Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles — ‘Complications’ ain’t the half of it
So they finally went there. They confronted the quagmire that time-travel stories must ultimately evade if they are to be successful.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles offered as cryptic, at times confusing, an episode as I can recall. But I’m compelled to jump to the very end, to the scene where Jesse and Derek had just buried the older Charles Fisher’s body.
For the entire episode I was baffled as to why Derek couldn’t remember being tortured by Fisher. That it occurred in an alternate future is a delicious possibility, because it entertains the notion that the characters in this show aren’t simply hurtling toward an inevitable, predetermined outcome.
(By the way, too few people are watching this show.)
Sarah’s dialogue at the end of the second Terminator movie laid out this theme, which is so much more attractive a premise than feeling like all the characters do is for naught because the future won’t change.
So Jesse came from one future and Derek seemingly from another. Is either future the one that produced Cromartie or, presumably, Catherine Weaver? What about the future from which Kyle Reese launched this tale by going back and fathering John Connor in the first place?
It’s almost impossible to fully comprehend. And what if by killing Fisher and letting his younger self be jailed, Jesse created the very future that Derek couldn’t recall?
If only that was the easiest aspect of the show to understand. I was bewildered by Sarah’s three-dots dreams. On the face of it, I’d say it makes sense that shouldering the fate of mankind as she does would ultimately drive her crazy or at least drive her to a therapist.
But what is the significance of the three dots or all those baby turtles? And why is that pattern on the MacGuffin blood wall? Also, if Cromartie’s death was supposed to be this surprising elimination of a main character, what does it mean when he returns a week later in dream sequences? So the actor is still on the show, and the character is a machine that can’t really die unless he’s burned.
I was intrigued by Cameron’s increasingly human interactions with John. After she slipped into bed with him a few weeks ago, I’ve been intrigued. This week she was hanging her feet out the window and soaking up the breeze.
If she couldn’t feel anything, she says, she wouldn’t be worth much. Huh. So is she unlike all the other terminators? And did John make her that way? Not to be lewd, but I’m wondering just how real she is. Like, is she Cylon-real? I mean, they do seem to be sewing romantic ties between her and John, after all.
In keeping with the theme of being baffled, what in the hell was Ellis thinking, taking a brutal beating from Cameron only to have it revealed he has Cromartie’s molten carcass in his trunk. And then he turns it over to Weaver?!! Combined with The Turk, she can create SkyNet now.
And that brings us full circle with the time-travel confusion. Presumably she comes from a future in which SkyNet is quite advanced, enough to create her anyway. So why would she need the primitive technology of The Turk? But maybe she needs to be able to create SkyNet in order to ensure a future like the one she comes from comes to pass. So now she has most of a Terminator and the artificial intelligence to animate it.
She’s killed enough people that I don’t think she has anything but nefarious aims. But I was kind of hoping she’d turn out to be from some less malevolent faction of the machines. I doubted it, but I still hoped for it until this week. With all that’s going on, though, how can Ellis not be more skeptical of her? I guess he’s just so bent on stopping the machines, that he trusts her too blindly to be an ally in that effort.
And what are we to make of Dr. Sherman’s role? Is he just a plot device for revealing Sarah’s increasingly fragile mental state? Or does he play a role in whatever future’s to come? I don’t know one way or another.
I do know it was funny and a little weird for Cameron to turn Ellis over after putting him through a few walls. She learned, and she wanted to help him. Her programming must make her want to be more human. I assume that trait was planted there by the kind of creepy terminators who were overseeing Derek’s torture as a device to be a more effective killer. But maybe John reprogrammed her and used this trait to make her more empathetic, if that’s possible.
I’d prefer more episodes like last week’s, which really balanced intense action with interesting storytelling, to this week’s, which nearly broke my brain. But I figure the two extremes do combine well to move the story along.
Let’s just hope we’re moving along to a conclusion that includes complete resolution should winter’s move to Friday nights lead to cancellation.