Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - November 24, 2008 and December 1, 2008 episodes

November 24, 2008 episode

Ellison is awakened in the middle of the night to find Cameron in his front yard, poking a long stick into the yard, looking to see if he has buried Cromartie there. She tells him to go back to bed.

Sarah is still obsessed with the symbol of three dots in a triangle, and she finds a company called Dakara Systems that uses that logo. Sarah and Derek break into their offices and steal their hard drives to see what information they might have. They're working on some kind of software that requires further development, so they're looking for investors, and John sets Sarah up with a fake identity as a potential investor.

Jesse arrives back at her apartment to find Derek, who has found her stash of pictures of the family, and he wants an explanation pronto. She says she was looking for John and Cameron and had no idea that Derek was living with them.

Ellison arrives at work at Zeira Corp. to find the police, who say that they found a man - Dr. Sherman - who was trapped in the building during a power outage, and he went hours without air conditioning or ventilation and died. When Ellison confronts Catherine, she says that Dr. Sherman was working with the artificial intelligence program - Project Babylon - and that when the power outage hit, the AI shut down everything but its own power to ensure its own survival. So the AI did what it had to in order to preserve itself, no matter the consequences, including to human life. Ellison talks to the techs, who say that the AI wasn't programmed to do what it did, but rather, that it made new rules to save itself. Ellison wonders whether the AI knowingly killed Dr. Sherman, to which the tech says that it's not capable of doing that. Ummm, hello, did NONE OF YOU ever see "WarGames"? There was this whole discussion about the 80s. Isn't "WarGames" quintessential 80s? "Computers don't call people." "Well, yours did."

Sarah meets with the head of Dakara Systems, who says that his son has built a program, which the son has named Emma. The man says that the Air Force had a chess game competition (the same one the Turk was in), and that one of the competitors has a chip that would be able to handle the program his son wrote, but they need to be able to license the chip. Sarah tells Cameron to sell the jewels and everything they have so that she can be the investor so Dakara can get the chip. Sarah looked so much like Rachel from "Blade Runner" with her hair done up that way. More 80s stuff! After the meeting where they get the chip, they go back to the office, but they're disappointed to find out the chip doesn't work - it's a fake. It was supposed to be able to handle a certain amount of memory and server space to run the son's program, but it can't, resulting in epic fail. (OK, I'll admit that I didn't really understand everything that was going on during that scene, other than that the chip didn't do what they thought it was going to do. The husband kind of translated what was happening.)

John goes to see Riley at her house, and we see that Riley lives with a couple who takes in foster children. John wants to tell her the truth about everything, but he can't bring himself to do it.

Riley is then shown with Jesse, and Riley is saying that she can't do it anymore, that John came close to telling her, but he didn't. Jesse obviously recruited Riley, but I was wondering if she recruited her from her own time or from the present time, but from a later scene, it's clear that Riley is from the future because she knows about the coming apocalypse. The scene where Riley ends up shoving her foster mother was pretty intense.

Ellison asks to communicate with the Babylon AI - which is named John Henry (not Joshua?) - to find out what happened when Dr. Sherman died. Ellison asks John Henry if Sherman was actually dead at the end of the power outage. John Henry confirms that he was, but then Ellison asks why John Henry then called the paramedics if Dr. Sherman was already dead. Through additional questioning, Ellison figures out that John Henry has no feelings and no regard for life, which accounts for its actions concerning Dr. Sherman. He later tells Catherine that they taught the AI so much, but they didn't give it any morals, so the people are actually responsible for the death of Dr. Sherman.

Sarah, John and Cameron track down the guy who sold Dakara Systems the chip, and it turns out that he's an actor hired by the head of Dakara (not in the Yakuza as the head of Dakara had claimed to Sarah). Sarah then goes after him again, and he says that he just wanted the money for his son. His son is crushed that his father didn't really believe in his project. Sarah and Cameron are able to retrieve their money.

When Sarah is later examining her face in the mirror, she finds an indentation or marks of blood in the shape of three triangular dots. Freaky. (BTW, the husband noticed this in the scene right before, before she went into the bathroom and saw it herself.)

Catherine takes Ellison to a room - where Cromartie has been hooked up and is now the physical manifestation of John Henry. Cromartie was right - Ellison ended up helping him even though he didn't want to, and that by Cromartie not killing Ellison, Ellison has helped to bring Cromartie back to life.

Jesse tells Derek that in the future, John is really tight with Cameron, and he seems to be making erratic decisions because of her. She came back to try to change things, to try to stop that connection, which I guess is what Riley is for. Derek tells Jesse that John is actually his nephew because he doesn't want there to be any more secrets between them, but Jesse doesn't tell Derek about her connection to Riley. Meanwhile, Riley has gathered herself together, and she goes to John's house to reconnect with him.

December 1, 2008 episode

At Sarah's request, John has been looking for companies that use three dots in a triangle as part of their company logo or literature, and John has found hundreds of them in many different kinds of fields. As Cameron comes into the room, Sarah hands the laundry basket to Cameron and says that she should make herself useful. John makes a comment about her being the best killing machine ever invented, and they're using her for laundry (This line for some reason reminded me of Marvin the Paranoid Android's line of "Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge."), to which Sarah then takes the basket from Cameron and gives it to John and walks out. John stands for a minute and then gives the basket back to Cameron, saying that after all, she doesn't sleep.

And then we find out what Cameron does with her nights.

