T:TSCC 0101-0103 – Pilot; Gnothi Seauton; The Turk

0101 – Pilot

This was a heck of a way to begin the series. It was easily stronger and more coherent than T3, so I was immediately hooked by this episode.

I have to say upfront that I get such a kick out of the DVD commentary for this episode. The pilot was filmed in Albuquerque…where it “never” snows or get too cold. Oh, the complaints about how the filming was during our infamously rare blizzard of 2006 that was very cold and very dangerous. As they are talking about how they had to remove snow and all that I couldn’t help but have flashbacks of having to go outside several times in the middle of the blizzard with a very long pole in my hands to knock the heavy wet snow off of the tree branches in an effort to save our landscaping. A few things didn’t survive so well. Honestly, had I known that the principals were in town filming, I might have tried to network my way into seeing something…damn the broken branches that would result.

But I digress…

The key in any terminator story isn’t so much with the Connors, but with the robots. If you don’t connect with the cyborgs, good and bad, then you’ve got little else than a chase show. Casting the talented Summer Glau was inspired. Her range, though strangled a bit by having to be a robot, still shines through-especially in the period where she’s trying to bond with a certain John Connor (played by Thomas Dekker, who is by far the best of the young John Connors…but it doesn’t take a lot of overstatement to get to that point).

Owain Yeoman, who played Cromarie in this episode, was fantastic as a terminator. At no point did you not think him dangerous and all terminatory. Pulling the gun from his leg was something I’ve long wondered: why don’t time-traveling terminators take with them the fancy small arms they need hidden withing their organic covering. Not doing so seems sort of short-sighting.

My favorite moment was when Cromartie, about to kill John, is totally “grilled” by Cameron with the truck. Second favorite robot moment was when Cameron’s eyes glowed blue. I don’t know why, but it’s so easy to forget that these are robots that the glowing eye thing brings home the fact that they aren’t human.

OK…hiding the time machine in a bank in 1963. To what end? To rescue the Connors, or simply as a way to get back home. Given Cameron’s limited search for the Connors, and her ownership of the time-machine, it makes you wonder if there aren’t any more surprise modern-day time machines hidden about. Has she just been waiting between then and “now” to contact the Connors? Seems odd and will need to be explained at some point, I think.

When they arrived in their future, still Cameron’s past, I took immediate note of the designs on the freeway: yup, they were still in Albuquerque. Given how cold it was at the time, I feel really sorry for all the actors having to not be weary any piece of clothing they could get their hands on.

Still, a great beginning. Me. Want. More.

0102 – Gnothi Seauton

(The title is Greek for “Know Thyself”. Thank you for explaining.)

Ah, the establishment of John being an idiot. What is it with these fictional teen heroes that they can’t endure just a little hardship? Oh my god…stuck in the house for three days. What abuse. ugh.

Terminators finding their pieces and putting themselves back together. That’s a little creepy. While a smart aspect of their character, from the films all we’ve really seen are Terminators that are gradually destructed. It’s nice to know that when given a choice and time that they prefer to be in working order. Still the Cromartie stuff is weird.

It’s interesting how, despite all of the Connor misdirection, it’s Cameron who is the nexus of the episode. It actually stands to reason given that Cameron is the one who actually has some idea of what’s going on while John and Sarah are winging it as best they can. But first…Cameron getting “grilled” by a family in the car…again, fun stuff.

Cameron’s expertise was really shown in finding the resistance cell…though I can’t help but wonder if it was inevitable that they’d end up in that particular room. Hmmmm. Anyway, it was cool that future-John to want some of his troops there for when the time came for reinforcements. And who the heck was that terminator? How many of them are scattered about? Why can’t he identify Cameron?

I liked Cameron’s interaction with the Chola and the cop. Hi-larious. I was impressed that Cameron was smart enough not to sabotage Sarah’s improvisation that got them away from the likely-soon-to-be-dead-at-Cameron’s-hand cop. This led to a very important note: Cameron follows the orders of John…future-John. Seems the whiny kid learns a thing to two from his previous terminator experience. I also liked Cameron (correctly) killing Enrique because Sarah “wouldn’t”.

Cameron’s informing Sarah that she died in 2005. Wonder what SC is going to do with that.

Despite how dramatic that revelation was, I think my favorite exchange came with:

Cameron: I know what the Tin Man is. He needed a heart. The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz written by L. Frank Baum in nineteen hundred, first published –
Sarah: I know all about The Wizard Of Oz. When John was little I –
Cameron: You read it to him over and over again, in Spanish. He never told you, but it was one of his favorite things that you did. He used to talk about it a lot.

future-John spent that much time with Cameron before sending her back? Just what sort of relationship did they have, anyway? I’m looking forward to learning more about that.

For the most part, this was more of part 2 of the pilot than a separate episode. They needed to set up their new environment. That done, perhaps we can move on.

0103 – The Turk

Ah…plot. But before we get into that…humor.

I have to say that I never really thought of a Terminator series as having much humor, but Cameron is a revelation to me. I love her very dry wit. While she might not be able to fully appreciate humor, she certainly understands it. I’d like to think that she does get some enjoyment from it, however. John, too, is a potential gold mine for some random sarcasm as well:

[John sees Cameron putting on some eyeliner]
John: You’re getting pretty good at that.
Cameron: Thank you.
John: Still, it’s not exactly brain surgery or anything. It’d be pretty funny if you were some sort of advanced cybernetic intelligence, yet stumped by a stick of eyeliner.
Cameron: No, not brain surgery. It would have to be a lot sharper for brain surgery.

Sarah: Hey. How was school?
Cameron: I have a metal plate in my head.
John: She’s gonna need a note.
Sarah: I meant you, not her.
John: Yeah, fine.
Sarah: You’re not going to give me anything?
John: Oh well, we went, we learned. I didn’t get killed and she didn’t kill anybody. It’s a pretty good first day, I think.

Sarah: Nobody dies ’til I say so. [to John] Tell her.
Cameron: People die all the time. They won’t wait for her.

OK. The thing that propels the plot forward is Andy Goode and his little toy, “The Turk”. The Turk is this chess-playing computer that is supposed to be “all that” and Swiss cheese, too. Trouble is that Sarah starts crushing on Andy pretty quickly. It’s immediately apparent that she’s going to be reluctant to kill Andy in spite of the advice she receives from her peanut gallery. Maybe Cameron should go all Enrique on him? Then there’s this mysterious guy lurking about. What the heck is his deal?

I have to confess that I didn’t see Sarah burning down Andy’s house as one of the ways out. Sort of clever, but while you can take out the machine, it’s the brain behind the machine that is the most dangerous. You can take out as many terminators as you like, but unless you kill Skynet, you’re still going to be hurting. Leaving Andy alive is probably a mistake. Sarah seems to make a lot of these.

Meanwhile, back at school, Cameron does a mediocre job of fitting in. In light of the Pilot, this seems a bit odd. Still, she adapts. One girl, Jordan, clearly doesn’t so much adapt as go splat. It was interesting to see Cameron and John at odds. Cameron’s orders are to protect John. I think this is the first time we’ve seen that to include protection from publicity. It’s also sort of funny that once Cameron made up her mind that John thought he could wrest himself away from her grip. I think he forgets she’s a robot.

Interesting stuff with this episode. Andy has the potential of being a major complication. Meanwhile, that “freakin’ big” graffiti that literally sent Jordan over the edge…I’d like some answers to that (though it seems like she maybe bumped uglies with someone she shouldn’t have). Lots of threads that will be interesting to see pan out. Cameron in school is just a sitcom waiting to happen.

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