Monday, March 23, 2009

Terminator, "Today is the Day, Part 2": Never trust a captain named Queeg

Before tonight's "Chuck" review, the rest of today's blog entries are going to be very, very short, as I'm slammed at work but want to give people a chance to discuss notable programming from the weekend. First up, brief spoilers for Friday night's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" coming up just as soon as I go for a swim...

The story continues to inch incrementally forward, both in the present (John Henry confronts Shirley Manson about her plans) and in the future (we see John trying to forge an alliance with the T-1000's), but the show remains much stronger on the character stuff than on plot.

Best scene in the episode, by far, was John confronting Jesse about what they each did to Riley. The show has talked and talked about John needing to come into his own, but this is the first time where I've really believed he was growing up and becoming a leader. Very well-played by Thomas Dekker.

I'm hoping, but not assuming, that Derek went through with killing Jesse, just because I found her a drip of a character, and the two-part flashbacks to her time on the sub didn't change that opinion. (Though it did give Chad L. Coleman a chance to show he could convincingly play a character who's 180 degrees from Cutty on "The Wire.")

Still waiting for all the stories to start coming to a head, but the show's been much improved the last few weeks.

What did everybody else think?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and props to Fienberg for the Captain Queeg joke.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I knew that "apples and carrots" thing was going to be a giveaway, although John's story about all that seemed like a summary of a plotline that the writers realized in retrospect that it would have been nice to have. (If you follow the link, you see that my prediction describes how it should have played out, not the way they actually told the story. But close enough.)

(WV: "himpings". Lovely.)

James O'Hearn said...

I think it was the best episode all season. Sure, not from an action standpoint, but just seeing John take control gave me goosebumps. Is it a sign that they are veering more away from Sarah, and towards John in aticipation of Terminator: Salvation? I have to wonder if the story arc is being directed towards a fit with the movie, if only to potentially spur a resurgence in viewers is the show is renewed for another season.

Regarding this episode, however, from the beginning of the series, the question has been hanging in the air as to why John would trust machines, and his short eloquent statement in this episode really drove it home. "When people die, they are gone. You can't fix them up and send them back out to fight." I was expecting some long involved explanation. What we got was head slappingly simple and obvious, the way any real truth is, but only after it has been said.

In addition, I enjoyed the element of tragedy at play. Beyond the tragedy of Riley's death, there was also the tragedy of lost opportunity when the sub crew's actions led the T-1000 to spurn John's offer, which ties in with Weaver's cryptic comment that humans can disappoint. Is that how they disappointed her? Is that why she went back in time? Is there yet the possibility for a rapprochement? Another element of tragedy hinted at was how John's need for operational secrecy and control, and his need for an alliance with the machines, a need which seemed never to have been communicated to his followers, has led to the very errors in judgment that threaten their whole endeavor.

Oh, and I do want to see more of Queeg.

Anonymous said...

How did John figure out Jesse's part in Riley's death? By the time they had their confrontation (which was very good), I was so bored that I didn't have the energy to rewind the DVR.

Glad Jesse is gone. I'm hoping they go back to being a little more exciting now that they've done away with her and Riley. I'd especially like to see more John Henry because that part of the plot is intriguing, unlike the other crap they've been feeding us for too long now.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic episode. I've been loving each one since they got over the Sarah-centric arc a few eps back.

The only complaint I have is the idea of multiple futures. No!!!! Oh, god. I really do wish they would have it be *one* timeline, and not multiples. Because, seriously, if there are infinite timelines, what's the freaking point?
I'm holding out hope that Derek is somehow mistaken, and that there really *is* only one timeline, it's just that after he shot Andy Goode, he changed it, but he still has the memories of the pre-changed time. (Does that make sense? Time travel can be so difficult to keep straight. Invoking alternate universes doesn't make it any easier, imo.)
But, yeah. I've certainly been enjoying these latest batch of episodes, and hope that it continues to entertain.

Anonymous said...

I think the glimpses we've had of the future war were rather interesting, at least the notion that John Connor apparently offered some sort of alliance to that liquid Terminator. This seems to suggest that there are seemingly independent factions of Terminators out there who aren't taking orders from Skynet, which perhaps offers us a clue as to what Weaver might be up to? Weaver's AI is obviously far more advanced than that of the standard Terminator...maybe Skynet created some Terminators that were smart enough to question Skynet authority.

I never liked the Jesse character so I hope she's really gone. I don't really think it was necessary to cut away and make it so ambiguous.

Unknown said...

John's confronting Jesse was what made the episode with me. It was one of my favorite moments on this show, and probably the only one not involving Cameron.

I am annoyed at the potential to bring Jesse back. I think I just don't like the actress and her smug accent.

I don't get the random "oh, btw, you were pregnant" thing at all.

LoopyChew said...

From a purely superficial perspective, I loved getting so many shots of Stephanie Jacobsen in a swimsuit. Jesse, however, was due to exit by now.

I'm afraid the show isn't going to last long enough to get around to tying off whether or not Jesse is really dead, but there's something poetic about the ambiguity that I don't mind.

K J Gillenwater said...

1) the 'by the way you were pregnant' explained so much to me about Jessie's anger toward the metal. See, in the beg. of the future flashes, she trusted them. She wasn't nervous about being in the sub with Queeg as a captain...even though Derrick was. But once they took her baby away from least that's how she perceived it....she just lost her common sense and went hellbent on revenge against her perceived anger at John and his working with the metal. It worked for me.

2) Did anyone else get the feeling that perhaps John Connor no longer is alive in this future they keep showing us? At first, I thought they were keeping John off screen because it would be hard to either age the John actor enough to portray the 'leader' role or it would take away from our imaging what John as a leader in the future would be like. But after Jessie's conversation with Cameron in the future, it almost seemed as if Cameron WAS John. As in, he somehow downloaded himself into the Cameron robot??? Did anyone else get that feeling?

