Terminator: To the Lighthouse

When this episode started, I thought the A-plot with Sarah, John, and Charlie was going to be more of the same, tired trend of fairly understated material. Part way through the episode, when Sarah was watching John sleep and remembering “fun times” in the jungle, I actually started channeling Dark Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and thought, “Bored now.” Fortunately, things picked up considerably when we learned the truth about Sarah’s tumor and all hell broke loose in Connor land. Not really a good turn of event for the characters (especially poor Charlie), but a great turn around for the episode as a whole.

In the end, Sarah’s story was about coming to terms with John’s growing ability to protect himself. The events at the lighthouse all but slapped her in the face with the truth that none of them can truly protect John. Ultimately, he can only rely on himself. Moreover, she was forced to recognize that she’s no different from Derek or Cameron when it comes to making mistakes that may put John in danger and result in others getting hurt. She’s not any more trustworthy than they are. Her insistence on pursuing the three dots is what ultimately led to the attacks in this episode and to Charlie’s death (the bullet pattern on his chest actually was the three dots). Sarah spent a lot of time pointing fingers at Derek and Cameron throughout the episode, but in the end, she’s the one that made mistakes that led the enemy right to their door.

It’s a shame that Charlie had to die to drive this point home for Sarah. He was a good guy who got dealt a pretty crappy hand by the Connors and Skynet. I liked his scenes with John. He was so fatherly; trying to share his pain to help John through his. I wish he’d been able to live a bit longer. “Maybe if things had been different...” The sad story of John Connor’s life.

While I wasn’t overly thrilled with much of the ‘A’ storyline this week, I was pretty intrigued and engaged by the assorted ‘B’ storylines. I loved the scenes between Derek and Cameron, and they finally managed to put together a pretty compelling plot with John Henry, Catherine, and Ellison.

The revelations that John Henry has a “brother” who was created by no less than Miles Dyson of Cyberdyne really made my jaw drop. I always love it when they throw us a curve ball and link back to the established movie history. Is this brother the pre-cursor to Skynet, and John Henry something else? Are the two intelligences the beginning of different factions of metal in the post-Judgment Day world?

What’s more, the writers seemed to suggest that the Cyberdyne Intelligence was behind the coordinated attacks on the Connor crew. The guy who was about extract Cameron’s chip was told that the diagram of the metal terminator was provided by his contact’s brother. Kind of a conspicuous reference after we just learned about John Henry’s brother. Sarah thinks that Winston implanted her with the transmitter (he did check out her scars when she was unconscious). Was he maybe working for the Cyberdyne Intelligence when he kidnapped her and not Catherine’s people as we thought? If Sarah’s had the implant this long, why wait until now to strike (how long has it been anyway)? Is it because the Cyberdyne Intelligence just learned what it needed to from John Henry?

On the Cameron and Derek front, she dropped a couple of massive bombs on him this week. First, she hit him with the pregnancy and miscarriage news. (Kind of begs the question was Jessie pregnant in Derek’s version of reality, too? Did his Jessie experience something similar to the Jessie we saw?) Then, she gut punched him with this little exchange:

Cameron: You know the location of the safe house. John’s location. If they tortured you...
Derek: That would never happen.
Cameron: It has before.

This was the revelation that most excited me this week. Are we finally going to learn what happened to Derek in that basement with the piano music? It sounds like Cameron knows about what happened to him there. I was starting to fear we’d never learn what that was all about. Especially with the series drawing to a close.

Of course, the combination of Cameron’s two revelations to Derek have my head spinning with time travel questions. The writers seem to have established that Derek and the Jessie we met came from different futures. Wisher existed in his reality, but not in hers, because Derek came back and changed the past. So how could Cameron know what happened to Derek in his reality *and* know what happened to Jessie in hers? If the one time Cameron met Jessie was what we saw in last week’s episode, then she was part of the reality Derek altered. If that’s the case, how would she also know what happened to him in his unaltered reality—in which Wisher was alive and chained to the floor with him? Perhaps the different realities are close enough that the key elements are the same. Or maybe she was referring to the experience Jessie's Derek had with Charles Fischer.

Other thoughts:

When John Henry started fritzing, I was fairly well convinced that Savannah was a goner. Thank goodness, the writers didn’t go that route. I think it would have been a little too much to take.

Did they have to show the dead dog when Sarah got back to the lighthouse? We already knew that seriously bad things went down. We didn’t need to see that.

