Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Troubling Good Conscience on 'Chronicles'

By LillyKat
PTR Staff Writer

“If you’re gonna be a hero, you gotta learn how to drive a stick.”
Oh, if it only were that simple for John Connor.

The poor guy is supposed to be prepping to be the leader of all mankind, but he can’t quite figure out the whole shift-clutch-gas thingy.

I guess you can’t win them all.

But you can keep trying.

And so goes this week’s installment of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles whereby John’s conscience seems to be getting the better of him.

We recall bad terminator Cromartie (who hunted everyone down in the pilot episode) did manage come through with Sarah, John and good terminator Cameron when they blasted themselves forward into the present day. Since then, Cromartie’s gone through some serious link-n’-lock reconstruction, a super-plasma-blood potion rebirth, and now he’s getting himself a good nip/tuck to blend in with the rest of the human world.

Bad news for our trio.

Worse yet, Sarah, John and Cameron discover there are already other evil terminators on missions in present day prepping for life post-judgment day. Like, say, stockpiling a whole boatload of Coltan metal in a fallout shelter (that will, of course, survive the machine-take-over-mankind destruction and at which 500 or so metal endoskeletons will be able to be created; that is, terminators).

Nothing like planning ahead.

After finding this out, ever valiant John feels like taking on more than just Cromartie. Mom and Cameron ... well, not so much. Too dangerous. Too unpredictable. Need to re-evalute the whole kit and caboodle. It’s one thing to be dealing with only with one bad terminator; it’s another to now think they might have to deal with an army of them.

Problem is, John’s had about enough waiting, worrying, wondering, preparing, running and hiding. He wants to start doing something.

And he does, which gets him in a seriously nerve racking face-off with a powered down evil terminator.

Reboot anyone?

This is what I am really enjoying about the television series as compared to the film: we are getting a much deeper, more rich examination of the inner-workings of the characters – particularly John and Sarah.

We all know John Connor has been destined to be the leader of mankind after judgment day. We know he is wickedly smart, compassionate, determined, fully aware of his lot in life. But, what we didn’t necessarily get to explore in the film is his deeply emotional conscience, and his own sense of personal responsibility to just do the right thing – even if that puts him at risk.

Yes, we had Edward Furlong telling Arnold that he just couldn’t go around killing people. Yes, we had Edward Furlong making some fairly insightful "We’re not gonna make it, are we? Humans, I mean" comments. And the whole "no fate except what we make for ourselves" thing.

But the film didn't give us that in depth look at John’s guilt for seemingly not doing enough, or having to think about protecting himself first as opposed to helping others given any action he might take could put his own life at risk. The series is giving us a rich exploration of John’s inner-conflict. I love the fact that he seems to want to help too much – too much for his own good. He wants to make the world right … and he wants to make it right, right now. It presents a constant battle for Sarah as she tries to balance her concern, her fear, her worry and her full sense of what awaits them four years from now – the end of the world.

The fight to save mankind continues ...

New episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles air Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX. You can also watch full episodes online. Just visit the Official Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Web site to catch up (or re-watch!)

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