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Terminator: The Mousetrap

This episode worked much better for me than last week’s, primarily because the mission of the week had a much more immediate impact on the characters. Showing Sarah and Charlie not only chasing after the cheese in Cromartie’s mousetrap, but struggling with the ways in which their own decisions had led them to this point was very effective. Charlie, Sarah, and Michelle all had some great scenes this week. I thought Charlie’s phone call to John and Sarah, the scenes in the barn, and the scene in the repair truck were especially strong. Kudos to Lena Headey, in particular, for the repair truck scene. I thought she did an outstanding job conveying Sarah’s frustration and her internal struggle with her desire to protect her son and her desire to preserve all life.

Cromartie was very clever in this episode. His trap for Sarah and crew seemed a bit more elaborate than usual. He used psychology and their knowledge of his past tactics against them. Impressive. Up to this point we've mostly seen him deploy a brute force, search-and-destroy approach. I found it interesting that his model also possesses the ability to use a wider array of strategies.

Charlie’s wife, Michelle, was a pretty tough cookie. Even though she was terrified, she stayed strong, and mostly managed to keep her wits about her. I was sad to see her die, even though I was fully expecting it. Her death should propel Charlie in some compelling new directions. Will he be an ally, or will he blame Sarah? Will he try to work with Agent Ellison, even though he clearly rejected the faith that keeps Ellison grounded?

The first half of the John story had me groaning and rolling my eyes (again). Must we suffer through John ditching Cameron and making time with Riley? I hope Charlie's loss at least serves as a wake-up call for John, and he accepts that the stakes are bigger than his “when do I get to live my own life” rebellion. The war wages on and Judgment Day approaches. I'm sure these things are never really far from John’s mind, but I’m hoping Michelle’s death will be a reminder that neither he nor Sarah are in charge of their own fate at the moment; the machines are. Good people are dying to protect him and protect the future of the human race. It is time to start working with Sarah and Cameron and not against them.

Catherine Weaver recruiting Agent Ellison to find an endoskeleton terminator is very curious. The more I think about it, the less I understand why Skynet needs to recreate itself through this Babylon project. Don’t they have the skills and knowledge to just jump back in time and re-build? Why does Miss Weaver need to reverse engineer the robotic arm? They know how to make new terminators in the future, why can’t they make them in the past using their future knowledge? Do the humans need to do it mostly on their own to ensure that the network is pervasive enough to release Armageddon? From a story perspective, it puts Agent Ellison in an intriguing position and I’m curious to see how he reacts, but I just don’t see why his efforts should be necessary in the first place.

Other thoughts:

Great ending sequence juxtaposing Michelle’s funeral with dinner at the Connor's. Very resonant.

I thought it was funny that they built actual mousetraps into an episode about metaphorical ones. Cromartie’s admiration for them was even funnier.

The terrible B-movie with George Lazlo as some kind of Tarzan was also highly amusing. I couldn’t believe that Agent Ellison was watching it. It looked just awful.

Sonya Walger did a good job with Michelle Dixon, but I prefer her as Penny Widmore on Lost.

I wonder if there is more to Riley’s story than meets the eye. Is she really just an average girl drawn to John’s loner type because she’s a bit of a rebel? Or is there more going on here?

Final rating: 3 out of 5. A strong main story, but some groan-inducing material for John keeps the episode from being above average for me. Here’s hoping John is learning some lessons that lead to less annoying stories for him in the future.

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

7 comments:

  1. I thought the cheesy movie was an in-joke for Conan. Lazlo made this Conan like movie before "becoming" Terminator, just as Arnold did.

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  2. I think Catherine Weaver doesn't really need to reverse engineer anything. She made it up because she needed something that would a) explain how she knows about terminators and why she's interested in them and b) make agent Ellison want to cooperate with her. And she decided that "I'm one of them killer machines and I want to make sure we rule the world" wasn't the best way to do that :-)

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  3. Great eppy AND great review. Spending time here is a wonderful complement of my watching.

    I was wondering if the gas station at the beginning wasn't the same one used in one of the top five ST Voyager episodes ever made, i.e., Death Wish. One moment please... IT IS ! I've just checked the other DVD ! Booyah ! I have the EYE ! That vintage looking gas station is indeed used occasionally here and there ! (Abed would be proud of me)

    "This town can screw you up." (Josie ? Billie ? Is that true ?)

    Loved the red eyes fading in the water's darkness. Nice. Really enjoyed this one : a perfect balance between tension and excellent acting.



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  4. B & J

    LMAO. Thank you (again) for making my day. You guys rock.

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  5. Variation from a well know song :

    If I had my way
    If I had my way
    If I had my way

    I'd go to LA hug you both

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