Mark Watches ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’: S02E08 – Mr. Ferguson Is Ill Today

In the eighth episode of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, this is a spectacle, and I’m so thankful I got to watch it. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Seriously, that may have been the best episode of this show by far. Before I delve into each character’s story, I wanted to talk about the brilliant way in which this was written. I do like the Rashomon narrative style a lot, but I’ve never seen it pulled off like this. It’s common for this technique to be used to tell the same story multiple times in a row, but Daniel Thomsen’s script keeps the narrative largely linear instead of repetitive, choosing to rewind the story just a few minutes to give us scenes that don’t feel boring. Amidst this all, “Mr. Ferguson Is Ill Today” can still shock us and surprise us, and I credit that entirely to the way this unfolds. I don’t think this would have been as satisfying as it was without the constantly-changing point of view.

Bless this.

Sarah’s Story

It’s also great that this episode picks up in the aftermath of “Brothers of Nablus.” John’s explosive fight with Sarah is the impetus for the events here, though I wonder if they would have been able to take down Cromartie if John had stayed home. Regardless, Sarah knows that the world is deeply unfair and that she and John can’t have what they want anymore. I know that Sarah often comes across as unsympathetic and cold (which Lena Headey is perfect at portraying SHE IS SO AMAZING, Y’ALL), but she often has to be. I know there’s nothing intentionally harmful in her actions, but John still feels stifled and in pain.

But Sarah’s primary concern isn’t John’s emotional well-being, and I think she knows that. She’s busy at the beginning of this episode securing their home and building a safe, not comforting her son. We know she’s not exactly that good at affection. Is that going to change after this episode? Will she re-think her position on civilians in her life? I don’t think so. Given how she treated Riley after Riley saw pretty much everything, and given how she addressed Ellison, she’s more set in her ways than ever before.

Cameron’s Story

Oh, lord, Cameron continues to fascinate me. She’s adapting in ways we don’t see in the other Terminators. Here, she recognizes John’s unspoken attraction to her, and she tries to use it to her favor when she’s busy convincing him to stop seeing Riley. Like Sarah, Cameron has no problem reading a situation and determining the biggest risks to John’s safety. Unfortunately, the biggest “risk” she observes is an actual person. That’s why John’s justification to her is so important; it’s what she can’t truly understand. She can’t understand the desire for companionship.

But she can understand John’s loneliness. OH NO, THAT LINE WASN’T OKAY.

John’s Story

This feels like the peak in John’s teenage rebellion, and unfortunately, it’s disastrous. As he tries to maintain a sense of normalcy with Riley, he quickly realizes that he can’t maintain the illusion. Riley is perceptive as hell, and she correctly guessed that John had fought with his mother and that their little trip to Mexico was partly a gesture of revenge. So she’s going to start asking questions about John that he won’t be able to answer truthfully. I mean, he took her to the city he grew up in, and once she started asking about his childhood, he closed himself off. It’s entirely understandable that she became frustrated with him! Wouldn’t anyone feel that way? Plus, you have to take into account the fact that John has made it clear that he wants to take his relationship with Riley to the next level. And yet? He’s unable to be truthful with her about nearly everything in his life.

This is then exacerbated by their arrest, which is the understatement of the goddamn century. Y’all, this falls apart so spectacularly, and it’s terrifying to watch. We know that once they run the name “John Connor” through the system, it’ll flag the authorities, and that’s the least of their worries. While we do see how John contacts Derek from that earlier scene, we have no idea how he’ll get out of jail before anyone comes to get him. NOR DO WE KNOW HOW HE’S GOING TO EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS TO RILEY.

Y’all, I had no idea how real this would get.

Sarah’s Story

Here’s a great chance for me to talk about how the visual medium of television allows for brilliant storytelling. I thought it was incredible that the show committed to Sarah’s point of view and stuck the camera with her inside Cromartie’s trunk. We hear the chaos and gunfire outside of the trunk that was hinted at during the end of “John’s Story,” but we don’t see it. We expect the worst because COME ON. It’s Cromartie. So I was terrified when that trunk was opening because I fully expected Cromartie to do something awful. BUT NO. ELLISON??? BLESS THIS SHOW.

Ellison’s Story

JSUT!1!>1>!>1>?!?!? Y’ALL. THIS IS SO AMAZING. Out of fucking nowhere, Ellison is suddenly INTRICATELY INVOLVED and THERE’S NO DENYING WHAT HE KNOWS and THIS IS SO INCREDIBLE. Shit, when Cromartie appeared behind Ellison at the police station, I nearly lost it. This episode does such a fine job conveying the chaos of that gun battle. It’s horrifying, particularly since it was entirely possible that Ellison might not make it out of this alive. But goddamn, he does it. He escapes, grabs Riley and John, and they all discover that Sarah was in Cromartie’s trunk.

I appreciate that the show committed to Sarah’s reluctance to ever involve someone new into their circle. Look, just because Ellison helped them out and saved the Connors’ lives doesn’t mean that she’s going to suddenly ask him to be partners. Again, she has to view everything as a risk, and Ellison is a risk. There’s too much of a chance that with Cromartie tracking Ellison, Ellison will accidentally lead the Terminator to the Connors. There’s no chance that she’ll team up with him. (Which frustrates me because BOTH OF THEM ARE NOW SO CLOSE TO CATHERINE WEAVER AND IT’S FUCKING ME UP.)

Derek’s Story

Where is Cromartie? Oh my god, that one line was so frightening, y’all.

Cromartie’s Story

Just the sight of his name was exciting to me. This episode takes so many risks with the story and the perspective, and I absolutely adore that the last major “story” centers around the villain. That scene in the church… FUCK. And it’s so great to me that a building that’s traditionally used as sanctuary is used here for destruction. Through sheer force – and that amazing shotgun that Cameron had – these people finally take down the Terminator that’s been tormenting them for over a year. I honestly believed that Cromartie would last until the end of this show, so I was genuinely shocked that they killed him off. It’s a huge chapter in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and it’s one that ends emotionally for Sarah. How much of her life would have been easier if she’d just killed Cromartie back when he first came after John? It wouldn’t be surprising to me if she blamed herself for all of this, even though it’s not her fault. Regardless, Sarah shows a rare moment of vulnerability as Ellison walks away, and it’s such a haunting sequence. What now? What role does Ellison play? Is he going to tell Catherine Weaver what he just experienced? What threat are the Connors going to face next?

This show is such a gem, y’all.

The video for “Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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