EPISODE REVIEWS: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: “Adam Raised a Cain” (Season 2, Episode 21)

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Last week, as you’ll recall, John was lost and Sarah couldn’t find him. This week that cliffhanger is entirely undercut and sidestepped when John calls the other members of Team Connor and tells them to meet at his dad’s unmarked pauper’s grave. He shows them a picture of Savannah he found on one of the dead bodies, and recognizes her as someone he saw at a doctor’s office in one of the many episodes I missed from the first half of the season. Rather than the normal dominance games and pissing contests between John and his mom, he just says “We all know we’re going, so let’s just do it.”

And they do!

A Terminator attacks Shirley Manson of Garbage’s house, kills the nanny, and goes after Savannah. John Henry, on the phone, tries to navigate her to safety using surveillance cameras, but he looses the phone signal. Fortunately, Team Connor is already on the scene, and they rescue the girl, though Uncle Reese is shot in the head and killed dead on the spot.

Roll credits.

Holy Hannah, I did not see that coming, did you? Not only do they kill unkey Reese, they do it before the opening credits! And it’s not a dream sequence, he’s dead, kids, dead, dead, dead. Dead as this show’s hopes for a third season, alas. While on the subject of killing him off before the opening credits, I have to point out that we were VERY nearly fifteen minutes in to this show before they even SHOWED the opening credits. I understand the conventions of TV are kind of hampering at times, but look, either do a cold open with your titles *before* anything, or just dispense with them all together. Dropping them in randomly a quarter way through the episode is distracting.

Anyway:

Team Connor holes up with the little girl while John Henry discusses the shortcoming of the human brain: “No way to download the information when you die. Your bible solves this problem by introducing the concept of heaven, where souls go. All those billions of people with no bodies. Perhaps heaven has a hardware problem?” It’s a great sequence which, like virtually all of the John Henry scenes since I started watching the show again, seems to be about more than it actually is. Or is it?

In any event, JH shows Ellison the surveillance camera footage, and Ellison is cold busted on having lied about Sarah being dead. Ellison meets with Sarah, who wants to set up a meeting with Shirley Manson from Garbage. Ellison agrees, but they need to have the kid back first.

While all this is going on, Shirley Manson talks to JH about how she’s willing to sacrifice Savannah if it’ll keep him safe. Earlier she told Ellison that she feels Savannah’s safety - and Ellisons - may rest on JH’s continued safety. It didn’t feel like a lie, but I wonder what that’s all about? They also talk about Cain and Abel from the bible, and JH wonders which brother he is. Shirley strongly suggests he may not be either, he may be God in the context of the story. Interesting.

Ellison meets with Team Connor in a theater showing “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman” to get Savannah back. As Sarah leaves, she’s taken down by a skillion cops. Ellison blurts out that he swears he didn’t know, but John Connor yells “I’ll kill you!” and he and Cam run off.

Meanwhile, Uncle Reese’s cremated remains are buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

OBSERVATIONS:

Man, has this been a bad week for John or what? Lost his girlfriend, his home, his surrogate father, and his uncle all in the same week! The scenes of him off in his own space trying to deal with it were nicely understated and well done, and his voice being unusually husky when he tried to befriend Savannah and forced being happy said a lot without saying anything. I was very impressed by his face acting when he began to think John Henry may have been toying with them all along.

That said, I didn’t actually *like* the subplot about John Henry toying with them all along because he clearly wasn’t. The confusion surrounding this didn’t really go anywhere and it seemed useless to me. I think it was just there to pad out the story, or perhaps a periscope from an earlier draft of the script.

How nice is it to see that the Ellison/JH/Shirley Manson “Helo Plot” has finally integrated back in to the main plot? Ah, it’s good to see both wheels of the car pointed in the same direction again.

A shortcoming of this series is that we’re told it’s John Connor who’s the hero of the future, but the show is all about his mom defending him. I’m cool with that, and I like it - in concept it’s like a battling’ Virgin Mary - but it sort of undercuts John’s own future greatness to a degree. I like how in the last few episodes he’s kind of stepped up and taken more of a leadership role in the show. There’s a sense of growth in him that was missing earlier on.

As always, I love the religious ruminations of this show, since they place a faint spin on the tried and true interpretations of biblical stories. It's respectful, but just askew enough to be vaguely disturbing and make you question them just enough to make them seem more alive in your head than just stories in a book. I like that.

Man, that song at the end totally didn't work, did it?

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Who’s yo’ Brutha’?

What really is going on with Shirley Manson of Garbage?

Why is another killbot trying to kill John Henry?

My theory is this: There’s a schism between the terminators in the future, the mechanical ones and the T-1000s. The T-1000s are (maybe) allied with John against the older models, and the two groups are fighting each other. Thus Shirley Manson came back to the present to keep the Skynet models from evolving, while giving her own group dominance from the getgo. Some of the dialog in this episode implied she actually has an interest in the preservation of the human race in general, even if she doesn’t give a rats’ ass about any individual members thereof.

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