by Billie Doux
Like pretty much every sci-fi fan waiting out the writers' strike, I was glued to my set Sunday and Monday nights watching the two-part premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
by Jess Lynde
Another great episode this week. I loved the title --- it fit well with the religious overtones associated with the impending apocalypse and could easily apply to multiple characters. “He” could be Derek, Agent Ellison, Charlie, and possibly even Kyle or John, but I think it fits best with the first three.
Based on the opening sequence with young Derek and Kyle witnessing Judgment Day, “he” would work well for Derek. I thought it was a great idea to once again give us a taste of Derek’s perspective by showing us his future/past. It helps to understand him better, even as we witness him slowly losing his humanity. Derek’s actions in the alley behind Sarkissian’s bar were absolutely chilling. Yes, he saved John’s life, but he likely scarred that poor little girl for life, even though he did cover her eyes. Perhaps a child witnessing a murder doesn’t seem like a big deal to Derek, considering what he saw his young brother experience, but damn. Absolutely cold-blooded.
“He” also fits very well with Agent Ellison, based on everything he’s seen to this point and his showdown with Cromartie in this episode. What a confrontation! I loved the way the “arrest” scene played out, showing the carnage from underwater as body after body was thrown from the apartment. Especially paired with Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around.” For a show that’s in many ways about the visceral thrill of bloody, butt-kicking action sequences, it was a bold choice to focus on the horrific results of the face-off with Cromartie as opposed to the action itself. Perhaps it was a budgetary consideration, given the scale of the slaughter, but I appreciated the different perspective. I also appreciated the attention to the effect of the massacre on both Ellison and Charlie. I’m so pleased that the series hasn’t lost its focus on the emotional toll of events on the characters.
In that vein, there were several fantastic scenes between John and Derek this week. What started as a funny scene with the two guys waiting in the car, while the ladies attended to the meet with their contact, became so much more when Derek turned to the topic of Judgment Day and how you would explain such a thing to an 8-year old. “How do you explain it?” “You don’t.” Well played by Brian Austin Green. And then there was the scene at the playground. Hands down, this is one of my favorite moments of the series thus far. What a wonderful gift for John and a great way to reveal that Derek knows about Kyle being John’s father. I cried (not that it takes much with me).
I was shocked (but glad) that Cromartie didn’t kill Ellison. It doesn’t seem to make much sense. I suppose in that moment, Ellison was no longer a threat to the mission, so Cromartie didn’t need to kill him. But it doesn’t seem like a good move for the Terminator.
So what was the deal with the girl from the Enrique’s nephew’s place? Did Cameron give her the gun to kill herself? Or to protect herself? Very odd.
As for the very end, I liked the twist that the bartender was Sarkissian, and that now he’s after Sarah and crew. I very seriously doubt that Cameron is dead. After all, in the first movie, Arnold’s Terminator emerged from flaming truck wreckage ready for action. I’m sure she’ll emerge functional, but maybe in need of some flesh repairs.
Where do we go from here? Can’t wait to find out.
Final rating: 4.5 out of 5. Great episode and a strong finish to the first season. I know when I first saw it, I was completely bummed that the series may not get a second season pick-up. I’m so glad it did!
by Jess Lynde
So the overall theme for this week’s episode is about being fooled by the “people” we let into our lives. Barbara let Vick into her life, didn’t look too deeply behind the mask, and paid a horrible price. Sarah and John have let Cameron and Derek into their lives, without truly knowing what’s behind the mask. It remains to be seen whether they have unwittingly resigned themselves to terrible fates, as Sarah’s voice over suggested.
