Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Episode 2-1 Review

Welcome back to one the few new shows to survive the 2007/2008 Writer’s Strike, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. For those who don’t remember it, or who didn’t watch it, the show focuses on the lives of Sarah and John Connor after the end of the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Last season we were introduced to the following characters:

John Connor – future savior of humankind

Sarah Connor – kick-ass mom and all around awesome woman

Cameron – a Terminator sent back by the future John Connor to protect his teenage self

Cromartie – a Terminator sent back to find and destroy young John

Derek Reese – John’s uncle, also sent back from the future by John’s older self

FBI Agent James Ellison – the agent in charge of apprehending Sarah Connor

Charley and Michelle Dixon – Sarah’s former fiancé and his current wife

To re-cap the season one finale: Agent Ellison had tracked down Cromartie (who was impersonating an FBI agent in order to find the Connors) with a team who were all mercilessly slaughtered, except Ellison himself. Charley Dixon, an EMT, came to the scene of slaughter too late to help. The Connors discovered that a man they thought Derek Reese had killed to help the cause of destroying Skynet (future bane of mankind) was actually alive. Unfortunately they didn’t discover this in time to prevent him from blowing up their car (with Cameron in it) and attacking their house. All of this coincidentally takes place on John’s 16th birthday.

That brings us to this episode. Cameron is sitting apparently lifeless in the wreckage of the Connor-Mobile. Fortunately, being a Terminator, bombs mean nothing to her and her systems come back online just in time to enter the Connor house and kill all the bad guys attacking Sarah and John. Unfortunately, her programming has also reset to Kill-John-Connor mode. Before she can shoot him, a conveniently timed explosion goes off. Sarah and John leap from the window and take off on foot, while Cameron’s system must once again reset.

Meanwhile, Charley has raced to the Connor home just in time to pick up Derek. The two of them follow the path of chaos left by the escaping Sarah and John (cars jacked and then crashed, etc.), while Derek, like a scary dad, tries to discover Charley’s true intentions toward Sarah.

Sarah and John find their way to a chapel and claim sanctuary in order to plan and rest. Both realize that Cameron must be stopped, so they set a trap. A trail of blood leads Cameron to the baptismal font wherein an alarm clock has been placed. As she reaches into the water, Sarah and John flip a switch causing Cameron to be electrocuted and temporarily go offline. Sadly, despite this brilliant plan, they are lacking the tools they need to finish the job and remove her programming chip – a sharp knife and the proper screwdriver. This sets a pattern for quite a few more similar attempts to be made and thwarted before Sarah and John finally trap Cameron between two cars.

While John is trying again to remove Cameron’s chip (somehow he seems to have found the right screwdriver while he was running), Cameron tells him that she has healed herself and is good again, and that they she loves him. This strikes close to home with John. After he removes her chip, he sinks into a deep sulk as he wrestles with the possibility that she wasn’t lying. Finally he tells his mother to prepare a bonfire so they can burn Cameron, claiming that he understands and agrees with this necessity. However, instead of lighting the fire, John replaces Cameron’s memory. From her Terminator viewpoint we see John listed first as a target designated for destruction, and then that order is overwritten. Cameron has somehow managed to fix herself – this time.

Also interspersed throughout the episode are scenes with a new character; Catherine Weaver, played by Scottish singer Shirley Manson. The CEO of a company called ZeiraCorp; she has purchased the Turk program that will one day become Skynet. We discover in the end of the episode that Catherine Weaver is actually a T-1001, and will clearly become an important character in future episodes.

The episode ends with everyone collected at home checking inventory and reviewing the actions of the day. Cameron, after discussing faith and the idea of resurrection with Sarah, tells her not to ever let John save her again – as though Sarah needed to be told that! John sheds his Zack Efron haircut in favor of a snappy short new do in what is presumably a symbolic gesture to show his shift from a boy of 15 years to a man of 16.

There was a strange religious vibe in this episode; the sanctuary of a Catholic chapel, Cameron’s fascination with the image of Jesus Christ and the possibility of resurrection, and even biblical references from newcomer Catherine Weaver. There were also a few mystery spots. For example, how did Cameron override her directive rather than killing John? And why didn’t she do it earlier? For the most part, though, this action- and explosion-filled episode was a thoroughly satisfying start to the new season. The show has so far done an excellent job at upholding the Terminator standard of violence and Sarah Connor kicking butt, and it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

Susan Kearl is a university student with too much time on her hands who loves to watch TV.  She’s happy to contribute her opinions to the world of television viewers like you.

Sir Linksalot: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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