Terminator: Today is the Day, Part 2

I wasn’t real jazzed by this two-parter. Despite some intriguing moments, it was much more low key than I would have expected or wanted at this point in the season. I found the second part particularly underwhelming. It seems strange to say that for an episode that featured a liquid metal terminator, a break room riot, several key confrontations, and the likely death of a major character at the hands of another. And yet, in the end, I was left feeling rather ho hum about the whole thing.

I do have to give the episode credit for bringing the Riley and Jessie story to what felt like a fitting conclusion. John and Derek learned the truth, we learned Jessie’s motivations, and she paid for her crimes. The tale even featured some surprising twists: John already knowing about Jessie and laying in wait for her; learning that Jessie lost a baby in the future/past; and learning that Future John tries to join forces with a faction of liquid metal terminators.

There were other things to enjoy in the episode as well. I loved John’s initial conversation with Derek about his chances against Cameron. What a great way to make Derek understand that Cameron didn’t kill Riley, and to begin convincing him that maybe Jessie did. I also really liked Jessie and Derek’s final scene. I knew he’d kill her when he found out what she’d done, but I liked the way they revisited his history with Andy/Wisher and the fact that she’s from a different future to explain why he’d go through with it (I honestly think he did). It’s always interesting to get some insight into the inner workings of Derek’s mind and how he justifies his actions. We even got a great scene at the end in which John finally lets himself grieve for Riley. It was nice to see him turn to Sarah for comfort rather than Cameron (even if she’s not necessarily better equipped to provide it).

Once again, the John Henry, Catherine, and Ellison material felt like it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the episode. That said, the writers did pique my “what’s really going on here?” radar when John Henry told Catherine that Ellison agreed to leave him turned on and she said “Well, that’s progress.” I’m starting to think that she’s not interested in John Henry learning morality at all, but rather learning how best to manipulate humans emotionally. She seems to want Ellison to see John Henry as more than just a machine. In retrospect, John Henry’s comments about “the eyes being the window to the soul” and his “friendship” with Ellison seem designed to break down Ellison’s preconceived notions about his pupil. In that context, I suppose their scenes did provide a nice counterpoint to Jessie’s experiences.

Other thoughts:

The lack of background music in several of the scenes was very conspicuous.

Jessie to Cameron: “What the hell are we fighting for, if telling you is the same thing as telling Connor? You’re a damn machine. You’re not the same. It’s not the same.” It’s pretty hard to argue with that point. Between that and losing her baby, it’s no wonder Jessie thought things would be better if she split up John and his “metal bitch.”

And with the demise of Captain Queeg, yet another actor from The Wire meets an unfortunate fate on Terminator. This one was pretty easy to see coming.

Final rating: 3 out of 5. I’m hoping the last few episodes step things up a little.

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

8 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

Hi Jess,

You do highlight a pretty obvious problem with the show. There have been many episodes I've liked. And I do love the show generally. But I don't recall there being any really "WOW!!!" moments. It's a bit of a slow burner really. Interesting...enjoyable...but I'd just wish they'd "kick my ass" every once in a while.

PK

Jess Lynde said...

Absolutely. I actually like the slow-burning pace of the series most of the time. But if they don't put in a few "action overdrive" episodes to pay off the slow burn every once in awhile, it starts to feel stale. There really were a number of important moments and resolutions in this past episode, but I wanted more out of it somehow. I don't feel like the back half of the season has struck the proper balance between action and introspection.

Billie Doux said...

My favorite bit was John knowing about Jessie. It was a nice reminder of what John is going to be.

And I absolutely agree that this episode should have had more pow to it.

Nice review, Jess. You always seem to pick up on what works well and what doesn't.

citten said...

I liked this one. I loved the hotel scene with John and Jessie - very good acting, and nice to see John was observant/smart enough to realize Riley was from the future.

Back in season one, the actor playing John often annoyed me - I didn't think he was totally convincing - the other actors were always better imho. I don't know when it changed - maybe when John cut of that awful hair - but now he *is* John Conner - and all of them are great. I'm even waaay past 90210-flashbacks - Derek's just there, and looking good :)

The only thing that "bothers" me about the show, is that they should have called it the Conner chronicles - cause it's not that much about Sarah. I do love Sarah, but I love the whole Conner group, so I don't actually mind.

Billie Doux said...

The only thing that "bothers" me about the show, is that they should have called it the Conner chronicles - cause it's not that much about Sarah. I do love Sarah, but I love the whole Conner group, so I don't actually mind.

Plus it would make the title shorter and less confusing. Everyone shortens it a different way. :)

Anonymous said...

Good one but these last ones have felt average to me. I just feel a bit disconnected.

celticmarc said...

Wow....for the last ten minutes. Intense exchange between Derek and Jess (excellent acting). John cracking up; Cameron with the pigeon. No, nothing will ever be the same. Ever.

And I'm glad you liked those as well. Loved the no-no with the finger from the T 1000: another shout out to the T2 movie. Nice touch.

"Metal lover" : hum, variation on a nasty expression. Will hatred ever vanish from Humanity ? Forgot to mention last time, but John's leather jacket is squeaking a lot. I may not notice the 3 dots, but hey.

"You're not my Jessie."

celticmarc said...

Citten has (had) a great point : those chronicles belong to the family, not just one member.