T:TSCC 0218 – Today Is The Day, Part 1

ttscc0218-01-260It’s a pain to review the first part of a two-part episode because, by direct inference, you don’t know how it winds up. With the Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode, “Today Is The Day, Part 1” (0218), we follow several story threads that beg for various degrees of resolution.

The Jimmy Carter

The most obviously incomplete story is a flashbackforward that is ostensibly why Jesse has a bug up her butt about the John+Cameron situation. It takes place on the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) [In the fancast I was iffy about the “USS” designation for a sub, so I did what any person should do with such an information gap: I looked it up.] The Jimmy Carter is Captained by a reprogrammed triple-8. All seems more or less “carrots and apples” until a the Carter ran into a slight drizzle of depth charges.

According to the captain, he has orders from John Connor to pick up a sweet little nothing from deep inside Skynet territory. We are left with the question as to whether the order did come from John, or if the captain was just saying that it came from John. Hopefully we’ll find out next episode.

I do have to admit, when the box was picked up, the two endos and the creepy cyborg didn’t spark a “carrots and apples” mood. It really seems to be a little bit of a set-up. but who knows? Not enough information.

Parts is Parts

Sarah discovers Cameron’s cache of spare parts which includes a complete forearm+hand section. I have to assume this comes from the late Myron Stark (“Self Made Man“) as this is the only endoskeleton we know of that isn’t accounted for by the Connors. Amazingly, neither Sarah or John have questioned from whom all these parts came. Nope, they just want them totally slagged.

Cameron doesn’t seem all that pleased that her bin of medical-mechanical repair is now just a puddle of alloy in the Connor’s garage. I can see her point. Whether or not a few endo pieces survive doesn’t really seem to matter. After all, the Terminator T800-101 didn’t have the benefit of being developed with a from-the-future model (assuming no causality loop). The robots in TTSCC also seem to be around without any knowledge of prior art since “Uncle Bob” and the T800-101 parts were all melted down at the end of T2. This being the case, Cameron having a med-kit only seems prudent. Maybe it would have helped if Cameron had said that future-John told her to…but probably not.

I think there is more going on here. I can’t help but feel that Sarah is carrying a lot of resentment about Cameron, as was evidenced by her fugue visions in “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep“. She hates that John will give Cameron the benefit of the doubt over his own mother.

I do have to give Sarah credit, though. She refrained from killing Cameron because it would hurt John. She’s at least able to correctly assess that situation: killing Cameron = losing John. It seems that everyone is slowly coming to the same conclusion that the only one who can kill Cameron is John. It has to be his decision alone.

Assuming that Cameron is going to continue as long as the show does, are the Connors going to kick themselves when Cameron ends up with some damage that only some spare parts could solve?

Riley Aftershocks

The central “now” storyline were the repercussions of Riley’s death. Unsurprisingly at this point, Sarah immediately assumed that Cameron killed Riley, and she would not be dissuaded from the point of view. When Derek was called, that misinformed conclusion was immediately shared. At this point it was 2 against Cameron, 1 for, and John totally not certain.

This is where John finally shined. Instead of making assumptions, he actually investigated and used his…oh, what is it called…brain. In the morgue he saw Riley’s body covered with bruises and hands battered from fighting and defense. John easily realized that if Cameron was going to kill Riley, it wouldn’t have been with this kind of struggle. Cameron would have shot Riley, or she would have tossed her around and snapped her neck, but at no point would Riley have been able to put up any sort of resistance. So, now it’s 2-for, 2-against, with John having the cyborg as his trump card.

Of course this trump card still carries her own surprises. When John visited Riley’s foster father, Aaron, Cameron called impersonating Riley so that Aaron would still think that Riley was alive. Being that she does things like this, Cameron took it an extra step and went off-script and talked to John as well. It wasn’t easy to tell how much was Cameron playing the part and how much was Cameron expressing herself.

