Terminator: Allison from Palmdale

A very intriguing episode. I found it tense, revealing, and in many respects completely shuddery. By the end of it, I wasn't sure what to make of Cameron's status or intentions. Contrary to what we typically see from her, she can convincingly act like a human being. At least if she’s channeling another person. She is the ultimate infiltrator, and I just can't figure out if she's actually John's ally now, or still an enemy. Which is, of course, exactly how the writers want it. I love it!

Cameron/Allison's story was, clearly, the highlight of this episode. I love that they are not just glossing over Cameron going bad in the season premiere. It would have been pretty easy to just hit the reset button and pretend it never happened. I much prefer the exploration of its continuing impact on all the characters.

I was amazed at how completely Cameron became Allison (at least until John reminded her of who she really is and her demeanor started becoming more robotic). She didn't exhibit quite the same range of emotions as the human Allison we saw in the future/past, but she clearly felt desolate and betrayed. Her grief and horror during her counseling sessions was quite heart rending. To me, it helps explain how she was capable of such an emotional outburst during the chip removal scene from the season premiere. It is intensely unsettling. Again, I'm left wondering why she seems so robotic most other times, when she's fully capable of being a convincing human. Is it really all tied into her mission programming? Is it some kind of choice?

Although the Cameron story was the most compelling part of the episode, I thought the Agent Ellison and Sarah portions of the story were also revealing. We learned some more background on Ellison this week: he has an ex-wife in the bureau, he once wanted children, and he is still a bit bitter about his divorce. He also apparently has stopped wearing his cross. Hmmm... and here I thought he was clinging so strongly to his faith in trying to deal with the horrors he’s seen. I guess the death of the 20 agents at Cromartie's hands has left him more at a loss than I realized. Unfortunately, it has lead him right into Catherine Weaver’s camp. This can't be good. I don't know what her real agenda is, but I'm sure it will not result in a happy ending for Agent Ellison.

Sarah's part of the episode seemed the least tied to the overall story progression, but I liked seeing her interactions with Casey and getting some insight into that earlier time in her life. I also liked the bittersweet undertones to all their scenes. Sarah seemed so regretful that she never got to have the kinds of hopes and dreams Casey has for her child; her son was always meant to survive a horrible holocaust and be the future savior of mankind, a role for which she had to train him from an early age. She never really concerned herself with first dates or name calling.

Other thoughts:

Catherine Weaver has a child? Is she a child-sized version of a liquid metal terminator? Or some random red-haired human brought in to pose as her child?

I loved the way Catherine told the story about her husband’s helicopter crash. Her complete adoration for the helicopter and her unfailing belief in the perfection of machines gave me chills.

So Casey's baby daddy is a cop. At the end, I couldn’t help wondering if Sarah told Casey she can raise her child without his father just to keep Trevor from being too close to her own family.

The Skynet prison on the aircraft carrier was completely freaky. What was up with the tiger, the bear, and the monkey? Was it a zoo or a science lab? And why were all the human prisoners yelling “get out” instead of calling for help? Did they think Allison was Cameron? Or did they just want her to have a chance at survival?

I'm more curious than ever to know what happened when future Cameron infiltrated the Connor camp. How did he turn her? Did he know that her model killed the person she was impersonating? Was Allison really someone he loved?

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

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought this was by far the best episode of the season. I like the mythology filled episodes and the Cameron/Allison part of the story was almost pure mythology. I assume future Allison was a love interest or at least very important to future John and somehow present John is aware of this connection which could be a reason that Cameron is so important to John (not quite sure how a connection to future Allison resulted in a connection to future Cameron but I assume we will eventually find out). I also loved the Sarah part of the story. I just cannot resist the combination of a beautiful woman plus melancholy. Here, Sarah is expressing more of the mother than the protector and while I absolutely love kick ass Sarah, I find her sadness at not being able to be a regular mother with regular cares and concerns to be quite touching. It is, after all, not just John who is being deprived of a normal life.
I am probably in the monority but I really miss the Sarah voice overs at the end of the episodes. Kind of gave them a nice philosophical/emotional touch (the episode where Cameron dances in season one had a particularly effective and eerie voice over).
Derek has certainly been shuffled offstage. What is with that?
I think the Ellison/Cateherine Weaver story finally has promise as long as Ellison does not convert Weaver into a christian. Maybe Catherine can treat Ellison's crisis of fdaith with a little cyborg religion (worked on BSG).
I hope for more of tis type of episode. I find 40 minutes of car chases/fights to be boring (the main reason I was less than thrilled with T2). I want more mythology and more character development. Cameron is potentially a tresure chest of interesting observations on the human condition. That plus Summer is always a pleasure to watch.

Jess Lynde said...

Great comments, thanks!

At the beginning of last season, the voiceovers weren't doing much for me, but they must have grown on me. I've definitely been missing them this season. I think it helped make the story more Sarah's story, and it is supposed to be her Chronicles after all.

Anonymous said...

ooh, didn't think of it being a mini-terminator! I assumed that Catherine Weaver died in the helicopter crash with her husband, and the T1001 has only been impersonating her since then... which would be even creepier as the little girl has suddenly had her mother replaced by a terminator.

Anonymous said...

Great work by Summer Glau this season. She truly is a superb actress. The second season has just come alight for me. Season one was watchable, without being brilliant. This episode however shows exactly what the show's all about. Long may it continue.

Anonymous said...

Very good indeed and Summer Glau is amazing. I would love to see more of Cameron/Allison getting into that camp.
I also really Sarah´s part, she never had the chance to have a normal life or worry about normal things.

celticmarc said...

Once again, kudos for Miss Glau. Although we didn't had any "action", compared to last week, it was nonetheless gripping. And since when a robot shed tears ? Wow.

On cool ! An unshaved LA Exposito ! And a mini T1000 ?