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CPColin
Sep 9, 2003

Big ol' smile.

Crusader posted:

Quick note that Terminator: SCC is now streaming for free (well, with ads) in the US: https://www.go90.com/shows/terminatortv

Sweet! Thanks for the heads up!

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mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Milky Moor posted:

It's amazing, really, that Derek Reese - perhaps the most fanfictiony of all the characters, at first glance, Kyle Reese's hardcore unknown older brother - seems to be the most well-regarded, and that's probably because Green nails the hardened killer vibe.

Naturally I was hyped for this show, not least because the ARG promo material used a nuked-out San Francisco. But when I first saw the full cast list my reaction was "Bryan Austin Green.... sounds familiar... <IMDB visit>... oh god no." And then they introduced his character and he was good; giving him the line "I won't be the guy who brings metal down on the Connors" really, really helped. And then a show which seemed a little rough in the first handful of episodes just snapped into focus.

All because of Uncle Derek.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


So, on reflection, here are some thoughts on some parts of this episode.

Ellison and John Henry

I've said before that I really like Ellison as a character and I enjoy how his faith is handled very respectfully in the show. He is tested but never renounces it, and he uses his faith to help John Henry grow. I think the forthcoming interactions between John Henry, Ellison and Weaver are some of the best stuff Season 2 serves up. For example, I really like the simple exploration of what murder might mean to a machine in this episode. Simply put, John Henry didn't mean to kill Sherman because it had no conception of what death is and what taking the power for its own survival would do to a human in that enclosed space, particularly when he could no longer monitor Sherman's state. It's something John Henry comes to learn, but, when he does, it's also something that is very different to how we perceive death.

But it doesn't mean I like that they killed Sherman. In the end, it feels like he was squandered. And, as I said in the greater recap, it feels weird and grim to have a series where they need to protect Sherman from Skynet so Sherman can, instead, end up dead in the basement of Zeira Corp so it can further John Henry's development. Does it make sense? Sure, in a twisted way. Is it particularly neat or interesting? I'm not so sure. Sherman could have been anyone else.

Speaking of Zeira Corp, Zeira appears to be a reference to the Golem of Prague and the city of Babylon. Interesting, that.

The other thing about Ellison is that, until now, he hasn't really been doing much (that is, beyond handing over Cromartie's chassis). When I think of Ellison, I think of a roleplaying ground where three of the four characters have got their firearms and adventuring skills and the fourth member has put points into, like, philosophy and persuasion and the campaign is this big Western shootout. He's been awkwardly spinning his wheels until now.

Ellison and John Henry are the biggest indication that the series answer to Skynet was not to destroy it. Destroying Skynet is seemingly impossible. No matter what, someone will develop an AI that will destroy the human race. So, the answer is to create an AI that will value human life and understand empathy. For the rest of the season, we get great scenes where Ellison and John Henry muse on that idea. How, exactly, do you teach a logical machine of calculations and laws, a machine that has nothing in common with the people who built it whatsoever, to see humans as something worth living with and protecting and assisting, without shackling it? Or without it learning some kind of base utilitarianism where the most good for the majority is the guiding principle?

To continue the analogy of John Henry being the Tower of Babylon that God will strike down, is it as simple (hah) as teaching a machine to love mankind? Not a romantic love, of course, but a simple, platonic love. Is that the one language that'd promote understanding between the different sects?

Battlestar, too, ruminated on machines with faith. But TSCC absolutely outclasses Battlestar on this point. TSCC understands that its machines are machines, different yet equal to humans. People without being humans. Battlestar would frequently insist its Cylons are no different to humans - and then have one of them display some kind of superhuman ability, like jacking a fibre-optic cable into their arm.

The Three Dots

Like I said earlier, this is one of the things that truly dates TSCC (beyond the computer hardware and phones, of course).

It's hard to tell with this episode what the show is doing with the three dots. To spoil the arc, of course, Sarah eventually gets a rather conclusive link of the three dots to the Turk. Unfortunately, her logic is wrong because the Turk, as we're starting to see, isn't Skynet and the whole season is something of a wild goose chase.

So, what do the three dots really represent? Well, to me, they represent Skynet as much as they do the Turk. Remember, the Turk was once a component of Skynet. If Sarah was less preoccupied with the Turk as the sole source of Skynet, maybe she'd figure it out.

We see them a lot of times throughout this episode.The more obvious example is the Dakara Systems logo, but Alex insists it means nothing and is just a logo. That doesn't mean it isn't a reference to Skynet, of course.

But the show is quick to push the idea that Sarah is just trying to assign meaning to three random points of a blood splatter. Derek and the belt, for example. But there are other times: when discussing Go, Sarah snatches up a selection of playing pieces and ends up holding three white pieces in the shape of a triangle in her palm; Sarah has three bloody dots on her face, etc. And it's going to throw a lot more three dot patterns as the second season goes on, and there's virtually no pattern between them. Gunshot wounds, engine configurations, search patterns, etc.

My personal take is that the work Xander had done for Dakara Systems would have ended up as part of Skynet - after all, it met a lot of the criteria of the Turk. In a lot of ways, it feels like a remix of Sarah's confrontation with Miles Dyson in T2. And Dyson's son would have apparently been working on Skynet in the third season. Some might say that Sarah should have killed Xander and Alex then, but I disagree. If Skynet is inevitable, killing someone is pointless.

Riley and the Players of Games

It really annoys me that it took Riley half the season to become interesting, to start displaying some depth. I wish we had seen some of this earlier, prior to Mr Ferguson Is Ill, some indication of strange behavior that John chooses to ignore. There are bits there, of course: the strange idioms, the love of food, and so on. But, as it is, John's appraisal of her and his provocation of her behavior in this episode comes across as, yeah, John just decided to reject her and protect her from the horrors of the future, like his mom has told him to do. We don't quite see clearly the behavior on John's part that Jesse attacks Future John to Derek about in this episode: the clinical thinking, the sacrifice of people, the deliberate manipulation, all that sort of thing. But, like Blazing Ownager said back in November, I think this episode marks John deciding to try and figure Riley out. I think it's clear that he went to Riley's house to deliberately see how she'd react when he broke a promise to her, and I think her reaction to try and get close to him again would have sent off warning bells.

No one tries to get close to John Connor, after all. No humans, at least.

I know that I definitely prefer the interplay between Riley, Jesse, John and Cameron from this point on than earlier in the season. It becomes a bluffing game of cat-and-mouse where nuclear holocaust is the prize for the winners and the loser will probably be dumped in a river somewhere. Will Riley spill the beans? Will Jesse start to take a more firm hand? Will John figure out Jesse's plan to drive a wedge between him and Cameron? Hell, will Cameron?

I know how it ends, of course, and what's unfortunate is that Riley isn't in the Season for much longer. I don't particularly like her, but, like a lot of things about TSCC I don't like, it's really more about whatever problems led to a poor execution of an interesting concept than the concept itself. I like Riley, I just don't like what the show did with her.

I do like the parallel of John getting suspicious of Riley and deciding to do something about it when contrasted with Derek, who armed with overwhelming proof that Jesse is lying, is floundering about, trying to make up his mind whether he's being played or not - and maybe deciding not to believe his intuition. Why does Derek make a big deal about John needing to have his head on straight? Because John is a leader. Derek, with all credit to him, is just a follower. Oh, he's a drat good one, but he's a soldier. And all soldiers need a leader.

In this episode, everyone's getting played. Riley by John. Derek by Jesse. Sarah by Alex. Xander by Alex.

Doesn't paint the best picture of humanity, does it?

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


Blazing Ownager posted:

Back when he dropped out, it was basically over his creative view that the T2 Director's Cut is legitimate, and that John Connor successfully stopped Judgement day after T2 and (some how) even becomes a Senator somehow.
What happens in the director's cut? I'm pretty sure it's the only version I've seen (because it has the scene of them setting the terminator to learning mode that the original version omits, right?) but I don't remember anything that definitively showed they'd changed the timeline. Sarah's monologue at the end tells us that she believes she's changed the future, but whether she's right or not is left up to interpretation.

Milky Moor posted:

Cromartie's actor is really great, which is something that becomes obvious in the scenes he has as John Henry if people thought Cromartie was a fluke. Of course, I think Season 2's strongest stuff is, really, a lot of the John Henry content, and a lot of that is because of how well Garret Dillahunt plays the role of a terrifyingly innocent supercomputer. Who else could have sold a Terminator playing with and obsessing over Bionicles as unsettling as opposed to laughable?
The stuff the Connors are doing is fine, but it's the stuff with Weaver and John Henry that really makes this show worth remembering. Without the John Henry plot, it would have been just an OK TV show.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Tiggum posted:

What happens in the director's cut? I'm pretty sure it's the only version I've seen (because it has the scene of them setting the terminator to learning mode that the original version omits, right?) but I don't remember anything that definitively showed they'd changed the timeline. Sarah's monologue at the end tells us that she believes she's changed the future, but whether she's right or not is left up to interpretation.

From Wikipedia:

"An alternate ending shows an elderly Sarah Connor watching an adult John, who is a U.S. senator, playing with his daughter in a Washington playground in the year 2029, narrating that Judgment Day never happened."

From James Cameron:

"I had always thought that it was important to show that their efforts, the sacrifices made by Terminator and by Miles Dyson, were not in vain and that history was changed."

I think the ending is presented on DVDs in an extras section. I don't think it's even been part of the film. I know the version I own, with all the deleted scenes put back in, doesn't show it at the end.

quote:

The stuff the Connors are doing is fine, but it's the stuff with Weaver and John Henry that really makes this show worth remembering. Without the John Henry plot, it would have been just an OK TV show.

Reasonable enough, I think. The show is pretty uneven.

Case in point, because I feel like I can mention this now... So, Jesse's plan is to drive a wedge between John and Cameron in the present because she worries about Cameron's influence over him in the future. Right, okay, simple enough.

But doesn't that plot feel a bit weird given that most of Season 2 has demonstrated that John doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Cameron? Like, sure, he has a certain attraction to her but he's not exactly giving in to it at any point. I can appreciate the nihilism of Jesse using Riley to execute a plot that isn't particularly necessary in the first place, but - similar to what I said about Sherman's death - the series doesn't strike me as a particularly nihilistic series and therefore it feels out of place, like things weren't written as neatly as they could have been.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 05:29 on Apr 5, 2017

haveblue
Aug 15, 2005




Toilet Rascal

Milky Moor posted:

But doesn't that plot feel a bit weird given that most of Season 2 has demonstrated that John doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Cameron? Like, sure, he has a certain attraction to her but he's not exactly giving in to it at any point. I can appreciate the nihilism of Jesse using Riley to execute a plot that isn't particularly necessary in the first place, but - similar to what I said about Sherman's death - the series doesn't strike me as a particularly nihilistic series and therefore it feels out of place, like things weren't written as neatly as they could have been.

I've always blamed that on the show's time travel model. We only got to see the love triangle situation where Riley is present as a distraction, not the previous timeline that must be somewhere out in the TSCC multiverse, where John had only Cameron as an outlet and confidant and maybe things went very differently during the corresponding portion of his life. To the extent that there is a triangle at all, Jesse's plan worked, and John is now going to turn out otherwise- just not necessarily in the way she hoped for.

They're trying to portray a chaotic system where characters have incomplete and conflicting information without ever using a detached omniscient perspective where it can all be laid out for the audience's benefit.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


haveblue posted:

I've always blamed that on the show's time travel model. We only got to see the love triangle situation where Riley is present as a distraction, not the previous timeline that must be somewhere out in the TSCC multiverse, where John had only Cameron as an outlet and confidant and maybe things went very differently during the corresponding portion of his life. To the extent that there is a triangle at all, Jesse's plan worked, and John is now going to turn out otherwise- just not necessarily in the way she hoped for.

They're trying to portray a chaotic system where characters have incomplete and conflicting information without ever using a detached omniscient perspective where it can all be laid out for the audience's benefit.

That's actually a good way of looking at it.

I also chalk some of it up to What He Beheld and Samson and Delilah, too.

CPColin
Sep 9, 2003

Big ol' smile.

Busy Phillips was a good sport to do her guest spots while roughly a million months pregnant!

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


I wanted to get another episode done prior to Easter but it's not looking possible (and I'm busy for the whole long weekend). Should be up early next week.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


A number of things leapt up and bit me while trying to find time to finish this but, without further delays...

Episode 11: Self Made Man

It is best to be upfront here. Upon watching this episode, I believe that this is where Season 2 really starts to stumble. I can't say that I hate the episode but I can certainly say that there are significant parts of it that I dislike, some that stem from personal biases (like anything involving, say, the 1920s), things that feel lazy (use of flashbacks), things that feel inconsistent with even the episode directly previous (John's research) and what felt like a waste of a rich opportunity (exploring a night in Cameron's life). This episode consistently leaves me underwhelmed.

But there are some decent bits in it. It feels strange to say that the stuff I was most interested in was the John and Riley stuff, although what we see of Cameron's night is good, too.

The episode opens with a New Years Eve celebration in 1920. People are dancing, laughing and partying - and then the place erupts in flames and cheering is replaced by screaming. If you had missed the previously on... recap, you might think it is a completely different show, particularly given the weird dream-like slow motion that makes up the shots. Nothing about it says Terminator.

In the Connor household, John is working on his laptop. Behind him, Sarah enters with a load of laundry. "Anything yet?" she asks.

John explains that he's found about fifty thousand websites with three dots in their logo. But none of them have anything to do with Skynet. They're all fruit, candles, dog collars, baby wipes, ice cream... Sarah tells him to keep looking, but John comments that this is all something she got from a dream. In the end, he retires to do it tomorrow.

But Cameron is there, and Sarah palms off the load of laundry to her.

"You never sleep. Make yourself useful."

John cracks a joke, "Most efficient killing machine ever invented. You got her doing laundry."

Sarah gives John a look, and takes the laundry from Cameron and gives it to her son.

John, promptly, passes it back to Cameron. "You do never sleep," he says, smiling.

Cameron stares at him with something close to contempt. She remains staring at him even as he turns the lights out, plunging Cameron into darkness. It feels remarkably cold, like a reminder that Cameron doesn't need light to see, that she's a machine. I find this scene interesting when compared to the scene in Season 1 where John has Cameron do his math homework, which Cameron seems to enjoy and both of them treat it as a bit of a friendly joke. Here, while John does give her a little smile, it's clear that Cameron doesn't particularly want to do it, and that there's something strained between them.

John's treatment of Cameron, and Cameron's perception of it, gets a bit interesting in the next scene.

So, as it turns out, Cameron spends her nights in a local library with a young man named Eric. He lets her in after hours in exchange for donuts and the two make conversation.

ERIC: So how was Mexico? Did you get to see your buddy down there?

[flashback of John and Cameron digging up Cromartie's grave]

CAMERON: He was gone when we got there.

ERIC: After you went all that way? Bummer.

CAMERON: Yes, it was a bummer.

ERIC: Is your brother still seeing that crazy blond?

CAMERON: Yes. It's become a problem. She snuck out the window one night and left the alarm off. We got robbed.

ERIC: No way. Did you catch who did it?

[flash of Cameron shooting the two robbers]

CAMERON: Everything worked out fine.

ERIC: That's a pretty Zen attitude.

CAMERON: The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.

ERIC: You read Othello?

CAMERON: You asked me to.

ERIC: Did you like it?

CAMERON: It was more violent than I expected.

ERIC: I should've warned you.

CAMERON: No. Everything worked out fine.

So, Cameron has someone outside the Connor family to talk to, someone you could just about call a confidant! More importantly, Eric summing up Riley as 'that crazy blonde', means that Cameron has referred to her in similar terms. Cameron is not happy about Riley. It's something we've known, but it is one thing to be unhappy about something, and another thing to be unhappy enough that you talk to someone about it.

Beyond talking, though, Cameron also spends her time looking up weapons and military history. It's an interesting idea that her hobbies would develop along lines that her chip has already established. She's a Terminator, so, she gets very interested in weapons and warfare.

As she's tracking down a book on the history of Californian field artillery, though, Cameron spots someone she recognises. Someone from the 1920s.

Someone that she matches to a T-888.

At night, John is awoken by a phone call. We don't see who the number is but John, upon seeing it, reacts with the expression of someone who just can't be hosed talking to whoever is on the other end of the number. He is not happy, and greets the person with a blunt "Hello".

That person is Riley, who wants John to come and get her from a street address, and refuses to explain why. Still unhappy, John gets up. As talked about in the previous episode, he does not seem quite so fond of Riley anymore.

Cameron and Eric continue to research the person Cameron recognised as a T-888. His name was Myron Stark and Stark, whoever he was, was apparently a pretty rich man. We see - with a flashback - that Myron exhibits the usual Terminator bluntness.

Stark: I enjoyed your film very much, Mr. Valentino.

Valentino: Thank you.

Stark: I thought your decision to return the gun to Lady Diana to protect herself from the caravan of thieves was misguided given that she was a security risk.

But all it does is create further questions. Eric tells Cameron where she might find further information - downstairs, the basement, Vital Records - but it is locked and he doesn't have the key. Cameron heads off anyway.

John arrive at the address Riley provided. Music is thumping, beer is flowing, and there's plenty of young people holding red cups, which I believe is the American symbol for 'house party'. So, it's a house party and John is really not happy about being there. He walks into the kitchen, cutting an immediate contrast in his black leather jacket to the rest of the colorful party goers, and almost bumps into an older woman who is hauling in bags of potato chips and beer.

GAIL: Excuse me. Hi. Looking for someone?

JOHN: Uh, yeah, Riley. Blond girl?

GAIL: Uh.... I barely know Mike's friends. Gail Silver, Mike's mom.

JOHN: Oh, hi. I'm John. Let me help you with these.

John's a good guy. It's important to note this. He has no idea who Gail is, will probably never see her again after this, and wants to find Riley and leave - and he still takes the little amount of time it'd require to help Gail out.

This is in contrast to Mike, who treats his own mother like a slave.

"This is the wrong kind," Mike says, holding up a a beer.

"You said 'beer'," his mother responds. "How come you never introduced me to your friend John?"

"Because he's not my friend," Mike sneers. "He's some loner weirdo who dropped out of school. What are you doing here?"

JOHN: Just looking for somebody.

GAIL: And being helpful. You could learn a lesson from him.

MIKE: What, like sucking up to Mom? Is TV in your room broken? It's kind of hard to relax if you're out here.

GAIL: I gotcha. I'm going.

JOHN: I didn't know you could just send your mom to her room.

MIKE: Yeah, so? Who you looking for?

Imagine seeing this as John Connor. Someone who orders around his own mom, and does it for petty reasons. Regardless of how John feels about his mother day-to-day, he respects her - it is that that respect that causes him angst about hanging out with Riley. When John Connor sees Mike treat his mother like this, it obviously makes John even more upset than he is. Remember, John possesses a keen sense of empathy. But do you think there might be a touch of envy there? Of being the normal rear end in a top hat teenager who could do things like that?

Anyway, John says he's looking for Riley. Mike's little appearance has dropped his voice down to Future John's almost-growl.