This week’s episode also seemed to further explore the idea of the soul and what separates the humans from the machines. Sarah is clearly struggling with all the death dealing necessary to stop Judgment Day. She stubbornly clings to her small attempts to maintain normalcy (cooking a roast and reading the school newsletter), even though she’s not very good at it. And she cannot seem to come to terms with the necessity of Andy’s and Barbara’s deaths. Despite Derek’s and Cameron’s insistence that it isn’t enough to destroy the technology that becomes Skynet, the creators also need to be eliminated --- a lesson Sarah should have learned from her first encounter with Andy. But Sarah still values life. Not just the lives of humans as a whole, but each individual life. She couldn’t let Derek kill those security guards at the City offices. Although she claimed it was to avoid the manhunt that would follow such a murder, she just hasn’t lost that shred of her humanity yet.
Derek, on the other hand, is steadily becoming more and more like the machines he reviles. A relentless killing machine. A terminator. The only difference is that he is fueled by anger and hatred, as opposed to dispassionate mission objectives. He and Cameron perfectly counterbalance each other. While Derek is slowly losing his humanity, Cameron seems to be striving to find hers (if such a thing is possible). Each week she has moments where she almost seems like an emotional, vulnerable person. The way she looked at John when he was removing her chip was so trusting, so intimate. It was unsettling, and I felt sad for her when it was done and her body was lying there, devoid of “life.” I’m wondering more and more about her relationship with future John.
While I enjoyed the character moments for Sarah, Derek, and Cameron this week, I didn’t really dig the story of Terminator Vick and his ill-fated wife. The POV shots were disjointed and disturbing (as they were probably meant to be), and they didn’t make for an enjoyable viewing experience. Moreover, I’m stunned that Barbara was fooled into thinking “Vick” was human. He seemed entirely unconvincing as a human. Did he take the place of her human husband? She mentioned something about a car accident and him acting different since then. If that’s what happened, did the machines send the T-888 into the past already looking like Vick, or did he have to go through a re-building process like Cromartie? (Ugh.)
I also was less than thrilled by the return to John’s school. Ack. Is the weird blond girl in witness protection or something? And when is she going to tie into the larger story? At least this time the school adventures included evading Cromartie to keep it interesting.
I liked the idea of a real-time traffic system becoming the nervous system for Skynet. Good use of an increasingly popular technology in metropolitan areas.
Summer Glau continues to do a great job with Cameron. She does a lot of little subtle things with her head movement and her expressions that really continue to give Cameron that stilted, robotic feel. And yet she still manages to make you feel that there are emotions somehow lurking beneath the surface.
Derek says he didn’t know his fellow resistance fighters were following Barbara Chamberlain. I don’t know if I believe him. He lied pretty convincingly about not killing Andy.
I loved that Sarah chose to confront Derek about Andy’s death when he was exposed and possibly vulnerable (although it didn’t seem to faze him at all). Good way to assert your authority, Sarah. I doubt it worked.
I find it hard to believe that no one noticed Derek and John messing with the traffic signals. They seemed pretty visible. No one saw them and questioned what they were doing? Do people in L.A. just not sweat a teenage kid with a laptop clearly messing around with a traffic signal access panel?
Overall, I noticed that in this episode John is starting to assert himself more. He is slowly becoming more of a leader.
I also finally noticed that the show’s music is composed by Bear McCreary, the same composer that does Battlestar Galactica. That explains why for weeks I keep thinking the music reminds me of BSG. And probably why I like it so much.
Final rating: 3 out of 5. Some great stuff with Sarah, Derek, and Cameron, but overall not as strong as some recent episodes.
by Jess Lynde
Another strong episode. Not as strong as last week’s, but still very good. I’m guessing for fans of the series that weren’t initially fans of the movie, this episode might be less than stellar. It relies very heavily on story from the movies, both in terms of character and visuals. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but I can see how maybe it wouldn’t work as well for all viewers.
From the very opening scenes, the visuals alluded strongly to the movies. Cameron as a cop with those glasses evoked Robert Patrick’s T1000 from Terminator 2 so effectively, that I felt a little giddy. And then they took it a step further by reintroducing Sarah’s stint in the mental hospital and bringing her detestable psychiatrist back into play. I loved that they brought back Dr. Silverman and made him a full-on believer hiding out in the mountains. He was so disdainful of Sarah in T2, that I found it utterly delightful that he ended up seeming like just as a big a nutter as she did. Giving her a chance to sock him one was a bonus!