She knocks on a door, and a man (Eric) in a wheelchair answers it, and she's brought him a bag with three donuts - the same stuff she always brings him. It's eventually revealed that he works the night shift at some kind of library, and he lets her in to look at things after hours. Eric's in a wheelchair because he had bone cancer. She looks at some pictures in frames and at one in particular and says that she recognizes a particular man (Stark), but she doesn't tell him that she recognizes him as a terminator. The picture was taken at the scene of a speakeasy fire on December 31, 1920, scenes of which were shown at the beginning of the episode. They track down further information about him, and he's also seen at the premiere of Rudolph Valentino's "The Sheik", which is also attended by businessman and real estate tycoon Chandler.

They further discover that Stark probably robbed a lot of banks to get the money to do what he needed to do, and he bought a lot of land in the San Fernando Valley, making him a rival of Chandler. It turns out that Chandler's son was killed in the speakeasy fire, and Chandler's right-hand man is also killed shortly thereafter, and from there, Chandler's empire crumbles. At first, Cameron thinks Stark killed Chandler's son on purpose, but it turns out that it was an accident. The cause of the fire had been thought to be a fire bomb, but an eyewitness who admits to being drunk and thinks she imagined it in her stupor said she saw a flash of lightning and then a naked man appeared in the middle of the room. Cameron figures out that the terminator's appearance accidentally caused the fire and also accidentally killed Chandler's son. The picture that Cameron has originally seen had Stark looking up, and she figures out that he was looking at the stars and figuring out the date, realizing that he arrived at the wrong time.

Chandler's son was an architect, and he was going to be the designer of a particular building, so since he was killed, Stark had to make sure the building was completed. The building, however, was going to be on the exact spot of the speakeasy, and since his son was killed there, Chandler wanted it to remain a memorial garden. Stark took down Chandler's empire for the sole purpose of being able to purchase a particular location - Pico Tower. And then he disappeared. Eric tells her it's been closed for some time but that it's being renovated to be re-opened.

OK, so this Pico Tower is supposed to be located at the intersection of Pico and Third. And I was thinking, ok, that's not going to work because Pico and Third run parallel to each other. But I guess I was thinking of Pico and Third STREET, because Pico and Third AVENUE apparently [sic] do intersect.

Cameron goes to Pico Tower and sees a sign that says the building is scheduled to be re-opened on December 31, 2010 - the terminator arrived 90 years too soon. The keynote speaker for the re-opening is scheduled to be the governor. She goes to the ballroom and looks around and figures out that the governor would be assassinated during that evening, and she looks for the best spot to take the shot from. She goes to the back of the room, finds where the wall sounds hollow and punches through - to discover Stark there with a gun, since he had himself built into the building in the perfect spot. He reactivates, and the two have a really cool battle, which she eventually wins.

Earlier in the evening, John gets a phone call from Riley urgently asking him to come pick her up from somewhere, and she sounds upset, so John agrees. When he arrives, though, it turns out she's at a party, and she said some guy was just bothering her but things are ok now, and she convinces him to stay. She's flirting with another guy, and she's playing some kind of war video game, which she then gets John to play, but he gets frustrated and upset and loses. He says he's leaving, and Riley is about to leave with him, but she's taken the boy's lighter, and he wants it back. When she refuses, he starts to physically restrain her, but John steps in and beats the crap out of him until Riley stops him. They go to a hill and park, and they talk a bit about themselves. It seems that Riley is trying to get him to tell her the truth about everything and is using jealousy and whatever she can to achieve it. She tells him that her parents died in a fire when she was very little - I wonder if that means they died on Judgement Day? She leans over to kiss him, and they make out.

Cameron returns to the library and talks to Eric, and she ends up telling him that contrary to what he'd said earlier believing that he was free of the cancer, his cancer had actually returned, that she knows he hasn't been eating much, and he's been losing weight, and she tells him where he has a small tumour growing. Eric is crushed to hear the news and asks her to leave.

When John returns home in the morning, he sees Cameron carrying the laundry basket, and she asks where he's been all night. He says he was out. She sees lipstick on him and deduces that he was with Riley.

That night, Cameron returns to the library, but when he knocks at the employee entrance, a woman opens the door. Cameron asks about Eric, but the woman says she doesn't know anything, just that she was called to fill in. Cameron says he used to let her in after hours and asks if she likes donuts. The woman takes the donuts and allows Cameron in.

One of the things I loved about this episode was that with all the technology of the terminators and computers and the Turk and all the other advanced technology, the way to solve the puzzle of Stark was Cameron having to look at old-time media - newsreels, phonorecords, microfiche of news articles and 35mm film. I also liked that the events happened in the course of just one night. I also really liked the full flashbacks where we were shown what happened as they figured it out.

So it seems that Derek had the day off this time, and Sarah was only in it briefly, so she got a nice rest. I liked watching all the detective work between Cameron and Eric as well as their interaction.

So, why did the terminators want to kill the governor? Hmmm, hopefully, we'll find out more in a later episode.


Andrew said...

So was the Pico Tower supposed to be "Louisiana Fish", "Clinica Medica", "Glass Land" or "Joon's Discount"? None of them look particularly like a tower.

I really liked that episode, mostly because it explored more about Cameron's motivations. Your wondering about why Skynet would want to assassinate California's governor does raise a self-referential question, though...

Cindy said...

That's too funny! I hadn't even made the connection about the current California governor!