Terminator: The Tower is Tall but the Fall is Short

Again, apologies for the delay. I just got back from a trip and wanted to watch this one twice before finishing my review.

Excellent episode this week, with a really great focus on character. I was completely engrossed from start to finish, especially with John’s and Catherine Weaver’s parts of the story.

I was so pleased the writers returned to the events of the season premiere. Those unseen events between John, Sarah, and Sarkissian kind of got lost in the shuffle over the last few weeks. They’ve been so focused on John resisting and slowly coming to terms with his destiny, that I forgot his whole rebellion was pretty much kicked off by what happened in that house. His first kill. It was always obvious to me that John had killed Sarkissian, but I liked the way they tried to keep the audience wondering. And I loved that we finally learned the truth through Sarah. It is her story after all. She’s been in some denial for awhile. First denying that John even needed help, then thinking that she could be the one to provide it. I’m glad she was finally able to see that he's not the boy she knew and he needs someone else to help him. And that maybe she needs some help herself. I hope Dr. Sherman can help them.

Catherine Weaver’s part of the story was completely fascinating. They confirmed what one of my readers suggested a few weeks ago: that liquid metal Catherine is a replacement for the real Catherine, and that the little red-haired girl is the real Catherine’s daughter. That poor little girl. Her first few sessions with Dr. Sherman were really heartbreaking and terrifying all at the same time. I kept expecting Catherine to just kill her. I could not figure out why she was bothering to get help for her “daughter” in the first place; she obviously doesn’t care about anything except her project. But my husband suggested Catherine needs the daughter as part of her cover, and the child’s abnormal behavior could draw unwanted attention or questions. Makes good sense to me. Plus, it was a good way for the writers to have her connect with Dr. Sherman and seek his help for young Skynet (one assumes).

Of course, if Dr. Sherman’s name was part of the blood list on Sarah’s wall, it is likely that he was previously part of Skynet’s development. So why wouldn’t Catherine know this already and seek him out deliberately, instead of finding him by accident? Was he only on the wall because he helps John? Is his role in Skynet a new development? Aargh! I feel another time loop theory headache coming on.

I was glad that Derek continued to have good material this week. His scenes with Jessie gave us some more insight into his future/past and his current state of mind. It spoke volumes when he walked away from Jessie after learning she had deserted and just wanted to wait for the end to come. He can’t just run from the war. He may have tried in the past, but he can't now---not when he has a chance to stop the war from ever beginning. He needs to fight to get back those things that were lost, like the innocents he seems to enjoy watching in the park. Perhaps his efforts are in vain; if Sarah’s voiceover is to be believed, “… what is lost is lost forever.” Plus, his girlfriend appears to be up to no good. She said John Connor didn’t send her back; did the “metal” send her back? Given what we saw with the photos, I doubt her story about needing a rest and wanting to be with Derek when it all ends was true.

Only Cameron really got shorted on strong material this week, primarily providing the big action sequence and serving as comic relief. I’m wondering about the true purpose of that Skynet soldier. She couldn’t have been sent just to kill the doctor, because she could have accomplished that pretty easily without taking out his assistant. She must have been sent to infiltrate his office. To spy on him or to protect him? If she was there to protect him, from whom? The Connors?

Other thoughts:

The voice over monologues were back! Yea! And they even provided some new insight into Sarah’s past with her father. You’d think the child of a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder would be better able to recognize the symptoms in herself and her son.

Stephanie Jacobson, the actress playing Derek’s girlfriend, Jessie, also played Kendra Shaw in Battlestar Galactica: Razor. Poor girl seems to be typecast as a burned-out military type.

Acting kudos to Thomas Dekker this week. I thought he did an outstanding job in his scenes with Dr. Sherman.

Agent Ellison is starting to get suspicious. I hope he’s seriously questioning his role in whatever Catherine Weaver’s company is “building.”

Final rating: 5 out of 5. I love a good character study, especially when it pays off earlier plot threads while setting new ones in motion.

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

10 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Good review, Jess. I really loved this episode, too. It made me like Thomas Dekker's John a lot more.

Good news this week, too, that the Sarah Connor Chronicles is getting a full season.

Paul kelly said...

One thing the first season of SCC lacked was satisfactory character development. I know a lot of that was probably due to the writers strike. I know it wrecked a lot of other shows too (Heroes and Bionic Woman spring to mind). But this season we're getting to know Derek and Cameron better (both immensely likable/interesting characters, both probably as messed up as each other), and also John's character is starting to grow on me. The character of Sarah has always been strongly drawn in my book, probably thanks to the much maligned first season talk-over.

And the peripheral stuff is interesting too. Ellison and Weaver's storyline is genuinely intriguing.

I'm so pleased Fox are giving SCC the full 22 episode treatment. No doubt they'll do something mental at some point...they always do (dare I say Firefly?). But for the moment I'm looking forwards to another 16 episodes.

First season I enjoyed, but it didn't really set my world alight. I think the second season, if it continues as it's doing, may well cement the show as a firm favourite.

sloth15 said...

Honestly, I thought the entire first season was only slightly better than mediocre, but this season has shown flashes that they've brought on a writer with a background in something other than fights and explosions.
I think they could pull off a compelling allegory to the Iraq War veterans and PTSD. Something akin to the Battlestar Galactica insurgency on New Caprica.
Paul: I've always liked the Sarah character too, but I don't know why. It is possible that my brain still links her to T2.
Jess: I've always had the feeling that Agent Ellison has been suspicious from the start. I got the feeling earlier that he was about to join up with Sarah and John and then he just kind of started going along with Catherine. His 'stop on a dime' turn from good to evil has never jived with me. I expect to see him pull an "I got you!" on Catherine. Which will be fun, because then she'll morph in front of him.
Anyways, good review as always.

Peter said...

Another good episode. I really liked Catherine this week. Well, not really liked - more like fascinated with. The photo shoot was both hilarious and creepy. Her ability to precisely turn 1/4 inch (and her serious resolve face as she was doing so) was funny but when asked to smile I actually felt a shiver go down my spine. The woman just scares the hell out of me. I am probably off base here but I actually think there is something more going on with respect to her relationship to her "daughter". I can't really claim that there is affection but I do think her interest goes beyond just covering her ass. I keep flashing back to her statement about a machine crossing against the light. She seems to have a somewhat philosophical bent to her mind - I think she is primarily concerned with her mission (and just what is her mission anyway?) but she has a curiosity about the world and about human feelings. It seems some metal (Cameron included) are more than just killing machines. It would be really boring if that is all they were.
As I said a couple of posts ago, I really love the voice-overs. I was so happy to see them back - hope they remain. I thought the whole damage that cannot be repaired theme really upped the stakes.
sloth15 - I don't see Ellison as going from good to bad at all. He is certainly not aware of Catherine's true nature - he is still tracking the metal and Catherine is providing a means to do that. He certainly could not have remained at the FBI and continued to obsess about the terminators. I have never really liked or been that interested in his character that much (except for the season 1 finale) and I am glad that they are downplaying the religious aspect. I was beginiing to fear that we were going to get a weekly bible meeting and sermon.
As Jess mentioned, the episode was Cameron deficient. I started watching this show because of Summer and I still enjoy Cameron but I think Lena's Sarah has completely taken over the show and in a good way. She is fascinating and I really feel for her. Still, more Cameron. I much prefer the character parts over the endless chase scenes (although the elevator fight was funny).
Overall, an excellent episode.

Paul Kelly said...

Sloth 15: Yeah, I think the T2 connection is a large part of liking the Sarah Connor character. Before the series even started we already knew what she was about. The series Sarah I think adds to what we know of T2 Sarah. It rounds her out.

The series John however. Hmmm...I'm not so sure. You can't imagine the series John saying no problemo. The series John seems like a different character from his T2 incarnation. Not that this is a bad thing. I just think it may explain why I immediately felt a familiarity and like for Sarah, yet didn't immediately for John.

Saying that, the series John has definitely grown on me, and I think Thomas Dekker is an interesting, competent actor. Plus I think they've made John a lot more interesting this season. Which always helps.

Jess Lynde said...

These are great comments, guys. I love reading everyone else's thoughts. You often come up with things I didn't even consider, like the bit about liquid metal Catherine as a replacement.

And now I'm wondering if maybe Ellison has always been playing Catherine to a certain extent. He had questions about her honesty regarding her plane crash story, but then seemed to just accept her version of events and jumped on board. It seemed strange to me at the time, but I think I went along with it because it made sense that he'd want to continue pursuing Cromartie. Guess we'll see. I think what we've seen thus far could be interpreted either way.

I'm delighted that the show got a full season pick-up, but I have no idea where FOX is going to put it on the schedule! Once American Idol, 24, and Dollhouse premiere in January, there will be precious few time slots where they could air the show.

sloth15 said...

Ooh, Jess, lets just keep our fingers crossed that Dollhouse actually gets to premiere. Some not so great stories coming out of that production.

Anyways...

Peter: I wasn't trying to say that Agent Ellison was bad, just that he went from working for the FBI (good guys) to working for Catherine (bad guys.)

The thing about Ellison that makes me think he is working kinda undercover (for himself) is that as far as he knows, only like 4 people in the world know about the machines, and then basically as soon as he starts to believe, the head of a giant company recruits him to look into it. I'm no FBI agent, but if I was suddenly hired to investigate something of that magnitude, my first question would be "What is the connection between my boss and the crazy stuff going on around me?"

I'm glad the show got picked up for the full season too, but I'm just curious as to 'why.' The show is pulling some pretty bad ratings, and maybe they are hoping to turn that trnd by pairing it with 24, but who knows...

Anonymous said...

I really liked this episode. I loved the scenes between John and Dr. Sherman and I also liked the whole Catherine Weaver story.
Very good episode.

celticmarc said...

Quoting you : "The voice over monologues were back! Yea!" I was thinking about you.

Wow. Bonnie Morgan, who played the other terminator in the elevator IS a contortionist. It doesn't get cooler than that. And the break in the fighting because of the kid cracked me up.

Of course, I thought of Razor when I saw Miss Jacobson. Of course.

"I want my old mommy back". This was chilling. LOL Cameron has Asperger's. And a second, different chill to see Weaver taking the doctor's chair in his office.

Quoting you a 2nd time : "I love a good character study". Ditto. (No wonder Lost had such a profound impact on me)

celticmarc said...

Wow.

So many comments on this one.

Really, really love this blog.