Terminator: The Good Wound

Welcome back, Sarah Connor fans! After a two-month break, the second half of the season picks up pretty much where we left off. Most of the episode was spent dealing with the aftermath from “Earthlings Welcome Here”: Sarah’s gunshot wound, her discovery of a major Skynet operation, and Riley’s attempted suicide.

I very much enjoyed the “return” of Kyle Reese. Having him as Sarah’s inner voice was a great device, and it tied in nicely with the last episode. She spent much of that episode reflecting on who she used to be and how she got to her current state of being, so of course Reese would be on her mind. The events of her short time with him are directly responsible for the death of her old life and the start of her new one. I loved the heavy reliance on his actual dialogue from the Terminator movie. It gave me a little thrill to hear it again, and it makes perfect sense to use those words, given that Sarah’s entire history with Reese was basically one night. Plus, from some of the camera angles, Jonathan Jackson even looked a bit like young Michael Biehn, especially in that trench coat.

Interesting that Sarah considers Reese a source of strength, when her life basically became a living hell after meeting him. I suppose the machines are truly at fault, but I think in her place I’d blame him just a little bit. Of course, her inner voice did briefly consider this point, when she told the doctor that Reese wasn’t the one who hurt her and he said, “That’s not completely true. If it weren’t for me …” But she pushed that thought away. Decisively.

The actual events surrounding the treatment of Sarah’s wound weren’t nearly so interesting as her internal dialogue. It became obvious pretty quickly that the doctor was abused, and that the sheriff was likely the guilty party. And the “Mexican standoff” between the doctor, Derek, and the sheriff was kind of cheesy. (Why did he want her to put down the gun anyway? Because she seemed to be defending the escaped patient?) But, regardless, I still found most of Sarah’s scenes compelling.

John Henry and Catherine Weaver provided my other favorite moments this week. John Henry was at his creepy, childlike best and Catherine was awesome as a one-“woman” clean-up crew. Her bloody annihilation at the warehouse made for a fantastic sequence (if you want something done right, …). The staging of the first murder was particularly effective. They totally made it seem like the guy was going to fall victim to another “urinal attack,” so when he made it out of the bathroom, I momentarily thought he was out of the woods. Then she quickly slit his throat from off screen! Great misdirecton and good way to build the tension.

I also loved John Henry’s fascination with the toys and the ball-and-socket joint. His questions for Ellison and God have me now agreeing with some of my readers that Ellison’s notions of faith and morality may be too simplistic for the likes of John Henry. It should be interesting to see how it all blows up in Ellison’s face. Maybe that is what Catherine is anticipating. Maybe, as another of my readers theorized, it’s what leads to Judgment Day.

My favorite John Henry and Catherine moment was when he confronted her with his knowledge of her true identity. Her calm, clipped response had me on the edge of my seat, and her “Everything I do, I do for you,” was chilling. (Even though it immediately made me think of that Brian Adams’s song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.) I want to see more scenes with those two together.

The episode didn’t linger too much on the immediate fallout from Riley’s attempted suicide, but the few moments we had were kind of interesting. I especially loved the short scenes with John and Cameron “discussing” their next moves. Cameron’s bluntness about Riley’s presence was outstanding: “Future you has more important things to do,” and “No, we don’t need to find her.” I also really liked the look Cameron exchanged with Riley before leaving the hospital room. Intense!

I know I speculated that Riley's suicide attempt was a ploy to get to John, and she suggested as much to Jessie, but I don’t think I believe her. If anything, it seems more like a ploy to get to Jessie. Regardless, I liked her reference to the suicidal girl from Season 1. I was never a fan of that boring interlude, but I definitely appreciate the writers' efforts to keep all things from the past in play. It gives me hope that even the most tedious or innocuous plot points can have some payoff somewhere down the line.

Other thoughts:

How the heck did Sarah get to hospital? I’ve watched the episode twice now, and I can’t quite piece it together. It seems like she showed up in her vehicle, unconscious with a gunshot wound (since they had the vehicle and didn’t know anything about the warehouse until they listened to the recording). Did she drive herself to the hospital? Given all her subsequent actions, it doesn’t seem likely to me that she would willingly go to the hospital in the first place. Did she go to kidnap a doctor, but pass out before she could do it?

I found the dream sequence with Sarah and Kyle at the tree very odd. The tree made me think of the evil apple trees from The Wizard of Oz. Was that the point? Was the scene supposed to mean something in particular? Because the significance was lost on me.

Were the names “Kyle” and “Derek” even mentioned in the episode? It was always “Reese” or “him.” And Sarah literally saw Derek as Kyle when she first woke up after the surgery. Interesting.

I guess Jessie wasn’t the one that killed Alan Park and the hypnotherapist. I doubt the timing would have worked, given that she was with Derek when he got the news about Riley. Depends on how far away Sarah was.

Garrett Dillahunt is just great. The way he delivers his dialogue is so precise and yet full of childlike wonder. I had to laugh at the way he described the character features of the various toys. And his “blank” smiles are priceless.