I loved this episode. I liked John being smart enough not to let a pretty teen girl dupe him for too long. I liked that he confronted Jessie. I liked that Derrick was willing to kill Jessie. And I really liked the submarine story with the liquid metal in the box. And am still wondering what kind of alliance are they talking about? Good machines vs. bad machines?

Anonymous said...

KJ: you were not alone. For the first time it seemed almost obvious that there was no John. That John Connor (JC) died for our sins (Man creating Metal) and that he was brought back into everlasting life (as a Metal).

Woah. Did I just blow your mind?

Thunk Thunk Thunk-Thunk.

Anonymous said...

I have another theory about John and Cameron...

Could it be that John has in the future has isolated himself from all humans and only has Cameron as company and she is also his contact with the other world?

I think Cameron hinted at this in a conversation with Sarah.

Also, do we know if it is the same Cameron that gets sent back or just the same model?

I so hope this series get renewed... The last 3 edisodes have been great.

Srimshaw said...

which is why Cameron said there was no difference between John and her, because she IS John.

So the open question I have is why did Cameron get sent back?

K J Gillenwater said...

Hm, now I'm thinking more about this idea. Either Cameron IS John or John is half man half metal perhaps and hidden away somewhere. Too wounded or what have you by all the battles he's been through, that he has started to use parts in order to be part metal/part human. Kind of bionic or cyborgy...?

Why would Cameron be sent to the past? My answer:

Could it be someone found out that John was no longer alive? Could it be someone was 'after' Cameron because he was John? If Cameron has downloaded John inside of her brain, who would understand young John better than future John??? Future John knows exactly how he'd react as a teen to all this stuff being thrown at him.

Wow, this show just got a whole lot better with just that ONE scene in last week's episode!

Anonymous said...

@ James O'Hearn: I started wondering from the opposite direction: that maybe Weaver is the sub T-1000 Terminator in the past (of course originally from a different future) and something in future episodes will lead us to understand why John would offer an alliance with her in the future. Brings it into a full paradoxical circle (but of course how does she get into the box is the problem with that bit of speculation).

@KJ & Marlark: I guess I don't believe the writers will steer that far off of the classic trajectory of the terminator story. We've seen other images of JC in the past and it may be that he's so isolated and fearful of being assassinated that he would send Cameron as an emissary under most circumstances. He can't really know, for example, if Jesse is Jesse and not the T-1000 in disguise.

And what did happen with the T-1000? Stay tuned . . .

& Kudos to DonBoy: when John said that in the show I remembered that someone had raised that here as a clue.

- anonymoose

Anonymous said...

All you all have pretty much addressed all angles of all arcs, but one brief scene in the montage towards the end of "Today Is The Day Part 2" shows Sarah Connor lowering a metal hand into a vat of thermite...who's hand? Was Jesse a terminator? Were they showing a scene from a previous episode? It was completely out of place and I'm surprised that no one caught it!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sarah was burning the leftover parts of dead Terminators that Cameron had been hoarding as replacements for herself. It was a big topic in the last few episodes before this one.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced more than ever now that John Connor is dead in the future and that Cameron is the real leader of the resistance. There has to be a reason that no human is allowed to see or talk to "John Connor". He doesn't exist. Pull back the curtain and it's the wizard of Oz.

John Connor is a reclusive cypher. Nothing more than a myth of an imaginary hero that is created to pacify humans.

There is no doubt that Derek killed Jesse. Just like he killed Andy. Derek has shown that he will disobey John and Sarah's orders to extract vengeance. It's in his nature.

Anonymous said...

which is why Cameron said there was no difference between John and her, because she IS John.


Anonymous said...

Now that I think about all this time that John has supposedly been worried that Cameron will kill Riley because she's a "threat", he's been more and more sure that she's a human from the future...and he didn't mention that to Sarah or Cameron? Because such a person would probably not be about to rat out the good guys to the present-day authorities. That might have helped.

Anyway, I agree that it seems like there may be no living future JC -- although I also agree that it would be a drastic undermining of the premise -- but I don't think that this show is going to posit that John Connor downloaded himself into a hot chick robot and then went back in time so that he could male-appendage-tease his younger self.

Unknown said...

Good episode; agreed, the John/Jesse scene was a nice John-leadership scene. I did find it funny though that the episode that featured a rare glimpse of strong future John Conner, a few minutes later showed him weeping in his mother's lap.

I'd be glad if Reese pulled the trigger because it reminds me of the crazy guy from the future we 1st met, but I've always liked Jesse, so I wouldn't mind if she lived. Sub-scenes were much better this week.

I'm not into watching previews so I have no idea what next episode looks like, but hopefully it doesn't return to a Sarah-centric snoozefest. Last three weeks have been fun.

Anonymous said...

It's rumored that in the new Terminator movie, John Connor is dead too. He has been replaced by either a machine or some kind of human/robot hybrid. It's an interesting twist. It makes sense that the young John Connor can never measure up to the "myth" because that person does not exist. It's only the "idea" of John Connor that is powerful - not the actual being.

Anonymous said...

I think we never see Future John because they don't want to conflict with the upcoming T4. It's unlikely they'd get Christian Bale to do a guest spot, so better to just keep it mysterious than have two adult John Connors to confuse the marketing message.

Recall in series 1, when Derek was injured and dreaming about when he was sent on his time mission, he did meet JC, but in the dream that was played by young Thomas Dekker. But the implication was that Derek did meet Future John before his mission. It seems unlikely he'd be both suspicious of "metal" as he is and as loyal to both future and young John if Future John was metal.