The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 1 episodes 2 and 3

Ron gets us all up to date with the Terminator spin-off series, and espouses the virtues of Summer Glau in the process...

Since I screwed around, I’ll just compress the next two episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles into one review, since they’re both somewhat related. I’m sure no one minds half the amount of yapping spread out over two connected plotlines, right? Right.

After zapping ahead into the future, Sarah has a new mission. Since she can’t seem to stop SkyNet by keeping John alive, and since the killing of Miles Dyson didn’t stop it in Terminator 2, that suggests that there’s other people aside from Miles Dyson who are working on the project, or who know enough about the project to continue on his work. Considering the multiple layers of data protection in most places, that’s very reasonable and it’s probably dumb Sarah didn’t think of it before.

Helpfully, Sarah was declared dead a few years earlier than they’d jumped to, so that makes getting around a lot easier. But, this distance makes things a bit problematic, as all Sarah’s old underworld contacts, specifically Enrique, her old friend from Mexico, has retired to live the good life. His nephew fills in for the ID making, and he also fills in Sarah on the details of Sept. 11 and how difficult it made things for their business. It also allows for Sarah to tie up a loose end, namely a certain grizzled Mexican rat.

Sarah’s mission to stop SkyNet at its source also puts us in touch with another person from Sarah’s past. The widow of Miles Dyson, Terissa, is back again, and seems as though she’ll be a recurring character as she’s in both episodes 2 and 3. She’s replacing Miles as Sarah’s insight into the world of Cyberdine and the people who might have worked on the project with Miles and who could feasibly continue his work.

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This puts her in touch with a former college intern turned electronics salesman named Andy Goode, who is a huge computer geek. He’s smitten with Sarah (who wouldn’t be?), and she sees this attraction as a great way to get what she wants. Not money, or a car, but a peek at the Turk, which is his name for his homebrew computer set-up that he’s built that’s basically a chess-playing computer spread out over several pieces in his closet.

On their date (which seemed to go well since he got her alone in his house), he makes a fatal mistake. Number one, he shows her the Turk (the computer system, not a euphemism). Number two, he dorkily talks about how awesome his chess-playing computer is when it’s in the proper mood to play along. A moody computer that doesn’t run on Windows is Sarah’s big tip that, perhaps, the Turk is self-aware. Things don’t go good for Andy, even though Sarah figures out a way to take out the Turk without, you know, killing anyone (this time).

After an action-packed opener, the next two episodes have been less action and a bit more of a chase. You can’t blow the doors off for an entire season, after all, but things aren’t moving slow by any stretch of the imagination. There’s always something going on with Cromartie, after all, and the vengeful terminator blasted into chunks in the pilot episode isn’t going to be deterred. He also sets up one of the best gore pieces in the show involving a scientist who meets a particularly sloppy ending.

After the pilot set up the show’s premise quite well, we get into the bulk of what I can only assume will make up the series. John struggles with his eventual destiny, Sarah decides to stop SkyNet before it can go online in a preemptive strike, Cameron the Teen Terminator struggles to become more human, and Cromartie struggles to make himself look more human while still pursuing John Connor.

This begs the question as to Cameron’s ability to sweet-talk, even fool, the brilliant future leader John Connor in the pilot episode. It’s been a hot topic of debate on the internet. From her abilities in the first episode, she seems to have regressed, but I have my pet theory to explain this.

John knows himself (Episode 2 is titled “Gnothi Seauton,” which is Greek for “know thyself”) better than anyone else. So it’s more than conceivable that he’s able to program the Glaubot with just enough patter (and sex appeal) to lure in 15-year-old John. All she really needed to get his attention was a few lines of dialogue, and a little story. Well, that and a stomach you could crack walnuts on.

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While the show has cooled after a spectacularly hot start, it’s still doing well in the ratings, and hopefully that means it will get a second season. Assuming it’s not a self-contained one-season show, that is. I doubt it is, since American TV doesn’t work that way, but if it is, I sure hope it finishes out. It’s definitely the best sci-fi program on broadcast television, and could probably give Battlestar Galactica a run for its money.

Any show that gets Summer Glau on TV deserves to run a full season, be it Firefly or this Glautastic series. Go check out more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics.