The last few stories have taken Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles into a dark and brooding place. Propelling the narrative and characters towards something catastrophic where not all of them will survive. Riley died last week at the hands of Jesse, and unless I’m entirely reading the runes wrong, her demise won’t be the last prominent character that will bite the dust this season.
Today Is The Day is the first of what looks like a pivotal two part story where I’m hoping Jesse’s motivation for wanting Cameron mistrusted by John is finally revealed. It’s the entire basis of her mission, and one that she was prepared to sacrifice Riley to achieve.
The story starts with the various fallouts of Riley’s disappearance, on both Jesse who killed her and those who’ve assumed Cameron did it. Jesse is having the onset of a breakdown, and is sitting in her apartment minutely adjusting lamps.
From here we get one of a series of flashbacks where we see Derek and Jesse in the future, where they’re both about to go off on missions. Derek, we assume, is about to be sent back in time to help John, and Jesse is going on the USS Jimmy Carter. That sub is captained by a terminator called Queeg (a reference to Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny), and Derek tells her that at the first sign of trouble she should shoot it in the chip. It’s the events on the Jimmy Carter that are obviously the key to Jesse’s actions.
Jesse has a more immediate problem, which is to explain the damage caused in her fight with Riley to Derek. Her elegant solution is to go to bar, get drunk and get into a brawl with four airmen.
Back at the Connors they’re preparing to move house and they learn of Riley’s demise from their blond landlord. Suspicion immediately falls on Cameron, but then it’s not much of a leap. At one point she sees a bird that flies away from her, she shouts after it that it had a 51% chance she wouldn’t have killed it. Those aren’t great odds, and it suggests that she’s on the borderline of having little or no control over what or who she terminates.
Derek gets Jesse out of jail, and he asks her what’s going on, to which she’s evasive. Then we switch back to the sub, where a celebration of crossing the equator is cut short when they’re attacked.
What this show does best is creepy, and the next segment made my skin crawl. Catherine Weaver is working in her office, and her daughter Savannah is playing close by. She wanders out into the corridor where the door opens for her leading to the elevator, which then takes her down to John Henry! He makes the lights in the elevator dance, which makes the girl laugh. Soon Savannah is missing, and Catherine Weaver appears in Ellison’s office looking for her. They both head directly to John Henry, who tells them she’s playing hide and seek and if they want to find her he’ll give them clues if they can guess what country he’s thinking of. Ellison doesn’t understand and gets angry, while Catherine seems to enjoy the game.
Eventually, they find Savannah unharmed in a helicopter, but Ellison is clearly spooked by the whole exercise.
Back with Derek, he gets the phone call where they tell him Riley is dead and he and Jesse talk about what should be done with the ‘metal’, as they call Cameron. And then Jesse gives herself away to a degree. She tells Derek that he can’t kill Cameron, it’s something that John must do himself. He says to Jesse, “You really thought this through,” which suggest he’s beginning to understand what’s going on. However, it doesn’t trouble him sufficiently to stop him having sex with her later in the episode.
Back to the sub; they’ve been attacked by a submersible terminator, a ‘Kraken’. We don’t get any cool CGI of it, but the schematics look impressive. They dive to crush depth to avoid it. This is the only bit of the story that didn’t work for me, as we’re told that the sub is within 20 cm of being crushed. Eh? The exact depth at which a sub would implode under the pressure would be influenced by lots of factors, including temperature, the speed they reach the depth and even wave height on the surface, and wouldn’t be predictable to that accuracy. They throw in a nice reference to Red October, with ‘one ping only’, but I still didn’t buy the depth crush guff.
They escape the Kraken, but Jesse wonders why they are 300 miles off course.
I’m leaving out a few things, because this isn’t the paperback edition of the show, but we then progress to the next creepy sequence where John turns up at Riley’s foster home supposedly looking for her. The plan, it transpires, is that Cameron will ring the house phone imitating Riley, so that her foster father thinks she’s still alive. It all goes well until Cameron asks to talk to John, and says that she loves him. John’s getting freaked out, and Cameron isn’t helping. These are ultimately distractions from events on the sub, where it transpires they’ve been sent by future John to get something from a deep water oil platform. They arrive at this location, and send a team over to get the ‘package’. It turns out that the object in question is being handed over by no less than three terminators. Two are just endoskeletons, and one which looks like a very early attempt at skin covered.
They have something technical-looking to trade, but we don’t get to see if it’s handed over, yet.
The final touching scene has John go to the morgue and see Riley one last time. I was wondering if he’d notice that she has real skin under her fingernails, but I don’t think he does. The end shot is a return to Jesse doing her Mr Monk impressions with lamps, again.
At this point I almost screamed at the TV, I need to see part two right now! Where season one hinted at a darker future, season two is now delivering handsomely. The plots they’re now running don’t have a happy outcome. It’s going to be degrees of loss all around. For me, just behind the brilliance of the third season of Dexter, this is the stand-out show of this season, and it’s not over yet!
Four more shows to go, I’d buckle up now!
Read a review of the episode 17 here.