stubborn, doesn’t listen to anyone and was really difficult to sympathize with at all this episode.

Aliens? – So Aliens are connected to Terminators and humanity…I’m confused. Are we in the X-Files?

Lack of Focus and Answers – I really hope we find out what the deal is with those dots are because I am really confused after this episode. If Sarah is going crazy, do more to show that. She’s a POV character so that is hard to pull off I get, but have her revelations lead to new information or change.

   The lack of focus and answers is really getting to me and how Sarah’s arc seems to be going nowhere…thankfully there was Ellison talking morality with John Henry and Riley’s backstory to offset these factors leading to a confusing but enjoyable episode.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Self Made Man” – Good Ideas but Unfocused

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      “Self Made Man” was an interesting episode but it didn’t really good. I liked Cameron making a friend and them researching the past, but it feels like following a T-888 is stupid when there is Catherine Weaver out there, it’s like a filler side quest related to an enemy who was never interesting to start with. Still, it was interesting but unfocused.

    The episode was directed by Holly Dale and written by Toni Graphia.

     The story involves Cameron recognizing a T-888 they defeated in the 1920’s and figuring out why it was there as well as Riley and John’s relationship getting fleshed out more when Riley pulls John into a party.

The Pros: Cameron – Cameron is invesitating a fire at a Speakeasy from the 1920’s when she recognizes a T-888, over the course of the time she makes friends with Eric, the nigh shift guy who works there and does what she can to help him but her bluntness ends up pushing him away as well as her reminders of mortality in her attempts to connect. She is still focused on the mission though and when he isn’t there she offers donuts to the next night shift worker. She also takes out the T-888 for good.

The Investigation – The investigation leads to them learning about the rise of gangs in the 20’s and that Stark, the T-888 was sent to kill the Governor in 2010. This leads to a confrontation and her taking out the T-888 as well as learning that the 3 points are a point in time as Stark saw them in the stars.

Eric – Eric is a nice guy who is pretty insecure in himself having just dealt with his mortality through cancer but does all he can to help Cameron until her honesty is too much for him. He felt like a full character and his arc was done by the end, I just hope he’s alive in that universe.

Okay: John Connor – John goes to a party believing Riley to be in trouble and is used by him as we see her steal and John’s PTSD come out…all of this to get close to him and get him to reveal what he knows about the future. I hate Riley and John should be smarter.

The Cons: Riley – Riley is super manipulative as she fakes being in danger and steals the host’s lighter at a party in order to start a fight. All this just to get close to John. God I hate this character.

  This was an okay episode, definitly one of the weaker ones. The 1920’s plot felt like it was going nowhere even though it was fascinating and time with Riley and John was just weak…why couldn’t we have had time with John Henry and Agent Ellison or more Catherine Weaver plots? Ah, well. This was filler and felt like it.

Final Score: 5 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 10 – “Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point” – Manipulations and Humanity

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: Sarah (Lena Headey, third from L) and Cameron (Summer Glau, R) work with Alex (Eric Steinberg, second from L) and his son Xander (Eddie Shin, L) to broker a deal in the "Strange Things Happen At The One Two Point" episode of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES airing Monday, Nov. 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2008 FOX Broadcasting Co. CR: Justin Lubin/FOX

This was a good but not great episode. I liked the father and son relationship that was on the side as well as the Catherine Weaver and Agent Ellison story, the Riley and Sarah’s dreams don’t hold up as well though sadly.

The episode was directed by Scott Peters and written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.

The story involves Sarah’s tracking of the three dots leading her to a startup company called Dakara Systems. They are soon pulled into a complicated family relationship as Ellison uncovers what happened with the John Henry system and the death of Dr. Sherman.

The Pros: Alex and Xander – This father/son relationship is awesome as Xander is disconnected and brilliant while Alex wants to be successful and is dealing with the fact that his family was wrong during World War 2 with the internment camps even as his father helped capture Italy with the allies. He wants to believe in his son but is so afraid that it leads to him selling the chip to the Yakuza.

Going Undercover – Sarah and Cameron are investors and it is wonderful seeing them build a relationship with Alex and Xander as Xander is a lot like Cameron and Alex like Sarah Connor.

