In the seventh episode of the first season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Ellison becomes the new target of Sarah Connor and someone else and I can barely believe this is all happening. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging, torture.
I CAN’T. They’re all so close, THEY ARE ALL SO CLOSE.
Here’s a perfect example of the sort of story that I think makes perfect sense for John Connor. I said earlier that I really liked that the show was taking John in a direction that reflected how a teenager would probably react to a scenario like this. While I poked fun at Derek’s fussiness in “The Demon Hand,” I think you can see a similar kind of frustration in John. He’s still largely cooped up within the house or at school while all this SHIT is going down around him. Of course, this is exacerbated by what he sees on the tape from Pescadero. But it’s important that he witnesses his mother signing over custody of him without the full context of that moment. He can’t know what led Sarah to do that, and he doesn’t know what her reaction to it was. Still, it infuriates him because he has such a particular idea of what it means to be a hero and a fighter. It’s based on an unfair standard, one that Sarah has to destroy for him so that he understands that heroism doesn’t mean perfection. Yes, Sarah regretted signing that paper, and she also regretted yelling at John right after he and the Terminator rescued her. They’re flaws of hers, and I love that “The Demon Hand” shows John Connor that heroes are always going to be flawed. That doesn’t mean you have to lose hope and faith in people, you know? And it’s all nicely contrasted with the idea of “perfect” machines, which… oh god, let me talk about that.
JESUS CHRIST, THIS EPISODE WENT TO AN INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE PLACE AND THEN NEVER LEFT IT. Look, it’s obvious at this point that there’s something drastically different about Cameron’s programming that’s allowing her to behave as she does. She expressed genuine interest in something that had nothing to do with a mission. That scene where she dances to Chopin at the end is so fucking haunting because it’s in direct contrast to the brutality we witnessed earlier. After Cameron lets those men kill Dmitri and Maria, she later justifies it by claiming that it wasn’t part of her mission. Her parameters didn’t care about preserving human life. And yet I expected it! I totally thought that she would walk out of Dmitri’s room and kill those men for him, but nope. She got what she was ordered to get, and her mission was over.
But there is no mission requiring her to counter Maria’s statement that her upper body is “mechanical” while dancing. THERE’S NO REASON FOR HER TO PRACTICE BALLET. And I imagine that this is super bizarre for something like Derek to witness because his entire perception of Terminators is skewed toward the negative. And justifiably so, given what time he comes from! He’s never seen behavior like Cameron’s ever, and it’s disturbing. Does that mean future models can respond to reason? Empathy? Will they be emotional? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It means I’m a goddamn mess.
Goddamn, I’m endlessly satisfied with how well this show’s mythology fits in with the first two Terminator films. There’s a great deal of respect in terms of the writing, and thus, an entire episode devoted to Sarah’s time in Pescadero feels necessary. It’s something that’s been referenced in past episodes, but I think Sarah needed closure, particularly from Dr. Silberman. But she also got closure from her son in the process, since she was able to be honest with him part of her time there.
So how is she going to deal with Ellison? Surely, she suspects that he knows far more about the future than he did before. HE HAD THE HAND. Is she still going to keep him at bay? I NEED MORE.
For real, Ellison’s story in this episode is MY FAVORITE THING. I’m just so glad that in the process of seeing him learn the truth about Sarah Connor, we learn more about him. I’m entirely fascinated by the role that religion plays in a universe like this one. We’ve heard references to God before (from Sarah herself, actually!), but it’s not until we get a more Ellison-centric story that we get a character who integrates a belief in God into his life. Of course, it has necessary ties to the concept of faith, since John nearly loses his faith in Sarah after watching the Pescadero tape. But Ellison, a man of God, is suddenly confronted by an undeniable reality that seems to have no place within his own faith. He’s spent nearly a decade haunted by the details of the Sarah Connor case, and then he finds that goddamn hand, which suggests he’s been wrong the whole time.
For Ellison, though, it’s just a hint to him. He needs more. Like John Connor, he has to have his faith tested for it to come out stronger in the end. So he seeks out Dr. Silberman solely to confirm the truth that’s been picking at him. AND OH LORD, DOES HE EVER FIND IT. I love that the dynamic of that scene changes so many times. When Ellison arrives, it seems like it’s heading in a very specific direction: Ellison is up against a brick wall and Silberman won’t budge. It seemed so certain that Dr. Silberman was completely in denial of what he’d seen and experienced, that he was committed to his views on Sarah Connor.
And then he drugs Ellison with tea, and I thought it was some awful plot to harm anyone who contradicted him, AND THEN HE HAS A KNIFE AND HE’S SAYING THAT HE BELIEVES ELLISON IS ONE OF THE MACHINES AND OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING ON MY SCREEN. Seriously, this twist – that Dr. Silberman utterly believes everything Sarah Connor said – was huge. I mean, I was actually prepared for him to remain an antagonistic force. (He technically does, at least for Ellison.) I was not ready for him to be a believer who hid up in the Big Bear mountains because he was afraid of the repercussions of what he believed. I WAS NOT READY FOR HIM TO BASICALLY BE SARAH CONNOR.
And here’s the real comic tragedy, aside from Ellison getting stabbed in the leg and nearly SET ON FIRE: Ellison has to treat Dr. Silberman exactly like he treated Sarah Connor all those years ago. He was horrific to Sarah, not just because he wouldn’t believe her. So my sympathy here isn’t all that high to begin with. I’m more concerned with Ellison, who knows that locking Silberman up is locking the truth away. Who can he tell? How can he deal with this? He turns to his faith, in part to help him solidify his understanding of the world. This isn’t an uncertainty to him anymore. It’s the truth. The future holds the end of the world, and Ellison now knows how that’s going to happen. I’m sure he could put together all the pieces of the cases that confused him so much. But… what next? Does he keep it to himself like Dr. Silberman? Does he reach out to Sarah? I mean, SHE REACHED OUT TO HIM. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Oh gods, I just adore this character and I WANT TO SEE MORE.
The video for “The Demon Hand” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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