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Terminator: Ourselves Alone

This was a very intense episode, filled with dread and foreboding. A sense of doom hung over every quiet moment, slowly and steadily building towards Riley’s death. I could feel it coming the whole time, it was just a question of who would do it.

I completely believed for much of the episode that Cameron would kill Riley. The scene in the shed had me on the edge of my seat. The opening sequence with the accidental murder of the bird perfectly set us up to expect the worst in this confrontation. Every time Cameron’s hand twitched, I was expecting her to snap Riley’s neck. I was actually surprised when John showed up in the nick of time.

When Cameron didn’t kill Riley, I briefly thought Sarah would do the deed. After she murdered Winston in cold blood and began to accept the price of protecting John, I thought it would be a bold writing choice to have her take Riley out. I loved the short scene in which Sarah was clearly struggling with the decision to do just that. But I suppose that would be a step too far for her at this point. Willingly killing a man who is clearly an enemy agent is one thing. Gunning down your son’s girlfriend in front of him, even if you suspect her of being a traitor, is quite another.

In the end, it felt right that Jessie was the one to do it. She’s the one that’s been pulling Riley’s strings and controlling her destiny all along, so she should be the one to end things. I loved the revelation that Jessie’s real mission for Riley was for her to die at Cameron’s hands. What a wonderfully sick and twisted strategy, although unbelievably cruel to Riley (the poor fish caught by the bear). Skynet is getting much more resourceful and sophisticated with its anti-John Connor plotting. (I still believe Jessie is working for Skynet.) I can’t wait to see how she spins this unplanned event to work to her advantage. No doubt she’ll still try to pin the blame on Cameron.

I have to confess that I was glad to see Riley die (because I think her death will serve the story better than her continued existence), but I give her credit for showing some major cojones this week. As frightened as she must have been, she still stood her ground with Cameron in the shed and with John outside the house, noting that she’s not the only one keeping secrets. Then she confronted Jessie with her betrayal (brave, but stupid) and fought hard for her life. She showed some real spirit and made me wonder if, without all the lies, maybe she could have been good for John. Perhaps things will work out better for her in a different iteration of the ever-evolving time loop.

Even though Riley’s death was the major event in this episode, I was thrilled that Cameron *finally* got a chance to shine again. Her scenes with John were especially strong and gave me lots to ponder. Her revelation about John being ahead of schedule in what he has to learn got me thinking about her overarching mission again. What did Future John really send her back to do? I don’t think it was just to be his protector. Based on the events of this episode, I’m actually starting to think her real mission is a lot like Riley’s. To die. Only she knows it. John has to kill her to become the mythic John Connor. He has to learn to make the tough choices; to take the life of someone he cares about and give up his strongest protector. And she’s now given him the tools to do just that.

Other thoughts:

I had this sudden suspicion that maybe Jessie isn’t just working for the metal. Maybe she *is* the metal, made in the image of someone Derek cared about. I kept expecting her to be revealed as some kind of terminator during her fight with Riley. Perhaps not, but an interesting thought.

Poor Derek was once again resigned to background duty. Laying the groundwork for future episodes. I can’t wait to see how he reacts when he finds out the truth about Jessie. Because it is going to happen at some point. I wouldn’t be surprised if he kills her.

Final rating: 4 out of 5. A promising start for the next run of episodes.

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


  1. Hi Jess,

    I agree with your rating. This was a good episode. I was watching an interview with Joss Freidman last night and he promised a pretty action packed last 5-6 episodes...and more of Cameron. If this episodes is anything to go by, then I'm excited.

  2. Thanks, Paul. That's great news for the rest of the season, but probably too little too late as far as a next season goes. Renewal does not look promising. At least it sounds like the show will go out on a creative high.

  3. Loved it.
    Still don't think that Jessie is metal or is working for metal. I just think she is one more person who has a strong opinion about how John Connor should grow up. Think about it:

    1. Sarah. Wants to prevent judgment day so John can have a normal life.
    2. Derrick. Wants to prevent judgment day, but doesn't believe it possible to he wants to harden up John so he'll be ready to lead.
    3. Future John. Knows what is necessary and has sent Cameron back to prep John for the war. This mission relies heavily on John being able to program and repair metal.
    4. Jessie. The opposite of future John. Strongly believes that the resistance is better off without metal on their side. Will do anything to prevent it.
    5. Young John. Sex with robots is more common than you think. (Ok, maybe he just wants some semblance of a normal life.)

    Everyone is simply working hard to raise John to be who they want him to be.

    I think this is what Cameron was talking about. Future John can reprogram metal, and fixing Cameron's arm was an important step in training him to use the metal for good.
    Can't wait for tonights.

  4. An improvement from these last episodes. The Riley death/fight scene is very well-done.

  5. Captivating episode. Interesting review, and SOB, so many unanswered questions.

    Oh my, only 5 ep's to go and it's (already) over. And the musical score is still growing on me.


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