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5. I didn’t think this was an outstanding episode, but Reese’s presence made it better than average for me.

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

12 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

I enjoyed this episode immensely. I don't know whether absence has made the heart grow fonder, but I've really missed this show.

The only thing that's annoying me is I'm having to watch it online, rather than on TV, which is dulling my watching enjoyment somewhat (but I'll definitely be buying the season on DVD, so that minor niggle will right itself in time).

The ratings aren't looking good though. I know people are blaming the new Friday the 13th movie...but 3.7m's a bit of a drop on Monday night's figures isn't it?

Whatever, I really liked this episode and am looking forwards to the rest of the season. Great review Jess!

Billie Doux said...

I liked this one a lot, too, and for exactly the reasons you mentioned in your review, Jess. Loved seeing Kyle Reese with Sarah, and the quotes from the movie were just lovely. It made me reconnect with the series emotionally. And I also liked that Sarah had to deal with a bullet wound and it was a big deal. When someone gets shot, it *is* a big deal. You don't just get up and keep fighting and ignore it.

The Weaver/John Henry scenes were also really strong and fun to watch, as well as darned creepy. It was good to see Connor Trinneer again, even though he was playing a bad guy.

Peter said...

Jess, Nice to see you back!
As one of the readers who most objects to Ellison and his childish (at best) theology, I was delighted with John Henry's question to Ellison's god as to why so few ball and socket joints. Evolution anyone? John Henry is more or less a child but he already sees through the "man made in god's image" bs (which seems to be the whole of Ellison's ontology).
I too don't understand the transition between the end of the previous episode and the beginning of this one. Were all those injuries on Sarah new (the small circular scars on her arms) or was that a suggestion that she had been tortured? The last we saw of here she was looking up at some sort of flying ship. Was that a hallucination and if not what happened to her? How did she get to the hospital? Are we even supposed to be wondering about that part? Answers to come??
More Cameron please. Seemingly her only function is once or twice an episode she remarks on what bad news Riley is. Okay, Cam, we get it, you don't approve of Riley (well other than John who does?). Season one was much more Cameron centric - I need more (and not just because I love Summer Glau but also because of what the character brings to the mix - like humor and existential ruminations).

sloth15 said...

I think Cameron's 'existential ruminations' are being fulfilled by John Henry now, but you're right Peter, I do miss them.

Ellison's interaction's with John Henry bother me a little bit. If Ellison is supposed to be the moral compass of the AI, they should be sitting down together for more than a few minutes at a time. Ellison seems to hit and run these sessions instead of teaching about theology, morality, ethics, and the history of these topics. If it was ME teaching a computer about God (and that is a REALLY bad idea...) I wouldn't focus on a single religion or ideology, but the teachings of various religions and the mistakes made through certain interpretations. Also that power corrupts. I would be sure to include a lot of that.

Instead, it seems that instead of Ellison teaching John Henry to be 'good,' we have John Henry teaching Ellison to question his faith. And he does it in under 90 seconds.

Good to see David Silver back at badassery again. The way he slipped in and blew up Sarah's car was very post-Judgement Day of him.

Peter is right though, we need more Summer. (Except not in those weird bumpers with Eliza, Summer was awkward and a little creepy in them.)

Peter said...

sloth15,
Well if Ellison was doing what you suggested, teaching morality from a more univeesal perspective, I would not be so anti-Ellison. He seems emminently unqualified to teach anyone about anything. Not to mention that John Henry is making a fool of him.

Anonymous said...

Liked the episode a lot. Very nice work from Lena Headey.
John Henry and Elison´s scenes were also very good. Too bad Elison is being played.

celticmarc said...

Well, I was in a "“What the hell?” state" for most of the watching.

Agreeing with you, Riley in the hotel room was poignant; maybe we should show more gratitude to our running water and (well, most of it) our way of Life....

Quoting you : "I’m sure there were a lot more that I missed." Holy crap ! I'm taking notes, BUT I did not put any attention to those particular details. Shame on me.

As always Jess, a pleasure to read you.

celticmarc said...

ah crap !

Disregard this comments that is indeed related to the previous ep. My bad !

Jess Lynde said...

Too funny, celticmarc! I was reading your comments and wondering why you had seemingly skipped an episode, and then I realized these were your comments on the previous episode. Ha! At least you know I'm enjoying following your progress through the series. Thanks for sharing your reactions. :)

celticmarc said...

Glad I made you laugh Jess ! I shall return in a few moments for THIS one.

celticmarc said...

More ghosts. "Come with me if you want to live". Wow.

I LOL'ed a bit when I saw Connor Trinneer in a sheriff suit. Brown is NOT his colour.

You're right. Garrett Dillahunt is thrilling in this series. The exchange between Weaver and John Henry was, well, wow. (can't find a good adjective here)

I'm still enthralled by this show, but I fond it more and more weird as the weeks go by.

celticmarc said...

Lots of interesting comments on this one.

(What was I doing in Feb 09 ?) (yes, NOT watching this indeed)

And indeed, this show raises a bundle of questions.