Poor Agent Ellison. When I saw that he was starting to believe Sarah’s stories and keeping a metal hand in his freezer, I knew he was in big, big trouble. Of course, I thought he was going to become the victim of Cromartie or some other Terminator; I did not expect that the bigger danger was from a fellow “believer.” I was shocked when Dr. Silverman drugged and assaulted Ellison. Then he took it a step further and tried to burn him to death! I guess if you survive an encounter with a Terminator after hearing all of Sarah’s horror stories, it can change your perspective. Things are not looking up, Agent Ellison.
I like the focus on religion and the soul in this episode. Given that our heroes are trying to stop the apocalypse and are dealing with countless moral ambiguities, it makes sense that some religious overtones should creep in every now and again. Using Agent Ellison as a window into the religious perspective was a good idea.
Plus, we’ve got Cameron’s fascination with the human soul. Is that what the letter writing was about a few episodes ago? Is she trying to discover a soul? Is she capable of having a soul? She told John in the pilot that she’s a different model, but how different? Cameron was quite the enigma in this episode. She was actively interested in pursuing dance as the window to the soul, but at the same time she coldly left Dimitri and his sister to be murdered. And it didn’t faze her one bit. It can be very hard to reconcile as a viewer. I sort of felt like Derek at the end: moved by her beautiful dance, but absolutely horrified at the same time. This was a perfect ending point for the episode.
When Sarah broke into Agent Ellison’s house (which didn’t seem very smart), I couldn’t help chuckling at the envelope on his counter that said “Hand Delivery”. Funny.
The Derek versus Cameron conflict is almost more entertaining than Cameron versus Sarah. I love the looks they exchange! Sarah doesn’t quite trust Cameron, but Derek is openly hostile and hateful. Completely understandable given his past experience. Derek’s interactions with Cameron are tense and fascinating to see play out.
The B story with the video tape of Sarah signing away her parental rights was interesting, but didn’t really grip me the way the rest of the episode did. Even though it resulted in some nice mother-son moments.
Final rating: 4 out of 5. I’m very much enjoying the series these days.
by Jess Lynde
This was an outstanding follow-up to last week’s episode. It was very intense from start to finish, gave us a taste of the future past, and was interlaced with some fantastic character interactions. Sarah and Charlie had some great emotional scenes, and Sarah and Cameron had a tense face off over the destruction of the dead Terminator. I also loved the scene near the end between John and Derek, where John finally answers Derek’s questions about what happened to Kyle. John saying that Kyle was a soldier and a hero was very moving, made more resonant by similar references in earlier episodes. John wants to tell Derek the truth so badly; to have some sort of connection to his dad, other than Sarah. Very powerful character moments.
I absolutely loved the glimpses into the future from Derek’s perspective. I never expected to get such an extended look at the hell on Earth they are all working to prevent. The writers gave us just enough to get a better understanding of Derek’s background and motivations. They built on what we know from the movies, but at the same time raised enough questions to keep us intrigued.
What the heck happened in the basement where the resistance fighters were being held? What happened to Derek? Was he programmed? And what was up with the piano music? Is the music a trigger somehow? What was he programmed to do? The fact that the machines left an axe behind when they bailed certainly seems to suggest that Derek and the others are meant to fulfill another purpose. Since the time loops keep shifting subtly, did the machines know that certain individuals would be sent back? Were Derek and crew programmed to do something in the past?
“Sometimes they go bad. No one knows why.” Now that’s creepy. Especially the casual way future Cameron (or is it past Cameron?) says it. I guess we are now supposed to wonder if she is going bad, or if she’s fulfilling her programmed mission. Or if she’ll just snap and go bad at some future point. Her hanging on to the Terminator’s chip and lying to Sarah about it doesn’t bode well.