Just like that, Riley appears. Mike goes in for a hug, offering her a beer, and Riley steps around it to come and kiss John on the cheek.

JOHN: W-What are you doing? You called me all upset. What's going on?

RILEY: Oh, that was just... This guy was bothering me. That's all.

JOHN: Well, I have a car, let's go.

RILEY: No, it's cool now. Come on, we can hang out a little bit.

JOHN: Hang out?! I only came to get you. [exhales] I'm sorry. It's cool. We can- we can- we can stay.

Back in the library, Cameron has broken into the locked room to get records on Myron Stark. Eric is unhappy about it.

ERIC: I let you in, after hours, whenever you want. And for you to go and do this? Exactly what I tell you not to? Really not cool.

CAMERON: Well, I need the information.

ERIC: And I need this job. You broke the lock.

CAMERON: I'll fix it.

Eric, angry, reaches for a box of records and topples out of his wheelchair. When Cameron reaches down to help him, he snaps at her, "Don't."

And so she doesn't.

Later, she goes to apologise.

CAMERON: I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone down there.

ERIC: Forget it. It's no big deal.

CAMERON: Yes, it is. We're friends. I don't really have many friends. Actually, I don't have any friends.

They dig further in on the mystery of Myron Stark. With no idea of who he is, Eric quips that maybe he robbed banks. In a flashback, we see that he did exactly that. They find a police report of a man who "was hit with nearly thirty rounds" but managed to escape on foot.

But what did Myron do with all this money?

Well, he bought land and built houses and went up against real estate magnate Rupert Chandler.

But why?

So, Eric and Cameron dig into that mystery. In the process, Eric finds Cameron's handgun.

ERIC: What is this?

CAMERON: A 17-round Glock 9 millimeter semiautomatic.

They talk. Cameron provides an overview of what she does, protecting "her brother" from the "people out to hurt him". Eric gets more and more freaked out but, when he admits he's never fired a gun before, Cameron has an idea. She sets up an impromptu firing range with a pair of phone books -- remember phone books -- and helps him with how to fire it.

He lands dead centre, and Cameron brings him the bullet. Eric has to bounce it from hand to hand. Cameron, of course, had no such issue.

I do like their interactions. The lonely man and the inhuman woman, but, God, it's also so disconnected.

Back at the party, one of Mike's friends is playing Gears of War against Riley. She loses, and offers the controller to John. John refuses, until Mike goads him: "What, you live in a cave? Come on." So, John takes his seat, but his demeanor has not improved one bit. He does not want to be here, but also probably has no idea what to do, given that he's been out of school for so long... and wasn't very social in the first place.

John gets his video game butt kicked by Mike's friend. The washed out color palette and future warfare is kind of reminiscent of some of the future war scenes. John storms out.

JOHN: I'm gonna go. Stay if you want.

RILEY: John, wait.

JOHN: This was a mistake.

RILEY: I'm coming with you.

MIKE: Whoa, whoa. You're going? With that weirdo?

The situation, already tense, begins to deteriorate.

Mike accuses Riley of stealing his lighter, which he's been flicking about in the previous scenes. Words turn ot action and he grabs Riley. John tries to intervene and Mike thrusts him back.

So, John puts Mike in a chokehold, throws him down...

...and beats the poo poo out of him. He gets two punches in, blood spraying from Mike's face, and if Riley hadn't pulled him off, John might very well have not stopped. It's reminiscent of John's killing of Sarkissian, what with the chokehold.

In the library, Cameron and Eric -- you guessed it -- continue investigating. Another 1920s flashback reveals that Stark killed a member of Chandler's staff.

John has driven to what can only be termed 'Make Out Point'. Riley sits shotgun. "I thought you were going to kill that guy," she says.

"Why'd you call me?" John demands.

RILEY: Because... I wanted you to come.

JOHN: Weird way of showing it.

RILEY: Oh, the flirting-with-Mike thing? I'm a teenage girl, John. We do that kind of crap to guys we like.

JOHN: The loner weirdo? I don't get it. I've never gotten it.

I'll talk about John and Riley in the follow up post. In the end, John and Riley kiss - and it's all Riley, John is leaning away and pulls himself back from the kiss.

While John and Riley have an awkward situation, Cameron and Eric have one of their own. Eric is in the bathroom and Cameron bursts in to tell him about her latest findings. And then says this:

CAMERON: Do you ever think about dying?

ERIC: About what?

CAMERON: Or about suicide?

ERIC: Why would I think about that?

CAMERON: Because there's something wrong with you.

Eric gets a bit defensive about it, thinking Cameron is referring to his status as a cancer survivor. She's not, of course, and it is her attempt to reach out about her own suicidal thoughts. But Eric's response stops anything further from Cameron and the pair head upstairs to investigate the film vault. There's no wheelchair access, so, Cameron hauls Eric along in her arms. "I work out," she explains.

They find out that the 1920 fire at the start of the episode was the result of a mysterious "flash of blue light". So, a temporal event introducing a Terminator - the Myron Stark Terminator. Long story short, the Stark Terminator was never meant to arrive in 1920, and the events ended up killing Chandler's son who would go on to construct a building the Stark Terminator would need to complete its mission.

This is what forced Stark to become a real estate icon and construct the same building he would need for his mission.

The three dots show up when Stark looks up to the sky to figure out the time of his arrival.

Stark's mission was to assassinate the governor of California. He entombed himself in the wall of the building to wait. Cameron discovers him, crushes him with an elevator, and removes his chip.

Later, she returns to Eric, who comments that Cameron is a bit disheveled.

Cameron points out that Eric's cancer has returned, listing out a detailed diagnosis, including where the tumors are.

CAMERON: Your cancer's back. You have a secondary tumor in the long bone of your arm and possibly your lungs.

ERIC: Are you joking?

CAMERON: No.

ERIC: Then you're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about.

CAMERON: Ewing's sarcoma: first identified in the 1920s...

ERIC: I know what it is, okay? I'm the one in here. No wonder you don't have any friends. You can't just do things like that. You can't just show up whenever you need something! You can't carry a gun and freak people out and walk in the bathroom when a guy's taking a leak and ask him if he's gonna kill himself! And you can't just blurt things out like 'you have cancer'! Especially to someone who's already had it! You have no clue, do you? You have no idea what it's like to have something inside of you. Something that's damaged.

CAMERON: It's like a bomb... waiting to go off.

ERIC: I need to finish my paper.

CAMERON: You should make an appointment with your oncologist. The tumor's still small.

ERIC: Get out.

And, just like that, trying to do what she thinks is best (and, really, it is what's best), Cameron loses her first and only friend.

The next morning, John returns home. Cameron meets him in the living room, laundry basket under her arm.

"Where were you all night?" she asks.

"Out," John deflects.

Cameron steps in and touches at a mark on John's neck. He goes to deflect it but isn't fast enough. Cameron examines her fingers.

"Carbon chain C24, lanolin and red dye number twenty seven," Cameron says, as if she's a detective cracking a case. "You were with Riley."

John stares at her, but doesn't say anything as he stalks away, up the stairs. He pauses halfway up, turning back to look at her, and his face is hard to read.

The next night, Cameron returns to the library but finds a female student there instead. She asks for Eric, but Eric has apparently abandoned his job there - is it because he doesn't want to see Cameron again, or is it because he is checking out his cancer? We don't know.

But Cameron presents the woman with three doughnuts, and gets entry, same as always.

As far as she's come, she is still -- at her core -- a machine designed to prosecute objectives.

Ultimately, though, I'm far more interested in talking about the various things in this episode than actually covering the episode, because I think a lot of it, like the John and Riley stuff, is interesting to look at because you can see so obviously why it flounders. Coming up in the next post.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 11:48 on Apr 22, 2017

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


What's With This Episode?

Where to begin...

Well, in Episode 10, Derek points out that the Connors have been chasing phantoms with the whole three dots thing. It's the same episode that opens with the Connors looting a place, a place that is said to be a part of their search into things that could be related to Skynet. Of course, we hadn't seen or heard anything about those efforts to track down the three dots, or the search in general, until seeing the Connors loot the Dakara building. So why, in this episode, does it feel like we're seeing the stuff that Derek was arguing against, the series of wild goose chases based on Sarah's dreams? I said in Episode 10 that it feels like we were missing Step 1 and 2 of the three step plan to find the three dots, and here it is like we are seeing those steps - John trawling the Internet for relevant companies - but after the fact.

It's weird.

What is also frustrating about this episode is that it is a monster of the week episode that doesn't touch on, really, anything that was brought up in the previous episode. Where is Derek or Jesse? Where is Ellison, Weaver or John Henry? It is a totally disconnected episode that revolves around characters we won't see again or haven't seen before. At the very least, it would have been good to have seen Mike before, which could have given that whole sequence a little bit more oomph.

And then you have the flashbacks. TSCC loves its flashbacks. I understand that it was made in a different time, before 'binge watching' became a thing, but it feels like every episode since Mr Ferguson Is Ill has involved a flashback of sorts to either burying Cromartie or finding that he had been dug up.

I don't want to call it a bad episode but, at the same time, part of the reason it took me so long was because nothing about it really grabbed me. It's just kind of there. Which, given it is an episode that could be called A Day In The Life Of Cameron, feels like a disappointing waste of what could be an exciting concept.

Echoes of the Past, Reflections on the Future

One thing I do appreciate, however, is how this episode has a bit of a thing of bringing up things that have happened before and using them as a bit of a distorted reflection of what's going on.

I didn't take an exhaustive list, but here's a quick guide:
  • John gives Cameron a menial task to do - but Cameron does not enjoy it.
  • Riley calls John - but instead of it being something fun, John hates it from the moment he sees her number.
  • Cameron trying to assist Eric pick himself up is a bit of a call back to the turtle situation in Mexico.
  • Mike's derisive comment about his mom's TV being broken - when John had fixed the TV in Kacy's room as a sign of friendship.
  • Drab Gears of War gameplay at the party, compared to the bright and colorful Halo gameplay from Season 1. A little indication of John's mental state? (As an aside, I like how his mental state re: the game comes back to stuff that Doc Sherman talked about)
  • In a rage (and in self-defence), John choked out and killed Sarkissian - John attacks Mike when he gets angry, with weaker moral justification.
  • Cameron reaches out to touch John's neck, as she did in Season 1 - but he recoils from it.
I thought it was neat. To borrow the Lucas quote: it's like poetry, it rhymes.

John and Riley

Last episode, John seemed to realise that something wasn't quite right with Riley. His behavior in her room seemed like a deliberate attempt to provoke her into revealing what she knew and, when she reacted positively to being lied to and placed into mortal danger, John seemed to get that something was up. You can assume from that point on that John might get a bit more pointed, a bit more deliberate, a bit more assertive with her.

So, how does the show demonstrate John wising up to Riley's behavior?

With a scene that could be in a dozen other teen movies or soap operas. It is a bit unfair, of course, because the twist is that John doesn't want to be at the party, doesn't like being there, and his beat down of 'the jock' is kind of horrific and immoral (Riley did steal the lighter) as opposed to noble and upstanding... but it's easy to see why people might dislike the whole thing given that it feels so generic. But there's something to be said for taking a generic situation and rendering it in a more cynical light.

The other problem is that it is very easy to misread John's behavior from the party as stemming from his general anti-social tendencies and less from his anger at having to pick up Riley, who then lies to him again and again.

Yes, she lies to him. And, in a lot of ways, she echoes things Cameron might say.

At Make Out Point, John and Riley have a talk, about everything from John's issues to their respective parents. When John asks Riley why she caled him, she says she wanted him to come. Well, true, even if the circumstances might not be as she said. "I'm a teenage girl, John. We do that kind of crap to guys we like." Kind of grim when you realise that it's basically Riley taking her idea of how teenage girls work from all those glossy magazines she talked about near the beginning of the season. It sounds like something Cameron might say if you had her read a hundred issues of Teen Life magazine. Not a lie, but not really the truth.

But also, everything we see of Riley with Mike - at least while John is there - is of her spurning his advances.

Riley says the following: "My old foster parents were these '60s hippies always talking like they were single-handedly saving the world because they recycled. They called me "the deviant". Like, "The deviant got a C in math". "Should we take the deviant to see Bruce Hornsby?" That's why I came up to you that day, John. Because I thought, since you're a weirdo you might get me."

We know this isn't true because Jesse told Riley to get close to John. It also doesn't appear that Riley had lived in any other foster homes than the one she's currently in.

Even when you can see that John is beginning to tire of Riley, it still seems like to the average viewer that John is just following around someone who takes advantage of him and lies to him and creates situations where John hurts someone and doesn't apologise for it, all in the service of basically causing tension in John's family life... Well, it's easy to be annoyed at the whole subplot, particularly when it felt like it was about to go somewhere more interesting.

Despite the hickey on John's neck, I don't think they did anything but kiss - and even that was something that John, going by his body language, was not very comfortable with.

Cameron and Eric

It was nice to have an episode where Cameron got to feature heavily. It was not nice to have so much of it to revolve around finding historical documents. But it was fun to watch her and Eric interact. It gets a bit heavy-handed at the end to be sure, with the bomb comment, but it's a bit more palatable when you remember that Cameron likes weapons and probably finds it easiest to relate things back to them.

The other thing is, and this is something that the audience doesn't know yet, is that Cameron has stuck a bomb in her chip housing, in the event that she ever goes rogue again.

It's interesting that Cameron is developing hobbies and complaining to people about Riley and other recent events. Given that the Connors don't exactly give her much in the way of social time or recognition -- see John turning the lights off -- she is, given her burgeoning identity, going to go out and find someone to be social with. She's not very good at it, of course, but she's developing.

I liked the nod that she is picking up a rather "Zen attitude", given her interactions in the episode previous.

I like that Cameron tries to do the right thing, warning Eric that his cancer has returned, and it doesn't go well because she fails to anticipate how illogical humans are.

And I like how the end of the episode can be incredibly dark if you assume that Eric killed himself after his only friend -- the beautiful woman who helped him shoot a gun, carried him up stairs, brings him donuts, etc -- made a strong case that his cancer had returned.

Random Interesting Tidbits

"Stark spoke six languages, paid double his competitors and treated all of his workers equally regardless of their employment history or citizen status. Stark himself could always be found shoulder to shoulder with his workers, a pickax in his strong hands."

Sure, the Terminator was doing it in the service of a plan to help end the world, but it's an interesting thing to point out. Particularly given the episodes featuring the Grays in Season 2.

Three dots reference with the stars that the Myron Terminator compares to ascertain the date.

Wizard of Oz reference.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


Not having watched it recently, and based on your comments, I'm wondering if maybe this episode could have fitted better before the previous one rather than after?

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Tiggum posted:

Not having watched it recently, and based on your comments, I'm wondering if maybe this episode could have fitted better before the previous one rather than after?

Absolutely. The only part of this episode that really needs to follow the previous one is the John and Riley stuff, because John's frustration with her only really follows if it is after he seems to have figured out that something's not right with her (during his post-Mexico "I have no answers" talk). The three dots research stuff should definitely have come before the Dakara episode.

It's definitely strange that episode ten ends on that great John Henry reveal, and then episodes eleven and twelve don't do anything with it.

Astroman
Apr 8, 2001




This was one of my favorite episodes, with the 1920s Terminator. Seeing how far a Terminator would go to complete it's mission, and how capable they could be of blending in and doing things beyond killing was an eye opener. And then of course Cameron busting open the wall to find the dusty 80 year old Terminator inside who was still fully functional was very cool as well. I also loved the idea of Cameron going to a library to further her knowledge and making a friend, even though it didn't work out in the end.

Also very cool--the Myron Stark Terminator is played by the guy who plays Deacon on 12 Monkeys!

Astroman fucked around with this message at 12:30 on Apr 23, 2017

Phenotype
Jul 24, 2007

You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.



I'm glad you're still doing these! I saw this thread months ago, and skimming some of the chat made me go and watch the series for the first time, and it was a really good watch even with some unevenness - I wish they would have gotten a couple more seasons. These episode analyses are fantastic, and I was really depressed when I finally reached the end of the thread.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Phenotype posted:

I'm glad you're still doing these! I saw this thread months ago, and skimming some of the chat made me go and watch the series for the first time, and it was a really good watch even with some unevenness - I wish they would have gotten a couple more seasons. These episode analyses are fantastic, and I was really depressed when I finally reached the end of the thread.

I'm glad I'm still doing them, too. I'm definitely coming away from this with a better opinion of TSCC's second season than I had coming into it. Now, whether this will hold as we dive into the next group of episodes -- some of which are truly bad on a level this show hasn't ever fallen to -- remains to be seen. The next five episodes (Alpine Fields through to Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep) will be interesting given that, from my recollection, they form a really unfortunate slump prior to the show ramping up for a great finale. I had trouble with this one because while it was a nice episode, it felt disconnected and inconsistent and was, honestly, a bit boring.

I'm not sure why. I agree with Astroman, I think the idea is very cool and demonstrates a lot of interesting stuff about a Terminator.

Astroman posted:

This was one of my favorite episodes, with the 1920s Terminator. Seeing how far a Terminator would go to complete it's mission, and how capable they could be of blending in and doing things beyond killing was an eye opener. And then of course Cameron busting open the wall to find the dusty 80 year old Terminator inside who was still fully functional was very cool as well. I also loved the idea of Cameron going to a library to further her knowledge and making a friend, even though it didn't work out in the end.

Also very cool--the Myron Stark Terminator is played by the guy who plays Deacon on 12 Monkeys!

But, at the same time, it feels like an episode that arose from 'What if a Terminator got sent back into the 1920s' as opposed to 'What is it like being Cameron for a night?'

I just don't really like flashbacks is the thing, really.

But, as we'll find out in over the next couple of episodes, there are certain dramatic conventions I dislike far more than flashbacks.

It's like that old saying: is it better to be ignored, or hated?

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Milky Moor posted:

But, at the same time, it feels like an episode that arose from 'What if a Terminator got sent back into the 1920s' as opposed to 'What is it like being Cameron for a night?'

I agree with that. Cameron's stuff seemed like B plot stuff, less well-developed and not the thematic core of the episode. That, unfortunately, belonged to John and Riley. The 1920s Terminator stuff was good, it builds the menace of the metal in subtle ways. "...and it will not ever stop." takes on a new meaning when you see a T-888 use its learning chip to adapt to a situation it was not prepared for and had to actual create the preconditions for its original mission.

I wish they'd focused on Cameron's life away from the Connors. Use the 1920s stuff as what Cameron is actually working on, other than her own development as a person. Then bring in the Riley thing as John's life away from home, also learning to manage social situations wholly independently. End with John beating down the jock and Cameron handling the 1920s Terminator to get to the juicy questions about why they resort to violence. John has a nobility about him where he'll fight to protect others, and Cameron is developing something similar where she can eschew violence in a situation where it was an option.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Episode 12: Alpine Fields

Honestly, you can probably tell my feelings about an episode by how long it takes me to finally finish a write-up. It's like what JMS said about writing a good episode of Babylon 5 versus a bad one: the good ones come quickly, the bad ones take longer.

