Terminator: Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep

This is the kind of episode that keeps you guessing the first time through, and provides some interesting insights on a second viewing. On initial watch, I spent the whole episode trying to figure out which scenario was reality and which was the dream. Both scenarios had elements that made them seem real, but each also had elements that made them seem like they could be in Sarah’s head. Right up until the very end, I thought we’d learn the whole episode was in her head and that something else entirely was going on.

Overall, I like where they went with it. The events with Winston have much more significance for Sarah as reality, plus we got a little more information about Skynet’s operation. Likewise, the dream sequence at the sleep clinic gave us an interesting look at the various fears that are apparently keeping Sarah up at night.

The whole episode was chock full of references to Sarah dying or her willingness to die for John. She repeatedly said she’d die to protect John, and Winston even said, “Hell, it’s what she wants,” before he attempted to kill her. There were also several references to how dying won’t help. Sarah’s roommate, Dana, said about her dreams, “I’ve died a thousand times. It doesn’t get any easier,” and the clinic nurse (who looked more like doctor to me) said “I’m sure you’d like that. To die. It’s never that easy.”

In the end, both the dream and reality were all about Sarah coming to terms with the fact that her willingness to die for John isn’t enough. Dying is too easy and ultimately won’t protect him. To truly defend him, she has to be willing to kill for him, which is what Derek and Cameron have been telling her all along. And now she has. Sarah’s finally become what she’s always appeared to be to the outside world: a bad bitch.

I was glad to have the voiceover monologues back this week. Even though they only appeared at the beginning and the end, they very effectively “chronicled” Sarah’s passage from being a victim of the witching hour demons to becoming one the demons herself. Her initial descriptions of the creatures from the shadowlands said they come when we cannot move, “they lay on us, press on us, and take from us what is most precious.” All of which perfectly fit her experiences with Winston and her nightmare sleep clinic. But by the end, she was the one “sitting on a man’s chest” while he is paralyzed with fear, taking away all he has, even his life.

The sleep clinic sequences provided an interesting glimpse into Sarah’s deepest fears and insecurities. Aside from her issues coping with Winston’s “death” and her concerns about her ability to protect John, Sarah’s chief fears seem to stem from Cameron’s continued presence and her experience with the drone. The repeated scenes showing John and Cameron as extremely “cozy,” as well as some of her discussions with John, point to a fear of becoming useless and being replaced by Cameron. Moreover, the entire notion of the sleep clinic as a Skynet facility to study humans while they are most vulnerable seems connected to a fear of what the machines may have done to her when the drone “scanned” her after she was shot. Since we still have no real idea what the drone may have done to her or how she got to the hospital afterward, this fear seems pretty valid to me.

I suspect the sleep clinic hallucination was based, at least in part, on an actual visit to a sleep clinic. In her first phone call with John, he said “I was hoping you were asleep” even though she clearly wasn’t at home, and she said “It didn’t take,” which is the same thing she later said to her nurse/doctor about therapy. So maybe she gave the sleep clinic a cursory try, decided it wasn’t working before really giving it a chance, checked herself out, and went back to hunting the machines. So when she got captured and drugged by Winston, it was fresh in her mind, forming the basis of her nightmare.

Other thoughts:

Sarah’s escape and fight with Winston were truly cringe-worthy. I thought her graphically biting her wrist and breaking her hand to escape the cuffs was one of the nastiest things I’d seen since the Season 1 resurrection of Cromartie. Then she jabbed the needle in Winston’s eye. Ack.

Dana’s dreams about burning alive seemed like a nod to T2 Sarah’s dreams about Judgment Day, in which she gets annihilated at the playground. She’s died a thousand times, too.

Winston was probably just parroting Skynet propaganda when he said the enemy was like a weed and you have to kill the root to truly destroy it, but I think Sarah should take it to heart and turn it back on them.

I was glad that Cameron got a few moments this week to ponder the nature of dreams. Too bad it turned out to only be in Sarah’s head.

Final rating: 4 out of 5. Even though it took me most of the episode to sort out what was really going on, the end sequence and what it likely means for Sarah going forward was well worth it. Plus, the episode is pretty intriguing the second time through.

Also, I wanted to give everyone a quick heads up that I will be on vacation this week, so I may not get to see the 3/6 episode and post a review until later next week. I will do my best to get the review up before the 3/13 episode.

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

6 comments:

Matthew said...

Did anyone catch the three bullets in the sleep clinic doctors chest? Its the three dots pattern again. It appeared in a reflection of a car window last week, and I'm pretty sure theres been an appearance of it every week since they mentioned it first.

Paul Kelly said...

Hi Jess,

I was totally taken in by this episode. I thought that the dream stuff was real and the other stuff was fake. Just goes to show what an absolute plum I am.

I do like "consequences" episodes though. Sure they're slower, and often don't progress the main story much. But it's the true to life fall out that gives a show realism (BSG are masters of this).

Poor Cameron seems to have slipped into the background somewhat these past few episodes. I hope Summer gets some decent air time soon.

Great review...and enjoy your holiday :-)

Paul

Peter said...

Jess,
Great review (as usual). I too had to watch it a second time to fullt appreciate what was going on. Of course, I watch all the episodes twice (same with Lost and BSG).
Loved the voice-over. Sarah waxing philosophic with Sarah's theme music gives me a buzz. Sarah is indeed a "bad bitch" and why does that excite me so (although the idea of her sticking a needle in my eye is somewhat less exciting). I know their are a lot of die hard Linda Hamilton fans who refuse to see what Lena Headey has brought to the role but I find her completely compelling a one baddass but conflicted warrior. I guess I am kind of a "love the one your with" kind of a guy but for me, Lena is now Sarah Connor.
Wouldn't be my standard comment without again complaining about a lack of Cameron screen time. I mean she does do a great "standing in the background leering" but I want more. If the previews for next week are not misleading, maybe we will finally get the Cameron-Riley face off.

Billie Doux said...

Great review, Jess. Like Paul, I also thought the dream stuff was real and the real stuff was a dream. I just saw an article that DVR ratings just coming in for "Terminator" and "Dollhouse" make their overall ratings better. Let's keep our fingers crossed that a miracle happens and we get another season of "Terminator."

Anonymous said...

Not very interesting and still kinda average. They should put more Cameron.

celticmarc said...

Great review as always and you bring some valid points. Personally, it was....nightmarish to watch. Hopefully, I'm gonna have a good night sleep after this...

Lmao for the snack machine. And we definitely need MORE Cameron.