Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Terminator, "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point": Dot dot dot

Spoilers for last night's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" coming up just as soon as I make a Duran Duran/Styx/Pink Floyd playlist...

I think I may need to write a macro for these reviews, because of late my thoughts are the same week after week: I don't really understand half the plot, am not sure how comfortable I am with the sheer number of time-travelers showing up in present-day LA, but the emotional side of the impending apocalypse is being handled so well that I've stopped worrying about plot logic. (Compare this, for the umpteenth time, to "Heroes," which makes even less sense and also has paper-thin characters I don't give a toss about.)

So while I'm somewhat puzzled about the revelation that Riley is a time traveler working with Jesse for some shady purpose, I thought the scene of Riley having to cope with the down-to-earth problems (or lack thereof) of her foster family was very nicely-done. If I understand the timeline correctly, she's too young to even remember the world before the machines rose, and I can imagine how much it would wear on her to be around relatively normal people. A lot of this stuff really reminds me of "12 Monkeys" and all the talk in that movie about how time travel does tremendous harm to your psyche, because people aren't meant to live in more than one era.

Similarly, I'm not sure what Shirley Manson's endgame is -- her desire to teach "John Henry" the computer about morality suggests that she might not be the bad guy here -- but scenes like Ellison interrogating the computer or Ellison discovering that Shirley has turned Cromartie's corpse into John Henry's voice were as creepy as intended. (And way to go on the Garret Dillahunt fakeout, people; I somehow remained unspoiled that he was still on the show.)

But really, the heart of "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point" was in Sarah slowly cracking up over her obsession with the three dots -- and in how well Lena Headey played this side of the character, so memorable from the second movie and so noticeably absent on the show. So it's not that Headey can't play a crazy Sarah, but that the writers for whatever reason (my money remains on a network note asking that Sarah be more "relateable") haven't given her the opportunity to play it. Good as The Notorious BAG has been at playing Derek's nuttier side, I think I'd like to have a stretch here where Sarah's the crazy one and Derek has to rein her in, instead of vice versa.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you for the ongoing Sarah Connor coverage. I very much look forward to these recaps.

The Riley Reveal had me pretty floored. I had wondered at various points if there was more to her than met the eye, but had pretty much decided to assume that she was a normal girl, whose function in the show was to inspire John to want a semblance of a "normal" life. So, wow. That was a heck of a scene with her breaking down at her foster family.

I'm totally intrigued by the Shirley Manson character and the Babylon project. I have no idea where that's going on there, but I'm definitely hooked. I think that casting her was a stroke of genius, she is so perfectly creepy and detached. Her interactions with Agent Ellison are always cool to watch.

Chrome Artie!!!! Woo hoo! I had been bummed that that dude had left the show, he was such a good creepy robot guy! I think its funny that Garret D played 2 roles in Deadwood and is now playing 2 roles (sorta) in this show too. I would have really missed that creepy smile.

Oh! and Sarah had good hair tonite. I HATE her hair normally, but last night she looked much better.

tabernacle said...

Everything worked in this episode; I'm liking the show more and more. Starting with the superficial, Cameron looked elegant and ethereal in evening dress. I liked John's attitude toward Derek during that curt exchange outside the house--glimpses of John's eventual leadership qualities, finally. Sarah was crazy and great, finally. Cromartie is still around--rather, GH--which can only be a good thing. The question of Shirley Manson's agenda has become more interesting, as has the character of Riley. And the self-contained elements--the case-of-the-week parts--were satisfying in and of themselves as well. Really, not a false step in the whole hour, in my opinion. Way to go, show.

Boricua in Texas said...

Other than the Riley reveal, it was a good episode, with many creepy moments. I watched it right after I finished Heroes (blech). Compared to the Heroes disaster, it's obvious that, for all its faults, the purpose of each episode is pretty clear.

Anonymous said...

And way to go on the Garret Dillahunt fakeout, people; I somehow remained unspoiled that he was still on the show

Not in the habit of checking the opening credits I take it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

They showed him early on in Ellison flashing back to digging him up. That would be enough to qualify him for a guest credit, per SAG rules.

Carolyn said...

I thought what they showed Ellison digging up was a dream...where he dug up John. Not Cromarty.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that was John in Ellison's dream. It was Cromartie.

I hated the introduction of Shirley Manson but I'm surprised now that I am kind of interested in her story.

I wish Derek would kill Jesse.

There's an interesting take on the female characters in this show here: http://io9.com/5098948/all-the-terminator-chicks-are-psycho-andor-robots

jcpdiesel21 said...

I wish Derek would kill Jesse, too. I don't really care for her or her accent that comes and goes.

tabernacle said...

@Anonymous, @Jcpdiesel21: I don't fully get the Jesse-hate. At the very least, the character has given Derek someone to play off against (gawd; "someone against whom to play"?? Whence the "off"?). I enjoyed seeing Derek be all badass (and yet reasonable: "I'll have to think about this") over Jesse's mission and the importance of full disclosure (asymmetric though it ended up being). The toothbrush exchange was a little cool. Me, I'm surprised they "still" (pan-chronologically speaking) have that much history in common seeing as they're from different futures and what not (see the Tobyx2 episode).

Anonymous said...

Hubby and I both really liked last night's episode. I loved seeing crazy Sarah esp. since we watched The Terminator and T2 movies this weekend.

I knew Riley was from the future and sent back--I rawk!

Also, this now *has* to be my favorite episode ever b/c 2 characters gave b-i-g shout-outs to my fave 80's band: Duran Duran!!!!!

Hey, I can't help it.... ;)

Anonymous said...

And Tommy Shaw is quietly crying somewhere that Styx is forever stuck for being known as the "Domo Arigato" band.

Great episode overall- totally with you on the "no clue on the plot, but don't care vs Heroes" deal.

I disliked that Sarah was really willing to give over the cash. What happened to having Cameron mug the dude?

And yeah, I never believed Riley was normal and not there for a purpose, but it's nice to know she's probably a human influence to try and come between Cameron and John.


Stacey said...

Just found the recaps and discussion here on T:SCC, which is my favorite show. :) Yea!

After the revelation about Riley (which did surprise me--I knew she was up to something less than honest but I couldn't figure out how she would be on the side of the machines), I find it really interesting to look back and see how easily she handled Cromartie at the Connor household when he showed up there a couple episodes ago.

She did not seem scared or reluctant at all. If she knows John, she would have to know that the machines are probably really the only thing that could make him want to run/hide like that. But instead, she stepped right up to the plate, so to speak.

Did she not know what Cromartie was? Or, does she consider it part of her role to protect John (i.e. a replacement for that aspect of Cameron)?

I mean, yeah, she could have guessed that Cromartie wouldn't randomly kill an annoying human girl who threatens to call the cops on him (because it calls more attention to him), but if I were her, I don't know that I would have bet my life on it, having seen what the terminators can do.