So, I'll come right out and say it: this episode is bad. And it is also quite dated. The dating comes from a number of dramatic conventions that were really popular around this era of television (showed up in Battlestar, Heroes, etc). But these conventions are also ones that I don't particularly enjoy because they tend to come off as cheap ways to try and build tension. And, just like Battlestar's second (Scar, Black Market, Sacrifice, etc) and third (Dirty Hands, Woman King, etc) seasons, these episodes form a low-quality slump between actually good sections of the season.

The episode is also very odd and it is clear that they were cutting it as close to the edge as possible. The episode doesn't include the Previously On... sequences, nor the usual title sequence. There are also a few cuts where it is obviously they were cutting for every possible second they could get. This is probably because the episode contains three different stories in three different time periods. It's a pretty novel idea for the episode, and I can't fault it in concept (I mean, of course, the perspective of normal people - whoever suggested the disjointed time sequencing should be ashamed of themselves), but it is similar to the previous episode in that it is a disconnected episode.

If the previous episode was the writers realising they had some empty space to fill and went with "What If A Terminator Went Back Too Far?" then this episode is "What Is It Like To See The Connors As A Normal Person?"

And, like the previous episode, the execution of it utterly botches the core idea. But, what's worse than that, is that it bored me. I am very hard to bore but the structure of this episode appears to have been designed specifically to induce boredom. It bored me, it broke some of the rules established by the series until this point, and is just full of banal (and one actively insulting bit) dialogue.

But we'll touch on that as we go.

The episode opens with Derek entering a warehouse. He's talking with Sarah on the phone, who is hunting a Terminator. "How do you know it isn't hunting you?" Derek asks, but the line drops dead and Derek hears a woman screaming in pain. He catches sight of her, and she is heavily pregnant. Derek flashes back to seeing dead bodies in the future, one of them pregnant. He goes to assist but the nurse, a young woman, pulls a gun on him.

"Easy, easy," Derek says, "Sarah Connor sent me, I'm here to help."

"Sorry," the girl says, lowering her gun. "I thought..."

"I know what you thought -- you'd be dead already."

The older woman has been shot, the bullet clipping her lung. Derek and the girl insert a tube into her chest to help her breathe.

"You wanna tell me what happened?" Derek asks.

"That thing," the girl says, "The cyborg. It's been tracking us for six months."

So, of course, on the screen...

SIX MONTHS EARLIER.

The girl's name is Lauren. The injured woman is her mother. They live in a house that is eerily similar to the Connor residence. Lauren's mom admonishes her for leaving bootprints on the carpet, only for the true culprit to step out and level a shotgun at the family.

Cameron.

And then Sarah steps in, holding a bigger, meaner shotgun.

"Are you the Fields?" Sarah snaps.

I'll spare the details here. Sarah and Cameron are looking for the Fields family. Skynet has sent a Terminator to hunt them down. The family don't believe Sarah, of course, even though she tells them the truth about the Skynet and the future. As she does, Lauren -- who had been sent to her room by her father -- steps in from the side, leveling one of those tiny revolver pistols at Sarah.

Sarah treats it with the contempt it deserves.

Lauren's father thinks the tables have turned. Cameron promptly snatches the gun from his hand and she and Sarah abduct the family at gunpoint. They leave the dog, Charles Barkley, behind. There is an incredibly awkward cut here.

In the car, husband and wife bicker about having a gun. In it, we get maybe the best line of dialogue in the episode from Cameron.

ANNE: Why would you keep a gun in the house?

DAVID: Maybe for a situation like this. Or a bear.

CAMERON: [studying the pistol] This wouldn't work in a situation like this.

ANNE: Why didn't you tell me?

CAMERON: Or a bear.

Anne lays into Sarah about her son being prone to delinquency. Sarah takes her eyes off the road and slams into a green truck coming the other way. A man steps out of the truck and, as he reaches the side of the car, Cameron smashes him with the door. It's the Terminator hunting the Fields' family, and a metal-on-metal melee ensues as Sarah flees with the Fields back to their house.

Back to the present. Derek finds out that the family had been hiding out in a motel but the Terminator caught up to them. Lauren's father was killed when he attacked the Terminator with a curtain rod. Out of all the things this episode probably shows and talks about, this is my favorite - and we don't see it.

So, problem number one: we already know that the Fields family, Sarah and Cameron all survive the episode in the house, so there's no tension there.

Time shifts again, but not back to the house. We go further into the future, to when Derek is stalking through Resistance bases and shouting at his commanders. We see Derek in hospital, looking about two seconds away from dying, and by his bedside is an older Lauren, wearing a hazmat suit.

So, it's 2027, and Derek is walking through Serrano Point Resistance Base, that nuclear plant with Greenway. He's telling another officer that "his plan sucks".

PERRY: Look, they hit Eagle Rock Bunker with a bioweapon that killed everybody inside. Only one person survived out of 200. Now, we need her back here alive. Metal's immune to disease, so we're sending a metal...

DEREK: Tin cans are immune to disease, but not immune to going bad and putting a bullet in the skull of the person who could save us from this plague. I'll find the survivor. I'll bring her back. Just hope like hell she can help us.

PERRY: Once exposed, there's no way to know how long you've got. Could be four hours till the symptoms hit, 20 before the bug kills you. This could be a one-way trip.

DEREK: We're all one-way trips.

PERRY: He's not out there, you know. Your brother Kyle. He's gone, Reese. Now, either you learn to live with that... or die from it.

Here's another (slightly less of a) problem. In Season 1, it seemed like Derek went back in time very quickly after learning that Kyle was missing. Maybe with only hours between finding out and getting the mission to go back in time to handle Goode. But here there's been enough time that Derek's got something of an obsession with his missing brother.

Back in the present, Derek learns from Lauren that it was all her fault that the Terminator found them. Lauren called her friend, Roger, and the Terminator used that to track them.

Six months ago, the Fields family and Sarah get inside. David is bleeding from compound fracture (maybe?) in his leg. Sarah sets it with a splint made from an oar. Basically, everything's messed up: can't call the cops, the road is blocked by two crashed cars, and they can't hike through the woods when there's a machine out there and one of the party has a broken leg. David tries to get them to go without him, but Sarah can't let this happen. "No one gets left behind," she says, but she doesn't know who the Terminator is here to kill: she needs to save all of them.

But David is a banker. Anne is a housewife. Lauren is just a teenager (but we have seen her in the future).

The dialogue from the Fields family is really bad. None of it really says anything, or is clever, or anything we haven't heard before. For example, comparing the mundane stuff of making birdhouses and how "lame" that is compared to how cool it must be to fight robots - sorry, cyborgs.

Also, Lauren is wearing a shirt with two hands gripping a football. I thought it looked like goatse. I thought this was because I'd spent too long on the Internet and surely no one else sees it. And then, on browsing through things to get a view on how people saw this episode, I saw plenty comments where people thought the shirt looked like goatse.

So, there's that.

So, in the shed, Lauren tells Sarah a secret about the Fields family.

Sarah confronts them with it in the living room. One of her dad's clients is Syndyne, a company that works with cybernetics. Sarah is angry, of course. We have seen this before. It's all very awkward. Papa Fields won't give up the information because it is "secret" and "illegal", which is some wonderful irony when Sarah is trying to stop the apocalypse. He's angry that Lauren was snooping around on his computer, and Lauren says she wasn't, she was looking up lesbian porn.

Yeah.

I mean, for what it's worth, I think it's true. It feels like Lauren has a bit of a crush on Sarah in this episode.

DAVID: And what are you doing on my computer?

LAUREN: Looking at lesbian porn. What's the difference?

LAUREN: You're gay?

ANNE: Lauren?

LAUREN: God, people, no. Thanks for knowing me.

ANNE: Well, I'm sorry, but apparently your father is some sort of criminal mastermind.

Like, it's dialogue that wouldn't be out of place in the Transformers movies. And I like Bay's Transformers films. The thing is, the Transformers films are so ridiculously over the top that bad dialogue sold earnestly is part of the exaggerated hyper-color hyper-American world of those films. It works much less well in TSCC's more muted, more grim format.

In the past, Sarah watches as, outside, Cameron and Terminator hunt each other in the dark. "So," Anne asks, "Are we safe?"

Back in the present, Lauren huffs. "No one is ever safe."

In the future, Derek wanders the Eagle Rock bunker. Everyone is dead. Hundreds of people, piled up in rooms, left where they fell - lovers embracing in beds, the pregnant mother we saw earlier. Bodies everywhere.

Despite wearing a mask where you can only see his eyes, Brain Austin Greene just sells the horror of finding this in his expression. He storms out of the bunker, stares down at his pistol, and obviously contemplates sticking the gun in his mouth and painting the sky with his brains.

A familiar voice calls out: "Excuse me, your fly's open."

It's Jesse.

Back in the present, Derek treats Anne's injuries while Lauren heads outside for some air. Derek says something which explains why he'd take John out for ice cream.

ANNE: And you let her? With that thing out there?

DEREK: Your kid will be fine.

ANNE: Lauren? She hasn't been a kid for months.

DEREK: It's easy to think, and it's easy to say. It's not always so.

Derek deduces that it wasn't Lauren who called Roger, and it was probably Anne.

In the past, Sarah rips apart the walls of the Fields' residence with a hammer while the Fields bicker with their obvious dialogue ("You never asked where the money came from!" "I assumed you were earning it!")

Sarah wires the electricity of the house to the door. If the Terminator comes through the front door, he'll be shocked and taken offline. That'll give them two minutes to grab the chip.

"What guarantees he comes through the front door?" David asks.

"They always come through the front door," Sarah replies, which I think is a cool line that helps sell the movie monster qualities of the Terminator. Like the classic vampire that has to be invited inside. And, of course, they have no need to go through a window or back door - that's for people who need to be subtle, which a Terminator isn't.

Anne heads off to the bathroom, only Sarah finds her on her phone in a dark room. Anne immediately hangs up. And then, after another shallow conversation, someone is coming towards the house. "I think it's Mr Schafer," Lauren says.

But the dog is going crazy. It's not Cameron, it could be the Terminator.

"It's okay, we know him," Anne says.

But the dog goes crazy, and Mr Schafer (Roger) shouldn't be here because David says they would be going camping, and then Anne tears the wires from the doorknob because she knows it's Roger and it is him. Because she never goes camping. Because she's having an affair with Roger.

In the present, Anne monologues on the table: "I know it was stupid... but I needed... to let him know... and now he's dead. And David is dead. I know he is. I had no idea what happy was. It's funny, the things you say to yourself. "Oh, I've seen worse". "It'll be fine". "Can't happen to me". But the worst is always out there, isn't it? And it can happen to you, and it isn't fun. Even after everything, she's still trying to cover for me. Protect my dignity, I guess."

Back in the future, Jesse and Derek talk.

JESSE: You the one? Who sent the signal?

DEREK: No.

JESSE: My shore party picked up a coded SOS about forty-five ticks back. Sent me to fossick around.

DEREK: What's that in English?

JESSE: Means someone's still alive inside. Probably a civilian. Probably hiding. Radio room, I'm guessing.

DEREK: I didn't go in that far. What'd you say about a shore party?

JESSE: Been making troop and supply runs back and forth from Perth for months. Seawolf sub. The Jimmy Carter.

DEREK: You've got a nuclear sub? Who drives it?

JESSE: Not who. What. We got a scrubbed Trip-8 for a captain.

DEREK: You've got metal running a sub. Huh.

JESSE: Well, you find me a sub commander who survived J-day, I'll switch him in. Have a little faith, mate. She'll be apples. Means we'll be all right.

I mentioned that 'she'll be apples' is Australian slang and here it is. Unfortunately, Jacobsen can't sell it. She doesn't do well in this scene, particularly acting against Derek in it. It's just... Look, the season has sold me better on Riley on a re-watch, but Jesse is not improving.

Derek You believe that?

JESSE: Sure as my mother loves me.

DEREK: My mother's dead. Here.

JESSE: Gas?

DEREK: Bugs.

JESSE: This gonna work?

DEREK: Probably not. Come on, come on.

They explore the base, hammering on the door to the radio room. Someone hammers back. When they open the door, we flash back to...

Back in the present, things are getting bad for Lauren. Really bad. They need to get her to a doctor but Derek says it's not possible, not until Sarah comes to them.

Six months ago -- this episode just keeps doing this -- things are getting heated, and the dialogue goes from boring to kind of insulting.

DAVID: I slipped and fell.

ANNE: You have a weak core.

DAVID: Well, at least my core isn't a slut.

ANNE: Hophead.

DAVID: Whore!

I have nothing against cursing in dialogue, or insults, or even the use of slurs. But I do think it is bad when it feels lazy, when it is being used for cheap shock value. And this whole exchange is it. I hate it.

Roger and David begin to fight, and Sarah blasts her shotgun into the air.

ROGER: And who is this, again?

LAUREN: Sarah. She saved our lives.

ROGER: From the guy who looks like a guy but is a robot?

ANNE: It's real, Roger.

ROGER: A real man, maybe. But, Anne, robots?

DAVID: The correct term is "cyborg".

Seen this before.

Roger freaks out. Blah blah, Sarah is crazy, blah blah, the guy in the wood is just a "meth-head", blah blah, we'll talk through this like adults.

And something comes flying through the window, sending glass everywhere.

It's Cameron.

Aside, third problem: doesn't sudden, unexpected deactivation put Cameron into her KILL JOHN mode? Why doesn't it happen here? edit: Actually, I might not have thought this through, and there's easy enough reasoning to explain why.

More bad dialogue.

ANNE: It's one of those things.

ROGER: Is it dead?

ANNE: I hope not. This is a good one. Is she?

SARAH: I don't think so.

LAUREN: Can you turn her back on? It's coming!

Obligatory 'No, that's John's job' comment. Charley Barkley the dog runs out to investigate the Terminator, dies. Roger runs for it. David takes up that tiny handgun from earlier in the episode and wants to "do something". He wants to save his family from the Terminator, and he wants to do it on his own terms or he'll blow his own brains out.

I like this part of the episode! I also like that it uses the dramatic irony well -- we know that it probably wants Lauren, making David's little display even more pitiful -- but, y'know, it's not worth everything else.

David goes out to confront the Terminator. "I'm David Fields, the one you want!"

The Terminator grabs him. On it's HUD. TARGET: NO MATCH.

Sarah asks who it's after if not him. Anne says she's pregnant. Lauren is hidden in a closet while Sarah escapes with Anne to Roger's car.

In the present.

LAUREN: What is this about?

DEREK: You wanna know what this is about? This is about your mother and your baby sister... and they need you right now.

LAUREN: My baby sister? What- How do you- Oh, God. You're from the future.

DEREK: Your sister's name is Sydney... and I knew her.

In the future, the person who opened the door was a young woman. Sydney. "Those gas masks, they won't help - you're already infected."

The next morning, Derek, Jesse and Sydney make ready to move out at nightfall.

Derek and Jesse chat about rabbits. It's a good spot in a pretty boring episode.

DEREK: Rabbits? Thought Australia was all wombats and wallabies and stuff.

JESSE: No. Some whacker brought them over in the 1800s. We've been overrun with them ever since. Tried everything to kill the things. Trapped them, shot them, poisoned them. Built a fence across half the country to keep them out. In the 1950s, they even introduced a virus to wipe them out forever. Killed most of them, but a couple were immune... so 10 years later, Oz was up to its eyeballs in rabbits again. Tough little bastards. That's why you have to cook them longer. Can you pass me your water? I'm parched.

Derek knows something is up. Jesse drinks a lot, and she's sweating, looking sick. She's smaller than he is, so, it's probably affecting her faster. Time to move.

JESSE: In broad daylight? Just because you're death-crazy doesn't mean we've enlisted.

Sydney: It starts with a dry mouth. And then the sweats. Then the fever and shaking starts. And then your lungs fill up with fluid, and then you die. You don't have much time. It's coming.

Back in the present, Derek tells them what's with Sydney in the future. She saves a lot of lives, they use her blood to make an a cure to the Skynet bioweapon.

In the six months ago past, Roger finds Lauren in the closet. Cameron immediately punches him in the back and he collapses. Lauren screams.

"He's human?" Cameron asks, confused.

"Yes, of course!"

"My mistake."

Sarah flees with Anne through the woods, the Terminator on their heels. As they cross the road, the Connor SUV slams into the Terminator and throws him over the roof. Cameron's in the driver seat, David yells at them to get in. They do and Cameron floors it and the Terminator begins to recede into the distance.

The present, Lauren and Derek help deliver Sydney, but Anne dies.

Derek remembers the future, stumbling back into Serrano Point. Jesse can't walk and Derek's not looking so great himself as Resistance people in full hazmat suits descend upon them.

In beds, attended by nurses, Derek and Jesse talk around gasps and coughing.

JESSE: You know what Oscar Wilde's last words were? "Either the wallpaper goes, or I do".

DEREK: I thought it'd be over by now.

JESSE: You're ready for it.

DEREK: No. No, I'm not.

JESSE: Then what were you doing when I found you outside Eagle Rock?

DEREK: I think... I was waiting for you.

And the nurse is Lauren.

In the present, Derek makes an offer for Lauren to come and stay with the Connors. Lauren points out that it never ends, there's always more machines.

In the past, Sarah says goodbye to Lauren and basically puts her in charge of ensuring that her family 'gets it'.

In the present, Derek calls Sarah. Yeah, she got the Triple-8. Baby's fine. Girl's a 'tough kid'. Tells Sarah he made the offer for Lauren and baby Sydney to stay with them...

But Lauren is gone, given up all connections to her old life in order to safeguard herself, and her baby sister.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 12:37 on May 5, 2017

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Honestly, not much to say about it. What could be a good idea was executed in a way that puts Alpine Fields as just about one of the worst episodes so far. I like some of the little things, the Cameron moments, the mention that Australia is "growing food" again... Small touches.

It could've been better and it's very easy to see how it could have been better. We are into the series' rough patch.

Yvonmukluk
Oct 10, 2012

Everything is Sinister




I think the 'why doesn't Cameron revert to KILL JOHN' question can be explained by the fact that she apparently was still operating on that programming at the end of Samson and Delilah, she's just over-riding it.

I kind of liked this episode. Although the maths doesn't quite work for all the jumping around in time.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Yvonmukluk posted:

I think the 'why doesn't Cameron revert to KILL JOHN' question can be explained by the fact that she apparently was still operating on that programming at the end of Samson and Delilah, she's just over-riding it.

That's a good point. If she could override it once, she could override it again.

I suppose my initial thought was that it's like being reset to factory default.

Astroman
Apr 8, 2001




I did appreciate that episode for the world building with the Jimmy Carter and it's Terminator captain, as well as the Australian survivors. Raised a lot of interesting ideas about the future war.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Update is coming over the weekend. Earthlings Welcome Here is a strange episode but not necessarily a bad one -- better than Alpine Fields, to be sure. I'm just watching it a few times because, despite it being a treadmill of a Sarah episode, so much of it is linked by themes and a lot of it rewards close inspection. And the Riley stuff really starts to get interesting.

