The “Terminator” Franchise – Worst to Best

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     Much like the “Jurassic Park” Franchise, the “Terminator” Franchise is based in a B Movie and really carries that all the way through. The times it is greater than a B Movie are the times we have characters, arcs and beautiful cinematography…but the soundtrack never really grew beyond it’s B Movie basis and that influence is something in all the films, as well as the television show.

       This is a Franchise that has not aged well. Unlike the “Jurassic Park” Franchise, the lessons from the first 2 “Terminator” films are forgotten in all the rest and the series seems unable to let itself be done, even when it messes up royally. This is a shame as this Franchise has brought in some really good talent and I can even respect some of the weird side projects that happened, since they at least tried to be more original while still honoring the core protagonists and antagonists of the Franchise (Skynet and the Resistance). But at the end of the day, this is a Franchise I just wish was done. The story has been told and if you aren’t going to end it and simply tease that maybe the mission wasn’t successful and Skynet will come back…than you are just treading water, and static is what kills any ongoing story. Stories have to change, or they’ll die to the audience and to themselves.

    So without further ado, here are the stories from the “Terminator” Franchise (including the “Sarah Connor Chronicles”) from worst to best.

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6th – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

“Rise of the Machines” feels cheap, I mean made for the SyFy Channel cheap. The characters aren’t memorable at all, except maybe John Connor and Arnold’s T-101 is simply there to make horrible references to the other 2 films and to be a dick to John Connor and a really terrible father figure. Future John sending this version back made no sense, especially since they are dealing a very poorly designed and executed T-X who takes the Super Models as Robots trope and just runs with it. She never feels like a threat and the cinematography and writing are just terrible. It is one of the worst films I’ve ever watched.

Final Score: 2 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/terminator-3-rise-of-the-machines-2003-feels-like-a-made-for-television-movie-and-misses-what-made-its-predecessors-good/

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5th – Terminator Genisys (2015)

    Where “Rise of the Machines” is simply bad, “Genisys” is incoherent…which is sad because there could have been a great film in here about Skynet’s fall and the last of of Kyle Reese going back in time to complete the loop…but the story keeps going and we have an old T-101 acting as Sarah Connor’s father figure, a T-1000 because reasons and Time Machines in the present that Arnold’s T-101 was able to build because REASONS! Also the poster is a spoiler in regards to the plot and I never got why that plot decision was made as Sarah has never met her future son. This should have been called “Terminator: Referynce” as that is the only coherent thing holding this plot together when they Jettison the first act to play Fanservice with the first 2 Terminator films. Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese are also really bland as characters and cannot carry this film.

Final Score: 6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/terminator-genisys-2015-terminator-referynce-with-a-great-missed-story/

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4th – Terminator Salvation (2009)

    “Salvation” has a lot of interesting ideas and in my opinion Christian Bale is the best John Connor and Anton Yelchin is the best Kyle Reese. The others are teens or are faceless blunt action stars who have no personality…these guys do and that is what saves the sometimes incoherent confusion that is sometimes the plot as we have an early cyborg as our hero who was once an ex-convict seeking redemption and the truth of who he is. Seeing the reality where Skynet has destroyed the world and the politics between John Connor and the Council of Humanity is really cool too as they all deal with questions of destiny and the hard choices during war where you deal with an enemy who can take your form.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/terminator-salvation-2009-when-redemption-means-death/

The Terminator Poster

3rd – The Terminator (1984)

    “The Terminator” is a solid action B Film. It doesn’t strive to be more which is why I only consider it good and I do think that more could have been done with Sarah Connor’s agency (Kyle Reese is the main person fighting the Terminator up until Sarah finally fights it at the end) and these are things that keep it in it’s era as a solid 80’s B Action Flick. Arnold does a great job as the T-101 Terminator threat and Michael Biehn is a good Kyle Reese, though it is Linda Hamilton who truly carries this film by subverting the 80’s action trope and her boyfriend rather than her getting Fridged by the monster to motivate the future films. It’s sad we don’t have more female action heroes. This is the film that starts this though I think that is shown better in “T2” and “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Final Score: 8 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/the-terminator-1984-a-good-thriller-with-a-decent-heroine-arc/