On this viewing, I actually recognized Wisher as Andy before the confessional reveal (unlike on first viewing). I forgot that Andy was in Derek’s future/past. He said he was part of a 10 to 15 member group. Who are the others? Did Derek kill him before that group formed? Will Sarah and crew find and stop the others? Is killing Andy and finding/destroying the Turk (hopefully) enough? I was surprised by the reveal that Derek killed Andy. Even though I figured out it was coming before they actually showed it, I believed Derek in the last episode when he said he didn’t do it. He’s a convincing liar. That makes him dangerous.
So Kyle was apparently one of the first people sent back in time from the human resistance. The time machine was just coming online during Derek’s experience in this episode, yes? I thought it was interesting that Cameron appeared to be with John before Kyle went back. She seems like a more advanced model than the original Terminator. More capable of understanding human emotions. Maybe the machines sent a less advanced model because they thought it would be sufficient to get the job done.
Do the machines know what did and didn’t work in a particular time loop iteration? If he survives to the future for a given iteration (or tangent universe), John would always carry the knowledge of what happened and did/didn’t work in the past. (Andy being depicted as both a person in the future and someone now dead in the present seems to confirm we are dealing with tangent universes or different iterations of a time loop.) But if the machines that are sent back get destroyed, how do the future machines (which aren’t yet sentient in the present) know what happened? Is that information stored in computerized police or newspaper files? Do some of the sentient machines sent back survive the next iteration of Judgment Day to pass on their knowledge? (Is the Cameron we saw in Derek’s future/past the same Cameron we know, and not Cameron before she was sent back?) Or do they always just react to what John is doing? Dang it. I just got caught on the time travel theories and questions train again. Aargh!
Back to this episode. The last few scenes of the episode were very powerful. The looks on the faces of the resistance fighters when confronted with a whole and vibrant Los Angeles was spot on. And the scene of Derek killing Andy, juxtaposed with Sarah’s voiceover repeating Kyle’s words from the movie about the machines not stopping until you are dead, was chilling. Those last moments certainly give us reason to still have questions and doubts about Derek’s allegiances going forward. He seems to be working towards the same end as Sarah and John, but will he turn on them if Sarah doesn’t want to play it his way?
Final rating: 5 out of 5. This was an outstanding episode and it completely rejuvenated my interest in the series.
by Jess Lynde
The episodes since the pilot have been on a bit of downward slide, and I was beginning to get a bit concerned about the future of the series. The beginning of this episode didn’t do much to alleviate my concerns.
The return of Andy and the Turk was good idea in principle --- showing us the fallout from Sarah’s decision not to kill him --- but the chess tournament was not terribly exciting. Plus, while that was ramping up, they made us go back to school with John and Cameron. Ack. Watch John make a new guy friend. Watch John try to hit on the pretty blond girl, who it turns out is the school weirdo (at least before Cameron got there). Watch Cameron try to understand human mourning rituals. Boring. Unless the new friend and the weird girl end up tying into the overall story somehow, I don’t really care to see more of them. Or John’s school adventures. I want to see more about “the war to save the human race.” Based on where this episode ended up, I might just get my wish.
Once Andy was murdered (who killed him?) and Derek was caught by the police, things got a lot more interesting and built to one heck of a strong ending. Making the last of the future freedom fighters Kyle Reese’s brother was an excellent twist. What a way to build on the established history and connections! I loved how they had him reveal himself to Sarah by talking about the photo that Kyle carried. Great, great continuity and what a treat for long-time Terminator fans! I also loved the scene where Sarah revealed Derek’s identity to John. Both Lena and Thomas Dekker were great in that moment. And the final scene with John and Charlie arriving at the house was outstanding. Sarah’s reaction was perfect. Once again, top notch acting from Lena.
