Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 episode 14 review

The future's looking even more unwritten than usual, as Sarah Connor Chronicles invests in a little Terminator-film history...

Lena Headey in The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Returning for its festive hiatus, The Sarah Connor Chronicles gets a little retrospective.

One thing that the Terminator TV series can’t be accused of is overly indulging in referential nods and winks, or even more direct references to the events of the movies. However with ‘The Good Wound’, the TSCC production team allowed themselves to indulge in connecting a few Terminator dots for those who love the Cameron-directed movies.

The last story left almost everything and everyone in chaos. Sarah is mortally wounded by a bullet wound to the leg, and Riley decided to slash her own wrists rather than go one with the illusion that she and John are together by accident.

Sarah wakes in hospital with a voice quoting Kyle’s dialogue from the first movie. Although Kyle appears throughout the episode, played by a young actor called Jonathan Jackson, his appearance is in the form of hallucination that Sarah sees through loss of blood and pain. He’s dressed as Kyle first was when Sarah met him in Terminator with the long coat, and he even says, “If you want to live, come with me.”.

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Despite her injury, Sarah busts out of hospital, throttling the cop unconscious outside the door before making good her escape. Curiously, the cop is played by Chad Lindberg, who I recognised from the original Fast and Furious movie. Soon he’s got a sheriff boss who turns up played by none other than Enterprise cast-off, Connor Trinneer! Given that neither of these parts is especially big, they seem rather over-represented, for the actors they’ve used.

Meanwhile, there are two other plotlines running. One is set in the hospital where they took Riley, and the wrong type of attention that’s attracting. The Riley thing is a little boring, to be honest, but she’s ultimately sprung from hospital by Jesse, her handler.

The other is with Miss Weaver and her pet project John Henry. These are some seriously creepy scenes, as the child-like John Henry, now played by Garret Dillahunt, discusses the virtues of various Bionicle toys he’s playing with. John Henry realises that he was designed to be like a human, but wonders why God didn’t design humans with more ball and socket joints, and less hinges, as they’re inefficient.

We also find out that John Henry has taken an interest in researching through the Internet, which Agent Ellison finds worrying. Catherine Weaver is less concerned, right up to the point where John Henry tells her that he knows she’s a machine, as he looked into her eyes and saw “nothing there”. He then starts asking what she’s up to, which, strangely, she won’t answer other than to tell him that everything she’s doing is for him!

The majority of this episode is a showcase for the impressive acting skills of Lena Headey as Sarah, as she fights to remain in control and alive. She abducts a female doctor who can’t get the bullet out, and they’re forced to return to the hospital to get more equipment and facilities. Some of the scenes here are really tense, as she reacts to both the doctor and the imaginary Kyle, both trying to help her in their different ways. I’m not sure there is another TV show that could pull off this sort of thing as well as this one, and it’s great to see better than the perfunctory story telling we often get. Knowing her injury might kill her, Sarah calls Derek and gets him to dispose of the blood evidence she left in the 4×4 and anything else she’s generated with the cops. He does this, but it draws Sheriff Alvan McKinley (Trinneer) to follow a trail back to the doctor and Sarah.

And this was the bit where I slightly lost the plot for once in this show. Dr. Felicia Burnett has just successfully removed the bullet when Derek turns up. She assumes he’s the man who shot her patient and levels Sarah’s gun at him, then Sheriff McKinley arrives and we have a three way stand-off. What happened next confused me somewhat, as the good doctor shoots the cop dead!

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Afterwards, it sort of seemed that they had some past history of violence, but the scene that set this was either missing or I didn’t catch that information. As such, when she did shoot him it came as a complete surprise and a somewhat jarring incident. Sarah tells the doctor to tell the police she did it, but Felicia says she’ll say she did it because he’s threatened her before? Perhaps I need to watch this again, and pay more attention this time.

Sarah and Derek need to get back to where she got shot and find out what the warehouse contains, but Catherine Weaver is well ahead of that game. She arrives there and slaughters everyone in perfect poly-alloy Terminator style. There is even a liquid-metal-to-human transformation sequence when she blows the building to bits and walks out of the flames, as per T2. Wonderful.

The strong points of this episode were the excellent pacing and the now-signature acting quality. There wasn’t much Cameron this week, but she’ll be more evident in future stories, I’m sure.

But, where this show stands head and shoulders above almost any other currently being screened is the underlying direction it’s got. It isn’t obvious where we are heading, but we are going somewhere in a clearly defined path. I can’t wait for the next story as this is the stand-out show for me at the moment.

Check out Billy’s review of episode 13 here.