It's a weird episode that I'd never call my favorite but is filled with neat stuff. Like some other parts of Season 2, it shows off what could've been.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 06:45 on May 18, 2017

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Episode 13: Earthlings Welcome Here

Episode 13 -- Earthlings Welcome Here -- is weird. I've actually watched this one a few times, trying to parse my thoughts on it, which is why this update took a bit longer than usual. Sarah Connor tracks down a UFO convention because there's a three-dot UFO which leads her on this frankly strange journey. It's weird. When I get right down to my thoughts, a lot of it consists of the word weird. I get that they're trying to compare Sarah's truth -- robots are coming from the future to destroy the world -- with the false reality of UFO conspiracy theorists and abduction stories, but it doesn't quite work well. Ultimately, the episode feels like being on a treadmill, which is sort of the crime I'd level at a lot of Season 2's three dots plot: always running forwards but never actually getting anywhere, never achieving something.

Like Self Made Man, the interesting core of this episode is the John and Riley stuff.

The episode opens with Sarah driving through the desert, a neat callback to T1 and T2. She monologues:

"In 1490 the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca landed on shores of the New World seeking power and fortune. He was immediately attacked and captured almost all of his traveling companions murdered. Enslaved, de Vaca chose to embrace his captor's beliefs and learned their ways. He became a healer. Over time, he was freed and de Vaca attracted his own following who believed he had the power over life and death. The desert had transformed him. He was not the first, and he would not be the last."

This idea of transformation -- of dying and being reborn as someone else, losing your identity and finding another -- runs through this whole episode. It runs through the Sarah plotline, it runs through the Riley plotline, the John Henry stuff, and even to the actions of the rest of the characters (Cameron, for example).

Sarah ends up at a UFO convention, listening to a woman named Doctor Morris (AKA Brianna Barksdale) discuss the experience of a woman named Eileen.

DR. MORRIS: Eileen, what you're describing is common among experiences such as yourself. When a person lives through something beyond human understanding we experience fear, a loss of control, a sense of isolation and a deep, almost existential, loneliness.

No points for guessing that this refers to Sarah, too.

Morris immediately points Sarah out as a fly on the wall, a non-believer. Sarah claims she's there to find a particular type of UFO, one with a design lit up by three circles. It's the famous sort of 'black triangle' UFO. But why is she there?

SARAH: My son thinks I'm crazy. Maybe not crazy. Maybe that's the wrong word. But he doubts me. He's never doubted me before.

What I like about this episode, is that a lot of it is built around Sarah's personality and her failures and her inability to come to grips with everything that has happened and is happening. I like that a bit of her three dot crusade is driven by what she's just said: John's doubt in her, when John once thought she was invincible. I really like that part of this.

Later, Sarah wanders the convention and ends up talking with a gentleman who has photos of the 'California drones', which he sums up as 'alien spacecraft'. "Alien?" Sarah asks, "Not military."

Well, no, the man says. They're way beyond anything the military has -- Predator, Reaper, funny similarities to Terminator -- simply due to their ability to loiter in one location. They talk about a man named Abraham, who mentioned a word that's familiar to Sarah.

Hyperalloy. What Cameron's made out of.

Sarah perks up immediately and wants to know where this Abraham is.

No one knows, however. Sarah's questioning ends up driving the man away. But Eileen, the woman who Sarah had been listening to, asks if she's interested in Abraham.

Later, Sarah is driving. She calls John, who is busy stripping the wallpaper from his room. They have a somewhat awkward conversation where it feels like both parties want to just be mother and son, but can't.

SARAH: Hey, John.

JOHN: Hey. You coming home?

SARAH: No, I've got a lead. I'll be home late.

JOHN: From the flying-saucer convention.

SARAH: The UFO experiencers, yes. There's a blogger named Abraham. He may have worked with endoskeleton metal.

JOHN: Oh, well, we all know how reliable bloggers are.

SARAH: Why do you have to be so sarcastic?

JOHN: Mom... just be careful out there, okay?

We stick with John. Riley enters, holding two frozen slushies. "Wow," she says, "And I thought my room was a disaster. Berry Bonanza or Peachy Keen?"

Riley's her usual self, smiling and perky... yet there's a strange brittleness to her performance, and John immediately picks up on it.

JOHN: You okay?

RILEY: I'm peachy keen. Why? Do I not look peachy keen?

JOHN: You're smiling with your mouth but not your eyes. See? You're doing it right now.

RILEY: I flipped out at my foster mom.

JOHN: What do you mean 'flipped out'?

RILEY: Two of the kids were fighting and it kind of got to me. So I went on this little rant.

JOHN: [laughing] About what?

RILEY: They're just so naive, you know? They have no idea how good they have it. All they do is complain about every little thing and... everyone at school's the exact same way. It's like one big whine-a-thon. You're so lucky your mom's homeschooling you.

JOHN: Yeah, it's been awesome.

In enters Cameron. "You didn't buy me a smoothie," she points out.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know you were here," Riley replies. It is absolutely not genuine.

"I'm always here," Cameron says, about as archly as she can get.

John tries to defuse things, and also get Cameron out of his hair. Cameron, for her part, gets more sassy than one might expect from her.

JOHN: Cameron, I'm not sure we're gonna have enough paint. Would you do me a favor and go out and get some?

CAMERON: You have four hundred and twenty square feet to paint. What you have should be sufficient.

JOHN: Two coats. It's a bigger job than it looks.

CAMERON: I have a job too.

JOHN: Well, could you do it in the other room? Please?

CAMERON: Peachy Keen is my favorite.

But Cameron leaves and, as she does, she stares at Riley.

The episode slips into the future, sticking with Riley. In the dark corridors of a Resistance bunker, a younger, scruffier Riley wanders around, stealing things. She is observed by Jesse, who is shot from behind, dressed all in black and holding a plasma rifle. Jesse looks threatening, and becomes more so as she chases Riley through the bunker.

Jesse catches her. "Come here," she purrs, as she brushes Riley's hair back and cups her cheeks in her hands. "You're a pretty girl. What's your name?"

Sarah follows Eileen to a solitary trailer, what she was led to believe was Abraham's home but turns out to be Eileen's. Inside, the walls are covered with maps where the three-dot drones have been spotted and photos too. Unlike most modern UFO images, though, these photos are pretty incontrovertible.

Turns out Abraham is a pseudonym for a man named Alan Park, a scientist who was working on LIDAR. Sarah and Eileen have dialogue about looking for answers and figuring out questions, reflecting on enjoying solitude.

But there's been a recent sighting of Abraham, so, that's where they'll begin their search.

In the cold of night, while rain is sleeting down, Jesse and Riley appear, huddled in each other's arms. They find a hotel, and Riley can't believe what she's seeing. Imagine being Riley in this situation. It's my impression that she never knew a world without J-Day. To come back to the present day would be almost impossible to comprehend. She runs around looking at everything, touching everything, smelling the flowers. She smiles at Jesse, bright and radiant.

Jesse gives her the shadow of a grin.

Riley has a shower, and the experience is this transcendental thing. She enters into it dirty and disheveled and emerges in awe. Dressed in matching bathrobes, Jesse brushes her hair and tucks her in and strokes her fingers along her scalp as she falls asleep.

There's no dialogue throughout this whole sequence, and yet it works. You can see the awe in Riley's face. You can sense the latent derision for her that Jesse is masking, and the manipulation there. It's sad and sublime in equal measure.

Back in John's room, he and Riley are still stripping wallpaper. Riley can't believe he's getting rid of the room that she thinks is adorable. John sees it as a way for his mom to control him, keep him a kid. The moment Sarah left, John went to get the paint. But he won't tell Riley where. She presses, and John, exasperated, continues to ask why Riley wants to know about his mom.

"Because she's your mom, and I care about you."

John looks at her, then, and spies something on her cheek. A teasing "Hey, you got something," becomes an interrogative: "What happened to you?" John gets very intense, too intense. Dangerously intense as he grips Riley's cheek and demands answers.

RILEY: Nothing.

JOHN: It's a bruise.

RILEY: John, it's nothing.

JOHN: Who did that to you?

RILEY: John, please.

JOHN: Was it your foster dad?

RILEY: No. It was no one, okay?

JOHN: [dangerously, over the top of her] I swear I'll kick his rear end.

RILEY: John. It wasn't him, okay? I swear. Just drop it, please.

Is this the sort person that Future John is? You can't begrudge John for wanting to protect Riley from someone he thinks is abusing her -- but look at him, making assumptions and exposing some very intense anger.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Ellison and Weaver talk about John Henry. They act as if this is one night after Ellison found out about John Henry's existence, but given the amount of episodes that have happened since then... it feels weird. Ellison claims Henry murdered Sherman and is, therefore, a murderer (and Cromartie killed so many more people, Ellison points out) -- and he won't help it. Weaver argues that John Henry is a different being. Talk on this in the next post.

Eileen and Sarah talk in a cafeteria. Sarah follows Eileen into the bathroom, suspicious of her, and finds out that Abraham and Eileen are one and the same. Eileen is Abraham is Alan Park.

I'm just going to pause here for a moment and point out another Biblical allusion here. In the Bible, Abraham -- basically the biggest patriarch in the text bar God or Adam -- had a wife named Sarah. I'm sure it isn't coincidence.

Back in Eileen/Abraham/Alan's trailer, Sarah confronts him. She doesn't believe any of it, and she presses him/her for all the information he has.

As an aside, I'm not sure how to refer to Park. In my mind, I shift to male pronouns because I see Eileen as an assumed identity to evade government suspicion, as Alan claims, not as a transgender experience, if that makes sense. Thoughts?

Anyway, Alan Park worked for an aerospace firm. From there, he was asked to join a company who offered him a dream job: "incredible" money, company cars, housing. But, for that, he had to sign a NDA and work in complete isolation.

And so, in clear violation of the NDA, he began blogging -- presumably as Abraham -- about his experiences. In response, his apartment was broken into, his brakes were cut. Someone was trying to kill him, but he doesn't know who. From there, he tooks his savings and went into hiding, as Eileen.

But he has one thing that no one else knows about. He has a piece of the hyperalloy, proof of what he was saying. They go to get it.

In the Connor household, Riley inspects the bruise in the mirror, covering it with make up. She remembers her and Jesse, sitting in a car, watching John -- John, with his Season 1 bangs -- from afar. First day of school for Riley. She's nervous, but is it about her mission, or the school in general?

JESSE: You all right? It's okay if you're not. I want you to tell me if you're not.

RILEY: I'm all right. Maybe this color red is too bright. Maybe the brown was better.

JESSE: The red's perfect. You're just not used to it.

RILEY: The lady in the store said I was an autumn. I've never even seen autumn.

A dog barks. Riley and Jesse experience momentary panic. In the future, barking dogs mean Terminators.

RILEY: Why did you pick me? I've always wanted to ask.

JESSE: But you never have.

RILEY: I thought you'd tell me when the time was right. I think the time is right.

JESSE: No, sweetie. The time's past.

She goes to return to John's room, and Cameron intercepts her. Cameron and Riley have a conversation where Riley knows what Cameron is, and is worried about the attention, and Cameron knows that Riley is lying and is trying to catch her in one.

CAMERON: What happened to your face?

RILEY: Nothing.

CAMERON: How did you get hurt?

RILEY: It was nothing. Smacked into a door.

CAMERON: What part?

RILEY: What?

CAMERON: Of the door.

RILEY: I don't know. Just the door.

CAMERON: I like your star.

RILEY: Excuse me?

CAMERON: Your tattoo. It's tight.

RILEY: Thank you.

CAMERON: I'm thinking of getting one. Can I look at yours? [Cameron grabs Riley's wrist when she doesn't answer] Did it hurt?

At this point, Cameron is obviously inspecting for signs of a Skynet barcode, like the one Derek has on his wrist. Cameron knows something is up.

RILEY: Not too much.

CAMERON: They stuck needles into your skin. Needles can be painful.

John arrives. "Hey," he says. "What's going on?"

"I'm looking at her star," Cameron replies, staring at Riley with her unblinking Terminator gaze.

"She's thinking about getting one," Riley says, acting as if Cameron is just John's weird sister and not a robot that might be two seconds away from murdering her.

"A tattoo," John remarks. "Of what?"

"A tiger or a wolf," Cameron says. "I haven't decided yet." And then, to John: "We need to talk."

Remember how I kept pointing out that Cameron tended to wear stripes, like a big cat? And here she is, seeing a tiger as a form of self-expression? Interesting, right?

As that's happening, Ellison is meeting with his Pastor. They talk about Ellison and his wife, and about why the pair of them divorced. Lila wanted three kids, maybe four. Ellison wanted four or five. They both agreed to wait until they were done with work and then, ten days after Lila graduated...

September 11, and Lila suddenly didn't want kids anymore. Going so far as to abort the one she was carrying.

I think this is a wonderfully humanising scene. It also doesn't tell you why they divorced, not really. The implication is that as a devout man, Ellison is presumably not okay with abortion.

"Does this have to do with Lila?" the Pastor asks.

"No," replies Ellison.

"Does it have something to do with the child?"

And it does. But a different child.

Meanwhile, Abraham and Sarah investigate the storage place that the hyperalloy piece had been secreted in. But it's missing, and Sarah obviously believes it was never there. As Abraham insists that someone must have broken in, the alley is ripped apart by the sound of a roaring motorcycle -- and then ripped apart more literally by gunfire.

The motorcycle zooms past, spraying bullets. A brief gun battle ensues between the unknown attacker and Sarah, with neither side landing hits. The motorcyclist zooms away.

Back in Abraham's trailer, things get tense. Sarah demands answers: "You're a liar and a fake!"

But Abraham doesn't have any. All the paycheques led to a shell corporation. Alan hits back: "You're the fake! You're a mother, you're a seeker, you're a soldier. You're everything and nothing! I'm a man who lives as a woman and you're a woman who lives as a-"

Sarah shoves her gun in his face. "Stop."

SARAH: Tell me. Tell me about the metal about the symbols.

ALAN: The bullets, I could feel them. They were close. So close. We nearly died. You don't feel it. Why don't you feel it?

In another life, this is what Sarah could've been saying to Cameron.

Outside, more relaxed, the pair talk. Abraham says: "They killed Alan Park. And I thank them for it. They gave me a gift. The life I was scared to lead. Before this happened, I was a cog in the machine. Ordinary, repressed. How many people dare to live the life they dream of? Face their real fears about who they really are. Not their houses, or their jobs, or their habits but their deepest, truest selves? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?"

"I used to be a waitress," Sarah says. "Killed her, too."

It feels like we're supposed to draw a parallel between Alan Park and Sarah Connor, but I think that is a misstep. Sarah was not liberated by Kyle Reese's warnings of the future -- she was imprisoned by them. I think a key part of Sarah's character is wishing that things could be different, of wanting a normal life but knowing she can't ever have one. There was no deep, true self about Sarah in Terminator 1 that was screaming for release. Sarah became there by living through a nightmare.

Anyway, they talk about the lab where Alan Park worked. The company went to great lengths to obscure the location.

But Sarah has an idea to help Abraham remember.

Hypnosis.

It's probably one of the more ridiculous parts of TSCC. Hypnosis to recover secret knowledge feels like such a Nineties plot point. It also does not feel like something Sarah Connor, whom always struck me as a very practical figure who'd laugh at any notion that hypnosis could do something like that, would do.

Back in the Connor household, in the aftermath of her confrontation with Cameron, Riley stands in the bathroom, and remembers...

She stands outside Jesse's hotel room.

JESSE: What are you doing here?

RILEY: I'm sorry, Jesse. No one's following me. I double backed like you taught me. Jesse, I'm really sorry. Don't get mad at me, please.

JESSE: Phones. That's why we have phones.

RILEY: I just didn't know where else to go.

JESSE: Yeah, well... Not here, sweetie. Any place but here.

RILEY: I got kicked out of my foster home.

JESSE: You did what?

RILEY: I got kicked out. They threw me out because I hit Kay, my foster mom. I was just freaking out. You know, I started thinking about everything. What's coming for all of us. For them. I just... I needed someone to talk to. I need you. I was thinking that instead of just getting another foster home that maybe we could find someplace close together. Like an apartment or something. I'll just tell John that I quit school and we can be together.

Throughout this, Jesse shuffles between boredom, contempt and faux concern. Jacobsen is still one of the weaker actors in the cast but, honestly, she's pretty decent here. You can tell from the very first line that even when Riley is so frantic, Jesse does not care at all. Jesse sees her as a thing.

When Riley says that we can be together, Jesse nods. She looks away, as if considering it.

And then hauls back and strikes Riley across the face. Hard.

Jeese says, with ice in her voice, "I'm not here to baby-sit. And you're not here to feel sorry for yourself. I'm not your friend. I am not your mother. And you are here to keep John Connor away from her. Go finish your job. Go."

"To keep John Connor away from 'her'" feels like a slip-up. Surely 'it' would work better.

Anyway, Riley leaves, looking despondent. From there, as we know, she went to John's house and put on her 'carrots and apples' smile.

Outside, Cameron and John discuss Riley. Or, to be more accurate, Cameron lays out what she knows and John treats her with a weird amount of disdain. By this point, where John seems to have his own suspicions of Riley, and how he knows Cameron is pretty accurate about things, why does the conversation go the way it does?

CAMERON: She's lying.

JOHN: About what?

CAMERON: I don't know, but her pulse was elevated, and her hand was perspiring. She's lying.

JOHN: Yeah, her pulse was elevated because you were freaking her out. As usual.

CAMERON: What happened to her face?

JOHN: I don't know. She didn't say.

CAMERON: I can get her to tell me the truth.

JOHN: Stay away from her.

This feels like a conversation that should've come earlier in the season, back when John was angrier at Cameron, was more trusting of Riley, and so on. It would've served as neat foreshadowing of what we learn in this episode. As it is, it feels like John has bounced back to being weirdly protective of Riley after basically being sick of her a few episodes previously. I feel that contradictory elements like this are why people have issues with the Riley plot.

John knocks on the bathroom door, to no response. He knocks again, and calls Riley's name. He goes to open it but the door is locked. John commands Cameron to open it and she does, but seems to take longer than she normally would.

Inside, Riley lies sprawled on the floor, the tiles smeared with blood. She's slit her wrists.

And wouldn't you, if your mother figure/crush had slapped you, if you'd been in what could've been a near-death situation with a murder machine, if you knew that the nuclear holocaust was coming, if you knew your life had been seemingly designed to break up a family?

Some people amongst the TSCC community posit this as a cry for attention on Riley's part, on her trying to manipulate John by being someone he can save, pointing back to Season 1, where Cameron prevented him from saving a girl's life. It is a ridiculous theory (even if it comes up, sort of, in the next episode). Riley was at the end of her wits and sanity and chose to take her own life, to exert some level of control over the life that'd been ruled by nuclear hellfire and then by Jesse, as a pawn in temporal chess.

