T:TSCC 0104-0106 – Heavy Metal; Queen’s Gambit; Dungeons and Dragons

0104 – Heavy Metal

More of John Connor doing what John Connor wants to do. I’m guessing that’s how he found himself in a labor camp after Judgment Day….though, at this point wouldn’t Skynet know that he was John Connor and instead of interring him, would terminate him? But that’s not what this episode was about.

Heavy Metal centered around Cameron and the Connors, upon realizing that Cromartie had survived the time jump, siezing the upper hand on Skynet by removing from the equation an alloy, Coltan, that was an essential ingredient in the endoskeltons of advanced terminators. By grabbing this supply, the Connors would be able to prevent or delay over 500 future terminators from being built.

We get another glimpse into the possibility that Cameron cares more for John more than your typical reprogrammed terminator:

Sarah: Do you have any idea what’s going on? I lost him! I lost John!
Cameron: I understand.
Sarah: It’s impossible for you to understand.
Cameron: Without John, your life has no purpose.

It feels more like a personal fact than just an idle observation on Cameron’s part. Thing is, her agenda is different. She knows a different John and is trying to allow the current John develop into the person she knows. Sarah, on the other hand, seems to be having trouble making a clean distinction between raising a leader and protecting her child. While the stakes are high (Sarah remarks to John: “If you die, they win.”), the future John seems to have never outgrown his misguided heroic impulsiveness. I think part maybe a subliminal feeling of invincibility: he didn’t die in the future, so he’s not going to die now. Some of it might be that bit of luck that the special have that allows them to survive their own shortcomings so long as their survival is important to the fight.

Whatever the case, that still doesn’t excuse John’s lone ranger routine that ended with him getting locked in a blast-doored shelter with yet another terminator. Seriously, what an idiot.

The item of special note is Cameron saving one bar of Coltan. Why? Is it some part of future-John’s plan, or is Cameron working in her own self interest (material for future repairs), or is she a loose cannon? Stay tuned for further developments.

0105 – Queen’s Gambit

Wow. Lots of action, twists and turns. A new hero, a dead good(?) guy, and uncertainty as to how Skynet gets built. Plus, Cameron gets another great line.

Andy Goode (from “The Turk”) has a surprise for Sarah: he’s rebuilt this chess-playing computer, making it even better, and in the contest he’s entered, the winner gets a military contract. Needless to say, Sarah’s genteel little plan of destroying the machine and not the creator is met with a predictable “I told you so” from Cameron:

Cameron: You should have killed him when you had the chance.
Sarah: I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to bring that up.
Cameron: I’m busy doing John’s homework.

At the contest, it was interesting seeing Cameron react to a facial expression robot; there was a sort of look of awe at seeing one of her ancestors. You sort of expect these moments (witness the T1000 in T2 with the silvered mannequin), but Cameron seemed sort of stunned.

I was a bit surprised that Andy’s computer didn’t win. I don’t think I was the only one. ‘course that didn’t save Andy, who was found dead in a conference room by Sarah. Sarah immediately chased after a shady guy she had noted earlier and kicked his ass a little before he managed to escape…right into the arms of the police…who stop him even though they have no reason to think that he’s their suspect. (Who called the police, anyway? They got there awfully quick.)

Seems he’s the last of the resistance fighter’s future-John had sent back in time…one of his best. Cameron is good with this sort of update. Unfortunately, another terminator sees this and targets the fighter, Derek Reese, for termination. Again, how many bloody terminators are there running around L.A.? They must be everywhere. (‘course that sort of explains some of my bosses over the years…but I digress.)

Oh, remember that girl, Jordan, who took a header in “The Turk”? Well, since Cameron is thought to be the last to have seen her alive, she’s brought in for grief counseling. She does OK. Not hugely convincing, but OK. “Can I go now? I’m done with grief counseling and I feel much better.”

The counselor wasn’t convinced, though, and called Sarah. I love it when they touch on the Oz imagery. Here are the Connors, a/k/a Baums and Sarah is talking about the trauma of Cameron surviving this tornado in Kansas. It’s classic.

Unsurprisingly, Derek is Kyle’s brother, and thus Sarah’s sperm-donor-in-law. So…now instead of just being a resistance fighter, he becomes another in a series of people that have to be saved. When Sarah picks John and Cameron up from school, we get this bit of cyborg humor:

Sarah: Field trip.
John: I call shotgun.
Cameron: I call nine millimeter.

Seriously, you can’t write this stuff. Well, I guess you can, but that doesn’t diminish its greatness.

Derek and Cameron knew each other before, but from his reaction upon seeing her during his rescue, it doesn’t appear that their previous acquaintance was something that Derek wanted to rekindle. You have to wonder, how does Derek know Cameron but other terminators don’t?

It was interesting the look Cameron gave when she removed the CPU from the terminator. There’s a story there. In addition..just how tough is the Cameron terminator, anyway? Yeah, the T-888s have a bit of a size advantage, but Cameron takes bigger beatings with much less damage. And, she seems to beat them up more than they do her (of course, sometime she has help). It will be interesting to see what it is that makes her model different from the others.