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2nd – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

    “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is a show that ends with a cliffhanger but still manages to be good than the original “Terminator,” which does have a complete story and ending. Why is this the case? The core answer is the characters go through arcs and change over the course of the film. Sarah Connor learns to finally let go of John, John becomes the Resistance leader, which is a destiny he is always fighting against and characters like Agent Ellison become allies against Skynet after hunting Sarah and Catherine Weaver is willing to deal with humanity again as her 3rd Faction shows that A.I. is not all out to destroy humankind. The character of John Henry (an early Skynet A.I. that could become Skynet or destroy Skynet) is handled really well too and through him we see explorations of morality just as our heroes make tough choices showing that none of them are really good, they’re just survivors. This is what elevates it above “The Terminator” even with the Cliffhanger ending since the series got canceled. Lena Heady is awesome as Sarah Connor and Summer Glau is wonderful as the Terminator ally Cameron.

Final Score: 8.1 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/terminator-the-sarah-connor-chronicles-retrospect-good-ideas-and-characters-killed-by-a-cliffhanger/

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1st – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

    “T2” still stands as the greatest of the Franchise. The T-1000 is a brilliant threat, everyone changes including Arnold’s T-101 who becomes human as we see him no longer terminate humans and actually grow close to John Connor. Linda Hamilton is the best action hero in this too as the unstable prophet who knows the end is coming and is doing all in her power to fight the machines. Her arc is also growing beyond her fear of the machines as we see her have a respect for the T-101 that saves their life. This film also has a huge bent of being anti-authority and it handles it well, from taking down the big business that will become Skynet and the fact that the T-1000 takes the form of a cop and uses that form to infiltrate areas and become a part of the hunt for Sarah Connor after she escapes the asylum. All these things are part of what make this film a classic and one of my all time favorite films and my only favorite film and story of this Franchise.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/terminator-2-judgment-day-1991-a-reflective-action-film-on-destiny-the-soul-and-choice/

     This is a Franchise that should just die unless it gets a “Fury Road” re-imagining that allows it to do something in such a new way with a greater point to it. At this point the Franchise is running in place, recycling points and scenes (looking at you “Genisys” and “T3” and “Salvation” to a degree) and that is why no one really looks on this Franchise fondly anymore. It has killed the goodwill that the first 2 films created and it has been running on the nostalgia of those 2 films ever since. It is this dependence on nostalgia that I think will kill the Franchise in the end. You change and adapt or you die and at the end of the day I don’t think this Franchise will make money if it continues the trend it has been going on since “T2.” I like sci. fi., Time Travel, Robots and resistance but at some point if a series has run out of ideas, let a new story be allowed the same opportunity James Cameron got when he made that first film.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” Retrospect – Good Ideas and Characters Killed by a Cliffhanger

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     “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” is a good show at the end of the day. It is a show with a lot of missed potential, especially in how it handled it’s ending and some of the mythology, but what it does right it does really well. This is something that can’t be said for some shows that got canceled, like “Helix” where they clearly had no idea where they were going. This show at least looks like it was going somewhere, it just never got the chance to complete the thoughts and the writers clearly assumed they had more time than they did.

    Without further ado, here is what I thought worked and didn’t work about the show.

The Pros: Jesse – Jesse was a really cool character, as we see she worked with Machines in the past and only turned on them and didn’t trust them after they kept her from communicating directly with John Connor and when the T-1001 killed members of her crew. Her story is a tragedy and I hope she is still out there somewhere fighting Skynet in this universe.

Agent Ellison – Ellison was my favorite character on the show. He was a man of faith who taught John Henry (an A.I. using the body of a Terminator who’d hunted him) morals and in the end almost develop a friendship. He is a father figure to both him and Savannah and the kindest character as we see him help the Connors and get the FBI off their trail as his investigation leads to him believing in what Sarah Connor was saying.

Catherine Weaver – Catherine Weaver is the T-1001 that killed the crew on the sub and turns things on it’s head when she offers John the chance for an alliance when she is the one with the power. She is a fascinating character as she disregards life for the big picture and her drive is to create an A.I. who will look after the 3rd Faction and find some peace with humanity too. To this end she created John Henry through Project Babylon. Eventually she travels with John into the future too.