As a fan of long-arc story-telling, I really appreciate that the writers are building on groundwork laid in earlier episodes. Small things, like bringing the fourth freedom fighter back into play, as well as the Terminator that was after him, were nice to see. These are elements I really didn’t expect to see again, especially this particular Terminator. It was also nice to get some pay off for John’s earlier visit to Charlie. It gives me some hope that all this boring, distracting stuff at John’s school will pay off eventually.
Sarah seemed to get a big kick out of making lunch. A simple thing a normal mom would do. Even though John didn’t seem to appreciate it much, I thought it was cool to see her making that effort at normalcy.
The actor playing Cromartie is very good at playing the stilted, awkward robot. It is almost painful to watch.
Why did the cops show up at the hotel hosting the chess championship that quickly? It didn’t seem like enough time had passed for everyone to know Andy was dead. Sarah didn’t call them. Who did?
I’m really liking Agent Ellison more and more. He has such a great dry wit. His disbelief at the story told by the cops transporting Derek was hilarious. Of course, I’m even more worried about him now that he’s got that Terminator hand.
Who was Cameron writing to at the end? The Terminator she killed? Pulling the chip from his head seemed to get to her somehow. She is quite a mystery.
Final rating: 4 out of 5. It didn’t start out great, but the second half of the episode was very, very strong.
by Jess Lynde
This is my least favorite episode of the series thus far. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, and I was not looking forward to re-watching it. But I gave it another shot for the sake of the reviews. Sadly, it didn’t fare much better the second time.
So far it seems the more an episode focuses on John and his struggles with his destiny, the more tedious and predictable it becomes. Good old teenage angst leading to petulant, stupid decisions and Big Trouble. Earlier episodes at least threw in some good Sarah and/or Sarah and Cameron material to balance out the irritating John bits, but this one didn’t even give us that. Sarah and Cameron were essentially reduced to a one-note rescue squad and comic relief. I don’t mind the occasional bit of humor in the Sarah/Cameron dynamic, but funny Thelma and Louise is not really what I want to see for these two characters.
At least the episode also featured Agent Ellison and the now finally restored Cromartie. (I’m glad Cromartie is back to being freaky and scary, as opposed to just gross.) I liked seeing more of Ellison’s dynamic at the Bureau. He reminds me of a cross between Agent Mulder from The X-Files and Inspector Javert from Les Miserables. He is going to pursue his quarry and the truth, no matter the cost to his reputation and career trajectory. Watching him inch closer and closer to the truth is fascinating and scary all at the same time. Especially now that he’s “found” his killer. I’m getting really worried for him.
Cameron’s comments about the Terminators and their mission programming made me wonder, again, if this is supposed to explain her sudden inability to act normal in school. I’m also starting to wonder about the full extent of her mission. Why steal the metal bar at the end? Is she supposed to do something other than protect John? Hmmm … I like that her motives are very cloudy.
I also noticed in this episode that Cameron has a very heavy walk. A nice touch from the sound effects guys.
The reveal that the machines are also sending back fighters to stockpile materials was interesting. I like the idea that they are doing more than just trying to kill John Connor. It fleshes out the universe a little more, and lends support to the idea that the future is changeable and not a fixed loop.
Final rating: 2 out of 5. I will not be watching this one again.
by Jess Lynde
This was another episode that balanced great material with no-so-great material. Sarah’s story was once again the highlight of the episode for me. Even though the voice over monologues were seriously heavy-handed in pointing out the analogies between the development of the nuclear bomb and Sarah’s current situation, I liked seeing her internal conflict play out. Her nightmare from the beginning clearly showed that she’s struggling not only with whether or not to kill the possible Skynet creators, but with her fear that even if she kills them, it won’t be enough. I think if she could be sure it would stop Judgment Day, she would kill them all in a heartbeat with little regret. But she can’t be sure. What if she can’t change the future? Can she really bring herself to kill a man if there’s no guarantee that it will end the impending holocaust? The answer at this point is apparently, “No.” In the end she just destroyed Andy’s research, instead of killing Andy. Will it be enough? Even if she had killed him, would it be enough?
