Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Finale

So last night saw The Sarah Connor Chronicles wrap up it's first (and possibly last) season.

And it was a corker.

I've blown hot and cold on this television version of the absurdly popular sci-fi franchise. Visually the show is very good and there's enough action to satisfy most robot-philes, but the writing has been fairly flat and the characterisation is horrible. Characters do and say the most unlikely things which quickly destroys your suspension of disbelief (and in a TV show about time-travelling robots, that's pretty important!)

But last night, they made up for it.

The two-episode finale followed two distinct threads. The first saw John, Sarah and their friendly Terminator attempt to unravel Skynet's plan by hacking into a destroyed Terminator's brain. This revealed a rather worrying complexity to what we'd previously assumed were just emotionless killing machines.

The destroyed Terminator had posed as a human being - utterly convincingly. Even marrying a human woman in order to assist her in designing the 'central nervous system' of what would later become the Skynet machine that destroys mankind.

In a show that's flirted with the boundaries of established Terminator 'lore,' this was a bold move - but worked very well. It took the viewer out of the established 'comfort zone' and revealed that nothing is what it seemed. The Terminators - evolved from the brains of a chess-playing super-computer - weren't just emotionless robots single mindedly pursuing their prey. They could operate invisibly right within the heart of human society.

They had a greater purpose - and were more human than John or Sarah Connor could have imagined.

The second plot saw FBI Agent Ellison cross paths with a familiar looking figure - a murder suspect posing as a rival FBI agent. The murder suspect, as we viewers knew, was none other than 'Cromartie' - the Terminator who'd travelled forward in time to pursue and 'terminate' John Conner.

Again, operating with a subtly and complexity starkly opposed to the murderous indifference of the 'Arnie' Terminator from Terminator 2, this robot used the FBI and school records to try and track down John. Only quick thinking by friendly Terminator Cameron prevented him succeeding.

But while John avoided confrontation, Agent Ellison wasn't so lucky. Having no idea that the rogue FBI agent was a robot, he ordered a SWAT team to arrest the impostor - and watched in horror as the Terminator proceeded to slaughter his entire unit.

The episode ended with Cromartie still on the lose and John and Sarah unable to track down the chess computer that would later become the 'brain' of Skynet. The series came to a shocking conclusion when Cameron, their friendly Terminator protector, was caught in a horrific trap meant for John and Sarah.

I'm pleased to say that this series finale had me on the edge of my seat - and anxious for more. I'm just a little concerned that we'll never find out what happens to Cameron, Sarah and John - since the future of this promising sci-fi adventure is hanging in the balance after the long, drawn out writer's strike crippled the next season of upcoming TV shows.

With very few exceptions (such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the latest incarnation of Doctor Who) the first season of any new show is uneven. Despite some wobbly patches, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles managed to keep on course right to the bitter end and it would be a real shame if all the hard work and imaginative plotting came to nothing.

Fox? Please bring back Sarah Connor next season!


Reverse_Vampyr said...

I LOVED the season finale!!

I only had a few concerns/questions: I have missed a few episodes, but I thought I remembered seeing FBI Agent Ellison flash his eyes red, Terminator-style in one of the early episodes. I thought he was an undercover Terminator trying to hunt John through the legal system. So I've been unsure what to make of the guy through the past few episodes.

Similarly, why did the "Cromartie" Terminator kill Ellison's entire unit but not him? They stood face to face beside the pool, but then the Terminator walked away. WTF?

And just what will become of Cameron's oh-so-nice exterior? Methinks I will pout until next season. :)

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