T:TSCC 0222 – Born to Run

The second season finale of Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles gave fans a couple of answers, a lot of almost answers, and a great big ol’ pile of possibilities for Season 3 and beyond. In the end, everyone (except maybe Weaver’s pet Ellison and Sarah) find themselves in the position of being “big damn heroes.”

ttscc0222-02-320Before I start praising the numerous things that are quite praiseworthy, I do have to gripe about the huge number of non-answers we got out of this episode. As is fairly typical of episodes written by show-runner Josh Friedman, who doles out secrets like a nun offers “favors”, there is a lot of fuse burning but not as much bang as you were expecting. He prefers an unsettled audience instead of a satisfied one. Example? Was Catherine Weaver the MPA terminator on the Jimmy Carter? We don’t know. Weaver is clearly aware of the question posed to her ilk, but as to whether she was the actual emissary, we still don’t know. Withholding stuff like that is just evil, and I don’t mean that in a good/constructive way.

I’ll be grousing about that negative writing quirk of Josh’s for some time to come, but for now I’d rather get on with talking about this rather cool episode. (But just one more minor quibble…why did Cameron’s exposed eye glow red when in the past it would glow blue? It’s really really hard to make something glow blue if there is only red illumination behind it.)

First off, I was so happy to see our beloved Chola back. I’ve long felt she’s been absent for way too long. It surprised me that she was the one to meet with Father Armando…I thought for sure it would be John and/or Cameron. When she was leaving, I thought it was probably Cameron (though she looked wrong through the confessional screen). When she was at the door…squee! It took me a couple of seconds to realize that of course Ellison would follow her being that she was at Carlos’ fake-ID emporium and rec center when Ellison was trying to reconnect with the Connor trail in Season 1. Chola-girl did not disappoint.

When Sarah was in jail, I have to give her her props. Even when Agent Auldridge sounded really convincing when he was telling her he was a believer, she still wouldn’t give up her boy. I’d have expected no less. For all of her faults, Sarah will do whatever it takes to keep John safe (after all, Auldridge had already threatened John).

As strong as Sarah was for John, Catherine’s pet Ellison continues to demonstrate that he has feet of clay. He lies to everyone around him and then still tries to claim the moral high ground. I was so happy that Weaver called him on it…with the not-so-veiled threat of a sharp stabbing weapon in James’ future should he lie to her again. The man’s been over his head from the beginning, and he’s never been able to dig himself out. At times he’s been so deep that the devil has to look down that hole he’s dug and ask, “What are you doing way down there?”

Though the strain is showing in Weaver’s alliance with Ellison, it’s nothing nearly so dramatic as what John and Cameron have been dealing with.

John finally articulated his trust issues to Cameron. She twitches, she kills birds, she’s tried to kill him. As much as John wants to trust Cameron, he just can’t. That revelation seemed to surprise Cameron a little. She doesn’t want him to not need her (or want to need her).

ttscc0222-01-280I’m going to talk about the checking under the hood scene just to get it done with. Obviously it was the robot sex scene that wasn’t a robot sex scene…but really it was. After all, the more experienced Cameron guided our young hero to not only position himself over her, but to put himself inside of her. As much as he was hot-and-bothered by this (who knows Cameron’s true intent?), the end was very telling. No matter how much John plunges into who/what Cameron is, in the end all he will find is a cold “heart”. (Translation: she’s expendable.) As a bonus, we also find out that Cameron’s shielded nuclear power source is still nice and shielded.

The timing of this cyberotic act was telling. It came following Ellison forwarding Weaver’s echo of future-John’s (or future-Cameron’s) message: will you join us?

Will you join us?

That’s the question that tips and twists the story in its new direction. Cameron does know what the question means and lies to Ellison (and John) that she doesn’t. She also doesn’t subsequently fill John in on it meaning, though I thought she would. She understood that, at the moment the offer was made, the game changed. It was no longer about protecting John and stopping Skynet. Though she still needed to break Sarah out of jail (without killing or seriously injuring any guards, btw), Cameron’s overall focus was about completing the mission that the crew of the Jimmy Carter scuttled with their mutiny.

John’s decision to save Savannah (and consequently revealing his and Cameron’s existence to Weaver) did much to heal the damage done by Queeg’s headstrong crew. I think the key was when Sarah, alone in the interview room, honestly protested her concern for Savannah’s safety. Despite the damage done by Jesse and her crew, as well as by Ellison and his self-righteous prevarications, Weaver got to see who John Connor is as well as the concerned branch from whom he was taught. Unlike Weaver’s (presumed) experience aboard the Carter, these were people who would not only flip the up-turned turtle back onto its feet, but place it out of harm’s way. While the MPA terminator couldn’t ally with the sort of monsters that inhabited the sub in 2027, Weaver could find an ally in the compassionate and understanding, yet tough, John Connor.

This brings us back to what Kyle Reese told young Sarah Connor back in 1984 about John in Terminator:

You trust him.  He’s got a strength.  I’d die for John Connor.

Catherine Weaver sees that strength and that trust. Clearly, now, her answer is, “Yes”. She’s volunteered to fight by John’s side. But not for John alone. Like Sarah, she has an interest in protecting her child: John Henry. Yes, she actually called JH her child…and why wouldn’t he be?