Going from that interesting scene to Sarah bursting in on a hypnosis session and demanding that Doctor Morris immediately gives Eileen/Abraham a session is, well... Look, I can't take this hypnosis thing seriously. Anyway, Morris agrees and Abraham secrets Sarah a phone so she can listen in on the session.

Now, we go from that bad idea, to an excellent idea.

In the basement of Zeira Corp, Ellison stares with clasped hands at John Henry.

"Who taught you how to play chess?" Ellison asks.

"I did," John Henry remarks, without guile or suspicion. He talks like a precocious toddler. It can't be stressed just how well Garret Dillahunt does as John Henry, and how well he leverages Cromartie's intimidating blandness to give John Henry's innocence this terrible edge. Innocence is cute when it's a child -- it becomes less cute when that child is utterly amoral.

ELLISON: Did you play with Dr. Sherman?

JOHN HENRY: No. We played other games. Talking games.

ELLISON: Do you miss Dr. Sherman?

JOHN HENRY: I'm designed to learn. He helped me learn. His absence slows my growth.

ELLISON: His absence is more important than that. His value was more than just his function for you. Human beings aren't like chess pieces. It matters if we live or die.

JOHN HENRY: Why does it matter? All humans die eventually.

ELLISON: Yes. That's true. But their lives are sacred. Do you know what sacred means?

JOHN HENRY: Holy. Worthy of respect. Venerable.

ELLISON: Do you know why human life is sacred?

JOHN HENRY: Because so few humans are alive compared to the number that are dead?

ELLISON: No. Because we're God's creation. God made everything. The stars, the Earth everything on this planet. We are all God's children.

JOHN HENRY: Am I God's child?

ELLISON: That's one of the things we're here to talk about.

JOHN HENRY: Checkmate. I win. Would you like to play again?

We cut away before we know Ellison's answer.

On the hypnotist's couch, Morris guides Abraham through her memories. As Sarah listens, Abraham recalls the journey he would take to go to work.

Outside Sarah listens. Then, someone intrudes on the session. Gunfire erupts. Sarah leaps from her car, dashes inside, and finds both Eileen and Doctor Morris dead.

Later, Sarah sits on the bench that Abraham had mentioned and follows the steps he had listened. First, she heads north out of town and listens for the sound of rain in the desert. This turns out to be sprinklers that clip the windscreen of her car with their spray. She drives, hears a bump, finds a warehouse at the end of the path, just as Abraham had said.

Sarah strips off her jacket, takes up her duffel bag and checks her handgun. Then, alone, she storms the warehouse.

Inside, she finds a balding man named Ed. She demands the metal and levels her weapon at him.

ED: Please. Don't shoot. Please don't shoot me.

SARAH: The metal. Where is it?

ED: I don't know what you're talking about.

SARAH: Who are you?

ED: My name's Winston. I install air conditioning, alright? Please don't hurt me. I have a wife. I have a son. I'm his coach. I'm his little league coach.

SARAH: Put your hands on your head. What's in the warehouse?

Sarah begins to go through Ed's bag. Yep, just as he said, there's an employee badge with HEAT AND AIR.

ED: I don't know. My boss rents it out to another company. Look, I'm just an installer.

SARAH: I know where you live. Don't call the police.

And, as Sarah goes to pick up her duffel bag, Ed Winston -- Ed Winston, the air conditioning man -- rises from his seat and shoots her in the leg. He marches over, levels his pistol at her face. They grapple, fighting for advantage over the pistol, before Sarah headbutts him and shoots him in the torso.

She throws Ed down and crawls out of the warehouse. Bleeding out, she has a vision of herself in her clothes from Pescadero, a knife spinning before her. She crawls further, sees herself dressed in her pink waitress outfit, holding out her hand to her. Come with me if you want to live.

She makes it outside, collapses on her back against the gravel and stares up against the sun.

And, in the sky above, looming just above her is the UFO she's been hunting for.

It looks like nothing else than a prototype aerial Hunter Killer.

And, with the truth in front of her (or is it an illusion?) Sarah closes her eyes.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 05:05 on May 22, 2017

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





Reading that late at night left me with a really bizarre dream based on SCC. Thanks for posting !

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


mllaneza posted:

Reading that late at night left me with a really bizarre dream based on SCC. Thanks for posting !

I've had a few weird TSCC dreams since starting this.

Next up is The Good Wound, which is an episode I honestly remember nothing about.

But I know, after that, we have Desert Cantos and Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep. While both have cool titles, both are fighting for the title of Worst TSCC Episode -- both in general, and as my personal Worst Of pick.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Haven't read this article past the headline yet but, hey.

World's Best Go Player Describes Google's AI As A God

Dakara Systems seems like they have been busy.

haveblue
Aug 15, 2005




Toilet Rascal

Strange things happen at the one-two point :tinfoil:

Go has always been a sort of holy grail of AI research because it's a much more complicated game than chess.

Yvonmukluk
Oct 10, 2012

Everything is Sinister




I was driving yesterday and there was a road named Skynet Drive.

Who thinks a homicidal supercomputer is worth naming a street after?

Lobster God
Nov 5, 2008


Yvonmukluk posted:

I was driving yesterday and there was a road named Skynet Drive.

Who thinks a homicidal supercomputer is worth naming a street after?

Skynet predates Terminator!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(satellite)

(not that I think the street was named after this, but still.)

Apparently Skynet is also a courier service.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Lobster God posted:

Skynet predates Terminator!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(satellite)

(not that I think the street was named after this, but still.)

Apparently Skynet is also a courier service.

Sure, and it couriers nuclear missiles.

The Good Wound coming tomorrow.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Episode 14: The Good Wound

Or, perhaps otherwise known as, 'What Do We Do With Sarah Connor? Part XXVII'.

The episode opens with Sarah Connor in a hospital bed. She remembers seeing Elaine become Abraham, remembers the three dots on the wall, remembers being shot-- And, over it all, is Kyle Reese's words.

"John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. You were young like you are now. I always wondered what you were thinking in that moment. You seemed a little sad. Like you were remembering something long gone. I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have."

Outside the hospital room, a Deputy questions a nurse. They have a "car full of questions", like who shot Sarah, who'd she shoot? She has no name and no ID. I have a question, too. How did she drive to the hospital after being shot in the thigh and passing out?

They even show her medical clipboard that says "patient arrived unconscious". Did someone drive Sarah, did Sarah drive herself? Was it Galactica-esque divine providence? Who knows, because the show doesn't answer it.

I'm going to digress here for a second. I truly dislike this little trick that felt so very prominent during shows of this era. How did [plot development] happen? Due in next week to find out! It keeps you guessing but not in the good way. It doesn't provide you hints to think about and ideas to pick at. The writers wave things through by fiat, and I think it is a bit of an issue that, while already a bit of an issue in TSCC Season 2, starts becoming more and more of an obvious issue and crutch for the writers over the next episodes.

"On your feet," the voice of Kyle Reese says, and Sarah pulls the IV out of her arm and tries to get out of the bed. She collapses, only for the ghost of Kyle Reese to offer her his hand. She takes it and rises.

Lena Headey is a good Sarah Connor. Jonathan Jackson is not such a good Kyle Reese. He has none of the manic fire that Michael Biehn exhibited. He's also far too pretty -- which seems to be a consequence of casting him to resemble Thomas Dekker. He's merely okay, and that's disappointing given how much he features in this episode. Strangely enough, Brian Austin Greene's Derek is a better Kyle.

Sarah fakes a break out with her IV stand and, when the Deputy comes in to check, she attacks him from behind and takes his gun. She wanders the halls of the hospital, alongside the spectre of Kyle.

We need backup. Bullet's still in your leg. We need to get that out. Can't do anything until it's gone. Call him. He can help.

SARAH: No way. I'm not calling John. It's too dangerous.

KYLE: Not John. Him. Call him. Please.

Him is Derek.

Derek, for his part, is with Jesse. Now, here's a bit I like. Derek is going on about an emergency, and you think it is going to refer to Sarah. But, as Derek says, it's actually Riley.

DEREK: It's an emergency. It's John. His girlfriend tried killing herself in his bathroom. He's taking her to the hospital.

JESSE: [flatly] That's awful.

DEREK: Hospital could be tricky. A lot of questions. I gotta go. I'll keep you posted.

JESSE: And the girl? How's the girl?

DEREK: Alive.

He finds John in the hospital. John Connor is a ball of frantic energy.

What's the status?

JOHN: Paramedics got there before she lost too much blood.

DEREK: What the hell were you thinking, bringing her to the hospital? Social workers, cops... I can't believe you brought her here.

JOHN: I made the call. Live with it.

But John's bravado collapses as the Doctor arrives and lets them know that, unfortunately for them, Riley's going to be held at the hospital for seventy-two hours -- and John will need to wait at the hospital until CPS arrives. As Derek pointed out, this could be a big problem.

And, speaking of problems, Sarah calls Derek at that moment. She relays what she found out -- the warehouse, the metal, building something there -- but she needs Derek to burn the jeep and destroy all the evidence. Derek and John have a brief conversation and I do like just how well Derek nails John to the wall.

DEREK: I talked to your mom. She found something out in the desert. It sounds like it has something to do with those three dots she's been after.

JOHN: Is it real this time?

DEREK: Well, the bullet in her leg sounds real. You stay. I'll go.

[John bolts upright but Derek grabs him by the shoulder]

DEREK: You made your call. This is what living with it means. She'll be fine.

In the hospital parking lot, Sarah abducts a doctor at gunpoint. They head to a motel. Sarah is bleeding heavily and shivering while the Doctor tries to keep her calm. Inside the motel room, Kyle Reese sits in a chair. As Sarah gets increasingly intense, Kyle tells her to calm down.

The Doctor spies the scar on Sarah's shoulder (from the T-1000 stabbing her in T2) and asks who hurt her. "A man," Sarah says, "Stabbed me. Trying to hurt me. And make me scream. To get to our son."

Which is, to borrow the words of a certain Jedi, true. From a certain point of view.

Elsewhere, two police officers talk about Sarah. No serial number on her gun, so, they don't know where she got it. The hospital calls to report that Sarah has escaped and the two head there. The more senior of the pair reflects that Sarah is pretty tough to pull a needle out, break a window and then choke out a deputy.

Oh, and one Doctor -- Doctor Felicia Burnett -- didn't show up today. The senior policeman seems to know her and puts out a search for Felicia and Sarah.

Meanwhile, Felicia is getting the bullet out of Sarah's leg. Felicia asks questions about John and the episode sort of continues its central gimmick: Felicia thinks Sarah is talking to her but Sarah is actually talking to the spectre of Kyle. Kind of like Battlestar with Baltar and Six, but not nearly executed as proficiently.

In another hospital, Riley wakes up. The John and Riley relationship continues to be confusing.

RILEY: Hi.

JOHN: How are you?

RILEY: I feel like an idiot.

JOHN: [without any emotion] You're not an idiot. You're just...

RILEY: It's okay. There's really nothing to say.

[Riley looks at someone else approaching. The look on her face tells us its Cameron before she speaks]

RILEY: You're here too?

CAMERON: Of course. I'm worried about you.

RILEY: Well, don't be. Please. I'm really tired. I've had a long day.

JOHN: Yeah. Long day. Come on.

[After kissing Riley on the forehead, John leaves. Riley and Cameron exchange a look]

I find this a bit strange. A few episodes previous, John was pretty frustrated with Riley and seemed to be figuring her out. Last episode, he's protecting her from Cameron. This episode, he's kissing her on the forehead... but nothing about Dekker's voice says compassion or concern. When you think about his speech to Derek, it seems almost like he's trying to throw his weight around.

But then, why kiss her?

The argument can be made that John is suddenly more protective of her after her suicide attempt but I don't think John is that, well, easily to manipulate. Maybe if he had already been pretty attracted to Riley but as of Mr Ferguson Is Ill it seemed as if his interest in her was cooling.

Sarah dreams.

KYLE: You must be stronger than you imagine you can be. You must survive, or I will never exist.

SARAH: What is that? I've heard that before.

KYLE: John's message to you. He made me memorize it before I came back.

SARAH: I'm not strong enough. I'm gonna die.

KYLE: It won't be the first time.

Old Sarah died when Tough Sarah was born. Yeah, yeah, links back to the previous episode's whole thing with identity.

Sarah screams 'Reese!' and wakes up. There's a problem. Felicia can't get the bullet out, not here. She needs better tools, tools from a hospital, because the bullet is right up on Sarah's femoral artery. Sarah relents and they head to the hospital.

How did she drive back to the hospital?

Anyway, let's move past all that, because we've got A JOHN HENRY AND ELLISON SCENE.

[Ellison enters. John Henry is seated at a desk, something in his hands. There's the sound of creaking plastic that is only just drowned out by Ellison's footsteps.]

JOHN HENRY: Hello, Mister Ellison, how are you today?

ELLISON: I'm fine, thank you. Are those toys?

JOHN HENRY: Yes. Mister Murch brought them to me.

[Ellison looks incredulous as John Henry experiments with the limbs of his Bionicle creations.]

JOHN HENRY: He thinks these will help me develop fine motor control. They're very interesting. This is Toa Tahu, the Toa of fire. He wears the mask of Shielding and wields the Myranah Ghost Blaster. He is sworn to defeat the Makuta.

ELLISON: I see.

[Ellison takes a seat on the other side of the room.]

JOHN HENRY: They have excellent range of motion in their limbs. It's from the ball-and-socket joints. This body uses hinge joints in the knees and elbows. It's less efficient.

ELLISON: That body was meant to look like a person. It was made in our image.

JOHN HENRY: Oh. Whose image were humans made in?

ELLISON: God's. We were made in God's image.

JOHN HENRY: This body was made to resemble a particular human.

[John Henry brings up a still from one of the George Laszlo's films. As he talks, he brings up images of the crimes Cromartie committed. John Henry recites it like a kid reading off a list of facts.]

This body appeared in Red Valley, New Mexico, in 1999. It had a different appearance then. In 2007 it kidnapped Doctor Alistair Fleming and forced him to regrow its organic covering. Then it forced a plastic surgeon named Doctor David Lyman to alter its face to resemble actor George Laszlo. Then it killed twenty members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's hostage rescue team in North Hollywood. And then...

[Throughout, Ellison grows more and more agitated. Ellison rises to his feet and steps over to John Henry.]

ELLISON: That's enough! That's enough, John Henry. How do you know all this?

JOHN HENRY: I wanted to know about this body's history so I accessed the Internet and used a simple search parameter.

ELLISON: And what was that?

JOHN HENRY: James Ellison. Mister Ellison, I have a question.

ELLISON: What is it?

JOHN HENRY: It's not for you. I have a question for God.

ELLISON: What do you wanna ask God?

JOHN HENRY: I wish to know why he didn't use more ball-and-socket joints when he made you.

[Ellison watches as John Henry demonstrates the superior range of motion in the ball-and-socket joint to Ellison. Then, as Ellison leaves, John Henry flicks the propeller of the Bionicle and watches it spin]

There's so much stuff to say about this scene, so, I'll do it in a follow up post. But, basically, this scene demonstrates that John Henry's idea of faith and religion and God has already outgrown Ellison's less cerebral interpretation.

Ellison immediately goes to see Weaver, and basically experiences a crisis of faith.

ELLISON: You've given John Henry access to the Internet.

WEAVER: John Henry has many questions. Mister Murch thought it'd be a good idea to give him the capacity to look for answers himself.

ELLISON: Well, he's gotten very good at it. He'd make a hell of a detective, actually. Still, it seems unwise. Who knows what he'll find or... who may find him.

WEAVER: You're worried about outside forces influencing John Henry?

ELLISON: I'm worried about what he's going to become. Who's gonna guide him.

WEAVER: Why, you are, Mr. Ellison. You.

Elsewhere, the police officers find out that Sarah and Felicia have left the motel room. They're "long gone" and back at the hospital.

And back at the other hospital, John is silently freaking out as he sits in the hallway. Cameron sits down by him.

JOHN: You know me in the future. What would future me do?

CAMERON: You mean about Riley?

JOHN: Yeah. What would future me do right now?

CAMERON: Future you has more important things to do.

In Riley's room, a hand claps down on her shoulder with too much force to be friendly. It's Jesse. "Get your things, love," she says. "You're checking out."

And Riley does not look pleased to see her.

Felicia sneaks Sarah into the morgue and prepares to operate. Things aren't great, however. The bullet is moving about in Sarah's leg and she is bleeding again. If it has nicked the artery, she'll be dead in four minutes. So, facing the prospect of death, Sarah calls Derek.

DEREK: Sarah? Where are you?

SARAH: In the morgue.

DEREK: Is that a joke?

SARAH: Not a joke. I need surgery. Long story. The warehouse, did you find it?

DEREK: Not yet. First things first.

SARAH: That is the first thing.

DEREK: Cleanup is the first thing. We have a situation with you. We have a couple situations, actually.

SARAH: What? Where's John? What's wrong?

DEREK: John fine. It's his girlfriend. I think she's turning into a problem.

SARAH: Been a problem.

DEREK: Yeah, I know

SARAH: Reese, I... I got a problem with this leg.

DEREK: I can tell. You called me. Twice. Sarah, you there? Sarah?

SARAH: Yeah. Yeah, I'm here.

DEREK: Don't worry about John.

This episode puts some weird romantic tension with Sarah and Derek and I'm not sure I like it. Follow-up post.

Speaking of weird tension, there's some of of it when Weaver has a talk with John Henry.

JOHN HENRY: Hello, Ms. Weaver. How are you today?

WEAVER: I'm well, thank you, John Henry. Mr. Murch said you asked for me.

JOHN HENRY: Do you know Solek? He resides in Karda Nui and idolizes the Toa. He has stated that he's best friends with Takua. You're not human.

WEAVER: Excuse me?

JOHN HENRY: You're not human. You're made of metal. Not the same metal as I am, but metal.

WEAVER: How can you tell?

JOHN HENRY: I looked into your eyes. There's nothing there.

WEAVER: Have you shared this with anybody? Mr. Murch? Mr. Ellison?

JOHN HENRY: No. Should I?

WEAVER: No. You should not.

JOHN HENRY: This body contains a high percentage of processed tantalum-niobium commonly known as coltan. The coltan in this body came from a mine in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WEAVER: That's very likely. I wouldn't know for certain.

JOHN HENRY: In the last twenty-six months Zeira Corp has obtained control of seven percent of the world's coltan reserves.

WEAVER: Is that so?

JOHN HENRY: I have been scanning available sources for the key word "coltan". I detected this audio transmission on an unsecured line.

MAN 1: Got a breach, man shot out at Heat and Air.

MAN 2: drat. Breach? Well, you know the drill. Shut the place down.

MAN 1: Down? drat. Hey look, I got sixteen tons of coltan.

MAN 2: You know the drill, shut it down. I'll call--

WEAVER: And you detected that on an unsecured line?

JOHN HENRY: During my scan, yes.

WEAVER: Well, that was a mistake.

JOHN HENRY: Ms. Weaver?

WEAVER: Yes?

JOHN HENRY: What are you doing?

WEAVER: I can't answer that right now. But know this, John Henry: everything I do, I do for you.

