Terminator: Adam Raised a Cain

Now that's what I’m talking about! I thought this was an outstanding episode, despite a completely shocking turn of events that, quite frankly, has taken me a few days to process. This one started out on an emotional note, ended on an emotional note, and took us for quite a ride in between. Not only did it have great action and suspense, but even the simplest character conversations were loaded with tension and things left unspoken. Best of all, this episode finally brought the John Connor and John Henry plots together.

I’m not quite sure what to make of it all. The events of this episode and last week’s seem to confirm that the Connors and Zeira Corp are fighting the same enemy: Skynet. Why else would a terminator come to kill or kidnap Weaver’s daughter? Catherine’s scene with Ellison in the elevator, and later with John Henry in the lab, finally shed some light on her agenda and it doesn’t fit with Skynet’s mission to exterminate humanity. Whatever it is she is trying to create with John Henry is designed to ensure humans survive. John Henry’s survival may one day ensure Savannah and Agent Ellison’s survival. So it seems suspicions regarding different factions of metal have been confirmed.

I really enjoyed all of the John Henry scenes this week. In the last few weeks, he has gone from completely freaking me out to becoming someone I root for. I don’t know if it is Garrett Dillahunt’s delivery or the physical quirks he brings to the character, but I’ve become quite fond of John Henry. I, too, want to know what his brother is thinking, and I don’t want him to die again. He genuinely seems to care about Savannah. From the look on his face when she was trapped in the garage and he didn’t know how to help her, to his willingness to keep Ellison’s secrets in order to ensure her safe return, to them singing together at the end. I actually got a bit upset when John described him as something worse than Cromartie and when Sarah said they were going to burn Zeira Corp to the ground. Kudos to Garrett and the writers for what they have done with this character.

While the writers giveth this week by finally having the Connor and Zeira Corp plots intersect, they also taketh away with Derek’s sudden, random death. Despite the characters living in a world where death literally lurks around every corner, I was not prepared to lose a major character this way. Especially not Derek. How can that be it for Derek? He added so much to the show, and I felt like there was so much more for him to do in this story. Even though they showed him quite dead, I kept expecting it to not be real. I guess I just expected a more profound or ‘noble’ death for Derek, not something so senseless and random. Perhaps what happened is more appropriate and more realistic, given the world the Connors live in, but it has left me kind of numb. I think I’d be more upset if the series wasn’t about to end (or I'd be holding out hope that through the miracle of time travel and altered realities that we’d see Derek again), but as things stand, I give the writers credit for making such a bold and unexpected choice. R.I.P. Derek Reese.

It is a good thing that John is starting to become more the John Connor of legend, because he is rapidly losing his entire support system. First Riley, then Charlie and Derek, and now possibly Sarah. If not to prison, then to terminal illness. Cameron said that Sarah is losing weight, which is one of the things she noted about her cancer-stricken buddy back in ‘Self-Made Man.’ So is the implication that Sarah does have cancer, even though the breast lump wasn’t what she thought?

My chief complaint about this episode is that I think the writers really frakked up the timeline continuity. If memory serves, the series started out in 1999 and they jumped ahead eight years to 2007. Events have been happening in fairly tight time intervals since then, and I’m pretty sure that there were references to it being late 2007 early in the season (wasn’t that part of their phone code?). It is conceivable that up to six months or so have passed during the course of the season, but that doesn’t quite fit with Weaver saying in this episode that Ellison has only worked for her a few months. Plus, both Sarah and Ellison referenced her death/disappearance 8 years ago (1999). So how is it 1984, the year of Kyle's death, is 25 years ago, and Derek is getting buried in 2009? Where did we pick up an extra year in the story? Did I miss something somewhere along the way? Is this some clue that things are not what they seem? Or did the writers completely screw this up?

Other thoughts:

The parallel scenes with the final resting spots of the Brothers Reese was a nice touch. I actually started to believe Derek was really gone when I saw that ‘2009’ headstone. I got a bit choked up. (I didn’t pick up on the timeline problem until later.)

Kudos to Thomas Dekker this week. He had to convey quite the range of emotions with little more than facial expressions, and he was very effective. His reactions to Derek’s death, Savannah’s imaginary friend, and Sarah’s arrest said so much with very few words.

John Henry’s comments about the human brain’s inability to download when we die made me wonder if speculation about Future John being dead or now metal are true. Maybe that’s how John Henry leads to survival for humans. Not sure how many humans would consider that survival.

The light and images reflected on John Henry’s face when he was talking to Ellison about his brother reminded me of the dot-and-spoke pattern associated with the drones.

I loved the song at the end of the episode. Even though the lyrics were humorous, the tune had an air of sadness and fit well with the ending montage. I was surprised to see that it was John Henry singing, but it nicely brought Savannah’s comments about teaching him to sing full circle. Garrett Dillahunt has a nice voice.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5. Although I’m pretty upset about what happened to Derek, this was a very strong episode that effectively brought the various plots together.

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

6 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

Can't fault this episode Jess (apart from the time line thing, but that went right over my head anyway). If there'd been more episodes like this in the series then maybe the show wouldn't be facing cancellation. It was one of those episodes where the wheels just seemed to fall off. So it's just John and Cameron now? Interesting.

I must say, I was a little disappointed that Weaver seems to be on the same side as the Connors. Call me shallow if you like, but I was kinda looking forwards to a big Cameron/Weaver robo-scrap at the end of the season. I guess that's not going to happen now. Apart from in my mind! Where all things are possible.

PK

Josie K said...

Great review, Jess.

I hope this show isn't officially canceled (the promo did call the next episode the season finale...), because I think it was the one that hooked me. Up until now, I'd been a rather lazy watcher who didn't mind if I missed a ep.

But Derek's death. In the words of Cyrus Vail: "How touching his pointless death is." Or something to that effect.

Billie Doux said...

What Josie said. Really. I actually had to stop my DVR and rewind it because I thought, did Derek just *die*? Derek *couldn't* have just died. And yet, even though it was so unexpected and undramatic (is that a word?), it worked because it fit into the story. People around the Connors die all the time. Especially in the last few episodes.

Having said that, I must add that I was crazy about Derek when his character was introduced, but I thought he was underutilized and not so well served this season. Losing him should have been devastating, and it wasn't. Although the anonymous headstones really got to me, too. Kyle and Derek together again, nameless soldiers who sacrificed their lives for humanity. And no one but the Connors will ever know what they did.

Nice review, Jess. Here's hoping the show isn't canceled. The buzz has been pretty negative.

Paul Kelly said...

Yeah...I'm kind of hoping this isn't true.

Terminator Cancelled

*Warning - There are a few expletives in the comments way down the bottom of the page, but the article itself is fine*

DC said...

Liked it when Savannah told Shirley Manson, "you're not a boy and you can't sing"...

celticmarc said...

(Don't hate me nor rolls your eyes : the pic above ? Formerly Doose's Market. I really know that part of the WB exterior set.)

Awwww sh*t. I wasn't the only one choked by Derek's death. I had the same reaction with Julianne Moore's death in Children of Men. One moment you're alive and kicking, the next you're gone. Powerful impact.

Good thing for Cameron that she has a 20 second reboot. Chills during the song.

Powerful.