Agent Ellison – Ellison is the best hope for making the A.I.’s good as we see him question John Henry and realize the machine as no morals which leads to Catherine Weaver installing the A.I. in Cromartie’s body so it can be taught to be human by Agent Ellison.

Catherine Weaver – Weaver is shown to be more complicated as she wants John Henry to be able to feel and moralize and sets Ellison in charge once she learns how the A.I. let Dr. Sherman die. What her agenda is along these lines remains to be seen though, I really like her charactera and Ellison though.

Jesse – What is Jesse’s agenda and how is Riley connected to her? Learning that she using Riley to unknown ends is one of the few things that makes Riley compelling, still she hasn’t got out of plot device.

Okay: Sarah Connor – Sarah is dealing with her visions and is not being trusted by anyone on her team as is seen to be breaking down. What the 3 dots mean could mean anything though I suspect things will get bigger, especially given the names written in blood.

John Connor – John’s story is limited as rather than moving on he gets back together with Riley who we now know is manipulating him, guy can’t get a break and his growth is static at this point.

The Cons: Riley – Riley is a foster kid who is connected with Jesse and knows the end is coming. Her agenda is unknown and she still feels like a plot device.

The story was alright but it is telling when the minor characters are more interesting than the Connors. I think the Connors are in a static place with Sarah dealing with her sanity or being a prophet and John’s relationship to Riley (which really should have ended, he isn’t becoming the leader anymore)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 8 – “Mr. Furgeson is Ill Today” – The Team and Chromatie’s End

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    We finally have our full team working to prevent Judgement Day and them all teaming up and working together to stop the threat to John Connor and the future. Suffice to say the setup doesn’t always work, but I loved this episode’s payoff. These characters work.

     “Mr. Furgeson is Ill Today” was directed by Michael Nankin and written by Daniel Thomsen.

      The story involves John escaping to Mexico with Riley only to have Chromatie track him there leading to final showdown with Chromatie between John, Ellison, Sarah, Derek and Cameron.

The Pros: Dia De Los Muertos – The episode largely takes place during Day of the Dead and a tiny village in Mexico that John grew up in where he escapes to with Riley. This freedom intermixed with death creates some really great scenes, especially as the team arrives and the final showdown.

Chromatie – Chromatie has grown on me and the new actor they cast actually felt like a threat this season, so bringing him down in this episode was wonderful as it took all of them with Cameron mortally wounding him before John finishes him off. Great minor villain.

Derek Reese – Derek is quick to show up once he gets the call from John and we see he has secrets but is wholly there and in the team.

Cameron – Cameron is either attracted to John, is using him or a mixture of both as she tries to convince him to jump Riley as he is putting her at risk and will make stupid mistakes. It is wonderful seeing them interact and the sexual tension there, even if it is just John.

Sarah Connor – We see Sarah’s protectiveness and also her coming to terms with John’s agency and I think she realizes that they are all needed to prevent Judgement Day, even as she still pushes people like Agent Ellison away.

John Connor – John is facing destiny, responsiblity and coming into his own as a leader. In this he does leave Riley but only after Chromatie nearly kills her. It is powerful and shows how he has changed and can’t escape his destiny as a leader.

Agent Ellison – Ellison join the Team and we see him have a great relationship with Sarah who he had once been in conflit

The Ending – There is a final showdown in a church where all of them take out Chromatie and in the end there isn’t peace. Everyone is together but alone and we see the secrets eating away at them with Sarah losing it as she destroys Chromatie’s electronics. It is powerful and sad.

Okay: Riley – Was always just kind of there, at least she wasn’t stupid through all of this. She always struck me as more of an idea than a character though, which made the elements of the story involving her weaker.

Episode Format – I usually like the format of showing a story from different points of view, it just didn’t quite work this time and was hard to follow until the end and final payoff.

This was a great episode that really had a great ending. Chromatie reached an ending he deserved after going from an unmemorable Terminator to a great mini-boss and we see that his death changed things and character relationships. Can’t wait to see where it goes.

Final Score: 9.6 / 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