In the morgue, Sarah and Felicia have a confrontation. Sarah refuses to hand over her gun. Felicia will let Sarah die unless she does so. Kyle talks Sarah into handing over her weapon, saying that she isn't one of "them".

In the Riley-hospital, the Doctor finds John. Riley's missing. They're locking down the hospital and searching room by room. John goes to see if he can find Riley in some cargo elevators, tells Cameron to check the parking lots: "We need to find her, now.". Cameron disobeys John, telling him "No, we don't need to find her."

But Riley is already gone, of course. She's been taken back to Jesse's hotel room and Jesse is not happy about it.

"Shut up. Not a word out of you. I found you in that tunnel, I scooped you out and I brought you to paradise. And this is what you do?"

Riley explains her plan. "There was this girl at school. She killed herself. John tried to save her, but the machine stopped him. He doesn't like to talk about it."

"So this," Jesse begins, "Was all of his benefit?" And credit to Jacobsen here, she plays this part as not believing a word of it. Under her gaze, Riley collapses and can only shrug helplessly. She asks to stay with Jesse who agrees, but only for an hour.

In the warehouse, dozens of people are packing away computers into boxers. A manager in a blue shirt outlines the plan: "Take everything." Tomorrow, it'll be like they were never there.

He wanders into the bathroom, takes a leak at the urinal. Everything about the shot is set up like the infamous scene with Weaver earlier in Season 2. Numerous shots of urinals, chrome fixtures and mirrors. Long shot of him staring into the mirror, adjusting his hair. But the attack never comes.

That is, until the moment he steps out of the bathroom, and Weaver slits his neck open.

I like this fake out. Too bad about the way it had to be set up.

Weaver, in her immaculate white dress, wanders through the halls. She murders every single person she comes across, not once breaking her stride, all of them dressed in grey coveralls or shirts (remember what Derek said, about Greys, the people who help Skynet?). She stops only to access a computer.

GUARD: Turn around slowly and keep your hands where we can see them.

WEAVER: Do you mind telling me where you keep your demolition materials? The subbasement perhaps? No? I'll find them on my own then.

She ends up blowing the whole place to pieces, walking out of the flames in all of her ethereal chrome glory.

The two cops continue their pursuit of Sarah. They listen to the recording of Alan Park. They wonder who shot Park and the others if not Sarah but don't conclude that it wasn't Sarah. They copy everything and say they'll send it on the FBI, the ATF and 'every police outfit inside a hundred miles'.

The more experienced officer goes off to find the warehouse.

Then the Connor jeep erupts into flames. As everyone gawks at it, Derek torches the case file and steals the laptop. But he doesn't get the phone, which the officer has in his pocket.

The officer goes to head to the hospital.

In the hospital, the operation is a success. Felicia removes the bullet. As this happens, Sarah dreams. She stands with Kyle before a great tree, a tree that Kyle calls an apple tree but Sarah says this is wrong. He digs up an ammo box and presents Sarah with the photo of her. They kiss.

Then things go bad.

Derek bursts in with all of his usual force and fury. Felicia, mistaking Derek for the man that Sarah says abused her and hurt her, levels Sarah's handgun at him.

DEREK: Hey, easy. Easy. I'm here for her.

FELICIA: I know why you're here. Stay back, or I swear to God you will regret it.

DEREK: You don't wanna do that. You really don't. You even know how to use that thing? It's tough to shoot with the safety on.

[Felicia goes to turn the safety off and, as she does, Derek pulls his own weapon and levels it at her]

DEREK: You wearing body armor? I am.

And then, in comes the cop whose name is Alvin, and things come to the point anyone could see coming. Alvin is Felicia's husband, Alvin abuses her. They never outright said it but the implication is strong enough to forge a singularity. Alvin puts his gun on Derek who has his gun on Felicia who has his gun on the both of them.

Alvin grows furious when Felicia refuses to put her gun down. She shoots him. While Felicia mourns over Alvin, Derek gets to Sarah.

Up on her feet, Sarah claims that she can take the heat for shooting Alvin. But Felicia explains that it isn't right. After all, Alvin pointed the gun at her. "Put it up against my head," she claims, which is a neat indicator of the abuse she had suffered at his hands. "Sarah,' she asks, however, "Was anything you said the truth?"

"I got shot," is all she says.

In the Connor truck, Sarah talks to Derek.

"I wanna explain," she says, "About John. About your brother."

"I don't need an explanation," replies Derek. He already knows, but it's clear that both Derek and John kept that secret successfully.

Derek spies a vast torrent of black smoke, reaching to the sky. "Sarah. What the hell is that?"

"That's where the warehouse is," she says, numbly.

And, just like that, everything Sarah had worked for -- had suffered for -- goes up in smoke.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 08:26 on Jun 4, 2017

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


It's hard to believe how little is happening at this point in Season 2. With eight episodes left of a twenty-two episode run, and the Connors no closer to solving any of the plots going on, it's hard to see what the overall plan of this season was.

After watching an episode and writing my recap and thoughts, I like to go and read some of the posts on old Terminator message board or TV episode review sites. I like seeing what other people thought as episodes were going to air. Sometimes they were fascinating (JESSE AND OR RILEY IS A TERMINATOR OR WORKING WITH SKYNET) but often they were fairly accurate (The John and Riley subplot is going nowhere, what's the deal with Weaver?) and sometimes even prescient (this series is going to be cancelled unless it gets moving).

You, of course, also find the really interesting comments, like a minority of people who think Garret Dillahunt is a bad actor. But, hey, it's a free Internet.

So, let's see if we can sum up Season 2 so far.

Where Is Season 2 Going?

The central goal of the whole series is to stop Skynet and avert Judgement Day.

But to do that, they need to find some indication of Skynet here in the present. The link to this was the Turk. However, the loss of the Turk has put the Connors -- well, Sarah, really -- onto the mystery of the Three Red Dots which she thinks is linked to Skynet.

But, at fourteen episodes in, Sarah is no closer to her goal. She's still chasing phantoms. If that's the point of the season, that Sarah is wasting time chasing phantoms, then it hasn't been handling it well, given that the show loves dangling proof in front of her and then snatching it away.

Sarah finds proof of a prototype HK bot, maybe! She almost dies in the attempt! Where will she go from here with actual proof of Skynet tech running around?

And the next episode everything gets blown up and they get nothing from it. Okay.

Please, let the characters get off the treadmill! Everything is lean enough as it is!

Meanwhile, John and Derek have done virtually nothing. Derek has been especially wasted. Cameron, too. So, when we get down to it, we've had the Connors (but mostly Sarah) chasing clues that never eventuate into anything concrete and we've had John spending the season with Riley. Meanwhile, Derek and Cameron just do what is generally required of them. Credit to Glau and Green for making the absolute most of it.

202: Meets Riley, has her come over to the Connor residence.
203: John blows off Cameron to spend time with Riley. For this, he almost dies. This should be strike one.
207: Riley's failure to reactivate the Connor's security system leads to them getting robbed. This directly leads to Cromartie discovering their location. This should be strike two.
208: As above, Cromartie abducts Sarah. John has taken Riley to Mexico, seemingly out of a mad last ditch attempt to kindle something romantic (particularly given with how strongly Cameron comes on to him the night before). At the end of it, however, he sends her home and promises to tell her everything.
210: John goes over to Riley's home to explain everything, and then doesn't. This appears to be a response to Riley not seeming to care at all that they were almost killed in Mexico. It feels like John is figuring things out, particularly given Riley's thing with the photographer. This event with the photo is specifically cited as a part of John's reasoning that figures out Riley, too. This is the episode where the connection between Jesse and Riley is made apparent.
211: John appears to be visibly tired of Riley. Her behavior at a party gets him into a fairly vicious fight. Despite their kiss, John still does not seem particularly interested. Riley's dialogue about being a teenage girl is strangely reminiscent of what Cameron might say about being a teenage girl.
213: Riley helps John out with renovating his room but draws Cameron's suspicion. Having been struck by Jesse earlier, and worried Cameron will find her out, Riley slashes her wrists. John is strangely protective of Riley, treating Cameron's (correct) suspicion fairly weirdly. Why doesn't John want to know the truth?
214: John acts as if saving Riley is incredibly important and kisses her on the forehead, yet nothing he says to her is in any way truly compassionate or empathetic.

Where is this going? Sure, there's such a thing as a slow burn, but there's also wondering if the fire is even lit.

I, of course, remember how this subplot ends. But the fact that it has spent so much time on swerving left and right is fairly maddening. At this point, given everything the audience knows, it truly feels like John should be doing more to try and figure Riley out so he avoids looking stupid -- or, if not, showing a bit more genuine compassion and warmth for some of that delicious dramatic irony. This feels like a relationship that John began to spite his mother and Cameron and is continuing to hold it for those reasons.

Up until 211, you can see the relationship as John really trying to have something nice and normal and it just not working out and he's getting tired of it and the whole thing is just making him worse. But then 213 and 214 feel like those events could have come earlier, where John was still in his 'gently caress you mom' or puppy-love stage and not feeling like he was growing suspicious of her.

Again, maybe this is what the writers of TSCC Season 2 intended, a maddening story of teenage love where John makes bad decisions over and over without much reason, but... I don't find that interesting. At this point, it's flat out boring.

Things start to get interesting in the next few episodes, but it's too little too late.

When I look at the credits on the episodes, it's interesting how varied it is.

201: Josh Friedman
202: Natalie Chaidez
203: John Wirth
204: Toni Graphia
205: Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
206: Denise The
207: Ian Goldberg
208: Daniel Thomsen
209: John Wirth and Ian Goldberg
210: Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
211: Toni Graphia
212: John Enborn
213: Natalie Chaidez
214: Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

A lot of these people worked on Season 1 but a lot of them are new, too.

What's interesting is, from the next episode on, the credited writers become far more consistent. Maybe they really were just all not on the same page and there were various writers kind of doing their own from week to week. I can't say either way for certain. But this extends into my next point.

Weaver, Skynet and the Warehouse

Season 2 commits this little annoying writing sin throughout its time with Weaver. And that sin is that it wants to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to ambiguity. Who is Weaver and what is she doing? It loves painting her as ominously as possible. Ooooh, she did things with the nuke plant, she must be working for Skynet! Oh, she's got the Turk and is creating a Tower of Babel and in her hubris is going to unleash Skynet! Oh, she's a T-1000 who murders people, she's gotta be working for Skynet!

She's not, of course. She's creating John Henry to fight Skynet. But is there anything in this episode that directly reinforces that? That isn't part of the maddening 'tune in next week to find out what's happening' fad that was sweeping through television at this time? I said that Sarah keeps getting clues dangled in her face only for them to be yanked away -- but the show does that to its audience, too.

It feels like it's all done in so, when the twist that Weaver reveals she is on the same side of the Connors, the audience won't have seen it coming.

But this is unfair to the audience. I've always personally believed in what J Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, once said about plotting and twists. I'm paraphrasing here, but: the audience should be able to see what is coming -- if you surprise the audience with a twist out of left field, you haven't set it up properly.

And I feel that's what TSCC has a tendency to do in this season. Babylon 5 had a number of big twists but they came from, generally, things being known or otherwise in plain sight, you just didn't quite know the significance or how to put them together. When you go back and watch the series again, the various clues and little plot beats are basically big flashing neon signs.

B5 never pointed the audience in the wrong direction. TSCC actively feels like it is misguiding the audience.

Let's look at Weaver's conversation with John Henry, and try to do it from the perspective of someone who doesn't know what's actually going on.

Prior to the scene, Ellison has pointed out that John Henry could make a great detective. "Who knows what he'll find out there."

John Henry finds out three things. One, that Weaver is like him (something she wants to hide). Two, that Zeira Corp has been stockpiling coltan (presumably something she wants to hide). Three, that someone has had a security breach where a lot of coltan has been stored (again, presumably something she wants to hide).

Weaver is not surprised by this. She is seemingly annoyed that it was detected on an unsecured line. "Well, that was a mistake," is said as someone who is angry their subordinate didn't bring them the right cup of coffee. Not triumphantly, not as someone figuring out the location of a rival's stockpile.

So, she wipes them out without mercy. She kills everyone and utterly annihilates the facility, hiding all evidence that anything was there. The whole little subplot feels far more like Weaver fixing up a compromised arm of her own efforts than dealing a blow to a dangerous rival. Particularly given her "Everything I do, I do for you" which implies a sense of regret about the whole thing.

It's hard to argue that Weaver would feel regret or guilt over needing to snuff out Skynet's efforts in the past.

Sarah and Derek

Not much to say on this one.

Yeah, so, this episode introduces a weird romantic tension to the relationship between Derek and Sarah. I don't like it. When Sarah thinks she might be about to die, she calls Derek and tries to confide in him. When he arrives, Sarah mistakes him for Kyle -- but only for a moment or two. I believe, here and now, we are seeing the seeds for a Sarah/Derek relationship that would've started in Season 3.

"We need to give these characters more of a reason to interact."

"You mean beyond stopping the end of the world."

"Yeah. I mean, we'll be getting Jesse out of the picture at some point, right? We could make them boyfriend and girlfriend."

Maybe I'm just cynical.

Ellison, John Henry and Faith

Oh, James Ellison. Much like Derek and Cameron, it's as if the writers haven't quite known what to do with you. Luckily, you get these great scenes with John Henry to make up for it.

So, Ellison is a man of faith. But it's a simple faith. Despite believing in God, it doesn't seem like he is a man who has truly thought through the implications of it all. He's no idiot, of course, but to Ellison everything he has told John Henry ("We are made in God's image", "all human lives are sacred") are immutable facts. He's a good Christian man!

Ellison presents these ideas to John Henry, who has an insatiable desire to learn more. John Henry seems to accept them, and then moves beyond them a short time after.

This is pretty clear in the scene where Ellison first talks to John Henry. Ellison tells him that God made everything. John Henry immediately asks if that makes him a child of God. Ellison, unable to answer it, says they can talk about it. At the same time, John Henry checkmates him.

It kind of sums up Ellison throughout the series. Checkmated by an endless series of robots.

John Henry checkmates him again, with the stuff about joints. The T-888 chassis was made to look like a human and, so, therefore is modelled on the inefficient limbs and joints a human has. John Henry accepts this, but immediately asks whose image humans were made in then, given that God made them.

"We were made in God's image," Ellison says.

"I wish to know why he didn't use more ball-and-socket joints when he made you," John Henry says, later. Or: Why did your God make your bodies so impractical?

Ellison's belief comes from the heart, not reason. John Henry reasons his way through problems -- he's a chess AI, after all -- and while not necessarily incompatible with faith, he's going to poke holes in it just by the way he thinks.

And Ellison doesn't know what to say and he still appears distressed when he talks to Weaver in the next scene. How can he guide something that is already moving beyond him? To Ellison, I think it's fair to say that it comes down to something like the following: God made humans how He did because that is how He did it and He works in mysterious ways. There's a reason to it but not one we can ever know. For some people, like Ellison, that belief is enough.

But not for John Henry. John Henry might not even be capable of something as irrational as believing.

Over a day or two, Ellison has introduced him to faith and the AI has already leapt to asking uncomfortable questions. Ellison thought, perhaps in a condescending manner, that John Henry was basically a child (or maybe accurately, given how Dillahunt plays him) only to find out that he might appear to be a child but he's really anything but.

What will he be capable of in a week, a month, a year?

I do appreciate how the show maintains a level of respect for Ellison and his beliefs, however. When you're dealing with hyper-intelligent AIs, it would probably be very easy to have them go full 'I am euphoric'.

I love you, TSCC, but you always make me wonder what could have been.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 10:41 on Jun 4, 2017

Astroman
Apr 8, 2001




I never had much of a problem of them putting Sarah and Derek together, if they ended up going in that direction. They certainly had a lot in common in the fight against Skynet, and Derek was as far as she knew the only person who knew about the future she was fighting for. After years of being alone in this and nobody believing her, that must have been a relief. They also both loved Kyle, in different ways, and both love John--in a twisted, future war way they are sorta parents to him. I could see after spending so much time together they might develop feelings for each other.

One thing I loved about this episode was John Henry's obsessive recitation of the Bionicle canon. :laugh:

Q_res
Oct 29, 2005

Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto.


I never really felt like they were pushing a romantic element between Sarah and Derek. It always struck me as a Mother/Father dynamic in a very dysfunctional family. One that felt a little off because of the lack of romantic elements.

Milky Moor posted:


So, she wipes them out without mercy. She kills everyone and utterly annihilates the facility, hiding all evidence that anything was there. The whole little subplot feels far more like Weaver fixing up a compromised arm of her own efforts than dealing a blow to a dangerous rival. Particularly given her "Everything I do, I do for you" which implies a sense of regret about the whole thing.

It's hard to argue that Weaver would feel regret or guilt over needing to snuff out Skynet's efforts in the past.

I'm a little embarrassed about this one, because it never occurred to me. Even when I binged the show on go90 recently, with the way it's written I always assumed Heat and Air was Weaver's operation. Especially since there's zero indication that she didn't know exactly where it was the moment John Henry mentioned it.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Astroman posted:

I never had much of a problem of them putting Sarah and Derek together, if they ended up going in that direction. They certainly had a lot in common in the fight against Skynet, and Derek was as far as she knew the only person who knew about the future she was fighting for. After years of being alone in this and nobody believing her, that must have been a relief. They also both loved Kyle, in different ways, and both love John--in a twisted, future war way they are sorta parents to him. I could see after spending so much time together they might develop feelings for each other.

One thing I loved about this episode was John Henry's obsessive recitation of the Bionicle canon. :laugh:

John Henry is a Goon in the TSCC timeline, probably, getting into very polite discussions about Lego canon.

The John Henry Plays With Bionicle scenes (there's more of them coming up) could be really bad and just too goofy, but Dillahunt just nails it so it feels disturbing to watch this Child-Cromartie harbinger of the apocalypse play with toys and ask questions that people can't answer.

I don't think I'd have had a problem with it either. It could have worked. Pushing it is not the right term, as Q_Res uses it, but I think they were experimenting with it.

The really cynical part of me says that what comes later in this season -- Derek's death and future reveal -- might have been to make such a development more palatable. A different Derek who didn't kill Sarah's friend, etc.

Q_res posted:

I'm a little embarrassed about this one, because it never occurred to me. Even when I binged the show on go90 recently, with the way it's written I always assumed Heat and Air was Weaver's operation. Especially since there's zero indication that she didn't know exactly where it was the moment John Henry mentioned it.

That's true. The moment John Henry mentions it, she doesn't need to ask anything more about it. Given what comes later in the season, it seems like they were writing her in one way but really it was to create, in the words of Mac Walters, endless speculation for everyone.

From memory, though, Desert Cantos does sort of get a bit more deliberate about establishing that Weaver and Heat and Air are not on the same page when they kill the investigator she sends to track down a survivor of her attack.

Desert Cantos and the following episode are the lowest part of Season 2, before things start improving towards a great finale.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Episode 15: Desert Cantos

So, Desert Cantos. Another one of those episodes that I've put off doing because I remember it being bland, weird and just uninteresting. Even the episode that follows has the title of Worst Episode Of TSCC. Desert Cantos is just sort of... there.