As usual, Lena Headey was outstanding in this episode. Sarah’s internal struggle played out clearly in her eyes and body language, and I really enjoyed watching her story unfold. I really didn’t know what she would or wouldn’t do. And I didn’t know what I thought she should do.
I didn’t really care for the “John and Cameron go to school” B story. It makes sense that John should be in school, but these scenes were awkward and distracted from the main story. It seemed like a lot of boring crap to get through just for the “John wants to start being the hero he’s supposed to be” ending. And Cameron really shouldn’t have such a hard time fitting in at school. She managed to portray herself as a perfectly normal girl in the pilot (which they fully acknowledged in the dialogue). Why is she now struggling with simple things like “find an empty desk and sit down”? Some have argued that she was only programmed to behave that way to get close to John, and that part of her mission is now complete. But logically, she should still be able to act normal. It just seems like a huge disconnect to me.
I’m liking the Agent Ellison parts of the story. It is nice to get the law enforcement perspective from a somewhat sympathetic character. Sarah, John, and the assorted time travelers are leaving a trail of bodies and chaos everywhere they go. I like seeing some of the fallout from that. Watching Agent Ellison slowly try to put the pieces together and find the truth is fascinating.
I want to repeat everything I said for the last episode regarding the Cromartie “reboot.” Only this time, I want to add an “Ew! Ew! Ew!” and a “Gack!” I wish they had stopped with the bathtub full of blood, because that was gross enough. I seriously did not need to see Cromartie with his malformed new skin emerging from the blood. I got the gist of what was happening without the unnecessary graphic visuals. Every once in awhile, it is good to leave something to the imagination.
Final rating: 3 out of 5. Once again, great Sarah material counterbalanced by boring John material and completely gross Cromartie material. Plus the voiceovers for this episode really were trying too hard to connect the metaphorical dots for us.
by Jess Lynde
This was a decent effort, but not as good as the pilot. I liked that the story moved on to the next logical step following their time jump: laying low and getting new identities. And, of course, some predictable teenage rebellion.
The scenes between Sarah and Cameron were my favorites. They were even more tension-filled and intriguing than those in the pilot. The scenes with “I know what the Tinman is” and the execution of Enrique were especially strong. Lena really sold how absolutely unsettling it must be to have someone (much less a humanoid killing machine) tell you your private history like she knows you. And Summer played the moment perfectly. I also loved when Sarah confronted Cameron for killing Enrique. Sarah’s angry “You don’t know me. … You don’t know what I would or wouldn’t do. I don’t know what I would or wouldn’t do,” was a great moment. Cameron seems to elicit a lot of very personal revelations from Sarah. I find their scenes much more insightful and revealing than the voiceover monologues.
I was less fond of the John sequences. At least on initial watch, I thought they were totally predictable. Not to mention aggravating, because they seemed so boneheaded. Especially when John broke into Charlie’s house. Are you kidding me? You supposedly died 8 years ago, and now you show up looking the same age? How can this stupid kid be the future salvation of the human race?
On second watch, I was just as irritated, until I had an “A ha!” moment near the end. When I heard John say, “My dad’s always a hero. And he’s always dead,” so matter-of-factly, suddenly everything clicked into place. John had begun to consider Charlie a father figure, and then Sarah abruptly uprooted him again. When he saw the article about Charlie being a hero, he had to see him. Here was the father he was longing for --- a hero who wasn’t dead. How could he not reach out? It still wasn’t a particularly smart move, considering the circumstances, but I now understand why he did it, and why it was a perfectly logical piece of John’s story.
I could have done without the Terminator “reboot” parts of the episode. Especially when the machine wore the dead guy’s head. Ugh. Just a little too gross for me. Having Cromartie still on their tail makes sense, but I don’t really need the oogy, graphic details of his return to the field.
