In the eighth episode of the first season ofÂ The Sarah Connor Chronicles, tensions flare when Derek reveals that Cameron saved the T-888â€™s chip. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Trigger Warning: For consent and body horror.
I donâ€™t think that I expected this show to be so uncomfortable soÂ regularly. It would be easy to cast Cameron as a willing hero, a machine eager to become as human as possible, but that story is a lot easy to tell. Itâ€™s far more challenging (and much more viciously awkward) to constantly call her loyalty and nature into question. For the most part, â€œVickâ€™s Chipâ€ is a slow burn of an episode, one that moves through scenes with a quiet sense of doubt. Who is actually lying? Are their plans ever going to work? Can you truly understand someoneâ€™s motivations? All these questions are asked of these characters and of the audience, and itâ€™s an unsettling experience.
Right from the get go, weâ€™re show how uncomfortable this is going to be. While it might make sense that Cameron saved the chip for its potential uses against Skynet, the primary conflict is Derekâ€™s word against Cameronâ€™s. On the one hand, Cameron has undoubtedly proven herself to Sarah and John over and over again. But Derek has a history with Cameron, one that I think has more pieces that we havenâ€™t seen. Whose perception of Cameron is correct? Does that even matter? The issue is complicated, of course, by the reveal that Cameronâ€™s model can lie if necessary. (Well, reveals it to the characters; we already knew she could.) Â So how muchÂ can they trust her if her mission diagnosis is telling her to lie?
If this was the sole thing these people had to deal with, I donâ€™t know that this would have been such a huge issue, but through dissecting the information on Vickâ€™s chip, John discovers a hellish new feature of the T-888â€™s: infiltration. AND ITâ€™S SO UNCOMFORTABLE BECAUSEÂ WHAT IF CAMERON IS INFILTRATING RIGHT THEN AND THERE?Â How could they ever know? The video record obtained from Vickâ€™s chip is a perfect demonstration in the ways in which this model could believably hide within the past. We donâ€™t know the timeline of Vick Chamberlainâ€™s life, and I honestly think that makes this a billion times creepier. Had Barbara always known this specific Vick, or had the Terminator simply swapped himself in for the real husband? How long had this long con gone on? (Holy rhyming!) Was Barbara ever the originator of the ARTIE system, or did Vick come up with it and manipulate her into it? ITâ€™S SO AWFUL. While I am glad that the show portrays this negatively, I do wish that perhaps theyâ€™d been more explicit on the consent issue, since this is REALLY NOT OKAY OR APPROPRIATE AT ALL. Sheâ€™s not consenting because she doesnâ€™t know who this man really is. Are there other T-888â€™s infiltrating elsewhere??? OH GOD, IS THIS GONNA BE LIKEÂ DOLLHOUSE WHERE I HAVE TO SUSPECT EVERYONE?
Again, the lack of these answers actually creates this damning air of doubt throughout the episode. Itâ€™s obvious from the recordings that these new models can adapt quickly and ruthlessly in order to not raise suspicion. So it makes sense to Derek that Cameron most likely was responsible for his safe house being exposed and all his friends dying. Itâ€™s the simplest explanation for it, and given that heâ€™s already harboring a severe distrust of Cameron, itâ€™s easy for him to make this sort of conclusion.
Is his mistrust well placed? We watch Cameron brilliantly deflect Cromartieâ€™s snoping at school by using Morris as a stand-in, and thatâ€™s good, right? So how could she be part of a long-con at this point? Sheâ€™s had plenty of opportunities to kill John Connor and she hasnâ€™t, soâ€¦ thatâ€™s good, right? Gods, I hate typing this out because WHAT IF I AM ULTIMATELY WRONG? Iâ€™M GOING TO BE DEVASTATED. But thatâ€™s the subtle brilliance of â€œVickâ€™s Chip.â€ The episode eats away at our certainty and causes us to look upon everything with justified suspicion. Is Derek hiding anything beyond what we know about him and Andy Goode?
I donâ€™t quite know yet. I still havenâ€™t figured out where this season is heading, and with only one episode left in season one, Iâ€™m frightened for the next episode. In their efforts to track down the Turk, the group discovers ARTIE, a traffic control system that could easily have become part of a â€œnervous systemâ€ for Skynet, as Cameron puts it. Itâ€™s more of the same frustration for them since they have no way of knowing if each of their actions is going to end Skynet or get them closer to that goal or LITERALLY ANYTHING. They simply have to chip away, piece by piece, at the larger structure by following whatever lead they can. In this case, ARTIE leads them to someone who was trying to shut the project down, which leads them to Sayles, the connection that explains how the safehouse was originally found. Even this original team of infiltrators was largely doing the same thing.
So where do they go from here? Even if they find the Turk and destroy it as well, is that the final step? Is that really the key to dismantling Skynet? With every small victory, are they actually condemning themselves to yet another battle once Skynet sends more machines into the past?
I find it compelling that this isnâ€™t addressed because it gives this show a sense of unending dread. We can see it in the characterâ€™s faces at times, but itâ€™s also something we feel as audience members. How long can this go on? Will these characters learn to fully trust one another, or is that a luxury for other people? Weâ€™ve got Sarah setting a clear boundary with Derek at the end of â€œVickâ€™s Chipâ€ (HOLY SHIT WHAT A GREAT SCENE), but is he committed to this fight in a way thatâ€™s opposed to Sarah and John Connor?
Lord, thatâ€™s a lot of questions Iâ€™m asking. Which is good! This show interests me, and itâ€™s raising questions I never even considered when watching the films. THATâ€™S SO TERRIBLY EXCITING TO ME. So Iâ€™m eager to watch this finale, since Iâ€™m guessing the show is about to destroy me. OH LORD.
The video for â€œVickâ€™s Chipâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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