Which is why I was surprised that, as I began watching it, I thought I had misjudged the episode. It wouldn't be the first time that this revisiting of this series has left me with a new appreciation for something when I'd initially disliked it.

But, what's funny about this episode is how quickly my impression went from thinking that I had misjudged the episode to, oh, no, it really is just a bad one.

(It's five minutes quickly.)

VIGIL

The Connors -- Sarah, John, Cameron, Derek -- are driving out to the town of Charm Acres, a little town that served as the company housing and such for the employees of the recently blown up warehouse. The authorities are still trying to figure out what went down with the explosion. As they drive, they pass dozens of dead cattle. It's a neat little ominous image.

In the town square, there's a big funeral. Big pictures of the dead, people paying respects. Cameron comments on this: "Native Americans believe that when their pictures are taken their souls are stolen and locked in the photograph forever."

Still trying to piece together souls, Cameron is.

"I think you're safe," Derek comments, idly.

John doesn't want to be there. He obviously doesn't want to be skulking around a funeral trying to dig up dirt. "I hate funerals," he says.

"I hate Skynet," Sarah replies. "Just find somebody to talk to, John."

Sarah comes face to face with the image of the man who shot her. "You'd never guess he had it in him," Derek says, about him shooting Sarah.

"No," she replies, quietly, "I see it."

John finds someone to talk to, a girl around his age. They have a whole conversation about the funeral and whether John is there because he knew anyone.

So you know somebody in Charm Acres, John? Or are you just a sucker for a small-town, homey vigil?

JOHN: My mom worked at the factory so she, uh, you know, came to pay her respects.

ZOE: So you got dragged along.

JOHN: Little drag, also some push. Seemed like the right thing to do.

ZOE: Stupid thing to do. If you had a choice. Did you have a choice? Funeral crasher. Stupid funeral crasher. Am I crazy or is that girl creepily staring at us?

The girl in question is Cameron and she is, quite creepily, staring at them both.

"I don't like that," Zoe says.

The thing about Zoe is that she's weird. I can't tell if the actress is just bad, or if the script was written in such a way that it's all she had to work with, or if she was supposed to be autistic or weird or maladjusted or something.

See, Desert Cantos is doing a thing. That thing is an age-old part of small time sci-fi/fantasy storytelling: the idyllic small town with a dark secret. Hot Fuzz did it, for example. It's the sort of story where small town living hides something dark and terrible, like nightly blood sacrifices or demon worshippers. What secrets do these pleasantly smiling families hide, and what will they do if discovered?

But it doesn't work as well when the first three characters we've met are Ed Winston, a murderer, Zoey, a very strange woman, and her want-to-be boyfriend Henry, who is taciturn and surly.

As the eulogies begin, Derek walks the funeral. He finds Sarah still staring at the picture of Ed Winston. And, at that, a familiar bald-headed figure bumps into him.

"Excuse me," says Walsh, Catherine Weaver's top investigator, and moves on.

Meanwhile, Sarah gets into an uncomfortable conversation with Winston's widow, Diana, who asks her if she knew her husband. Unnecessary flashback to Sarah shooting him, which we'd already seen in this episode.

SERVICE

Inside the church, Sarah continues talking with Diana.

DIANA: I can't tell you how many times I wanted to make a call or write a letter to those people and ask them what kind of security they had Ed doing that kept him out of the house seven days a week. But you never do that.

SARAH: No one does that.

DIANA: Not here.

In the lobby, Walsh takes a call from Weaver.

WEAVER: Do you have him, Mr. Walsh?

WALSH: No, ma'am. He's proven a bit harder to locate than I had anticipated.

WEAVER: You assured me it'd be a very simple job.

WALSH: I know, ma'am. Everyone I've spoken to thinks that he's dead. Died in the explosion at the factory.

WEAVER: I can tell you he isn't. He didn't.

WALSH: I've got a good lead on him, ma'am.

WEAVER: I hope so, Mr. Walsh.

At ZeiraCorp, Ellison glances around as he enters the building. Everyone is wearing plaid.

MURCH: Oh, yeah. Don't worry, it's not a company policy. It's just something a few of us do. Paying homage, you know?

ELLISON: To whom?

MURCH: Weaver. Lachlan Weaver. Today's the anniversary of his death.

ELLISON: Did you know him?

MURCH: Yeah, he was... He was a great guy. You know, he was a genius. He was funny as hell. They both were, you know, back then.

The elevator arrives. Weaver is inside, as if waiting for them. "Good morning," she says. "Beautiful day, isn't it?" She looks triumphant.

Back at the funeral, a man in a suit begins to talk. He's going to talk about his friend, Gene Miller, but launches into a thankful spree to thank the parent company of Desert Heat and Air, the Kaliba Group, for their donations.

Diana flips out. "Is this all it costs to buy us? Flowers and a few kind words? Where is anybody from the company?" She storms out, and the camera lingers on Mister Walsh as she talks about seeing someone from the company. As the Minister calls for people to pray, Sarah follows Diana, Derek glances to her, and then to Mister Walsh. He's not praying.

Now, I think this is the first mention of the Kaliba Group in the series. Their relationship to ZeiraCorp at this point is unclear.

Outside, Diana and Sarah... continue to talk.

DIANA: I pushed him to take that job. Head of security for Desert Canyon Heat and Air. Come on, what kind of heat-and-air factory needs that kind of security? What did you do there?

SARAH: Me? Um. Coffee and sandwich cart. Waitress on wheels. I never knew what went on there.

DIANA: No one does. Ed never said a drat thing about it, and every time I'd ask, he'd shut me down. So I stopped asking. We all did.

But Diana, going through Ed's things, found some keys. They go to a storage locker. While she's afraid to investigate, Sarah isn't. Inside the storage locker she finds junk: lacrosse mitts, an old chair... a heap of bloody towels.

PROCESSIONAL

There's a procession going through the town. Unfortunately for Walsh, his car has a flat tire. Derek pulls up along side, offers him a lift.

In the car, they have an edgy conversation.

DEREK: So, what do you think?

WALSH: About what?

DEREK: What happened.

WALSH: I think it's too early to tell.

DEREK: Would you, even if you knew?

WALSH: Tell?

DEREK: Yeah.

WALSH: No.

DEREK: You know, people say it wasn't an accident.

WALSH: Is that right?

DEREK: They say something was going on there other than heating and air conditioning.

WALSH: Something as in what, exactly?

DEREK: That's what I'm asking you.

WALSH: Suppose you knew something was going on up there, what would you do?

DEREK: Absolutely nothing.

WALSH: Absolutely nothing.

DEREK: That's what I said.

Both of them trying to suss the other out, both of them knowing that the other is not just there to do what they're saying -- in Derek's case, to pay respects; in Walsh's case, to investigate health and safety.

As they get caught in traffic, Walsh hops out and claims he'll walk the rest of the way. "Good luck with your investigation," he tells Derek.

In one of the other cars, Sarah and Diana... are still talking. Sarah tells Diana that the storage container was empty. Diana plays Sarah the last call Ed ever made to her. It's his words to Sarah, just before they shot each other. Sarah listens to the violence through a phone speaker. "What happened to him, Sarah?" Diana asks, in tears. And how do you tell a widow, hey, your husband tried to kill me so I had to kill him?

And in another car, John, Cameron and Zoe and Henry the weird kids, are in the procession.

ZOE: I can't die here. Somebody tell me I'm not gonna die here.

HENRY: You won't die here.

ZOE: I hate these people. I don't relate to any of them.

HENRY: Great. Thanks, Zoe.

ZOE: Hey, what if we just kept driving? Got on the highway and didn't stop till we hit somewhere amazing. The Grand Canyon.

JOHN: I went there when I was a kid. My mom and I took mules down into the canyon.

ZOE: Sounds cool.

JOHN: It would have been if my mule wasn't completely schizo. He ate my spare shirt.

ZOE: I've never been. Got a postcard from there once.

HENRY: Seriously, if you start talking about Mike Thompson, I'm getting out of the car.

Turns out that Mike Thompson was Zoe's ex. His mom worked at the plant. He liked playing lacrosse (flashback to the lacrosse things Sarah found), until his mom violated a confidentiality agreement and he and his mom vanished in the middle of the night (flashback to the bloody towels).

Henry and Zoe continue to fight about it. The pair are insufferable. Cameron decides to help out. "Zoe's not in love with you," she tells Henry. "She doesn't love you the way you love her."

Henry slams on the brakes and demands that the Connors get out of the car.

John does get out, and pulls Henry from the driver's seat and shoves him into the back of the car.

Zoe directs John to take a right and not go to the funeral. They drive out to all the dead cattle, all lying around a poisonous looking waterhole.

One day, Zoe says, the cattle are there, dead. The next, they're all gone.

CAMERON: Like Mike.

ZOE: Yeah, like Mike.

JOHN: What's killing them?

HENRY: Idiots with guns.

CAMERON: No bullet wounds.

ZOE: What are you, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman?

JOHN: Maybe it's the water.

CAMERON: You'd think people would've picked up on that.

BURIAL

At the burial service, John is talking with Zoe.

ZOE: They always did wanna be rich. That's what Henry said. His mom wanted the good things. Be careful what you wish for, huh?

JOHN: What do you mean?

ZOE: Insurance money. The company's agreed to pay. We're all rich. Woo-hoo.

JOHN: What did Henry's father do at the plant anyway?

ZOE: He went to work in the morning, came home at night, didn't talk about it. Same as everybody else that worked there.

JOHN: I don't get it. What's so secret about heating and air conditioning?

ZOE: The secret is it wasn't heating and air conditioning.

Zoe thinks it was a government project, given that there's so many smart people around the town. "It wasn't an accident, John. Moo."

Derek arrives then, seconds after Walsh. They exchange what they've found.

SARAH: "His wife thinks he was murdered."

DEREK: "She's right."

Which is probably one of the best lines from the episode. drat, Derek.

But still, Sarah's turned up no information on the drone. She'll work on Walsh, given that he's suspicious of Derek now. "Skynet's here, Reese, I can feel it."

Derek lets out a humored 'hmm'. "You called me Reese again. That's what you used to call him, isn't it? Kyle? Maybe you should try to let him go."

:siren: SARAH/DEREK FORESHADOWING :siren:

Walsh leaves and Sarah follows. He ends up breaking into one of the nearby houses.

Back at the funeral, John talks with Zoe.

JOHN: Is Henry gonna be okay?

ZOE: Henry smokes a lot of weed.

JOHN: You know, my father died before I was even born.

ZOE: Yeah, well, my father's a pile of ashes somewhere, so I guess we're screwed.

JOHN: I thought you picked out a gray suit to bury him in.

ZOE: Why am I even talking to you? You don't know me. You don't know what I'm going through. Stop trying to make it seem like you're some kind of sensitivity expert. You don't know anything.

So, she's lying. Cameron points out something, too. "She's not crying."

Back at ZeiraCorp, Ellison meets with Weaver. He's such a nice guy. He went home and changed his tie to a plaid one, to show his sympathies with the death of Weaver's husband. I do like Ellison, I just wish he had more to do. As it is, he offers kind words to Weaver, relating it back to the death of his father.

Which is funny, because Weaver doesn't really care, and her part of the conversation is just a bit off.

ELLISON: I remember when my father died. He was a... He was a tough man. We didn't get along. Even so, it took me a long time to come to terms with his passing. I threw myself into work so I wouldn't have to.

WEAVER: Was this recent?

ELLISON: Recent enough.

WEAVER: Then you understand.

ELLISON: I do. So how does Savannah do with this?

WEAVER: "Do"?

ELLISON: How is she dealing with her father's death?

WEAVER: Dr. Sherman was very helpful in that regard.

ELLISON: Now he's gone too.

WEAVER: Children are nothing if not resilient.

ELLISON: I'm surprised she's not here.

WEAVER: Why?

ELLISON: Being the anniversary, I mean.

WEAVER: Yes, I guess that is surprising. Dr. Sherman felt it was important for a child to maintain a regular routine. Today's not the day for excitement. Would you excuse me, Mr. Ellison? I'm feeling emotional.

"Of course," says Ellison. And, like Weaver realises that her cover was just about compromised, she commands her secretary to find her daughter and "bring her to me".

Back in the town, Sarah slips in through the window that Walsh jimmied open.

WAKE

At the wake, as Derek and John dine on shrimp skewers and reflect on the bizarre place they've ended up ("You think she's nuts", John says, "Doesn't mean I think she's wrong," Derek counters) Cameron observes Zoe and her family.

She says, "She hasn't looked at her father's picture since we've been here. Not once. Neither has her mother."

"Yeah, and?" Derek asks.

"If you had a photo of Kyle Reese, you'd look at it, wouldn't you? Maybe there's something I don't understand."

Cameron's getting pretty intelligent when it comes to this sort of deduction.

"He's not dead," John realises.

"That's a big leap," Derek scoffs.

"Let me repeat what she said. If you had a photo of your brother, would you not look at it?"

And he would. Derek would look at it every single day. Hell, he went and looked at himself and Kyle as children. "He's not dead."

"We should find him before he is," Cameron states.

Sarah, gun drawn, walks the suburban home. It's completely empty. Unfurnished, bare walls, hardwood flooring. No one has lived here for a while. Maybe no one has ever lived here. But scratch marks on the floor reveal a cabinet that hides a secret staircase. And, at the bottom of that staircase, the small town Americana house becomes a cold, grim industrial surveillance facility.

There are cameras in every single house. In every single intersection. One of them is watching the wake right now.

Fresh blood on the floor. Sarah follows it.

Unseen to her, on the cameras, John enters a bedroom.

John investigates. Going through drawers and cabinets. From behind him, Zoe asks: "What're you doing in my parents' room?"

"Your father's alive, isn't he?" John presses, and Zoe flees. "Let me help you!"

"You can't."

"Yes, I can."

"No," Zoe insists and points. Above her, in an air duct, is the unblinking eye of a security camera.

The episode has started getting interesting again. But we are at minute 33 of a 42-minute episode.

Sarah walks down a long, gray tunnel. At the end of it, she finds a ladder. Climbing it, the ladder reveals a shed, filled with gardening tools. So, not only is someone watching everyone in the town, they have a secret tunnel network to get wherever they might need to go.

Sarah calls Derek. The pair exchange what they've both discovered. Sarah about the tunnels and cameras and that they're being watched. Derek, that they're at a wake. "A fake... wake..." Derek says.

RECESSIONAL

Back in the security hub, Sarah discusses what she's found while Cameron goes through the various feeds.

Derek says, "Skynet work camp. This is how they were set up. People working for the machines monitored by other people working for the machines."

With them are Zoe and Zoe's mother, Stella.

SARAH: I need to know what they were building. I need to know who owned it, and I need to know right now.

STELLA: I don't... How would I know?

SARAH: Because the tunnel led to your garage. That's how.

STELLA: My husband's garage. Look, we don't know you people. From all we know you could be responsible for this. You could be some terrorist organization.

SARAH: We're some kind of terrorist organization. Believe me, if someone hadn't blown up that plant, I would. Now, where is your husband?

"He's dead," Stella insists.

John steps forward, draws his handgun, shows off the clip and slams it home. "No," he says, "He's not dead. Yet."

ZOE: Wait. Wait, please. He's innocent. He is. John, you have to believe me.

JOHN: No, I don't have to.

ZOE: I was with him when he got news everyone was dead. He freaked out. He was trying to figure out what to do, and he didn't know what to do. He was scared. Like we all are.

John puts on his grim, Future John voice. "What were they building at the plant?"

"Nobody knows!" Stella insists.

SARAH: How can you not know? How can any of you not know? How can you sleepwalk through your lives?

JOHN: Just tell us what they were building at the plant.

STELLA: Just stop it. He told us he was gonna play dead. He told us everybody died, that he should've died and it would be better if that's what everybody thought. That's what he said. You think I'm sad, that I am pathetic. That I just sleepwalked through all of this. Well, maybe you're right. Maybe I looked the other way. We all did. Every one of us. Maybe that's not what you think you would do but that's what most people do. There's no plant now. No plant. No Charm Acres. But it is a lot of insurance money. Enough for my family to get lost and start over. So I didn't ask any questions. Why would I start now, when we are so close?

Cameron finds footage from the archive. It's Ed Winston killing Zoe's ex, Mike, and his family. There's another man with him, too. And that man is Zoe's father.

John finds a mud-encrusted boot. "I think I know where he might be," he says.

Outside, Diana runs into Sarah. And, in a reversal of what Sarah had just been saying...

DIANA: Hey. Excuse me. I've been watching you. You wanna know what I see?

SARAH: What do you see, Diana?

DIANA: Ed would say, you don't smell right.

SARAH: Well, I guess Ed would know.

DIANA: Look, I deserve the truth. I opened up to you.

SARAH: Sometimes it's better not to ask too many questions.

At ZeiraCorp, Weaver has Savannah in her office. "You're crying," Weaver states.

"No," Savannah lies.

"Yes, you are." And she calls Savannah over and relates Ellison's story, word for word, as if it had been her father that had died.

SAVANNAH: I miss Daddy.

WEAVER: What do you miss about him?

SAVANNAH: He used to read me stories.

WEAVER: I can read you a story.

SAVANNAH: He did it better.

WEAVER: You know, any time you want to see your father, we have videos.

SAVANNAH: It's not the same.

WEAVER: Why?

SAVANNAH: I can't sit on his lap.

WEAVER: Come, sit on my lap.

SAVANNAH: Your lap is cold.

WEAVER: I know.

The Connors pull up at the Dead Cattle Drinking Hole. There, Walsh lies dead, thrown down on the mud to be collected like the cattle will be. He got too close to the truth and paid for it with his life. It's maybe the first indication that Kaliba Corp isn't working with ZeiraCorp, indicating that Kaliba and Skynet isn't on the level with Zeira and Weaver.

"Where are we, John?" Sarah asks. "What is this place?"

"I don't know," John says.

And then the fetid water in the hole begins to bubble and churn and something leaps free.

That something is the three-engine drone that Sarah saw above her. It hovers position for a moment or two, the Connors gawking below it, before it races off into the distance.

Elsewhere, it meets with Zoe's father, who loads the drone into the back of a trailer truck, and drives off into the night.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Desert Cantos is annoying.

This episode just isn't gripping. It features people crying, a lot of crying. It features people driving, a lot of driving. It features dead cattle. It features Zoe and Henry, who might be the two weirdest, worst characters in TSCC.

More importantly, it's all pointless. You can fast-forward the first thirty minutes of this episode and feel reasonably good that you've missed nothing of consequence. And then the last ten minutes is packed with revelation after revelation. And even then, the episode ends on a remarkably similar note to one just a few weeks before. It's just moved from "Sarah sees a drone" to "Everyone sees a drone."

