PTR Senior Staff Writer
Now, that is more like it.
After a week’s hiatus (and a ho-hum previous episode), Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles returned last night in fine form.
And giving us a Cameron v. T-888 smackdown?
(Mark that one down in the Epic Cameron Fight Sequence Hall o’ Fame)
But aside from the No-Love in an Elevator sequence between the machines, who was it who actually stood out for me in this ep?
None other than Shirley.
Yes, we had John moping about in therapy. And, I will admit the opening sequence (with John, Cam and Sarah) in the psych doc’s office actually did play pretty funny. They were undercover of course (aren’t they always?), seeing as psych doc is of some significance in the future. But with everyone making plans to come back separately for more spy-on-doc time, it actually gave us a breakthrough with John’s mope-o-rama ness. He’s basically exhibiting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, á la a war vet who has trouble adjusting to not being in a war zone and/or not quite having recovered from having killed people (you know, like, from the season premiere? When the baddies after the TURK nonsense bust into the house, and throw Sarah and John around whilst Cam tries to recover from being blown up in the jeep?). At least we’re getting somewhere with John’s mopefest. And he seems to think he’s found someone he can talk to, which isn’t mom (much to Sarah’s chagrin).
We also had Derek come face to face with his girl toy from the future, who seems to have gone AWOL from being part of John’s resistance because ... well, gosh darn it, she's just has had enough of the ol’ war and wants to be with Derek when the world ends.
Problem is, she seems to be infiltrator. Read: machine who is impersonating the girl who, by my count, was likely terminated. Those present day spy photos on the floor by the bed couldn’t just be for nostalgia, eh? Like we said a few weeks ago, the machines are so irritatingly efficient. I kinda hope this actually is not the case, but I'm not holding out a whole bunch of hope. Will be interesting either way. And it was nice to see Derek let his guard down and actually feel something. He’s so hard core all the time.
But it was Shirley who stole this episode for me. We finally got to see a flaw in her machine perfection: she has no idea how to be a “mother” to that little girl who – my bad – is actually NOT a Machine Mini-Me.
No, it seems her real mommy, Catherine Weaver, was terminated and replaced by Shirley for the inside access to develop whatever nasty technology the machines can think up to take over the world (given Weaver was/is a high-tech CEO). And that, of course, currently involves developing and training a human interactive AI (artificial intelligence) to be like a child - which got the better of her this week with its Why Is a Math Book So Sad riddle (because it as a lot of problems – ha!).
And since ol' Shirl's having issues with her daughter, she of course is also making visits to aforementioned psych doc (did you catch that near miss when she and John were there at the same time?!?!?!). And given psych doc’s expert reputation, it was he who had to translate the AI’s prank on Shirley and Co, since she only could see the random selection of images it kept playing back/forth as a malfunction and/or error in programming, not the fact that the AI had actually developed at a faster rate than even she (and the tech nerds working for her) could figure out. Thus, the AI was playing a trick on its creators as any gifted/genius child would do once they got bored with themselves, and the games given to them to keep them entertained.
Welcome to stump the machine day.
And in that, Shirley Manson turned in a rather chilling performance. She was so precise, so awkwardly secure, so calmly frustrated. And how about studying the old tapes of “real” mom, trying to figure out how to show affection to the child (who lost daddy, too, though I can’t confirm/deny exactly how- no doubt at the hands of the machines when mom got offed)?
It begs the question as to why the child wasn’t offed as well. I’m guessing it would’ve caused the machines more of a headache to have to program Shirley to be a grieving mom as opposed to just an aloof one.
All in all, spot on ep. Go Team T:SCC!
The fight to save the world continues.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to the start of the Major League Baseball World Series on FOX, the next new ep of T:SCC will air in two weeks.
New episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles air Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX. You can also watch full episodes online. Visit the Official Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Web site to catch up (or re-watch!)