I try not to think too much about the time travel vagaries and inconsistencies with this series (preferring instead to go with “willing suspension of disbelief”), but it bugged me when Cameron said John wasn’t her John yet. Seems to me this John isn’t going to be her John ever. By jumping to 2007, this John and Sarah have veered off onto a different timeline tangent or loop iteration. The whole idea behind the show and their fight is that they can change the future (which may or may not be true, but I’m leaning towards it being possible). The events that lead John to become the John Connor that sends Cameron back have changed (we think). Even if Sarah and John can’t stop Judgment Day altogether, they are now in a slightly different variation of the time loop, and this John will never be the same John that sent Cameron back. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. Is the whole thing a never-changing loop? A bunch of tangent universes? Some sort of loop with different iterations and slightly varying outcomes? Ack! OK, time for me to get off the time travel theory train. I should know better than to let the pesky time travel questions start bugging me because there are no clear answers, only more questions. Sigh.
Final rating: 3 out of 5. While I loved the Sarah and Cameron moments, these were counterbalanced by the less appealing John adventures and Terminator revival activities.
by Jess Lynde
This was a great pilot. It did exactly what it needed to do: set the tone, established the world and the basic characters, and told just enough of the story to leave the audience wanting more. It was intense and action packed, and even though it was chock full of bullets, broken walls, and explosions, it never seemed to lose sight of the emotional toll on the characters. The potential promise of good story and good, developed characters is certainly enough to get me to tune in again.
Now, I say all this from the perspective of a long-time Terminator fan. I didn’t need a lot of background on the world or the characters. I already knew who Sarah and John Connor were, their history, and their motivations. I basically just needed to know where the story was picking up, and what was driving it forward from this point. And in that respect, the pilot did a great job. I was very pleased that they didn’t try to reboot the series with some sort of re-hashing or re-imagining. Instead, they built on the established universe (through the first two movies), fully integrating it into the story. It certainly wasn’t much of a stretch for me to believe that, even though the Terminators were “destroyed” at the end of the second movie, the machines would find another way to rise and bring about doomsday.
I was also pleased that when the writers needed to do a little recapping for the uninitiated, they did it in a way that felt natural rather than a forced exposition dump (with the possible exception of Sarah’s voiceovers). For instance, the scene with Agent Ellison and Sarah’s recently jilted fiancée was a great, organic way to bring everyone up to speed on Sarah’s overall past. The voiceover monologues, on the other hand, feel a bit clunky and heavy-handed to me. Given that the show is called the Sarah Connor Chronicles, thematically these introspective pieces make perfect sense, but I’m not crazy about them.
I was impressed with the cast, especially Lena Headey. It must have been a pretty daunting task to take on Sarah Connor—after all, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah is iconic, especially in T2. But Lena is up to the challenge, and makes the role her own. Lena’s Sarah is every bit the tough-as-nails, scrappy fighter, but a lot less psychotic. Sarah is now much more subdued in her quiet moments. She’s haunted, and, in many ways, vulnerable. It seems a logical progression for the character given that two years have passed since her escape from the mental ward. I think toning down the psychosis makes Sarah much more sympathetic, and much more scary in her dark moments. Lena was particularly strong in the less action-oriented moments of the pilot, managing to convey her love for John, her fear, and her desperation with a few words and a subtle shift in expression. I loved the scene when she confessed to Cameron her fear that John would leave her. I can’t remember if I was completely sold on Lena as Sarah the first time I saw the pilot, but she has certainly won me over since.
I also enjoyed Summer Glau as Cameron. As a fan of Firefly, I was very excited about her casting. I knew she’d be a great fit as a tough, largely emotionless (and yet somehow fragile) machine. And she didn’t disappoint. It was lots of fun watching Cameron beat the tar out of Cromartie and assorted others. But it was even more fun watching her interactions with Sarah --- feeling each other out and working together (reluctantly on Sarah’s part) to protect John. I’m certainly intrigued to know more about Cameron and her connection to future John. And I’m looking forward to more tense collaborations with Sarah.
