”Terminator” finale recap: Cliff-hanger alert!
Gotta say I’m a little sad to see Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles go, freedom fighters. Obviously, the compassionate and thought-provoking discourse on the message boards here has been a real treat each week, but more than that, I’ve enjoyed watching this fledgling series fumble to find its footing. I remember loving that first mess of an X-Files season on Fox back in the day and hoping it would stick around so I could make heads or tails of it. I wonder if Chris Carter’s masterpiece would have survived in this instant-gratification, hair-trigger world?
Since T:SCC is still on the bubble — and I can’t see tonight’s ratings spiking high enough to make a real difference in its fate — we may never be pulled back over the cliff from which we now hang, but I can’t get too upset about that. After last week’s incredibly strong showing, tonight’s ”two-hour season finale” — little more than back-to-back episodes — was disappointing. It did have its moments: Turns out the strength of this show is not in the crash-bang-boom but in the quieter bits. I think the scene where Bag took John out to the park to watch his dad and Bag playing baseball as pre-apocalypse children was well worth the price of admission, don’t you? Sweet, thoughtful, mind-frakky — now that’s a series I want to watch. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it once again involved a big heaping pile of acting from Brian Austin Green, who should walk away from this series with his head held high.
We opened the first of tonight’s two eps with Cromartie attempting to identify a snow globe. He was unsuccessful (and my hopes that T:SCC would all turn out to be an autistic child’s dream, à la St. Elsewhere, were unrealized), but he did get the information he was looking for: a list of all the Caucasian boys who had enrolled in L.A. schools recently. One by one, he set about tracking them down, looking for John Connor. Back at HQ — I do wish the term ”Scooby Gang” weren’t already taken so I could use it for the Mom-John-Cam-Bag investigative unit — Bag emerged from Cam’s room with the CPU she had swiped from the now-fried T-888, and after another fight about trust, they set about watching its visual memory. And we learned that Eightball had a wife!
My goodness, I think that settles the sex-with-robots question right there, and what we found is that you should not do that. You see, Eightball — or as he was known in the human world, Vick — was just using his wife, Barbara, to get at her traffic computer, ARTIE. That’s right, L.A. drivers! It’s not just something you mutter when you’re stuck on the 405 — the traffic in this town really will bring about Armageddon! Enjoy your commute! Turns out that ARTIE can function as Skynet’s nervous system, if the Turk is its brain — and that Vick/Eightball’s mission was to seduce Barbara as she finished programming it. He did this by touching her lips in a fun, sexy-time way, which was significantly more information than I needed. Also, he strangled her in the shower. Showers were not a good place to be in this episode.
Mom and Bag headed down to City Hall to plant a virus in ARTIE’s brain. They snuck in using the same tunnels Bag would later use to hide Kyle after Judgment Day — even blasting a hole where a hole should be in the future — but it turned out the traffic network was already too smart to be dismantled by such straightforward means. The only thing to do was plug Cam’s CPU straight into a stoplight and let her shut the system down from within. This worked — somewhat miraculously, considering they picked the world’s least deserted intersection to hack. Also, as Bag pointed out, Cam very well could have gone into the system and never come back. Thankfully, she returned. Score one for trust! Or…maybe not. When John rebooted Cam and asked what she saw — another sweet, if short-lived moment — she rather ominously answered, ”I saw everything.”
Speaking of seeing everything, Mom walked in on Bag in the shower, threatening him with the big ”Lie to me again, I’ll kill you” re: the death of Andy Goode. These two spent all night giving each other increasingly meaningful looks, and I wish they’d just get it on already, if that’s where we’re going. Sigh. Add that to the cliff-hanger pile.
Episode 2 kicked off with the precursor to a scene I’ve already mentioned: Derek and Kyle Reese are in a park, playing baseball on Judgment Day, which for our purposes here has been moved to April 21, 2011. And hey, if you’re going down, playing ball with your brother is not a bad way to go. But as we know, Derek and Kyle don’t go down, because Derek grows up to be Bag, and Kyle grows up to be Michael Biehn, father to John Connor. And in case you were wondering, Bag knows about that little tidbit. But we’ll get to that.
NEXT: Meet the new baddie
This ep was mostly about the quest to find the Turk, using the information they got from poor dead Dmitri, who pointed them toward a man named Sarkissian, who I will call Sark from now on, both because it is easier to spell and because it reminds me of Alias, a show I like to be reminded of. Sark demanded to meet everyone at an Internet café, and Cam and Sarah went in to find him while the boys waited in the car. (Why? Because ”one of the girls is harder than nuclear nails,” said John. ”And the other one’s a cyborg,” said Bag. Har-har. Just jump her already, you fool!) There was a brief, Andrew McCarthy-Molly Ringwald-esque IM session, in which Sark demanded half a million dollars be delivered to a food court the next day. This trip didn’t work out for Mom and Bag either, although we did learn that, in the future, malls are concentration camps. Worse, when they got home, Sark was hanging out in the living room, and he announced he’d now be charging them $2 million.
