Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Terminator, "Complications": Twice the Toby

Once again, busy day/week, but I was able to watch "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" while getting some other work done. No time for a full-blown post, but three observations after the jump:

1)As with "Heroes," I've given up on trying to follow the big story arcs (or, at times, even the episodic plots). But unlike "Heroes," the sense of mood that the producers and actors create is so strong that I don't even care if it makes sense.

2)Who ever thought we would live to see a day where David Silver could beat the snot out of Toby Ziegler? And that the two would be equally badass?

3)I'm surprised to realize that Ellison's probably dumber than I thought, and that the show's concept of time travel is starting to trend back towards the "Terminator 3" model that I thought the producers really hated.

Fire away.

16 comments:

pgillan said...

This trend of bringing in Richard Schiff as a guest and then shooting him needs to stop immediately.

On a different note, I'm now forced to wonder if the first Terminator was a Slayer-bot.

Anonymous said...

I continue to be impressed by this show. The episode pacing and character development is starting to remind me -dare I say it? - The Sopranos.

Unfortunately, after giving TSCC an idiotic slot (Fingernail removal at 8PM on Monday? Really?), the Fox Brain Trust is now moving it to its death slot on Fridays.

Couldn't the darkest show on network TV have been given a chance midweek at 9? And some better promotion?

I'm sorry that this won't last three or four years so that we could see what the writers and actors could *really* do.

Anonymous said...

This episode had a lot of twists. Did anyone else think that this was going to take a "fight club" type twist with Derrick's girlfriend actually just being a figment of his subconsious trying to bring his hidden memories? Then it turns out the real twist is that his girlfriend is from an alternate future. Did not see that coming.
As for the other storyline about Sarah's dreams, I still don't have a clue what that was about. I guess we will find out next week.

Eugene Freedman said...

I absolutely loved the creation of a near infinity loop (there is an out, but it relies on free will). The only question is, why was Fischer was in Pelican Bay the first time (before this plot played out). It was extremely tight in terms of the time travel, creation of an n-jump point, and the way that affects the future. I was very impressed.

Fischer the Younger obviously hates Derrick and Jesse now. So, he wants to torture them in the future. But, will he want to go back in time and destroy the world after doing so just to come back knowing he will be killed? And, if he avoids being killed b/c he knows when he will be picked up, will he avoid being caught by Jesse and not create the torture part of the time line (Derrick's time line).

Sarah's dreams didn't really do it for me, but I thought the Derrick plot was so well done it didn't matter. Moreover, it was nice to see John appear tough for the first time with Ellison, but obviously not tough enough.

T said...

-I was pleasantly surprised by the time travel. Was not expecting that to be the answer, that Derek and Jesse are from different timelines (but, you know, still know each other)

-The turned-over tortoise: The moment Sarah saw it on the road, you knew it was gonna Mean Something (which is a little annoying). But... the follow-through was really good, the payoff worth it. Still loving Cameron and Summer Glau's acting. When she flipped Ellison over I almost died. So funny, so wrong (because, you know, in HIS case turning him over doesn't really help him that much).

-Ellison--groan. I wasn't expecting THIS in particular (going to Shirley Manson with Chromartie's body), but I can't see Ellison as anything but boring.

-Dream sequences (and all their ilk: acid trips, etc.) still don't do anything for me.

-Always great to see Richard Schiff, and, as Alan mentioned, he was appropriately badass.

Bruce Reid said...

I agree, the big picture is eluding me entirely; I'm not even sure we're supposed to take Green's alternate-futures statement as anything more than a hypothesis to be later disproved--after all by episode's end Fisher's fate seemed to click into place quite neatly. But the actions on the show have weight, and the character interactions are refreshingly brittle; just when other shows water something down, Terminator pushes even harder against the grain.

Probably the most improved show on television, and it didn't start out at all bad.

Eugene Freedman: "But, will he want to go back in time and destroy the world after doing so just to come back knowing he will be killed?"

I took the episode as Toby willingly sacrificing himself knowing his appearance and ultimate death in the timeline would be the reason Warren was in prison--and thus saved from Judgment Day--in the first place. Making a closed loop, not my favorite time-travel paradox but one the series (counting the movies) has indulged in from the beginning.

I like 24, which at its best hasn't just been thrilling but as accurate a barometer of America's yawing post-9/11 mood as any entertainment has offered up. Seeing the show's logo spring up just before Green ripped off Fisher's fingernails, however, did remind me of how easy most of that show's moral dilemmas are, and what a halo it's allowed to accrue around Bauer. By comparison this was tough stuff down the line, without easy answers.

shara says said...

