Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 episode 9 review

Complications is the latest episode in the brilliant Sarah Connor Chronicles, and it's one where you really need to know the story so far...

Summer Glau in The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Writing for Geek has made me realise that I’m not the only person who remembers all these cool things about movies, TV shows and comics. And this week I also discovered that the writers of The Sarah Connor Chronicles are on my wavelength entirely, right down to those things I most remember from my favourite science fiction movies.

Complications starts just minutes after the previous story, with a weird dream sequence where John is embraced by three polymorphic cacti. Sarah’s asleep in the back of the 4×4 on the way back from Mexico, and wakes with the compulsion to vomit.

After she’s done being ill, she sees a tortoise by the side of the road, on its back, and turns it over. The strength of this symbolism for sci-fi buffs is overwhelming, as it’s a direct reference to the ‘blush response’ sequence from Blade Runner. This was the interrogation technique that Deckard uses to determine synthetic people from real ones. This is later reinforced when Cameron asks John why she turned the creature over, and her lack of understanding about what it really signifies.

This is just one of a series of dreams Sarah has, where she sees Cameron growing or nurturing things. Always in threes, it’s all rather disturbing.

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With her unwell, John and Cameron return to Mexico to discover Cromartie’s body is missing from the grave where they left it. They conclude Ellison took it and go to his home to ask why. He convinces John that he doesn’t have it, after Cameron has thrown him across the room a few times.

The other major thread of this week is a story involving Derek’s Anglo-Asian lover, Jesse, who’s captured a man she insists is a Skynet collaborator sent back in time. At first she seems overly confident that she’s got the right man, but Derek isn’t convinced. The man denies being ‘Charlie Fischer’, until she returns with another younger ‘Charlie Fischer’ with an identical birthmark.

Sarah goes back to see Doctor Sherman, concerned she’s going nuts, but she can’t really explain the whole deal or he will really think that she is.

At more than 30 minutes in, I’d sort of concluded that Complications was a wind-down exercise after the explosive release of the previous story. How wrong I was.

Jesse tells Derek about who ‘Charlie Fischer’ was in the future; he didn’t only cooperate with the machines, but he trained them how to interact with humans, and broke them down physiologically. And then comes the gut punch at the end of her story, she talks about being held for weeks by this man till she didn’t remember how she got out. Except it wasn’t her being held, it was Derek! Frick!

Derek goes to kill young Charlie, but Jesse kills the old one before he can… maintaining the timeline?

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This is one of the issues that, so far, this series hasn’t addressed, and finally they try to confront ‘timelines’ head on. The problem is this: can the future be changed? The fact that terminators keep appearing means that Judgement Day happens and John’s fight with Skynet is also destined. But is this all on rails, or is the future being slowly rewritten by their actions now? This is the platform for a discussion that Jesse and Derek have, where he offers the possibility that he’s from a future where he wasn’t tortured by Charlie, but Jesse is from one where he was. It’s a brief acknowledgement of this problem without a conclusion, but it’s always something that the Terminator mythology has had as an issue, so it’s good they’re thinking about choosing how it actually works rather than ignoring the point.

The young Charlie Fischer goes back to work and is immediately arrested for hacking the military computer systems where he works, except we know that the biometric security system sensed his older self, and not him. He’s got some explaining to do, and it could alter his life entirely.

Catherine Weaver finally turns up in the final act, to meet Ellison who’s brought her the remains of Cromartie. Her and Cromartie’s view that he’s the key to the Connors looks an increasingly accurate prediction.

Lots happened this week, much of it pushing a longer story arc than any localised developments. So it was a show for those that follow the whole story, and not anyone accidentally tuning in.

Next week, Sarah finally catches up with the Turk, I’m told. And after that there is only one more episode in the can.

Read a review of the episode 8 here.

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