September 24, 2008

TV Review: Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: "The Mousetrap"

tscc-logoSeason two keeps on chugging along. The season premiere was an explosive piece of television and a good example of how to put people on the edge of their seat. The second episode brought the action back down to more acceptable week to week levels, but was nonetheless another strong outing as we get into more character moments while not sacrificing the action on which this series will be built. Now, here we are, week three and still going strong. I have to saw that this show, while not the best thing I've seen, continues to impress with its ability to mix the personal with the epic, the action with the heart, not to mention a little bit of comedy.

Now, I am going to assume that anyone reading this has already seen the episode, as there will likely be spoilers as I recap and share my thoughts on the show.

During the second episode, Charley's (Dean Winters) wife, Michelle (Sonya Walger), discovered more about his relationship with the woman known as Sarah Connor than she would care to. Because of this news, and the fact they are now targets, they must go on the run. Needless to say, Michelle is none too happy with this.

As we get into the third episode, Charley and Michelle are on their way out of Dodge. While stopping for gas, they are discovered by Cromartie (Garrett Dillahunt), who promptly hopes in the vacated driver's seat and takes off with Michelle, leaving Charley in a cloud of dust. Not knowing what else to do, Charley calls John, who had foolishly given him his cell number.

Sarah gets word on what has happened, and without telling John or Cameron what is going on, heads off into the desert with a disapproving Derek in tow. What does she expect to find? An upset Charley and a dead Michelle. Fortunately, Michelle is able to get a call off to Charley, allowing them to get a fix on her location.

What have we learned? Charley is indeed upset, but Michelle is far from dead. She happens to be strapped to a chair and wired to explode. Why the elaborate setup? Easy. Cromartie needs a couple of things from them. First, he needs them to give him an opportunity to find John, and second, he needs them out of the way. No need to kill them, just stick them in the middle of nowhere, nice and out of the way. This leads us into the John and Cameron arc for the episode.

Obviously, Sarah doesn't want John to know she is going to help Charley. Why? Not exactly sure, but I would assume it would have to be believed it could be a trap. Sarah charges Cameron with keeping an eye on John. Problems arise when John exhibits a knack for eluding pursuers, slightly reminiscent of the arcade sequence in T2. He runs off to meet Riley for a day like a normal teenager. Cameron, however, is pretty good at tracking too.

Both stories converge as Cromartie closes in on John. Meanwhile, there is one more thread in this episode. James Ellis gets a call from Shirley Manson (why can't I remember her character's name?) with an offer to meet. We all know Manson is another Terminator, sorry, machine. She is in a position of power and seems to be in the process of getting things in place for the future, while also wanting to eliminate John. Ellis is wary, but definitely curious.

This series continues to do a great juggling act of keeping the energy high while also delivering strong characters. Sarah's arc continues to show her toughness, but also something of a vulnerability when it comes to people she cares about, needing to help at all costs, although she continues to mask her feelings. Derek, always at her side is the weakest link at the moment, although I am sure he will get a focus episode in the next few weeks to help beef him up a.

John continues to be a sullen teenager, destined for greatness in the eyes of humanity, but struggling to accept what he is destined to be while trying to retain some of his youth. This makes his relationship with Riley an interesting one. She is vibrant, blissfully unaware of what is to come and more than willing to challenge John to be a kid and enjoy life. This is a relationship to keep an eye on. I am still wondering how far it will go before she begins to suspect something bigger about him and his weird extended family.

Cameron is a good focal point for the comedy of the series, owning the episode's biggest laughs. For example, her early scenes discussing the movement of the house ("Next year we will have to re-paint"), and the presence of the bird in the chimney ("I'll kill it before it flies away"). At the same time, watching her try to understand the human condition through her closeness to John will be something to keep an eye on. Next week's episode was revealed to be a Cameron-centric one, looks like some big revelations are afoot.

There were some really good sequences in this episode, although two stand out over the rest. The first is when Michelle is strapped to the chair. Michelle is very freaked out and talking about how she has to stand up and her legs are on fire. Sarah says it is the adrenaline, to which Michelle yells "I know it's the adrenaline!" I loved that line. How many other shows would have let it go after Sarah's line? I loved how they went a step further to show Michelle is not stupid. I am sorry she died, but it was still a great moment. The other moment was when Cromartie followed John over the pier and promptly sunk. As John gets to the surface and asks Cameron for help, she replies "I can't swim." What a fantastic moment. I can honestly say I never thought about a Terminator not being able to swim.

Looking forward to next week!


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