Who ever would have thought I would be this startled -- not just startled, but sad -- about the death of a character played by Brian Austin Green? Or that a network TV show in this day and age would have the onions to bump off a significant regular character 15 minutes into an episode, with no time for heroics or big speeches or any of the other blaze-of-glory elements we expect from deaths on series television?
Instead, Derek -- who, thanks to Green and the writers, had quickly become the series' most compelling human character -- just comes around the wrong corner at the wrong time, takes a bullet between the eyes from the latest T-888 model, and that's all she wrote. There's some poetry to him winding up in an unmarked grave just like his brother Kyle -- and you could argue that the opening scene in the cemetery was Derek's real, hidden farewell scene -- but disappointed as I am that Derek won't be around anymore(*), it felt real and appropriate to the franchise to have a main character killed so easily by a Terminator. Frankly, it's amazing that John and his mom have survived as long as they have, with or without a reformed Terminator as a protector.
(*) For one episode, anyway, as it's fair to say odds of renewal are on the long side right now.
Really, the entire sequence at the Weaver house was gangbusters, from a concerned John Henry guiding Savannah away from the water delivery man (and calmly explaining that she wouldn't be going to the foyer to see her nanny) to John popping up in the garage to Cameron rolling the bad guy down a very long, steep hill to give them enough time to get away.
Last week's "To The Lighthouse" (which I never got around to reviewing) was another fairly slow, meditative outing until the last few minutes, where this one was pedal-to-the-metal from the start. The Skynet civil war became more overt as the Terminators went after Shirley Manson's "daughter," John Henry has started playing Ellison and Manson off each other (while his friendship with Savannah is doing a better job of humanizing him than anything Ellison has tried), and now Derek's dead, Sarah's in jail and John knows that someone is using Cromartie's body for a new purpose.
Josh Friedman(**) promised during the much-panned Sarah Goes Navel-Gazing arc that the season would end with a bang, and it looks like he's going to deliver on that promise.
(**) UPDATE:I contacted Toni Graphia, who wrote "Adam Raised a Cain," to ask who came up with the idea to bump off Derek in such a cold manner, and she said it was Friedman's:
As far as killing Derek, what I can tell you is that my boss Josh Friedman, whom I greatly respect for his instincts to "go against the grain" of traditional television, was the one who gave the mandate that Derek's death be true to life -- shocking, quick, with no time for tears. If I had even hinted at writing a big speech or heroic sacrifice, I would have been banned from the Warner Bros lot! LOL. Sarah's getting arrested was something I pushed for in the episode -- I was dying to see that "perp walk" and believe the fans would appreciate it too. Whenever something got cut, I would say, "as long as Sarah does the perp walk, I'm good." Killing Derek was Josh's idea and the way it was portrayed was exactly how he wanted -- the most realistic and therefore the most gut-wrenching and sad in its shocking simplicity. Yes, it's different than how deaths of main characters are usually portrayed, but to the credit of the Fox execs, they trust Josh's strong vision for the show and it has helped make Sarah Connor a unique experience.Hell of an episode. Even if the show might end in a week, it's going out with a bang.
What did everybody else think?