‘Alpine Fields’ is the name of an important location in the future war, where the machines will wage a biological warfare on mankind. It’s crucial to Derek and Jesse, because that’s where they meet and are also infected with the virus the machines unleash. This story is told in a somewhat Pulp-esque chronological juggle where the beginning is the end, and then it jumps around showing scenes from the past, future and present. If this sounds confusing. it is somewhat, but within a few minutes you get a grip of what you’re looking at and its potential relevance.
Another diversion in Alpine Fields is that John doesn’t appear at all; he’s mentioned but not seen. This is primarily a Derek story, which is fine because his character’s evolution has been one of the strongest for me.
It starts with Derek and an unknown girl trying to stabilise a pregnant women who has been shot. We then flash back to six months previous when Sarah and Cameron enter these people’s lives, a family whose future is going into the grinder because of SkyNet. The pregnant woman is the girl’s mother, and together with her father, they’re in a woodland home when Sarah and Cameron come to call.
Their reaction to these gun toting women is to assume it’s some sort of heist, and they bicker about why this is happening to them! But soon they find out that a Terminator is hunting them, and at this point the nature of their dysfunctional family unit starts to unravel. None of them are happy, the wife is having an affair with their neighbour, and the child feels disconnected. What’s not obvious at this point is what the Fields family has done that has Terminators visiting, but it’s not about what they do now, but the future in Alpine Fields.
Derek is scouting the base, where everyone has died but he knows there is one survivor. He runs into Jesse, but realises she isn’t the person he’s looking for. There isn’t any alternative but to go deeper inside the bunker, and risk infection to find the person who is immune to the weapon.
Back in the past, raw emotions are coming to the surface, as the true nature of Roger Fields’ relationship with his wife, Anne, and this daughter, Lauren is revealed. In the present, Derek and Lauren attend to Anne, near to giving birth and injured from another terminator attack. They assume Roger didn’t make it this time around.
If I’m making it sound like these flashes forward and back are disorientating, they’re actually not. Because it’s obvious when you move between the time zones, and each of the stories is progressed enough to be joined-up storytelling.
What’s held back to almost the end is who the Terminators actually want. At first it’s assumed to be Roger, but then he’s ignored. Then you assume it’s Anne, but actually it’s two people, one of which is the child she’s carrying. She’s the one in Alpine Fields that Jesse and Derek are scouting for and eventually find. But Derek and Jesse are dying of exposure to the virus, the same one she’s immune to.
Eventually, we leave the house in the woods story. They escape but the neighbour who gave Anne the child unfortunately dies. Actually, Cameron kills him, assuming he’s a terminator and then apologises in her own unique way.
Anne gives birth to Sydney, and dies. It’s tragic, but the future is secure, as Derek and Jesse both survive, not only because of Sydney, but because Lauren is one of the medical team to cure them. That’s an expected twist.
There is a bitter-sweet final scene where Derek offers to Lauren that she can stay with them, goes to phone Sarah, and when he returns, she’s gone with the baby. The impact of Judgment Day is spreading, hitting people beyond the Connor clan, even before it’s happened. Derek is left with the pendant that Lauren wore, to wonder if this war will ever end.
In this excellent second season this is another very well written piece, but what makes it really stand out is the casting. Rebecca Creskoff as Anne is great, as she’s required to carry much of the emotional burden of the story. But the standout performance comes from Samantha Krutzfeldt as Lauren, who goes from fresh-faced teen to battle-hardened freedom fighter with consummate ease. She’s previously been in a Canadian kids TV series I never saw called ‘Mentors’, but I think we’ll see plenty more of her in the future.
Notch another high quality episode down to The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Read a review of the episode 11 here.