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Terminator: Dungeons and Dragons

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.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. Oh boy, that sure was intense on several levels. Apocalyptic futures always make me uneasy and give me the creeps. No exception here.

    I'll use this as an allegory to fully live the present moment and never stop loving those who are dear to us...Life is precious. SOB ! I do NOT want to live THAT !!!!

    The questions you are raising are all very valid.

    I was happy to see a certain taxi driver from another Universe !

    "He's not a guy. He's a scary robot."

    And what the *bleep* indeed is Cameron doing with that chip ?? Not a good sign.

    The swing sets in the backyard with the fence reminded me of Sarah's nightmare at the beginning of the movie T2. Spooky.

    And BTW Jess ? Excellent review.

  2. Thanks, celticmarc! I'm glad you are enjoying the series thus far. It's really fun to see folks going through the "new to me" experience.

    Definitely a joy to see Andre Royo, however briefly. I'm surprised I didn't put "Bubbles!" in the review somewhere.

  3. Andre Royo is my favourite taxi driver. More sympathetic and less scary that Robert De Niro. And I'd leave him my airplane for maintenance too.


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