Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 15 – “Desert Cantos” – Secrets of the Dead

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     “Desert Cantos” was a powerful episode with a major “X-Files” feel that finally showed us the UFO is tied to the future thankfully and in a good way! It is a reflective  and another sign of just how good this series can be. I won’t be surprised if by the end I’m sad it got canceled.

     The episode was directed by J. Miller Tobin and written by John Wirth and Ian Goldberg.

      The story involves Sarah Connor and the Team investigating the massacre that happened at the facility Catherine Weaver took off. She hears the of the man she killed’s wife and John gets closer to the daughter of one of the men who may not be dead and is being hunted by an agent sent by Catherine Weaver.

The Pros: The Investigation – The investigation really makes the episode amazing as our team grows close to all the players. From Derek gaining the trust of the agent, to Sarah connecting with the wife and John connecting with the daughter of the man who is still alive and is an agent of Skynet we learn after.

The Funeral – Different events of the investigation unfold on different parts of the funeral and end with the wake. It is powerful and the theme of death is made more powerful as the drone we see is the prototype for the future drones that would drop Terminators and hunt humans.

Ellison – Ellison talks to Weaver about her daughter and the anniversary of the death of her husband, he is once again the human element among the machines and makes her reach out to her daughter and seek to connect. He also begins to suspect more as one of the scientists tells him how she changed dramatically after the death

Catherine Weaver – After the massacre seeing her try to connect with her adopted daughter whose mother she killed is powerful. Seeing her try to be human is good though and shows she’s never been a complete monster.

Sarah Connor – Tries to protect the wife of the man she killed by hiding the truth. She knows that the truth is too hard to know sometimes, especially when he and another man who faked his death are shown to be hitmen for ZeiraCorp showing that Skynet’s influence is already in the present and everyone is under surveillance.

   This episode had a wonderful layout and humanized a lot of minor characters as well as showing how easy it is to ignore the truth if it is uncomfortable. The illusion sadly helps people live and Sarah Connor realizes it and from it why so many see her as crazy. It’s powerful and shows that the people did nothing since the corporation provided jobs, even though so many people they knew were killed in the end and even the one they were trying to protect is being hunted. This is an episode on the folly of humanity.

Final Score: 10 / 10

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 14 – “The Good Wound” – Lies and Abuse

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“The Good Wound” is a good Sarah Connor episode, and we finally get to see the actor playing Kyle Reese do more beyond acting all noble. In this we see that he is the survival part of her mind as much as anything else as well as her willingness to protect John from anything. Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker from “Enterprise) also makes an appearance as an abusive husband whose a cop, and he does a good job being threatening.

The episode was directed by Jeff Wolnough and written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.

The story involves Sarah’s escape from the hospital and kidnapping a Doctor to treat her gunshot wound. This leads to her manipulating the doctor as the Doctor’s abusive husband hunts her leading to a final reveal when Derek Reese finds them. Elsewhere Catherine Weaver is discovered to be a robot by John Henry and we see what lengths she will go to to meet her goals.

The Pros: John Henry – John Henry is very much like a child learning and like a child he doesn’t trust. He is the one who sees that Catherine Weaver is lying and isn’t telling him everything. Whether he believes her when she says she does all for him remains to be seen.

Catherine Weaver – She is ruthless and whether she sees Henry and Ellis as anything more than tools is still a question. She is efficient though and is a lot more deadly than the T-1000 from “T2” ever was.

Kyle Reese – Kyle is part of Sarah’s mind and feeds here paranoia and survival instincts, he also represents the part of her that is hope and keeps her from giving up…he was the one good thing that came out of a Terminator trying to kill her and that keeps her going and do whatever she can to survive and bring the fight to the Machines.

Sarah Connor – Sarah is a bit of a sociopath and we see this in how she uses Dr. Burnett, lying about an abusive husband giving her the gunshot wound since the truth would be too crazy. She’s good at reading people though and she notices that Burnett is a victim of abuse. She is someone detached from everyone in order to survive and through doing so she burns every bridge she could make.

Alvan and Dr. Burnett – Alvan is the abusive cop hunting Sarah who stumbles on Burnett and suspects her helping. Connor Trinneer does a great job as a sympathetic cop who turns out to be a monster as does Laura Regan as Burnett.

This was a good filler episode that is one of the better episodes in the series. It shows just how messed up Sarah is and also that Terminators aren’t the only enemies people face, sometimes the biggest monster is the one closest to you, not the emotionless machine sent from the future.

Final Score: 9 / 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 Chronicles – Season 2, Episode 12 – “Alpine Fields” – The Potential of Every Human Life

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      “Alpine Fields” has really grown on me. In this episode we have some pretty fascinating minor characters as well as having Jesse and Derek fleshed out further, along with Sarah Connor being the visionary and leader guiding the survivors into the future. Hearing about the weapons the Terminators are using on people was powerful too and showed just how in over their heads our characters are in stopping them.

      The episode was directed by Charles Beeson and Bryan Spicer and written by John Enbom.

      The story takes place in 3 time periods. Present day, 6 months later and the future. In the future the robots have created a pathogen that is killing humans and Derek and Jesse enter the zone to find a possible survivor and cure. In the present Sarah Connor protects the Fields from a Terminator and 6 months later Anne Fields is pregnant with the daughter that will save humanity from the pathogen the machines created.

The Pros: Episode Layout – I really liked that the story was told in 3 areas of time. It captured the time travel nature of the show really well and how powerful and significant each life can be. It also gave us time to know the characters.

The Fields Family – The Fields are really interesting. you have Anne who is cheating on her husband who looks down on her being a mom and is also super insecure. You have Lauren their lesbian daughter who learns the value of the small moments building birdhouses with her dad but is also the most prepared for the end as she listens to Sarah Connor and conects with her and later Sydney who is immune to the pathogen and pretty detached as she was born when her mother died and has always lived under threat. It’s a powerful story and I cared about all of them and how they saved humanity, Derek and Jesse from the pathogen.

Derek Reese – Derek is shown to be really afraid of the machines, especially since there was the option to send one in to save Syndey. Instead he took a risk that put humanity at risk because of his fear. He connects to Jesse during that time as they are both survivors trying to get by.

Jesse – Jesse is pretty cynical but also shows there is hope as in Australia they have finally gotten to the point where they can grow food again. It is wonderful hearing about the state of the world and she is tough.

Sarah Connor – Everyone sees Sarah as crazy until she is right as the Fields do but when they know she’s right they do all she says. It is powerful hearing her words, that close does not mean love…it really defines her relationship to Derek and John really well. Their trauma unites them more than anything else, just like it did with Derek and Jesse.

Okay: Cameron – Cameron is there mostly to keep the T-888 at bay and is only really there as an action piece. We don’t really get to know her that well this episode at all.

  This was a solidly great episode that shows the power people can have in the future. It also gave us some great exploration of Sarah Connor and I really liked the Fields family. If the show can continue to do this it will no doubt be a favorite show by the end.

Final Score: 9 / 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 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 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