As a town mourns the loss of all the workers of a warehouse disaster (disaster/massacre… po-tay-to/po-tah-to — at least there was a nifty explosion), the Connor Cadre infiltrates the funeral to gather more information about the place that resulted in Sarah getting shot as well as her first kill.
Amazingly, Cameron—the one of the cadre actually designed to be an infiltrator—is primarily on John-watch while the rest acquaint themselves with select mourners. I mentioned in the fancast that while Cameron wasn’t being the infiltrator that she can be so very good at, she was acting very much in character: she was protecting John. The demolition of the warehouse combined with Sarah’s vision of the metallic drone would be enough for Cameron to operate on the assumption that this might be an area of interest for Skynet. As such, terminators might be about. So, though she may be amazingly motionless and have a creepy focus on John, she is doing the one thing that makes her life worth living: ensuring John’s safety.
This frees up Sarah and Derek to be more energetic at poking their noses in where they really don’t belong (thank goodness that Sarah doesn’t sport a limb from that nasty bullet wound she suffered within days of these events or else she might have attracted some attention). Sarah immediately fixated on a photo of the man she killed. This attention gave her an in with the widow, Diana. Despite the amount of time devoted to Sarah trying to evolve this relationship in order to get useful information, she really didn’t learn much of anything that was of use.
Derek did somewhat better with a shady sort of fellow that was lurking about: Mr. Walsh, Catherine’s minion who earlier this season delivered into her hands the Turk. Walsh clearly understands the relationship he has with Catherine is one of the useful application of greed and fear. As a result, he doesn’t provide Derek with any useful information, either. Well, nothing other than the fact that he’s shady, which is enough for Sarah to start tracking him in that stealthy out-in-the-open way that only works on film.
John did much better with his targeted source, Zoe. She gave up her suspicions and even showed him and Cameron a creepy water hole surrounded by a small herd of dead cows (last seen lurking about Josh Friedman’s office in a video-blog). More importantly, she allowed Cameron to key on the one thing no one else had noticed: neither Zoe or her mother were mourning properly. No tears. Not looking at the photo of Zoe’s dad. Cameron hammered home to Derek the implication by asking him if he’d look at Kyle’s picture in that situation. The evidence clearly pointed to scruffy ol’ George, Zoe’s father, still being alive.
Turns out that George did a lot of the “wetwork” for the warehouse. From surveillance to eliminating potential problems with extreme prejudice, George was a human that most any terminator would be happy to model themselves after. And right now, it seems that George is the most interesting puzzle piece of them all. After all, he’s in possession of the drone.
Yup, after killing Catherine’s willing henchman, Mr. Walsh, George retrieved the shiny HK-like drone from its hiding place and tucked it away in the guts of a semi’s trailer. The one thing he hadn’t counted on was that the Connor Cadre would witness the launch of the drone from its cow-lined watery hiding place. Sarah look vindicated, John was amazed, and Derek was completely gob-smacked. Even Cameron seemed a little surprised that something so familiar could be so close.
That drone is what will drive the action. Clearly it’s an early HK prototype. Unfortunately, we don’t know anything beyond that. It still doesn’t definitively link Weaver with Skynet (though the circumstantial evidence is very strong at this point). Since George killed Walsh, there is the implication that George has plans other than returning it to Catherine in the trunk of his car. Until we have an idea of what George’s agenda is, it’s hard to read anything certain into his drone-napping. One thing is pretty definite, though—the Connors are going to try to find that drone and/or who built it.
And speaking of building…was that Weaver trying to build on her relationship with little Savannah on the anniversary of her parents’ death (though she only thinks her daddy died)? I don’t think that Weaver is developing a depth of feeling for the girl anywhere near what Cameron has for John, but there is a little something that goes beyond just maintaining her cover.
Cameron pointed out in “Complications“, that terminators weren’t built to be cruel. We’ve seen this often demonstrated. Unless they have a reason to kill, they tend not to. So, while it’s not in Catherine’s nature to nurture little Savannah, she also doesn’t want to be cruel to her, either. She previously sought out Dr. Sherman for guidance, which help establish the first moments of…I’m not sure if “bonding” is too strong a word, but let’s go with that. Catherine understands that the girl is in pain and misses her father (and mother…sort of), and does what any sentient custodian would: she tries to find a way to lessen the hurt.
Savannah still hasn’t quite adapted to the T-1001. Though she looks like her mother, she’s not as emotionally connected and is also a bit cold. Not just metaphorically cold, but physically as well. I was surprised that Savannah noted that Catherine’s lap was cold as she sat on it. I thought that part of the T-1001’s human simulation would have been to maintain proper external body heat. Perhaps it’s not a constant. In an effort to reduce energy consumption, perhaps Weaver only selectively keeps various areas of her body warm (hands and face, for example).
Josh has mentioned that in a straight-up fight, Cameron has few advantages over Catherine. I think we are being set up to have Savannah be a weakness. Weaver is bonding with the girl on more than a programatic level. It’s not deep and profound, but enough that Savannah could be a fatal distraction when the time comes. We’ll see.
Lastly, I’m beginning to think that Ellison is starting to wonder about the depths of Weaver’s humanity. James spent enough time with Cromartie that I’m sure he’s starting to see similar patterns of behavior coming from his boss. The interaction about the anniversary of her “husband’s” death slowly raise an antenna on Ellison’s radar that something wasn’t quite meshing. He’s still not sure what’s wrong, but he may become a little more circumspect in the future.
“Desert Cantos” was basically an exposition-heavy setup episode. In fact, we could distill everything to just three (maybe four) scenes: 1) the launch of the drone from the pool next to the dead Walsh; 2) the retrieval of the drone by George; and 3) Weaver bonding with Savannah (and maybe 4) Ellison’s exchange with Catherine about dying fathers). The rest of the ep was largely a writing technique known as either “smoke and mirrors” or “chickens with their heads cut off”. It was pretty much filler for the plot points.
Except for the drone scenes where we actually connected with the main story arc, the episode gave the sense of having stuff to convey without actually having anything to say. There was too much talking with too little in the way of results. You combine that with Cameron mostly just standing and staring (though it was one of the more credible choices made) and you have an episode that is hardly going to be drawing and keeping the fanboys who aren’t already digging the show. And that’s a shame because the seven episodes remaining in the season hold the promise to be one heck of a ride now that the end run has been set up.
I just hope we eventually find out how the cows died. It’s going to be bugging me.
I want to close by asking you to click the next link from the official TTSCC blog about what you can do to help the show get a renewal for a third season: boosting to success… help!