Ellison lied to Catherine and John Henry about finding Sarah. Good to know he doesn’t quite trust them yet.

Final rating: 4 out of 5. I really liked the end of this one, and it left me feeling pretty positive about the whole episode, even though I was fairly bored through parts of it.

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

8 comments:

Joseph said...

John Henry's brother appears to be skynet itself as seen in Terminator 3. It was described in this episode as a program which downloaded itself into nearly every computer it came into contact with, that's exactly what happened in T3. Although the movie doesn't happen because the conners traveled forward through time, they didn't actually do anything that would stop the military from creating the skynet program. Cameron brought them to this time because this is when Judgment Day occurs.

John Henry may be the way to stop it, ironically. He wouldn't have existed either without the latest time travel. Skynet is a virus spreading throughout cyberspace; when it reaches critical mass Judgment Day begins. John Henry may be the only intelligence strong enough to resist it, or possibly stop it.

This actually seems to be the setup for season 3 if it happens. (Crosses fingers)

Dimitri said...

I have to disagree about the first half of the episode. It didn't bore me at all, and it was necessary to humanize the characters. They are affected by the horrible events surrounding them. We know John and Sarah will hurt over Charlie's death and can almost feel their pain already because the series has taken the time to show us how much they love him. That's what made the second half so suspenseful.

It can't be all payoff all the time. Otherwise, you end up with something like the two last seasons of Heroes, where the characters bounce back infuriatingly rapidly from a series of traumatic events and lose all their credibility as consistent characters as a result. What I love about Sarah Connor Chronicles is that it's about believable people, not shocking twists and violence (even though there's lots of that too).

It's like music. The silences between the beats are part of the melody, and Sarah Connor Chronicles is a slow and deliberate march.

sloth15 said...

I liked this episode a lot, like all of them, but I'm starting to get annoyed.

They have 2 main plots that get a lot of airtime: John Connor, and John Henry.

The problem here is that the plots haven't crossed in 10 episodes (by my rough count.) That is 4 months in real life. It is getting frustrating.

Jess Lynde said...

Joseph, I like your idea that maybe John Henry is the only one that can stop Skynet and your observation that he wouldn't have existed in this time frame if Cameron didn't jump them through time. Very interesting.

Dimtri, normally, I would agree with you 100 percent on the pacing and showing the character fallout. The time spent on the character impacts is one of the things that I loved about the show from the start. I'm actually a little peeved at myself for becoming one of those "more action!" people. But, like I said last week, I feel like we aren't getting a good balance of character beats and payoff in the back half of this season. We already knew how much John and Sarah care about Charlie from previous episodes. It really wasn't necessary to draw things out the way they did in this episode for the ending to have an impact. At least in my opinion.

That said, I really appreciate the feedback! I love hearing what other people thought of the episode, even when we don't agree.

Peter said...

Jess,
I think the first half hour was mostly about Charley's feelings toward Sarah, how she was a direct cause of essentially ruining his life. Sarah shows up and Michelle dies as a result and Charley just can't quite get over that. It brings home the fact that everyone that Sarah touches is at risk and often it is the innocent that pay the big price. How many characters have died merely because they lifes somehow touched John's and/or Sarah's? I think the theme was "ever vigalent" as the Sarah voice over at the beginning of the episode pointed out. I like the character stuff better than the action stuff; I initailly did not like T2 at all because it struck me as just one long car chase (and really, how long is it gonna take before Arnie and friends realize that shooting a T1000 with a shotgun is pretty much pointless).
The story I am waiting for is "What is up with Cameron and her chip on a fritz?".

Anonymous said...

I liked it but it just felt average again. Most of this season has been mostly average.

celticmarc said...

Oh, a chance of pace. Time for disaster, and for the entire troop. 2 episodes left. Season 2 started with a bang; hopefully, it will end like that also. (I won't cheat, I won't check your remaining reviews) (promise) (it's not Lost)

Time travel is great, but the billion questions that you raise are giving me a headache. And that's a compliment. You have put a LOT of thought into your reviews. Jess, you are giving a new meaning to the expression "food for thought".

Watching a TV show now without a review from this blog is like cake with no frosting.

Anonymous said...

10 years too late to the party but I did watch this today. The bullets on Charlie was actually 4 dots, not 3 so I think this review proves the point of trying to see them everywhere.

I did however notice the 3 dot pattern on the red lights of the server box of John Henry.