PTR Senior Staff Writer
Wax on, wax off.
Forgive me if I am thinking of the infamous line from the Karate Kid film, but this is how I've felt watching Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles for the first part of the season: one episode is spot on, the next not so much; then it's on again for two, then not.
This week's ep: on.
Why? These are the kind of urgent, fight the future here and now eps that seem to be missing more often than they seem to appearing in season two. Compared to the non-stop flow of the first season, we're at a snail's pace right now.
As such, I've lamented the fact that the show is working off one too many tangents (and dead ends) this season. It seems to have lost itself in the minutiae of trying to chronicle way too much rather than sticking with the basic premise of fighting the rise of Skynet and the machines in the here and now WITHOUT confusing the heck out of the audience in the process.
Last night's ep seemed to get back to those basics and return a sense of urgency to the mission at hand. It also happened to be pretty darn funny, with the Fields family providing some interesting banter as they try to process the end of the world at the hands of cyborgs.
But here's the interesting part: John Connor was NO WHERE to be seen in the episode.
And the ep actually seemed to work BETTER WITHOUT him.
Worse, I didn't even notice John was missing until the ep was over.
You know what I did notice? How much I've come to like Brian Austin Green's (BAG) Derek Reese.
Compared to the always mopey/uncertain/needs-to-grow-a-pair John, Derek is far more interesting and compelling to watch. There seems to be an infinite set of possibilities to his character that we aren't left "wondering" about. As in, the endless John conundrum of do I/don't I/why me/what do I do nonsense. With Derek, everything is much more lively - and certain - given he has come from the future and/or knows exactly what needs to be done in the here and now to fight against judgment day.
And in a story like last night's, both present and future are nicely tied together: the team is saving an unborn child who is going to have an anomaly in her blood that will help develop a cure in the future to fight against a plague that has taken over the resistance fighters.
Plain. Simple. Easy to understand. No ridiculous gray area. No absurd time travels. No touchy feely therapy sessions.
Also, with Derek, he's able to have a compassionate side but without this unending sense of wavering, moping, wondering, wanting to be a teenager, blah, blah, blah nonsense that is just getting to be such a drag with John. This is not a slam against Thomas Dekker. But whether it was intentional or not, BAG has become a stronger character, a more compelling character and a much more interesting character to watch.
As such, I don't know if the writers are just stuck with a kind of a one-trick pony character in John, or he only works as a strong character in the future, or they just don't know how to expand off the teenage wanderlust. Whatever the issue, they might want to stick with the formula of last night.
It definitely waxes on.
The fall finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles airs next Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX. The show will return February 13th in its new Friday night time slot. You can watch full episodes online. Visit the Official Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Web site to catch up (or re-watch!)