We finally have a full season order’s worth of episodes in the can for Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I can think of no better time to make up my list of the best episodes so far:
10. The Tower is Tall But the Fall is Short (0206)
The “Baums” go for some counseling. John might be a touch suicidal. Answers who killed Sarkissian, and also gave us our first femborg vs femborg battle.
9. Complications (0209)
Derek and Jesse “interrogate” a Skynet collaborator from the future. Sarah is having some very strange dreams. Cameron tries to re-bond with John.
8. The Demon Hand (0107)
Both Ellison and Sarah end up at Dr. Silberman’s cabin in the woods in search of Vick’s missing hand. Cameron learns that dance is the hidden language of the soul…to Derek’s confusion.
7. Vick’s Chip (0108)
Derek invades Cameron’s room to discover that she didn’t destroy Vick’s CPU after all. This starts an exploration of what Vick was doing, and the trust between John and Cameron.
6. Samson and Delilah (0201)
Cameron goes all terminator and sets to hunting down John Connor.
5. Self Made Man (0211)
An interesting character study of Cameron when she’s left to her own devices.
4. Queen’s Gambit (0105)
The Turk is checkmated. Andy is checkmated. Terminator Vick is checkmated. Derek is rescued and shot. And Cameron calls “nine-millimeter”.
3. Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today (0208)
John takes a field trip with Riley to Mexico. Cameron shows her concern. The Connors and Cromartie have a Mexican showdown.
2. Dungeons & Dragons (0106)
As Derek’s life hangs in the balance, he flashbackforwards to when he was a prisoner of Skynet, and his introduction to John’s new terminator buddies…including Cameron.
1. Allison From Palmdale (0204)
Cameron forgets she’s a terminator and comes to believe (via flashbackforwards) that she is a girl, Allison, who was once will be a Skynet prisoner.
So, what are we to make of my list? Well, it shows that I’m a Cameron fan. If there is cool information to be gleaned about our favorite enigmatic cyborg, I’m there. Plus…Summer Glau!
But that aside, I like the episodes that deal with this terminatory world, present and future (and past, in the case of “Self Made Man”). It doesn’t have to be filled with action, but there does need to at least be the illusion of forward progress in the story.
I was surprised to discover that Vick plays a significant role in my top ten. His hunting of Derek, the search for his hand, and the digging around his memories. Amazing. It just shows that if you create a compelling character, I’m there.
A bit of a surprise is the run of episodes from the mid-to-late 1st season. These were tense and developed both plot and character. I wouldn’t mind the show dropping the religious allusions and returning to something closer to this run of stories.
None of these episodes has been a home run. Each has at least a few scenes that tend to put a drag on the episode. Conversely, the episodes at the lower end of my list are a bit of a slog accented by entertaining scenes. On the whole, it seems that the weakest offerings are those that seem to exist solely to provide a herring (red- or otherwise) for future stories. They often lack in plots that flow and richness of character. Also, these episodes start going a little heavy on the exposition, and this show doesn’t do the technobabble really great.
Also, I will confess, you put John and Derek in a room together…it feels like the life gets sucked out of me. Two laconic and PTSD’d males don’t exactly make for scintillating viewing a lot of the time. At least, not for me. Also…the less Ellison, the better. Again, a little too much with the maintain-and-even-strain. Now…put these people with Sarah, and you start getting some serious emotion. As for Cameron…well, I’m a cam-fan, but what Summer is able to do with a character having limited ability to express emotion has been very cool for me to watch.
And now, since I don’t want to leave you wondering where I ranked other episodes, likely ones that you watch over and over again, here’s a quick list of the rest:
11. Alpine Fields (0212)
12. Brothers of Nablus (0207)
13. The Turk (0103)
14. The Mousetrap (0203)
15. Gnothi Seauton (0102)
16. What He Beheld (0109)
17. Goodbye To All That (0205)
18. Pilot (0101)
19. Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point (0210)
20. Heavy Metal (0104)
21. Automatic for the People (0202)
22. Earthlings Welcome Here (0213)
So, now it’s your turn. What have been your top TTSCC episodes (you can pick up to four)? With enough votes, we can see the democratic process in action.