Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 episode 16 review

The Sarah Connor Chronicles might send you a bit barmy this week. Billy has just managed to figure it all out...

I’m beginning to fathom out why this show might have a problem with a typical viewing profile, because this week’s episode is a complete ‘mind job’ for someone who likes science fiction.

Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep starts by making some obtuse references about the nature of evil, nightmares and how they’re real to those that experience them.

This is a continuation of the emotional fallout that Sarah has been suffering since the earliest episodes, exasperated by the incident in episode 13 when she killed a man up-close and personal. I’d never actually considered this until now, but prior to this, her character had never killed another human being, only Terminators. The nightmares are stopping her sleeping so she goes chasing up a lead on the business that Catherine Weaver blew to pieces.

She goes to a warehouse, where she’s about to break in when she sees a coyote. It distracts her long enough that she doesn’t see someone approach from behind; she’s shot with a Taser and disabled.

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She wakes in hospital where she’s undergoing treatment for her sleep disorder, with a strange woman in the adjacent bed and a curiously efficient woman doctor helping her cope.

Each time she sleeps she returns to a nightmare where the man she killed has captured her and is trying to get information using powerful drugs. She flips back and forward, progressing each side of the coin in turn until about 85% of the way through the show. With each change of scenery we get to understand a little more about what’s going on in Sarah’s head, and how it’s impacting on her.

The man she killed is holding her chained in a van, trying to find out who she’s protecting and why she came to the factory.

At one point, she’s in the hospital and expressing her concern to John about her roommate, who was badly burned in an ‘accident’ . She suspects that something weird is going on, and wonders why the doctor keeps entering a secure room.

With John’s help they get into the room and find that she and others are the basis of researching brain patterns. While they’re erasing Sarah’s data, the doctor comes back…and she’s revealed to be a Terminator!

I’ve truncated things massively, as this was a very slow burn indeed, even by this show’s standards, but by this point I was almost watching through the gaps in my fingers. That made what happened next even more unbelievable. The doctor attacks Sarah, knocks her to the ground and is about to kill her by slam-dunking a PC on her head, when John shoots the doctor. The Terminator goes down, only to come back up and kills them both…

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At this point, three whole minutes from the end of the story, we realise that the hospital was a dream and the man holding her in the van is reality!

I had to pause the show, and sit for five minutes trying to take all that in before I could proceed. Okay, he isn’t dead, and she didn’t kill him, and her life really is in danger now.

What’s nice is that Sarah is having the same revelation, and acting on the new reality as she now perceives it. She breaks a bone in her wrist allowing her to escape the handcuffs, and then assaults her abductor when he returns. For a TV show this is pretty graphic stuff; she stabs him through the eye with a hypodermic! They have a brutal fight, and eventually she gets the gun, and this time he really is dead, unless they’ve kept a spare head for him.

Phew. That was a heavy 43 minutes…

I enjoyed this immensely, but I can see why some people might not like it. It’s possibly a bit too cerebral for some, and Cameron didn’t throw anyone out of a window or tear the door off a car. We also didn’t get any Derek, Riley, John Henry, Catherine Weaver or Ellison in this story. It was just Sarah, with John and Cameron very briefly.

Next week those baying for Terminator action might get what they want, if what I’m getting told about the coming episode Ourselves Alone is true.

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Read a review of the episode 15 here.