Seems Sark got the address of HQ from our old pal Enrique’s nephew, and as a bonus, his scary ’80s-style Asian bodyguard — paging Lethal Weapon! — was tracking Cam and John on their field trip to the science museum. Luckily, Cam sniffed this out, and killed the bodyguard, and stuffed him in the trunk of a very nice Mercedes, and got a prom date out of it. Once they drove the dead guy back to the house, it became pretty clear they needed to run, now that Sark knows where they live. But hold the phone! Who’s knocking on the garage door? Why, it’s that weird mute Hispanic girl, Chola (dear IMDb: name or noun?), who spends a lot of time posing outside Enrique’s nephew’s house! What the hell is her deal? And why did Cam hand her that gun later?
Ugh, no time to ask, as Chola chauffeured everyone all over to Ye Olde Internet Café, where Sark was hiding in the back room with a small child who turned out to not be his daughter, because after Bag shot who we thought was Sark in the head, the little girl said the man bleeding to death in the alley was not her daddy — her daddy works in the café. Guess who Sark is? That’s right, Not-Scooby Gang! It’s the old Internet café proprietor! That was a solid twist, and as an added benefit, the Café Proprietor Who Turned Out to Be Sark was played by none other than one of my favorite New York theater actors, Sir James Urbaniak. For his sake alone, I hope we get to see more of this show. I think he’ll make a splendid baddie.
NEXT: Agent Ellison becomes a believer
And while we’re on the subject of actors I know, let’s check in on Catherine Dent, who’s still playing the blond skeptic to Ellison’s FBI agent-on-a-mission. After his run-in with the unclearly named Dr. Silberman/Silverman last week, Ellison is pretty much convinced there are robots running around these days, even more so after he went to Charlie Dixon’s house and learned that Kester, a.k.a. Laszlo, a.k.a. Cromartie, had been there, posing as an FBI agent. Meanwhile, it seemed Cromartie had tired of looking for John Connor and now just wanted the Sarah Connor file, which Ellison had. The two men kept missing each other! It was like ”The Gift of the Magi,” but really screwed up! Still, you knew it was gonna come to a head, and sure enough, Ellison eventually cranked up the Johnny Cash and raided Cromartie’s apartment complex. They busted down the door, guns blazing, but they were no match for our friend the Regenerating Terminator. One FBI agent’s corpse hit the pool. Two. Three. Four. Five. Pretty soon, everyone was dead in the pool but Ellison, who Cromartie mysteriously chose to let go. Sarah was chatting about Lord of the Flies in voice-over at this point, a bit about the end of innocence and the darkness of men’s hearts. This was an interesting voice-over choice, given that most of the darkness in the scenario at hand had to do with a robot, who technically does not have a heart. Cromartie spared Ellison, though — maybe he is developing a soul, like Cam and her ballet?
I’m glad we’re walking away from this series with one thing straight, at least: Bag has known for quite some time that John is Kyle’s son. And so as an unexpected birthday gift — not to make two Molly Ringwald references in the same sci-fi recap, but there was a Sixteen Candles thing going on — he took John to the park to eat ice cream and see his dad playing baseball in happier times. And OMG, John Connor, was that a sweet, lovely smile we saw under those bangs? Why, I do believe it was. I think there may have been a second one, in fact, when Mom finally remembered your birthday, too. Moms never forget birthdays, John, even ones in the midst of missions to rescue humanity. She sent Cam out for cake and everything!
Oh. Except Cam. Went out for cake. Got in the car and…KABLOOIE! The Real Sarkissian blew up the family Jeep.
At the end of this mini-seasonlet of T:SCC, unanswered questions abound. What was up with that Cheri girl at school (not from Wichita, FYI), and what happened to all those other famous actors who came through the portal with Bag? (We saw Sayles, but what about Bubbles?) What will Cam wear to prom, provided that Sark did not blow up the Jeep with the fancy stuff they used to burn up the T-888 a couple weeks ago, and also that Cam manages to get flesh grown back in time? What the hell was happening in that basement with the piano? How does the fact that Bag knows he’s John Connor’s uncle change the future, not to mention the fact that there are now officially two Derek Reeses running around in the same time-space continuum, with the possibility of several more, depending on how the ol’ logic butterfly flaps her wings?
And how long is it going to take me to shake the feeling that this series could have been a lot more than it will most likely turn out to be? It’s after midnight now, and I gotta be at the airport in five hours to fly to the set of a movie based on that other Fox sci-fi show I mentioned earlier. Something tells me that a decade from now, I will not be doing the same for a Terminator film starring Lena Headey. But who knows? Maybe you kids can send someone back in time to change that fact. The future is what you make it! Use the comment boards to wish real hard! Meanwhile, be good, be safe, and thanks for hanging out.