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 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

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

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 3 – “The Turk” – Reasons to Care

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     This was an episode that had a good idea in exploring how the Connors are becoming more akin to Terminators like Cameron as they are either forced or are going about ending life that is a potential threat, but it isn’t fully explored which is why I can’t call it a great episode. The FBI is still pretty blank too as far as characterization and drama goes as well.

   The episode was directed by Paul Edwards and written by John Wirth.

   The story involves Sarah’s investigation of Andy Goode, a possible creator of Skynet who has a chess A.I. called the Turk as Cameron and John experience drama at school and Cameron’s protection of John leads to choices that show the cost of remaining hidden.

The Pros: Andy Goode – Andy is an awkward nerd who is passionate about chess and A.I. I like his interactions with Sarah as he comes off as genuine and someone who could be a friend after even if the relationship never worked.

Sarah Connor – Sarah is faced with a dilemma that isn’t answered at the end of the episode as “The Turk” A.I. has the potential to become Skynet but Any is good person. This leaves her torn on what to do especially after John denounces her and Cameron for their disregard for human life in their pursuit of their final end.

Cameron – Cameron is great at trying to blend in but just making situations worse as she takes everything literally. Her protecting John, though it makes sense also pushes her further away from her charge, just as Sarah’s actions have done.

John Connor – John cares for life and it is a huge carry over from “Terminator 2” where he taught the T-800 as much. Future John is obviously not as concerned as Cameron keeps him from saving a girl about to jump from the building and this leads him to calling out Cameron and Sarah on them becoming Terminators so what’s the point of the war?

Okay: Cromartie – He kidnaps a scientist to grow him a new skin, and that is cool and it is great seeing Cromartie’s true metal interior but still doesn’t feel fully like a threat. He’s just kind of there.

   The issue of choosing to take a life and how it makes one like a Terminator is never fully explored and that’s what brings the episode down the most, though all the characters get some great exploration and I’m curious to see how and if they change over the course of this and next season.

Final Score: 8.2 / 10

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1, Episode 2 – “Gnothi Seauton” – Trust No One

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    “Gnothi Seauton” is a great episode that shows the price of forever being on the run and lying to people is having on the Connors, as well as how much they just want to be able to live a normal life and human relationships. From this John likes getting new identities while Sarah enjoys the time where she has no name as it lets her be free and get in touch with old contacts.

   The episode was directed by David Nutter and written by Josh Friedman.

   The story kicks off with them nearly getting killed by a T-888 who killed a Resistance Cell that was going to help them. It is then they realize they are alone again and Sarah gets in touch with Enrique to establish new identities. He sends her to his nephew Carlos and from here the story unfolds as she must get 20K to pay for the new papers and identities. The Terminator Cromartie also returns having survived the Time Travel Machine and retrieves it’s skull to continue the hunt for the Connors.

The Pros: Time War – We learn in this episode that Resistance fighters have been sent back in time to fight Terminators in the past. This is a little confusing as it shows at one point they get full control of a Time Machine but I guess it makes sense if Arnold’s T-800 in “T2” could get sent back, I just thought the technology would be more rare and wouldn’t be used so much but since it is, I like that it is used in the war and that the war is throughout time against Skynet.

Carlos and his Gang – Carlos and his gang are great where we see they understandably distrust strangers but come around and are true to their word. Carlos is also right about Enrique being a snitch, as he was ready to sell out the Connors to the FBI for money.

Cameron – Cameron mimics humans more in this and we learn that she only follows orders from the John of the future. She knows all about Resistance cells and locations and is able to read well too as she kills Enrique for lying to them about not being a snitch.

John Connor – John is trying to hold onto the life he had not realizing it is gone…from searching his history at a mall and later visiting Charley Dixon, Sarah’s ex-fiance. He is having trouble letting go and it is eating away at him.

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor is feeling more isolated and alone and is fearful of Cameron as Cameron is out of her control. Her arc in this is making sense of all of that and we learn that she doesn’t know herself when she is on the run and in survival mode or what she is capable of…she only wants to protect herself and John.

Enrique – Enrique is Sarah’s friend from “Terminator 2” and in this we learn he found a working relationship with the FBI. This ends up costing him his life though when he is ready to sell off the Connors and Enrique kills him. Tony Amendola does a great job as him! He has been in a lot of sci. fi. shows so it is great seeing him again here.

Okay: The FBI – The FBI is still just kind of there and don’t feel fully fleshed out as an organization. For example I care nothing for the main investigator because I haven’t been given a reason too.

Charley Dixon – Dixon is also just kind of there as a plot device for John to show the life he could have lived. Plot device and not a fully fleshed out character yet.

The Terminators – Cromartie and the T-888 are just kind of there and they don’t have the level of the threat Arnold’s T-800 had or the T-1000. So far they are pretty weak and only feel powerful because they are robots not because they are Terminators.

  This was a great episode and the show is getting better. The theme of trust is huge with Enrique being a snitch who would have sold them out if Sarah hadn’t shot and also the fact that John and Sarah are taking new identities again in order to bring the war to Skynet. It’s a sad episode with strength to it.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10