Mark Watches ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’: S01E06 – Dungeons & Dragons

In the sixth episode of the first season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I WASN’T EXPECTING THIS AT ALL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Trigger Warning: For mention of nonconsensual drugging.

Seriously, I don’t know why I didn’t consider that The Sarah Connor Chronicles would ever flash to the future to show us apocalyptic Los Angeles. I guess my assumption was based on the fact that I expected this to focus solely on the present time in relation to the Connors, but NO. NOPE. And seriously, the people making this show did such a fantastic job portraying 2027. It’s a seamless version of what we saw in the films! And I appreciate that, even though I’m largely glad that The Sarah Connor Chronicles is trying to do it’s own thing. It’s nice to know that they care about creating a universe that feels familiar to fans of the franchise.

Anyway, let’s talk about THINGS.

The Present

Hey, it’s one of my favorite tropes! I love watching a character discover the existence of a hidden world, and I’m very satisfied that the writers didn’t try to duck away from the premise set up at the end of “Queen’s Gambit.” Instead, Sarah and John realize that there’s no point in lying to him anymore, and so they tell him everything. Well, they also show him the T-888. THAT HELPED. (Did it? I feel like it crushed his entire understanding of the world, HA.) All of this happens in the span of an hour, y’all. Charley is fully re-united with his ex-fianceé, he does his best to save a total stranger who looks like he’s had the shit kicked out of him frequently, and then he finds out that the “story” that the FBI told him about Sarah IS ACTUALLY TRUE. The future is full of machines hellbent on eradicating the human race, and Sarah is trying to stop that by keeping her son alive. ALSO: TIME TRAVEL. ALSO: EVIL ROBOTS. ALSO: CAMERON IS ETERNALLY MY FAVORITE.

He copes with this all pretty damn well, considering how absurd it is. It’s obvious he still cares for these two, enough that he’d risk his career and safety to help them. But it’s complicated as hell! It’s a lot to deal with all at once, and watching Cameron melt down a goddamn Terminator was certainly not something that was easy to stomach. Add that to the parade of weirdness, and anyone would probably freak out. But Charley doesn’t. He wants to help further, but Sarah isn’t really sure that’s a good idea. He’s learned enough as it is. Which creates a REALLY uncomfortable dynamic with Cameron, by the way. I have to remind myself sometimes that she’s still a programmed machine. It’s hard! She’s so much more “human” than any of the Terminators we’ve seen before. But she’s still just as calculating as ever, and it makes sense that she’d start viewing Charley as a threat. Even if he doesn’t ever intend to sell out John or Sarah, he still possesses important information. He’s a risk. So Sarah has to set boundaries with Cameron because, again, she doesn’t understand nuance or context like humans do.

Oh god, but she kept that chip. WHY. WHY?

I found John’s story to be pretty damn sad. The guy is desperate to find any connection to his father, and then his father’s brother is right before his eyes, and GUESS WHAT? He can’t even talk to him about Kyle Reese because the identity of John’s father is a SECRET in the future. Oh lord, this poor kid has the entire deck stacked against him ALL THE TIME. I can’t help but feel bad for him! And that’s one thing that The Sarah Connor Chronicles does really well: display the emotional toil of knowing your fate is planned out. It’s an integral part of Dekker’s portrayal of John, you know? He keeps John’s anxiety close to the surface at all times.

The Future

I almost called Derek’s flashes “flash forwards,” but they’re actually flashbacks relative to him. AND THEY ARE RIDICULOUS AND UNFAIR AND I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT WHAT THIS SHOW HAS CHOSEN TO DO WITH DEREK. First of all, Brian Austin Green??? Goddamn, y’all, I remember him from back in his Beverly Hills days and I kind of forgot he was still acting? HE’S SO GREAT AS DEREK. There’s a desperation and an urgency to him in a lot of those scenes at the weird Terminator house that are hard to describe, but Green sells it. He sells his frustration with being unable to find his brother, which comprises a lot of Derek’s drive.

But there’s also a lot revealed in the future segments that helps explain Derek’s characterization and that fleshes out the Terminator universe. Sort of? I typed that, and then the first thing that popped in my head was, “WHAT THE FUCK DID THE TERMINATORS DO TO THE HUMANS IN THAT ROOM?” They drugged them, right? I don’t even know if we’ll ever get an answer to that, nor do I know if it matters. Yet. But I liked that the details we got in Derek’s past were both super detailed and totally ambiguous. For example: I think it’s probably significant that we saw a Terminator who was made of rubber. Right??? Have we ever seen anything like that before? But the show doesn’t necessarily call a lot of attention to that. It’s just there, a visual hint at maybe something more. The same goes for the hatchet. Who left that there? Who freed them? Why did the Terminators abandon their torture of these people?

However, most of what I learned from these scenes was LIFE-SHATTERING. I think the decision to have Derek discover where his brother went was brilliant because it’s a fantastic tie-in with the first film, but it also furthers the parallel between their lives. God, the reveal that the “secret weapon” is actually the time displacement WAS SO GREAT, Y’ALL. This shows us how Derek ended up with those other resistance fighters in the safe house, and it also shows us why he came back:

TO KILL ANDY GOODE. FUCK, I BELIEVED HIM. I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY BELIEVED HIM. That was his main mission, wasn’t it? I didn’t even recognize Brendan Hines. HE WAS RIGHT THERE OH MY GOD. That means that Andy signed his own death warrant by telling Derek what he’d invented. Was I supposed to assume that his little nod to Derek was him giving Derek permission to kill him??? TIME TRAVEL HURTS MY BRAIN. But did it work? Surely, this entire timeline was just wiped out, but did it actually help? I DON’T KNOW. Is there more of a history between Cameron and Derek that we don’t know about??? What about that terminator who went “bad”? Is that common? I ALREADY HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS THAT I NEED ANSWERED.

Good god, this was a great episode.

The video for “Dungeons & Dragons” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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