A few tangential Weaver bits: how cool was that almost perfunctory fight between Weaver and the water-bottle terminator? Super-stab plus some electrocution and chip extraction. Easy. Who knew a T-1001 as impervious to conventional high-voltage? If you’re choosing a side in a robot war, you want Weaver to choose to be on yours. Also, I’d never seriously thought the eel was part of Weaver, but it makes sense—the eel would not only be surveillance for Weaver’s office, but also offered Weaver a backup in the event she became damaged. One thing I’m still confounded about, though, is Weaver arriving naked from the temporal bubble. She’s MPA. Her clothes are simulated. Does she also have to simulate skin in order to pass undetected through the chronoportation device? Lastly, what was with the HK crashing into the building? Most HK-controllers would have attached rockets/missiles/guns so that the HK could be used again.

Unfortunately in war, sacrifices have to be made. Future-John sacrificed his father and his uncle. Now-John finds that he has to let go of Cameron. Oh, I felt his pain. Predictably, John can’t let her go. Once again, for the third time this season, he chooses to find Cameron—the essence (i.e. chip) that is Cameron—over staying with his own mother to fight the good fight.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big Cameron fan, but more than that, I’m a Summer Glau fan…and on that score I think the pay-off could be very interesting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wasn’t at all surprised that Cameron sacrificed her chip. Back in my review of “To the Lighthouse” I wrote:

Whatever the state of Skynet, it’s clear that Brother is an advanced A.I. derivative rooted in the same Cyberdyne code shared by John Henry. They appear to be at war with each other. Arguably, Brother is on the side of Skynet, and John Henry (and by extension, Catherine Weaver) isn’t. Neither appears to have achieved full sentience. Why do I say this? Because while Brother seems to be a little older than John Henry, it’s still seeking the same thing that Catherine desires for her child: the magic chip.

In the water warehouse, Cameron wasn’t destroyed. Brother, using the schematics of Cromartie stolen from John Henry, instructed one of its minions to remove Cameron’s chip. In this current time, Cameron’s cross-against-the-light chip must be thought of as a sort of an A.I. grail. The one who captures it gets the keys to the kingdom.

This sort of presaged the transferring of Cameron’s unique position in the grand scheme over to John Henry (i.e. her CPU). It does beg the question as to how much of now-time-traveled John Henry is Cameron, and how much of Cameron might be in that server farm that was John Henry?

And speaking of the server farm (for which we got another almost-but-not answer as to the three dots), who the heck put a non-destructive chronoportation device in it? Is that like an IDE card or a USB attachment? Why do I say non-destructive? Well, John Henry went somewhen and the room still looked the same as usual. Does this mean that there is more of a possible two-way street with the time-travel thing via ZeiraCorp?

Of course the when that Catherine and John went to raises up a lot of very intriguing possibilities…ones that I’m eager to see play out (especially if one of the answer-providing writers is penning the stories). Weaver and John chronoport to what appears to be 2027. Adult Derek and Kyle are there. And though metal-exposed Cameron couldn’t make the trip, John will get to know dog-friendly Allison Young.

One thing we do know, despite Sarah’s statement that she (and whoever else she trusted enough to help) would stop Skynet, she didn’t. 2027 is just as desolate as before. There are still terminators roaming about. The one big difference: they don’t know of John Connor. John Connor jumped over surviving Judgment Day. John Connor skipped out on being imprisoned with Kyle for six years at Century Work Camp. What’s important, is that John Connor became John Connor when he confronted Jesse in “Today is the Day, Part 2“. What’s exciting is that we get to see him try to become John Connor in 2027 to people who don’t know him.

There is so much to anticipate with a Season 3. Not only a growing of the John/Allison relationship, but also the partnership of John and Catherine along with whatever John Henry is doing (I’m guessing before long he’ll be capturing Allison and making a cyborg that looks just like her). Has John done all the things necessary that he needs in order to become John Connor? Cameron said that he was ahead of schedule. Is he far enough ahead?

People are doubtless going to ask about B.A.G. having signed to another show. The way things are done in Hollywood, that wouldn’t be a problem upon a Season 3 order. Terminator has first rights…he’s committed first to this show. Also, all you need to do is send him out on a mission where he gets captured. Out of sight for as long as you need him to be out of sight. Easy.

Would Sarah still be involved? I think they could definitely do that by having both modern and future storylines, though the temporal causality problems with that can be really annoying to deal with. On the other hand, I could see the network tell Josh that Sarah has been holding the series back and they want to focus on the popular characters/actors if the show is to go forward (i.e. Dekker, Summer, Shirley, Brian). The show would take a hit from the Sarah/Lena fans, but it might make up for it by being a more action-oriented show with a smaller regular cast (at least initially, util new people catch on).

I’m thinking that they might try to do the dual timeline thing, at least for a while.

In any event, it’s going to be hard to see Cameron go. On the plus side, her body is still there and her chip is floating about somewhere. Cameron could definitely return. Honestly, I’ll be happy enough exploring the mystery that is the very loyal Allison Young.

Keep on writing to FOX and the advertisers about renewing the show. I think its chances have improved over the past six episodes, and the finale into the future allows a re-imaging to the series that might make the FOX execs curious enough to give it a try. Can’t be any worse than the tragedy of DOA pilots they tend to buy every year.

All-in-all, except for the criminal lack of definitive answers, I think this was a solid episode that dovetailed into a wonderful world of possibility. I. Want. To. See. A. Season. 3.

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