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The Chronicles Continue

September 11th, 2008
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Since I decided to write an in-depth dissertation on Season 1 of Terminator: The Sarah Chronicles a couple of weeks ago (back on August 29th), it seems like I also should weigh in on the season premiere that aired this past Monday.

Over-all, it was a lot of fun — although since so much of the episode was SO good, the few parts of the show that were dumb were VERY annoying.

What did I enjoy?  The episode was INTENSE — right from the terrific opening sequence, picking up seconds after the end of season one’s finale, the show never stopped until the final moments.  Cameron, the Terminator protector played by Summer Glau, has had her control chip damaged, and she reverts to her primary programming: kill John Connor.  That was a great twist, turning the dynamic of the show on its ear.  There was some great action — several sequences with various cars and trucks getting mangled really were exciting.  Most of all, I really liked the DESPERATION of Sarah and John in this episode.  They were alone, injured, and on the run from an unstoppable Terminator for almost the entire hour.   I liked how everything they tried, until the end, failed to work.  About half-way through the show they’re able to knock Cameron out with an electrical surge, and John tries to pry open the panel in her head to remove her chip which, as we saw in other first season episodes (and in the extended version of T2), would shut her down.  Watching that, I thought — oh, so that’s how they’ll make Cameron a good guy again, that’s sort of lame — but IT DIDN’T WORK, and Cameron gets right back up and begins chasing John again.  That was a nice surprise.

Props to Summer Glau.  In some respects, as enjoyable as I’ve always found her to be, she has sort of played variations on the same not-quite-human character in Firefly, The 4400, and now in Terminator.  But her protrayal of the now-evil, damaged Terminator in this episode was really impressive.  Watch the way she moves — so different from the stealthy, lithe model she had been portraying in season one.  She really created a different character.  And she was scary.  Very impressive.

I should also add that I was really excited to see a new, somewhat familiar character be introduced in the closing moments of the show.  A GREAT introductory scene.  I really can’t wait to see where that goes.  

So what didn’t I like?  Well, I mentioned above that I enjoyed Sarah and John’s desperation in this episode — alone and on the run.  Part of what contributed to that was their being separated from Derek Reese (the robot-fighter from the future).  But at the end of the episode, when they’re finally all reunited, Derek says, “why didn’t you call me?”  Huh?  You mean Sarah could have called him all along on a cell-phone or something?  Well WHY DIDN’T SHE??  Lame.  

Also bothersome:  Cameron gets knocked out by the spark from a clock-radio in water?  Um, I would have thought it’d take a MUCH larger electrical surge to over-load and incapacitate a Terminator.  Later, Cameron catches up to Sarah and, stepping on her wound to cause her agony, she demands that she call out to John.  But doesn’t even a casual fan of the Terminator movies know that Terminators can mimic anyone’s voice?  (This show has even used that trick in prior episodes.)  So why suddenly can’t Cameron do that here?  Very inconsistent.  Then there’s the scene when a bloodied Sarah and John show up in a church, clearly on the run, and request sanctuary.  Does the priest call the police?  NO!  He says OK, sure, and hustles the OTHER people out of the church.  Huh??  And then, at the end of the episode, it seems that Sarah, Derek, John, etc. are now LIVING in that church.  Double huh??  I was also a little bummed that, by the end of the episode, everything was pretty much back to normal.  I don’t want to see this show become too episodic, with everything getting wrapped up neatly by the end of each episode.  I would’ve really loved to see Cameron stay evil for several episodes.  

The above lapses and inconsistencies are particularly annoying because the rest of the episode is so good that I wish I could recommend it whole-heartedly.  Instead, I still feel pretty much the way I did about Season One.  It’s definitely entertaining enough for me to keep watching, but I wish there could be a bit more attention to detail, and that some of the sillier elements of the show’s narrative can be curbed.

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