Here’s the thing. John had just come from defending Cameron to Sarah in a verbal spar where Sarah lobbed the when-Cameron-said-she-loved-you bomb. Hot on the heels of that salt-in-the-wound remark, Cameron’s phone improvisation concluded with her saying (in Riley’s voice) that she loves John. Not good timing on Cam’s part, that’s for sure. I think John is getting tired of being played by everyone around him.

Play Time

Then we have a somewhat contrived thread that actually led to what I think was the best Ellison and John Henry/Cromartie scene of the series.

It’s easy to forget that John Henry is just a child since he has a rather adult I/O interface. Being the playful sort anyway, when he found out that Savannah didn’t have anyone to play hide and seek with, he was more than happy to be her friend and join in the frivolity.

As the game was being played, it was interesting to see the differing reactions of Ellison and Weaver. James was very concerned about the well-being of a little girl. On the other hand, Catherine seemed like a proud mama with how precocious her intellitech child was being.

In the end, James did manage to bring John Henry to the realization that actions have consequences. If secrets could cause someone harm (presumably in this case, physical harm) then that information shouldn’t be kept secret. That of course opens up a world of possibilities as ZieraCorp seems to be all about the secrets.

Overall, I have to applaud this episode’s John Henry sequence. Everyone seemed to be in fine character…though Ellison did chew some scenery (well, maybe just a nibble).

Thoughts

This episode has set in motion a few things that will definitely have to be paid off. The big one is of trust. In some ways it feels like we are back at “Samson and Delilah” in that John is going to be the only one to side with Cameron. Derek and Sarah don’t trust the robot, and they don’t trust John’s judgment when it comes to the beguiling Cameron. On the other hand, Cameron not only saves John’s life, but she also put her life in his hands. That’s some powerful trust mojo between them.

Speaking of which… John needs to not be absently fiddling with the kill watch. One unintended slip and it’s Cam-go-boom.

At this point, given the lessons learned, I don’t think that John Henry evolves into the Skynet we’ve all come to know and fear. I’ve held out the idea for a while that the Turk/John Henry is more likely to lead to Cameron than Skynet. I’m not that firm with that idea, but I think at this point it’s more likely than John Henry getting all afraid and launching a global thermonuclear war. Sure, he like to play games, but before it gets to that point, someone might want to get him a copy of WarGames to watch.

It was nice to see Busy not so extremely pregnant. It’s nice of the producers to let people know that she only looks that way when she’s, you know, extremely pregnant.

When Sarah complained to John how they don’t know what Cameron does when they go to sleep at night and she arrives the next morning with cuts and bruises on her face, I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed with how little they try to know Cameron. I think that if asked, she might tell. At this point, I think she’d certainly tell John. Also, how often does she come back with visible damage? If it’s more than the one we saw, just how many terminators is she taking down?

I’m still amazed that the foster family wasn’t the first to know of Riley’s death. I mean, I understand that Jesse would be impersonating someone from DCFS and that would get Riley in, but the family would still be receiving support checks from the state. It seems sort of out there that Jesse could circumvent that as well. If the money doesn’t come in, DCFS would definitely be getting a call. Plus, you have other children placed in this home, so a social worker is bound to randomly drop by. I can only conclude, then, that Riley was more-or-less placed in the system. Why is this important? She’d have been fingerprinted. That being the case, “Jane Doe” should have been quickly ID’d.

Lastly, the question lingers as to whether or not this series will survive to see a third season. While the live numbers are low (not tragically low, but low enough), the dvr and online numbers (and overseas) are very encouraging. Now, there is a new wrinkle in this saga: there has been announced a restructuring at Fox as divisions get combined, some people are leaving, and some are assuming new duties. If the right people are staying, then the show might still have its advocates. It’s in our interests to hope so. Keep sending in those letters and emails.

Next time, hopefully we’ll find out what made Jesse such a sociopath, how much faith John has in Cameron, and how much faith Sarah has in John. Should be an interesting conclusion.

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