This was a really cool and interesting episode. I didn't like Jessie at first, but she's definitely growing on me. The two versions of the dudes sitting there together made for an extremely cool scene. Was I the only one who thought for a brief moment that Uncle Derek could actually be a terminator infiltrator? That if they had him for months, torturing and interrogating and learning how to "be" him, that it would only make sense for them to design a model around him? But then I remembered that we've seen him near death before, that Charley Dixon had been up close and personal with Uncle Derek's guts at one point, but it was a fun thought for a moment. . .

Best scene of the night, however, was Cameron rolling Ellison ever. The best scenes usually involve Cameron. Summer Glau is freaking awesome.

I'm not having any issues with the timeline, I think that it is a bit unclear how the time "loop" works but the big picture is pretty clear - a family fighting tooth and nail against a future that is basically inevitable. While they may be able to change things on the small-scale level, the forces pushing toward apocalypse are resilliant (sp?) and have branched out, and the Conners are working against an interactive, possibly shifting set of interwoven time loops. That's all I need to enjoy the show, but I am curious about the extent to which the show will eventually elaborate on the causal interrelationships between the past and future.

The most interesting time travel questions are the extent to which they are fulfilling a destiny and the extent to which they are changing their destiny - is it more like Back to the Future, where an anachronistic presence alters timelines in extreme ways, leading to widely divergent alternate futures, or more like 12 Monkeys, wherein every attempt to change the past/future is another piece of the puzzle of how that past/future happened in the first place - every seemingly free-willed action just another brick in the wall of how it already happened. Lord its too early in the morning for this.

Anonymous said...

Slayer-bot, YES!! Double Joss connection this episode.

I agree that this show continues to get stronger in my eyes, though would it really kill them to give us just a smidgen of explanation on Jesse? I'd let the show languish in the DVR and watched three episodes last night and each one pulled me in a bit more.

I'm still not sure whether blondie is a terminator or not and irked at their general stupidity (Sarah forcing the shrink to talk and then just not talking), but really tight lines and variations on what could get boring fast (ie, Heroes)

-EmeraldLiz

Kevin said...

I just still can't get over the monster plot hole in this whole series. If Shirley Manson IS a Terminator, why does she need to work so hard to find the Terminator technology?

Can't she just have her engineers copy whatever technology she has?

dez said...

I found the scenes with Derrick and Fischer the Elder tense and exciting, but the stuff with Sarah was boring. I wish they'd just get to her death already and move on with the John Connor Chronicles instead. I guess they can't go there, though, as it might kill the reboot coming up (Christian Bale, yay!).

ToastyKen said...

I just want to point out that it seems to me that the tortoise was a Blade Runner reference.

"I'll tell you about my mother!" :)

James said...

I think Fischer was in Pelican Bay the first time for a completely different crime. Since he'd end up in jail anyway, why not complete the mission of putting in a backdoor to the Fed's computer and frame your younger self since you'll end up in prison anyway. However, didn't younger Fischer look like he ended up in a mental ward as opposed to prison? Did Fischer's time travel change the future? Maybe the mental hospital that has younger Fischer locked up isn't as protected as the prison and Fischer dies when the bomb goes off. If he dies then, he's not around to torture Derek and hence, Derek (and Cameron) has no memory of it.

James said...

And I think Jessie retains the memory of Fischer because she caused younger Fischer to meet older Fischer and be labeled insane by the Feds. I.e., if you cause the future to change, you are immune to the effects of the change. Just a theory...

Eugene Freedman said...

"if you cause the future to change, you are immune to the effects of the change. Just a theory..."

James, time travel can be pretty complicated related to plot points so when you start adding weird other sci-fi factors like this theory, it makes the whole plot implausible.

Forget that stuff and draw a diagram of the time jumps and you won't need to fill in the gaps with these types of theories.

I would recommend reading: http://www.mjyoung.net/time/terminat.html

It gives a great understanding of time travel and how timelines change due to changing the past. The terminator one is good, but the 12 Monkeys review is better. Try that one for some more complications. There are a lot more jumps in 12 Monkeys.

James said...

When I said you are immune to the change, I meant your memories. If you cause the future to change, you still retain the memories you had when you went back in time.

I don't believe that to be true if time travel actually was plausible but I could see the show doing it.

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious that there are 3 forces fighting it out in LA. Shirley Manson leads one. Sarah C is the other. And we don't know the third yet. Could be more machines.