Last night's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles made for a fantastic season ender: tons of action, knifeplay, closure, and fresh riddles. But I'll be pissed if it turns out to be the series finale. Spoilerwarning!
Last night, Sarah Connor was in jail, and an FBI agent tried various tactics to get her to collaborate in the search for John. And meanwhile, our sense that Cameron was hiding something spiked up massively. And John Henry, Catherine Weaver's baby A.I., started to act a lot weirder. It all culminated when Cameron bust Sarah Connor out of prison, and took her and John to Zeira Corp. There, a confrontation about Catherine Weaver's A.I. project got cut short when Skynet attacked. Then John Henry absconded with Cameron's chip, with John and Catherine Weaver in hot pursuit.
So I really liked the scenes between Sarah Connor and the FBI agent played by Josh Malina, where he's trying to get her to cooperate. I assume the stuff where he says "I believe you" is a ruse, but I'll never be sure - and that's really intriguing. I can only hope that his character recurs in season three, and we get to see whether he really believes her, and whether Cameron's unstoppable jail-break affected his opinion.
(And a few commenters pointed out that I forgot to mention the dangling plot line that Danny Dyson, son of Miles, has been missing for a few months. Working for Skynet?)
We got to see Sarah at her absolute best: stoic, resolute and yet compassionate. She was great, talking to the priest from the season opener, about how something wants to see the world burn. Her interplay with the FBI guy and Ellison is also really sharp, and she doesn't even flinch when Catherine Weaver tries to cut her down to size with that "I wasn't talking to you" thing.
I was also really glad that John tells her he loves her. I don't think we've heard him say that before, and it made me like John a lot better. Too bad he couldn't hear her say she loved him too.
Most of last night's mysteries involved Cameron, in one way or another. Most of all, she definitely seemed to know what Ellison was talking about when he delivered the message, "Will you join us?" But she didn't want John to know. (Did Future John even know about that submarine mission?) In any case, that message changes Cameron's priorities massively, from protecting John Connor to getting to ZeiraCorp. Rescuing Sarah Connor from the prison is just a means to convince John Connor to go to ZeiraCorp. with her, since Connor can get her inside.
(That sequence where Cameron cuts herself open and gets John to inspect her insides seems like she was testing her readiness for the jail and ZeiraCorp. missions. But maybe it was something else?)
And yes, it seems almost certain that Catherine Weaver was the liquid metal Terminator on board the submarine. Was she letting Cameron know she'd changed her mind? It seemed like it.
In any case, Cameron quickly defaulted to Plan B after hearing Ellison's message. And something to do with Plan B involved cutting her own head and letting John Henry take her chip. I've rewatched the last few minutes several times, and it seems like John Henry somehow "ports" himself to Cameron's chip and installs it in his "Beastwizard" body. And leaves Cameron either erased or inside his old hardware.
But this leaves me with several questions:
- You'd need a third pair of hands to complete that operation. John Henry can't place Cameron's chip inside Beastwizard's body without disconnecting himself from it first, right? So a third person would have needed to disconnect John Henry and install the chip, and then effect the transfer. Who was this? Murch?
- Murch's song and dance, earlier in the episode, about how changing just one little fan wire "tweaked" John Henry, seems significant. If he's so tied to that collection of hardware, then what's left of John Henry now that he's been ported? Is he even still John Henry any more? Can one Terminator chip really hold that sophisticated an A.I. anyway?
- On a related note, Cameron's speech about how her body and her software are designed for only one purpose - killing humans - seems eerily significant. Now that John Henry is fully installed in a body with such deep-rooted programming, who's to say some of it won't rub off?
Also, of course, John Henry's behavior in this episode definitely seemed "tweaked." What was up with him repeating everything Catherine Weaver says, and even speaking at the same time as her one time. "We'll see." It seems spooky, and not the same old childlike John Henry. On the other hand, I loved John Henry killing the Umber Hulk and learning to cheat at Dungeons And Dragons.
Another reason why John Henry might seem a bit tweaked: in this interview a couple months ago, Garret Dillhaunt talks about how John Henry eventually meets an A.I. as strong as himself (i.e., Skynet), and he gets attacked - and how that forces him to change the way he operates and reconsider his place in the world:
So why does John Henry feel the need to run to the future anyway? Isn't he a lot safer in that basement? True, a Skynet hunter/killer did attack, but it seemed to be under control. (Maybe.)
Meanwhile, Catherine Weaver is either very sincere about joining forces with John Connor at last, or pulling a very elaborate scam.
That ending all happened very suddenly, but it seemed like John Connor is determined to get Cameron's chip back because he has feelings for her after all. (Or because she's a vital strategic asset.) Weaver wants to go chasing after John Henry because he's her baby. So with hardly any discussion, they go whizzing off to the future together, leaving a dazed Sarah Connor and Ellison behind.
It's a future where Derek Reese hasn't traveled back in time, and is therefore alive. So is Kyle Reese, who also hasn't traveled back in time. And to complete the trifecta, Alison from Palmdale, the human whose body and memories were used to create Cameron, is there as well. None of them knows who John Connor is. It seems like, by jumping forward in time, John skipped over all the stuff where he grows up, goes through Judgment Day, steps up to lead the resistance, and helps them hold their own against Skynet. None of that has happened in this timeline, because John jumped forward.
So in a way, both John Connor and John Henry are stripped of their messianic trappings by being jumped forward. John Connor is just another punk kid in a resistance bunker, surrounded by people who are important to him but who suddenly don't want to live and die for him any more. As for John Henry? Wherever he is, he's just another Terminator now, in a future landscape full of Terminators.
It's a pretty poetic ending to the season, and leaves me dying to know what happens next. As the end to the series itself, though - it's almost unthinkable. Let's hope we get another year (or five) of this show. What did you guys think?
Oh, and meanwhile, they showed this preview of Terminator Salvation, which was almost entirely old footage. But there are a few new snippets here and there: