Sarah asks out a potentially dangerous young computer genius; plus, Cameron acts geeky, and Cromartie tries to get new skin

”Terminator” recap: Sarah goes on a date

Hey, there, boys and girls. Those of you who were fans of Heroes or Battlestar Galactica might recognize me: I did the TV Watches for those shows. Today I’m filling in for Ms. Pastorek, who is living the life of an intrepid EW reporter covering the Sundance Film Festival. (Which may sound all Sheila E. glamorous but is really a grueling, oxygen-starved Bataan swag march. I don’t envy her her appointed rounds.) (Okay, maybe I do, just a little.) So here I am, neither as funny nor as easy on the eyes as Whitney. On with it.

While not as good as the first two episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, this one still had a lot going on — definitely more than your average episode of Bionic Woman. But still, something gnawed at me for the whole hour: Why is Cameron such an inconsistent machine? John and Hottie Terminator have their first day at the new school, and after everyone warns Cameron to not ”be a freak,” what does she do but act like she was programmed yesterday? Whether it’s standing awkwardly in science class or having no idea how to negotiate the girls’ bathroom, Cameron displayed an alarming lack of savvy when dealing with members of the human race. Which would be fine if, when we met her in the first episode, she didn’t navigate high school like a pro. That sort of character inconsistency tasks me.

(Oh, and how did she get, like, a mutant healing ability? Last week, she was gakked up pretty badly after fighting with the Bad Not-Cromartie Terminator; now she looks like a Noxzema model. To the best of my knowledge, Terminators are covered with human flesh, all the better to infiltrate you with. So why isn’t she scabbed up like a meth addict?)

”You never die, and you always want something.” Boy, does the widow Dyson have Sarah’s number. And the huevos on Sarah, barging in on a private mini-memorial for her own purposes, asking the woman who has sacrificed the most on the altar of freedom to give even more. And what does Sarah offer? More useless platitudes: ”No one dies in vain.” You’d think that someone who has read as much as she allegedly has would know better than to say something so empty, let alone believe it.

Before I talk about the coolest thing in this episode, by far, I wanna take a moment to note for the record that apparently, in this TV version of Los Angeles, no one notices a giant dude dressed like a cross between Norma Desmond and the Gyrocaptain from The Road Warrior. I don’t care if the bums on skid row are mainlining Sterno and peat moss, you notice a linebacker tooling around like an extra from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Storm. At least when Cromartie made it to the hospital, we got some people-being-thrown-through-doors action. (Which seems to be the predominant flavor of action on T:SCC. Oh, remind me to thank Whitney for such a handy abbreviation.)

Now, on to the coolest thing in this episode: inventing skin. All this time we’ve been so fixated on the hardware aspect of the Terminators — and no wonder, given the shiny awesomeness of the Stan Winston endoskeleton — that I, for one, never really gave much thought to the (literal) software. (Aside from that thought above, about the whole healing thing.) Cromartie seems hell-bent on getting his pre-destruction body back, so he tracked down a Super-Duper Dermatologist and gave him the formula for artificial skin — in a scene that reminded me more than a little of that bit in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where Scotty teaches the 20th-century engineers to make transparent aluminum. (Yes, I’ve already got the geek merit badge, thanksverymuch.)

NEXT: Terrible first impressions

I’m just going to skip over the whole graffiti-inspired high school suicide. Didn’t buy it, don’t care. I just hope that T:SCC isn’t going to try for the sort of high-school-analogy thing that Buffy did so well. This was a plot thread I didn’t need, save for the moment where John seemed to own his destiny — Thomas Dekker actually brought a little heat for the first time, though it could’ve been his little spearhead necklace that made him seem extra badass. (And his stern lecture to his mom on the perils of technology was a nice touch.) But this is a show that works really well when it’s going flat out, cornering like it’s on rails. When it slows down for mystery-of-the-week stuff, it just kinda sits there, plodding along until the next time someone gets slammed into a wall. I know it’s impossible to sustain that pace for an entire season, but that’s exactly what you want this show to be. A lean, mean, terminatin’ machine. The more fat you add, the more unwieldy it gets.

At least Sarah’s dalliance with the none-too-subtly-named Andy Goode had a real point, even if it turned her into a chemise-wearing MILNKM (Mom I’d Like Not to Kill Me). It furthered the story, and it showed us a chess computer with moods, one possible piece of the Skynet puzzle — though I couldn’t help feeling a little bad for Andy, who found the one girl in all the world you absolutely shouldn’t brag to about creating artificial intelligence. And it showed that Sarah has softened a little on her mission’s hard line. Cameron was right: Goode should’ve been axed, but Sarah chose to firebomb his crib instead. Which raises a question: How will Sarah’s new empathy affect the future?

Oh, hey, before we go, can I just say that I’m not at all convinced that this show needs an Inspector Javert (or, if you prefer, the reporter that hounded David Banner in The Incredible Hulk)? There are enough implacable threats to our heroes in this show, enough strands of story to tug on in any given episode. At this point, Agent Ellison feels eminently expendable.

Since this is likely my one and only T:SCC TV Watch, I’m gonna leave you with a few questions and one prediction, one I’ll never have to answer for.

Questions: Will Andy Goode return as a bad guy, one who learns Sarah’s secret? Will Cromartie end up on Dr. 90210 to get rid of that newborn-Gollum look? And do you think that frequent exposure to Terminators (and their hydrogen-cell power supply) is what eventually gives Sarah Connor cancer?

My prediction: I think this show will end with the death of Sarah Connor. Because that’s the only thing that can firmly set John on the Path. With her alive, he’ll never stand on his own. And Sarah knows this. Which will make what transpires…interesting.

What do you think?

Episode Recaps

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • TV Show