The musical score in the pilot was also excellent. It echoed the music and the main theme from the movies, but added some new elements. I liked the quieter, melancholy music, in particular. It was slightly haunting and suits Sarah perfectly.
Final rating: 4 out of 5. I really enjoyed the pilot and am eager for the next episode.
by Billie Doux
Yes, this is my blog, not an actual guest book. But I use my blog as a sort of attachment to my web site as a place to post general articles. I also wanted a place where people could post feedback, anonymously if they liked, without having to send me an email. And this is it.
So please feel free to post any comment you like. I always read every comment posted on my blog.
by Billie Doux
"I raised my head from his neck, and a wave of dark delight carried me out to sea. This was pretty exotic stuff for a telepathic barmaid from northern Louisiana."
Vampires. Mysterious murders in a small town. A beautiful young woman in danger. Sounds like a great big cliche. But as with everything in life, it's all about how it's done. Dead until Dark is the first in a best-selling series of fantasy mysteries that successfully introduced a whole new supernatural world where vampires have "come out of the coffin," are (mostly) living on synthetic blood developed by the Japanese, and are trying to integrate into human society, with somewhat problematic results.
If I had to put the Southern Vampire series into one specific slot... well, I couldn't. This opening book is a carefully plotted whodunit, but not all of them are. The "Dead" books aren't comic novels, although they're often quite funny. They're not deeply dramatic or tragic, even though terrible and heavy things happen with alarming frequency. They're not romances, even though Sookie Stackhouse's quest for love in the face of her mind-reading "disability" can be quite romantic. And the supernatural elements include more than just vampires. So -- pretty much, all of the above.
I tend to prefer science fiction to fantasy. Give me a novel with maps of imaginary places and a list of vocabulary words, and I'll put it back on the shelf unread. I need my stories to have some sort of grounding in reality. That's probably why most vampire novels don't work for me. (Don't make me try to explain my obsession with Buffy; Buffy is in a class by itself. Plus it's more of a horror allegory than vampire fantasy.)
I think one reason this series clicked with me is that, even though it's fantasy, it's strangely grounded in reality. Bon Temps, the small town where Sookie lives, and Merlotte's, the bar where Sookie works, feel real to me. Sookie has to pay her bills and live in the real world, like we all do. She shops at Walmart. She has friends who don't understand her, as well as friends who do. She has a selfish, self-centered jerk of a brother whom she loves, even though she sees him for what he is. Sookie's "disability" makes many fear her and avoid her, and it hurts her over and over again. Sookie is believable. You believe her.
If I have a complaint about the "Dead" series, it's that I don't care much for Bill the vampire. He seems... okay, I'll say it... a bit boring. For me, the most interesting vampire in the series is Eric, the ancient, scary Viking vamp who runs the Fangtasia bar in Shreveport. (I love that there are fangbangers. I really, really do.) If I can make a simplistic and not entirely accurate comparison, Bill is Louis, and Eric is Lestat. Bill is Angel, and Eric is Spike. Not a surprise that I prefer Eric.
This series is a blast to read. Exciting, fast-moving, hard to put down, and I have yet to guess whodunit. (Not that that is ever my strong point, but still.) In fact, I like all of Charlaine Harris' books. The Sookie Stackhouse novels are my favorite, but she's also written a couple of mystery series with no supernatural elements (Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard), and a third mystery series that is slightly supernatural (Harper Connelly).
Since I had trouble figuring out the order of the books when I first started reading the series, here's a listing. Enjoy!
1. Dead Until Dark
2. Living Dead in Dallas
3. Club Dead
4. Dead to the World
5. Dead as a Doornail
6. Definitely Dead
7. All Together Dead
8. From Dead to Worse
9. Dead and Gone
A Touch of Dead (short stories)
10. Dead in the Family
11. Dead Reckoning