In the sixteenth episode of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I fucked up. I was so wrong. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging, torture.
I honestly think that the best way for me to fully understand this is to watch it again. I completely fell for the massive misdirect of the narrative, which means I spent forty-odd minutes compiling all my criticism and thought on “Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep” and being UTTERLY FUCKING WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. I was so ready! I was so prepared to talk about how the dream sequences were Sarah’s way of working through her guilt over killing Ed Winston! I was so prepared to talk about how Sarah is at a point where her lack of self-care has made her a risk to those around her. I was so ready to talk about seeing Terminators where there were none.
Clearly, this episode had different plans for me.
So, everything in the sleep clinic is a dream, one that Sarah has while under the affect of the drugs that Ed Winston gave her. In hindsight, there are a few tells, namely in the way that each new twist manifests in Sarah’s dreamworld. While both realities are heavy on paranoia, I think there’s a whole lot more anxiety present in the sleep clinic scenes. They feed into a specific fear of Sarah’s: being unable to defend herself. The whole place is nightmare fuel for her since she’s incapacitated a great deal of time. She’s at the whim of medical practitioners, many whom she can’t trust. She’s away from her son, who doubts her and appears to be development more awkward feelings for Cameron. Hell, the entire reason she’s in the clinic is because of John. Does Sarah worry that this is what John’s going to eventually do to her? Then there’s another reference to cancer, and BY GODS, the entire story is designed with Sarah’s fears. Every aspect of it!
When Dana dies, for example, Sarah feels like she’s thrown into yet another battle with Skynet, one John is reluctant to believe, though he does come to her side eventually. It’s a surreal development, though, because this felt like a murder mystery unconnected to the larger plot. Why? Why were we exploring this? (Of course, this is even more frustrating because all the dream sequences seem meaningless, too. If they’re a dream, how can we expect to be held in suspense by things that aren’t actually happening? OH FUCK, I FELL FOR THIS SO HARD.) Why is Hector and his tattoo so important? Why does he talk so strangely? Why does Nurse Hobson seem so malicious? Was I imagining this, or was it all because I’d gotten so used to untrustworthiness that I just defaulted to that with every new character?
Even when Sarah and John discovered the computer equipment in the basement, it was entirely possible that this was a routine part of the facilities. What if there wasn’t anything malevolent about this? What if there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for this? Of course, now I see how this is a perfect parallel to her anxieties over the three dots. Sarah is terrified that she won’t be believed by her own son. Worse, look at the eventual result of that: she and John are executed by a Terminator. This is her worst nightmare, though it’s stretched out over an agonizing dream sequence that exploits all of her insecurities.
WHICH MEANS THAT ALL OF THE SCENES OF “REALITY” ARE A MILLION TIMES MORE MESSED UP THAN I THOUGHT THEY WERE.
Jesus, I spent the whole episode discounting everything I was watching. “None of this is real!” I told myself. So who cares if Winston threatens her? It has no actual bearing on the plot aside from it being a narrative metaphor. Goddamn, it worked so well as that, you know? Winston’s line about killing Sarah now has a totally new meaning. HE WAS SERIOUS. Plus, practically every detail (but not all of them) was something that could have easily come from Sarah’s subconscious. There wasn’t much revealed here that was new, you know? I was fascinated by the way that Sarah used Diana against Ed, exploiting his own guilt over his job and how it had torn his life apart. When he started talking about his company sending him to a “private clinic,” I assumed that this was just an invention on Sarah’s part, something her mind came up with to explain why Winston was in front of her.
And then reality and dream life blend in this terrible, confusing way, and I can see now how the dream world was a response to Sarah’s predicament. Winston’s insistence that John will come to his mother is reflected in the dream, and we see how it’s all a trap to get John Connor. It represents yet another fear of Sarah’s: that her son will care too much about her and get himself killed because of it. It’s at this moment that she snaps out of the dream world, realizing what’s actually happening, and THEN SHE DOES A LOT OF GROSS THINGS TO ESCAPE AND IT HURTS. Oh my god, it was real. And now Sarah has actually killed him, and she’s no closer to discovering who he truly worked for. Just… oh lord, it’s hard to wrap my head around what happened here, but I think I’ve got it? It’s too much. This show is too much.
The video for “Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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