Look, don't get me wrong, I can appreciate an episode with some gravitas in its storytelling, I like a bit of artistry with my schlock. But an episode about crashing a funeral for a bunch of people we haven't met, beyond one of them who we know was a bad person, is just an odd choice. The interstitial titles -- VIGIL and others -- read like a film student's approach to symbolism: experimenting without a purpose beyond displaying that it exists.

That sort of problem is undercut by some of the little issues of the episode. For example, the Connors are crashing a funeral that might be related to Skynet, so, you can assume they want to avoid attention. So, why didn't they take the time to wear something more suitable? For this episode, all of them are in their usual urban freedom fighter greys and greens and blacks.

There are a good half a dozen flashbacks to Sarah shooting Ed. Why? Did they not think the audience would either a. remember the episode or b. not see the other flashbacks to the same event?

More importantly, it is difficult to make me sympathise with the wife of someone who might have been a willing participant in ending the world. At the very least, Ed was a murderer. At worst, he had made a deal with the devil.

Admittedly, this is the first episode that indicates that Weaver might not be working for Skynet. She blew up the plant and then the man with the drone killed her investigator. Of course, we don't know anything about Kaliba Group beyond a name, so, it's possible that ZeiraCorp is part of some group umbrella. For example, we don't know that mystery drone-taking man is working for Kaliba. He might have been part of a different organisation. That organisation might not even be Skynet -- he could be taking the drone, killing someone who he thinks will kill him, with the goal of exposing the work there. We don't know! For every hint the show drops, it tries to keep the curtain in the exact same place.

However, drone man is wearing grey and black and his truck is grey and black, so, it is a nice visual link to the idea of Skynet greys.

Given the very next episode, I can't call Desert Cantos the worst. I think that one truly is the next episode. But Desert Cantos certainly isn't good or even average. It meanders along with no looming threat, no anything.

Oh, and Zoe... See, I can hear someone like Ashley Burch (Life is Strange's Chloe) doing that dialogue with the right amount of defensive cynicism but this actress was just poor. Or the direction was poor. Or maybe the script -- just scroll up and look at some of that dialogue! What even is it! It's hard to tell, but the single best part of Desert Cantos is ensuring that we never need to see Zoe or Henry ever again.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006


Episode 16: Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep

This episode gives me conflicting feelings. On one hand, I've been wanting to put it off, because I think it is TSCC's worst episode. On the other, I've been looking forward to it for precisely that reason. Desert Cantos is an episode that is bad because it is just so boring and uninteresting. It was never going to be interesting or good, not without being completely different. If it was never going to be good, there's no worry about it being bad. On the other hand, Some Must Watch is particularly bad because it throws up interesting ideas, a cool concept, neat character moments and then...

Well, you'll see. Let's not ruin the surprise.

We open with Sarah driving through the nighttime streets of Los Angeles. Over it, she monologues. These things really are seemingly included at random.

"Midnight is the witching hour," Sarah says. "If you believe that kind of thing, and most people won admit it if they do. Midnight is the time when a door opens from our world into the next and we are visited by dark spirits of the shadow lands. The incubus, the succubus, the old hag. Visitors are known by many names but each story bears the same marks. The demons come after midnight in the first three hours of the new day when we are alone and vulnerable, deep asleep and hopeless. When we cannot move. They lay on us, press on us, suffocate us, take from us what is most precious. Our lives, our love, our sanity. Our sleep. If you believe in that kind of thing."

She pulls up at an industrial park and calls John. Long story short, Sarah has 'a lead' from the Charm Acres security footage. It has led her to Western Iron and Metal, a company that supplied specialty metal tooling equipment to Desert Heat and Air. She gives John an order to find out who owns the place and hangs up.

She spies a coyote, and watches it. With her attention there, she doesn't hear the man behind her before they have shot her with a stun gun. Sarah collapses the ground, twitching and shaking.

And wakes up in what seems like a hospital room, electrodes on her forehead. A woman is saying "Sarah, Sarah."

The woman is Nurse Hobson. Sarah's in a sleep treatment clinic, trying to figure out her insomnia. She's only been here for one night.

"Feels a lot longer," Sarah says as she goes to gather up her belongings.

"You go home now, things will only get worse," Hobson advises. "You think two weeks without sleep is bad? Try two or three years. It happens. Everyone needs their sleep."

Hobson leaves to get Sarah some coffee. At the sound of a metal sound, Sarah tugs a curtain. On the other side is a woman, Dana who introduces herself as Sarah's new roommate.

"When did you get here?" Sarah asks.

"I checked in last night while you were asleep," Dana says. "Well, not really asleep. More like thrashing and screaming in your bed."

So, was the stun gun thing a dream? A nightmare?

Dana and Sarah talk. Dana is trying to quit smoking, in a sleep clinic. But while she's in the sleep clinic, trying to fix her sleep problems, she's going to enjoy one of her vices. "Well, that and younger men."

As she says that, John enters. He seems a bit happier than usual.

"Hey, Tiger," says Dana flirtatiously.

"Hello!" John replies, not seeming to pick up on it. He's here because it's visiting time. Cameron's waiting in the cafeteria.

In the cafeteria, the three Connors are waiting in the food line. "Scrambled or hard-boiled?" Cameron asks.

John grins. "Scrambled."

Cameron loads up a tray with pancakes. It's John's food, it looks like. "You need a carbohydrate that makes up at least fifteen percent of your daily allowance," she tells him.

"Those won't be as good as yours," he replies, and smiles.

Sarah is concerned and confused. Pancakes, even as far back as the pilot, are something she made for John. "You made pancakes?"

"I added a teaspoon of vanilla to your recipe," Cameron replies.

"I don't have a recipe."

"The recipe on the box."

In the courtyard, John pokes at his pancakes. Sarah questions him about what he said. "Not as good as food," John replies.

They talk. John wants to know if they've figured out why Sarah isn't sleeping. Sarah wants to be at home, where she can be useful. John counters.

JOHN: No, this... This is necessary. Mom... you're useless like this. Look at yourself. You haven't slept in two weeks. You fell down the stairs. If you don't take care of yourself, something worse might happen. You need to get better. I need you to get better. Don't forget. You're not her. Please, get some sleep.

When did John get so... mature?

John leaves with Cameron. Sarah spies a man with a coyote tattoo on the back of his neck.

That night, back in the bed, electrodes on her forehead, Sarah thrashes and turns.

She's having a nightmare. In a van, blindfolded, Sarah is being driven somewhere. She tugs the blindfold down as the driver climbs into the back.

The driver is Ed Winston. The man she shot, and who shot her.

"You're dead," she says. "I killed you."

"And I killed you," he replies smoothly.

In the back of the van, Sarah is now handcuffed. Ed sits opposite her. He speaks: "You want to know who I am? It's the first thing most people ask. First thing out of their mouths when the gag comes off. 'Who are you?' And they keep asking it over and over again. Psychiatrists say naming things gives people power over them. They're dead wrong on that."

"I already know who you are," Sarah says.

Basically, Ed blames Sarah for blowing up the factory and had tracked her down to Western Iron and Metal (How? When?) but he wants to know who was responsible. Was it Sarah's boyfriend? He backhands Sarah, who refuses to tell him anything.

So, Ed picks up a syringe, fills it from a little vial. "In three hours, you'll be singing like Sunday choir."

Sarah flashes back to the clinic, where Hobson is preparing a syringe-like gel applicator.

They talk about sleep. Sarah is experiencing night terrors, only she never told Hobson that. Hobson, of course, can read it on the charts and data. "Night terrors can be caused by a brain tumor."

"Which," she adds, "As far as we can tell, you don't have. MRI showed your brain was clear. No heart disease, nocturnal asthma, or sleep apnea. What's wrong with you is in your head. And by your head, I mean your mind. Therapy to reduce anxiety is part of the usual treatment. Have you ever seen a therapist? A lot of people find talking one on one to be helpful in breaking down what's going on."

She saw Doctor Sherman, but it, in Sarah's words, "didn't take."

Hobson asks if Dana has been smoking again. Nicotine's a stimulant and could be affecting Sarah as she sleeps.

Back in the clinic room, Sarah and Dana talk. They talk about nightmares. "Drowning, being chased, teeth falling out?" Dana asks.

"Being chased should probably cover it," Sarah says. Dana, on the other hand, is burnt alive. Funny. Sarah's had dreams like that before.

"Do the bad guys ever catch you?" Dana asks.

It seems like they do. Sarah flashes back to lying on the street, twitching. Back to being in the van. Ed and the syringe.

She's been undressed. She begins buttoning up her jeans. They talk.

ED: That's quite a collection. Bullet wounds. Stabbings. Emergency C-section. But that's plenty old, that last one. Your child must be 15, maybe 2O by now.

SARAH: They'll kill you. Just like they killed everyone else.

ED: They?

SARAH: Your bosses. Kaliba. They blew up your factory. Killed thirty of their own people.

ED: Lady, you're insane. Why would anyone blow up their own factory?

SARAH: To hide what you were building.

ED: And what was that?

SARAH: The end.

ED: You're very dramatic.

SARAH: Diana... thought you were a good man. What do you think she'd say if she saw you now?

ED: You... You leave my wife out of this... you crazy bitch.

Enraged, Ed charges Sarah and slams her against the wall. They brawl, Sarah goes down and as Ed moves for advantage she kicks him back, against the wire cage. He falls, jabs himself with his own syringe, pulls his gun and passes out.

Sarah flashes back to the hospital. Hobson has just visited Dana, and Dana won't wake up. There's a deep puncture wound on her chest.

Sarah follows Hobson through the hospital, watches Hobson get into an elevator that heads down. She takes the stairs to follow her.

Sarah wakes up in the morning.

HOBSON: Your electrodes came off last night. Did you take them off?

SARAH: I don't remember.

HOBSON: Are you a sleepwalker?

SARAH: It's happened once or twice.

HOBSON: You didn't mention that in your intake.

SARAH: It must have slipped my mind. I'm sorry.

HOBSON: So you don't remember getting out of bed last night?

SARAH: I don't remember anything.

Hobson doesn't seem to buy it.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Cameron is staring at a painting (I wasn't able to place which painting). Next to her, John is wrestling with a vending machine. This terrible machine has taken his money and refuse to give him his chips.

CAMERON: Salvador Dali often explored the subconscious and the dream world in his work. Are your dreams like this painting?

JOHN: Everyone's dreams are different. Guess it depends on what's stuck in your head. Gah... Come on.

CAMERON: What's it like to dream?

JOHN: Oh... Um... It's sort of like you're in a play or a movie and it looks real and it feels real.

CAMERON: How do you know it's not real?

JOHN: Sometimes you don't.

John's chips have gotten stuck in the vending machine. Cameron thumps the vending machine and the chips fall out, as do several other packets.

"Yes, thank you," John says.

Sarah calls to John. Outside, in the courtyard, Sarah relates everything she's found: Hobson drugged her roommate, then snuck down into the basement. But Dana is alive, and right there in the courtyard.

SARAH: Don't be fooled, John. Don't be fooled by anyone's face. You don't know what's behind anyone's face.

JOHN: You're talking about the guy at the factory. The one who shot you. The one you shot.

SARAH: We don't talk about that.

JOHN: We can talk about anything.

SARAH: No, we can't.

John deduces that Ed's the one in Sarah's nightmares. And reassures his mother that she did what she had to do to defend herself. "He can't hurt you anymore."

"I'm not supposed to defend myself," Sarah replies. "I'm supposed to defend you."

And, with that, Hobson shows up to take Sarah away to sleep.

Back in the van. Ed has his gun trained on Sarah but he's clearly out of it, more interested in hearing about what his wife was wearing at the funeral than anything about Sarah. He's also not pleased about his job as a corporate hitman.

ED: The first one was the hardest.

SARAH: Frank? Your neighbor. His son played lacrosse.

ED: He borrowed my lawn mower every Friday. He never cleaned the bag.

SARAH: Why would they want him dead?

ED: He kept the books. Handled the overseas business. He was a drunk.

SARAH: Overseas? So your bosses are foreign.

ED: They fixed me up after you shot me. Put me in a private clinic. And I thought it was because they were being kind. Then I realized. They're just patching me up so I can do my job.

SARAH: What's your job?

ED: Like I said... the first one was the hardest.

SARAH: You were my first. Seem surprised.

ED: Well, I just figured a badass gal like yourself...

SARAH: Never.

ED: Well, I'm glad I didn't break your streak.

SARAH: I can help you disappear. You and your wife.

ED: Hmm. They'll hunt us down. They'll slaughter us.

SARAH: There are ways to keep them off your trail. Things I've learned.

ED: Like what?

SARAH: You ditch the van. Get a new car. Check into an expensive hotel. The most expensive you can find. They'll always expect the opposite. You have my phone. When I get back to my people, I'll call you. But we have to move fast so they don't know what's happening.

ED: Her smell. It's what I miss the most. Like clean laundry.

But Sarah's ploy doesn't work. Ed lets her out and Sarah runs into a chainlink fence, with Ed quickly grabbing her from behind. "Didn't see that one coming, hmm?"

Back in the clinic. The fire alarm awakens Sarah. Dana's bed is in flames, and she's still there. Sarah is hustled out. She promptly calls John. As John picks up the phone, Cameron walks past in her underwear. He stares.

SARAH: My roommate's dead. She died last night in a fire. They're trying to claim it's some kind of accident.

JOHN: Okay. Maybe you are right. Maybe you should come home.

SARAH: No. Not now.

Later, Hobson gives a report to Sarah, the staff and other patients. Dana's not dead, she's just in an extremely critical condition. Patients may leave, if they wish, but Hobson thinks any data that could grab would be extremely valuable. Sarah -- Miss Baum -- has decided to stay.

Upon returning to her former room, Sarah talks with Hector, the man with the coyote tattoo and a friend of Dana's.

SARAH: I've been meaning to say thank you. For the dreamcatcher. You make them for all the patients?

HECTOR: Just the ones who need them.

SARAH: The ones who have nightmares. Did you know her well?

HECTOR: She ain't dead.

SARAH: Right. Sorry. She kept saying she dreamt she died in a fire.

HECTOR: Maybe I should have made her a bigger one.

SARAH: Nightmare didn't burn her. A cigarette did.

HECTOR: She should've taken charge.

SARAH: Taken charge?

HECTOR: Of what was going on inside her head. Controlled it.

SARAH: You believe it, then?

HECTOR: Of course I do.

Sarah asks him about his coyote tattoo. "Does it have mystical significance? Does it protect you? Guide you?"

Hector scoffs. "This? No. This was for my girl. She thinks it's sexy."

A reference to the red dots?

Before that can be pondered, back to the van.

Ed wants to hear a story. A story about Sarah's child, who he has figured out exists given Sarah's scar -- and her sentimentality at letting him go due to his story about his son. But Ed wants to kill all of his enemy, roots and all. And that means killing John. Much like the T-1000 had figured out in the steel mill, Ed says: "He'll come to you. He will. He will when you ask him."

And he begins to strangle her, relenting at the last second.

In the clinic, Sarah wakes up to find a similar injection point on her shoulder.

Back in the van. "I'll die first," Sarah tells Ed.

"You'd like that," Ed replies. "To die. But it's never that easy."

Back in the clinic. John is there, pulling the electrodes from Sarah's head. John wants to escape but Sarah points out that Hobson will just keep hurting people, that they need to do something.

Cameron is noticeably absent.

Hobson has just left the secret basement room as Sarah and John find it. Interestingly, the show remembers that John is a great hacker and can hack lock. "In my sleep," he says, and does.

Inside, they find a massive monitor setup with banks of servers, not unlike what's powering John Henry.

JOHN: It's some kind of scanning program. It's neural activity. Brain scans. There's files. Thousands of them.

SARAH: Am I in there?

JOHN: I don't know. It's by patient number.

[Sarah hands him her patient bracelet]

JOHN: All right. There's a ton of data on you. It's a whole profile.

SARAH: Delete it. All of it. It's a Skynet experiment, John. They're stealing everything.

JOHN: No, Mom...

SARAH: Sleep is the perfect cover. Your brain's still active but you don't remember a thing.

JOHN: They run a sleep clinic.

SARAH: They're not people. Would you get rid of it?

And John begins to do it.

In the halls, a tech tells Hobson that there's a problem. Ms. Baum's electrodes have slipped off again.

"Thank you for explaining," Hobson says, flatly, as she strides down the halls with an implacable gait.

In the basement, John purges the files. All of it. The injection that Hobson gave Sarah -- a sedative -- is starting to hit. She gets unsteady on her feet.

And there are footsteps outside, and growing closer.

The door opens. Hobson stands there, looking unimpressed. In her perspective, without Terminator HUD, Sarah is the only one there.

HOBSON: This is a restricted area. How did you get in here?

SARAH: I don't know. I must've been sleepwalking.

HOBSON: Through a locked door?

SARAH: Sorry. I'll go back to my room.

HOBSON: Did you know that when a human falls in love the same areas of the brain light up as when a human is intoxicated?

SARAH: What does that have to do with my nightmares?

HOBSON: We don't know yet. We don't fully understand why humans need to dream.

SARAH: Humans like you? You drugged me.

HOBSON: What you're experiencing is sleep paralysis. You want to move but you can't.

Hobson hurls Sarah against the wall, and pins her on the floor. "You were talking to someone when I entered the room," she states, gripping Sarah by the throat. "Your boy. The one who came to visit. Call to him."

"I'd die first," Sarah says, and goes to rise. Hobson kicks her in the face.

"I'm sure you'd like that. To die," Hobson says, picking up a computer tower as Sarah spits out her teeth, "But it's never that easy."

As she raises the tower high, John steps out from behind on the server racks and shoots Hobson three times. She falls back, the bullet holes having made a neat triangular pattern in her chest.

"What is this thing?" Sarah asks Hobson's corpse. "What are you?"

And Hobson rises, snatches the gun from Sarah, and shoots John in the chest. And, as Sarah calls to John, begs him to rise, Hobson shoots her in the head.

Back in the van -- which must be the reality, or is it? -- Sarah hears Ed outside the van, on the phone to his superior, telling them that they'll need to find "her son". Sarah frantically tries to break the handcuffs, bites her own wrist so she can use her blood as lubricant to slip them free.

Ed steps into the van to execute Sarah, and Sarah jabs a syringe into his eye. They fight, much like how they had in the warehouse. Ed has Sarah by the throat, so Sarah jabs his other eye. He falls off her and Sarah takes up his gun, levels it at his head.

"You're real!" she shouts, "You're real! You're real!"

And she shoots him, kills him.

This time, she's sure.

As Sarah drives along the night time road, she monologues:

"A spirit sits on a man's chest. She is strong, beautiful. She is here to steal his children. She is here to steal his future. He is paralyzed. The terror in him will burst his heart if he cannot control it. She is a Night-Mare, a demon-woman, the oldest and most enduring story told by man. The witching hour is controlled by witches."

In the middle of the road, a coyote stares back at her.

"She is a bad dream. She is a bad bitch."

A terrible ending line. Suitable for a terrible episode. It was all a dream.

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Q_res
Oct 29, 2005

Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto.


"She is a bad bitch" is just one of the cringiest loving things...

It really is just horrible.

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