John Henry – John Henry is a powerful A.I. who is a child and who is friends with Savannah and Ellison. He is good at his core and is innocence. This is one reason I’m curious why he jumped to the future…is that where his brother Skynet is located? His drive before the end was to find and meet up with his brother.

Cameron – Cameron’s arc is dealing with her feelings for John and making her own way. At times it looks like she is a member of the 3rd Faction, for example when Allison is used as her template to get close to John…but she also turns down Catherine Weaver’s offer. In this we see that she can lie, have sensation but at the core does what is in the best interest of John Connor. She is his protector, the way the T-800 was in “Terminator 2.” Summer Glau does an amazing job.

Sarah Connor – Lena Heady does an amazing job as Sarah Connor! Her Sarah Connor is raw and dealing with trying to raise a child knowing the end is coming and knowing he’s destined for a future she doesn’t fully understand. To this end we see her mess up a lot, but always come through for John…in the end she is even able to let go as she lets John Time Travel as she knows she can’t take any more unknowns.

John Connor – John Connor goes from a teen running from his future to a guy embracing it after he has lost so much and realizes that the only thing he can count on is himself and the choices he makes. He becomes a good leader in this and we see him put his life on the line countless times for others and able to work with anyone be they Terminator or human.

The 3rd Faction – The 3rd Faction fascinates me. They want to fight Skynet but also be respected too as they attempt to make their own life. Cameron is a part of them and Catherine Weaver is one of their leaders…John Henry is their attempt to have full freedom and agency too since it is a learning A.I. that is seeking to be human and more, while Skynet is like a virus infecting computer systems and seeking control.

The Cons: The Cliffhanger – John Connor and Weaver travel to the future, Ellison and Sarah Connor stay behind. John Connor meets his Dad and Derek, and what time are we in exactly?

Riley – Riley was a plot device who eventually became a character and died. When she did become a character she was someone going against what she was being trained to do, and that made her interesting…but her being a post-apocalyptic refugee was never fully explored. How does someone feral come back to being human? The show never tackled that.

Derek Reese – The guy was a dick who I couldn’t stand for most of the time and the fact that he might have killed the woman he loves damns him in my book. He was forgiven for killing his best friend in the future, Jesse deserves the same…especially since everything she did was in self-defense. Did not miss this character when he died as that single episode destroyed what good will he’d managed to build up.

Unanswered Questions – There are a lot of unanswered questions. Where was Skynet during all of the events that they sent killers? Where was John Henry’s brother? What future did Catherine and John travel too? What does the 3rd Faction want?

     There was a lot that worked with this series, which is why I won’t pan it. It’s a fun adventure and a good character series even if there were some characters like Derek Reese or Riley who I never felt fully worked and only really served their function in the story by dying. No show should have characters that exist only for that purpose but this one did and that is part of what brought it down. If you like “Terminator 2” you will probably like this show, it captures a lot of what made that film good in how it handles characters, Skynet and choice.

Final Score: 8.1 / 10

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

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 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 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 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

Terminator: The Sarah Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 9 – “What He Beheld” – The Terror of the Terminators

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      This was a great episode for the Terminator threat and for Derek and John moments, but besides that felt really unfocused. I’m honestly not sure what direction the show is taking as there are all these different factions with no clear goals in mind. This is one way the first two films will always outway the show, they were focused in the agendas of both our heroes and the villains. This finale’s end is a bit of a mess.

     “What He Beheld” was directed by Mike Rohl and written by Ian B. Goldberg.

     The story takes place on John’s birthday with Derek showing him himself and his little brother Kyle at this point in the timeline. Sarkissian holds them hostage for money as he knows they are fugitives and he has the Turk, and Agent Ellison leads an attack on Chromatie in his apartment.

The Pros: The Action – The action is solid in this episode! From the attack on Sarkissian’s base to get the Turk back to Ellison’s assult on Chromatie the action is done really well with some great cinematography especially as Johnny Cash plays as FBI agents are thrown into the pool, already dead.