In any event, Derek shows that his loyalties are solid. When the triple-eight manages to briefly subdue Cameron, Derek takes a bullet in John’s defense. Which brings to mind another element of John Connor’s stupidity. Here he is, driving the getaway car, and when he catches up the group he parks his vehicle and jumps out to do…what? He isn’t even armed. This makes no sense. John needed to stop the car, sit with the motor running, and wait for the vehicle to load up before hauling ass. I mean, there is a mean ol’ terminator not ten meters away, and he puts himself in an extremely vulnerable position for no good reason. Dumb. I hope this character gets some smarts, soon.

At least John knew enough not to let his mom just go out to a hospital with a stun gun to kidnap a doctor to help Derek survive. Not only did he stop her, but went out and got her ex-fiance, a paramedic. Not bad thinking.

Oh…cute moment. As Derek is bleeding out, death not far off, Cameron sits down at the table and does what she’s been told people do when people die and crying isn’t enough to express their grief: she starts writing a note. How well did she know Derek in the future to prompt this?

Like I said, this was one addicting episode. Way better than anything in T3. I hope they can maintain the standard they are setting.

0106 – Dungeons and Dragons

This has got to be my favorite episode so far if only for one scene: the one between Cameron and Charlie in the garage as she’s doing the final prep for melting down the terminator that was defeated in Queen’s Gambit. Their exchange was more than worth the price of admission:

Charley: You know, little girl, you freak me the hell out. I mean, on the outside, you’re just as pretty as a picture, but on the inside… you’re a…
Cameron: Hyper-alloy combat chassis.
Charley: Right. Is that a complicated way of saying robot?
Cameron: Cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.
Charley: Okay, scary robot.
Charley: Here you are, carving up this guy into chum.
Cameron: He’s not a guy. He’s a scary robot.
Charley: He’s a scary robot? But you? You’re a VERY scary robot.

All I can think is: You really shouldn’t be insulting the very scary robot like that. Clearly Cameron, who had been happily playing the word game to that point was not happy. When she warned Charlie that it wasn’t safe for him, ignited the endoskeleton, and then punctuated the action with glowing blue eyes…well, it’s clear that you should never tell the scary robot that she’s a very scary robot.

That Sarah called Cameron out on that before anything happened was probably the single best thing sarah has done so far. She knew that Cameron was going to terminate Charlie for John’s safety. Sarah swearing that she’d find a way of taking Cameron apart if she did, and Cameron apparently believing her, made for one heck of a showdown. But…Cameron lied. She said that every component would be destroyed, all the while holding in her hand the terminator’s CPU. First the Coltan and now the CPU…what is she doing?

Perhaps of more general interest is the post Judgment Day world of the resistance…especially the captured resistance. Being that Reese is one of Connor’s top soldiers, it’s no surprise that he’s the most careful of the prisoners. He trusts no one that he doesn’t already know and trust. It’s interesting that even after his session in the room in the basement, he doesn’t seem as debilitated as the others upon his return. Obviously there’s a reason John trusts him.

Here’s a little something that I can’t help wondering about. When they are branded with their prisoner ID, why does it become a tattoo? Shouldn’t it just be a brand? Also…why are there numbers under the bar code? Don’t all of Skynet’s robotic minions read bar codes natively?

Certainly it’s not about Derek’s ability to absorb new ideas. Even when told that some of the terminators are now fighting for the resistance, Derek can’t wrap his mind around it. To him, they are just “metal”.

It’s interesting to note that the reprogrammed terminator idea was something new to the resistance. I mean, Derek wasn’t a prisoner all that long, and in that time Connor did what he did in Topanga (presumably captured a time machine) and started reprogramming captured metal heads. How did Derek know that Cameron was a robot? Other terminators don’t know her model, and he had no reason to think she wasn’t just another fighter that he was unaware of. Clearly, he’s met her in her terminator guise at some point. Through clever editing, we’ve been led to assume that Cameron was the one in the basement room, but there’s no clear proof that that is so.

Turning back to the prisoners. Why the heck did the terminators leave, and why did they let the humans live? I guess the assumption is that the Topanga thing happened and Skynet recalled the robots at the house, but why leave the humans alive? The first thing that popped into my mind was that it was a ruse by Connor. He used some of his reprogrammed terminators to test the loyalties of those he was thinking of sending back in time. The other thought is that they were brainwashed so that they would be human infiltrators who would, either through omission or commission, cause John Connor to fail in his quest to take down Skynet. I guess time will tell.

How cool was it to see the time machine? That sucker must take a lot of power to run, given all those turboprop engines. I can’t help but wonder where all the fuel is coming from…not only for those jets, but also to power the HKs.

This was a very intriguing episode. While there seemed to be some answers, for the most part I think we mostly got more questions. Have to say, I’m enjoying the series more than the movies, at this point.

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