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Terminator: Queen's Gambit

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.

Other Thoughts

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.

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


  1. Totally agreeing with you Jess : slow start, awesome finish.

    And the music score is growing on me.....

  2. The kids at the school were writing notes to the dead girl to deal with their grief. Cameron didn't understand this until John explained to her that sometimes grief is too strong and crying alone won't work.
    Cameron was writing a note to the triple 8 she just destroyed. If she was simply imitating the humans, that is interesting. If she was attempting to understand her own reaction to killing it, all the more interesting.


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