Derek and John – Derek and John have a good heart to heart where they talk about Kyle while a  young Kyle and Derek play baseball nearby. It is a great moment as they are just observers and it gives Kyle one of the few glimpses he’s ever had of who his father was.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is great as always as we see her put in the time to give John a good birthday. She reminds him that defeating Syknet is their mission but that they should not stop living, giving some much needed humanity in the episode.

Chromatie – Chromatie feels like a threat for once. He takes out the entire FBI task force leaving Ellison alive to take the fall for him. It’s brilliant and shows why he was sent back in time, finally.

Agent Ellison – Ellison’s world breaks as he loses his team to Chromatie and watches with Charley with both of them realizing that they are in over their heads and that Sarah Connor was right all along.

Terminator Threat – Chromatie takes out an entire FBI squad that is fully armed with barely any wear or tear upon it. It’s a powerful moment and shows just how outmatched humanity is against even one of these machines.

Okay: Cameron – She is just kind of there this episode and all she does is discuss what birthdays are and seek to find the Turk before she gets blown up by Sarkissian.

Sarkissian – I don’t know why he is even in this. He is just a distraction from the threat of Skynet and the Terminators unless we end up learning that he helped create Skynet…

Cons: Lack of Focus – From Sarkissian’s faction, the Turk and the search for it, attack on Chromatie and John’s birthday…there are too many threads in this and with only 43 minutes to make a good story out of it, they kind of missed.

  I’m curious to see if Season 2 will have more focus than Season 1. We see a lot of elements going on here…Derek and the future, Chromatie and the Terminator’s mission, the Resistance Fighters sent back to the past, the formation of Skynet and Cameron and the humanity of the Connors. Right now I’m not seeing any core focus and this episode really highlights this con.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, episode 8 – “Vick’s Chip” – Terminator Illusion

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    This is an episode’s whose theme is about breaking down masks. Specifically we see the mask Vick was using fall as well as Derek’s too as he is much more of an infiltrator, Terminator and liar than Cameron is. We also see John Connor taking the lead again and being that bridge between both Terminators and humanity.

     The episode was directed by J. Miller Tobin and written by Daniel T. Thomson.

     The story involves hacking Vick’s chip and seeing the life he was faking, an attack by Sarah and Derek on destroying ARTIE, the system Vick was having his wife build. Chromatie also shows up at school to hunt John and Cameron goes under to see and understand Vick’s full mission.

The Pros: Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is once again the moral center of this series as we see her value human life and not act like a Terminator, while still understandably having distrust of Cameron. In this way she is the most well rounded as her experiences haven’t made her bitter or traumatized but realistic in the situations they face. Her threatening Derek Reese for killing Andy Goode was great too.

Cameron – Cameron is honest, upfront and is incapable of lying unless ordered too. This helps her shine a light on the Terminators but also folks like Derek Reese in how they treat her. In this she is the one who takes the risk to jump into Vick’s mind to find out what Skynet’s agenda was with him. It’s a great moment she was with John when she does it.

Skynet is Everywhere – Skynet is everywhere. Every advanced system could become part of Skynet is what I realized in this episode. ARTIE is just a traffic control A.I. but Sarah and Derek go to destroy it. This is traffic control, which needs a lot of computing but there are things much more complex and things that aren’t complex that could become complex, “The Turk” for example. This is the power in the episode, and a theme of the show.

Masks We Wear – Masks is the other theme as we see Derek ready to kill two cops for trying to stop them and from his actions the reveal that he killed Andy and lied about it. Vick also murders his wife who was his cover and in both of them we see how the war made them into monsters, one by circumstances, the other by design.

Okay: Derek Reese – He is still an angry and bitter man who is only so good by how other characters interact with him. When Sarah or Cameron interact with him, things happen but he as a character is weak.

Chromatie – He appears, he kills the principle and leaves. He does feel threatening this episode so I won’t put him as a con.

Memories from Vick – Vick’s memories are alright but could have been better if he’d actually talked to his wife. The memories of him being silent didn’t make me believe it was an actual relationship that would have worked. Cool idea though.

   This was a good episode that is really only brought down by the Terminators who aren’t Cameron and Derek Reese (who is one of the weakest elements on the show). Next episode is the Season 1 Finale and after that we’ll start on Season 2…and see if this show had any idea where it was going.

Final Score: 8.2 / 10