episode 6: The Tower is Tall But the Fall is Short
The latest Sarah Connor Chronicles gifted us a gem of smart storytelling this week, and took the story in an entirely unexpected direction. The events as portrayed by the entire Terminator franchise are serious stuff, with most of humanity destined to be wiped out by a technology they can’t control. So grim that it would be easy for the show to take itself and the characters far too seriously.
Yet this episode had some of the funniest laugh-out-loud hilarious sequences; but curiously they fitted entirely within the context of the show. It’s this ability for the production to take a step back occasionally and laugh at the characters and their predicament that makes it so watchable.
In an early scene John, Sarah and Cameron attend a ‘Family Therapist’, following a clue left in an earlier episode. Some of their responses to Doctor Sherman (is that a nutty professor reference?) are superb, especially Cameron’s unique perspective on ‘being alone’.
The twist in this plot comes along early when we find out that liquid alloy terminator Catherine Weaver is also a patient of Dr. Sherman, because unsurprisingly her young daughter wets herself when ‘mummy’ gets angry.
This then leads to one of the most chilling scenes I’ve seen on TV for a while, were Weaver observes through a glass partition as the child tells Dr. Sherman the ‘secret’ that she’d like her old mother back. Weavers’ reactions to the child and therapist are perfect examples of the limitations of her programming, and of their inability to blend with humanity perfectly.
But the real question here is why Weaver needs the child at all. Surely she could just take on the personality of a single person? But then she starts working on ‘being a good mummy’, as if this is a very necessary part of her mission. Are these limitations something to do with the Turk currently malfunctioning in her labs, or is it something deeper in the terminator psychology?
Meanwhile Derek runs unexpectedly into an old lover, her appearance in this time is entirely unexpected. Something isn’t right, but what exactly is it? Jesse claims to have gone absent without leave after one of John’s pet Terminators killed half the bunker she operated from. Something stinks, if Derek can work out what.
The dark underlying theme in each plot thread deal with fear and loss, and the toll it takes on people. John’s transition to the future leader is dependent on him not cracking under the strain of survival. He needs help with post-traumatic stress, and Dr. Sherman can help if Sarah will accept he has a problem.
But with another terminator on a collision course with John and Dr. Sherman, he’s not going to be relaxing anytime soon. Luckily Cameron intercepts this particular robotic foe, and folds her for handy carrying after a comedic fight in an elevator.
But then, after the comedy, soul searching and intrigue, the script writers throw a scene on the end of this episode like a primed fragmentation grenade.
Derek’s been under the impression that John’s problems stem from seeing his mother kill a man in the season 1 finale. But we never got to see those events till now, and it’s not Sarah that kills him!
This is an electric show and well deserves the full season order it’s just won!
My only complaint is that there isn’t another show ready to broadcast for another two weeks, what will I find to write about?
Read the review of episode 5 here.