In the nineteenth episode of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I’m a mess. I’m a shell of a human. I am not okay. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Trigger Warning: For talk of death/grief, miscarriage, and a brief mention of suicide.
He’s so close, he’s so close. I actually thought that during Ellison’s conversation with John Henry, Henry would open up about his secret. But I understand why that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, Ellison is asked an incredibly surreal and uncomfortable question: does his time spent with John Henry now mean they are friends? Can they even be friends? I’d like to say that what we’ve seen of John Connor’s relationship with Cameron has shown us that a machine and a human can be friends, you know? But Ellison doesn’t have the sort of experience that John Connor has had with a Terminator. His life was torn apart by these machines. (And I imagine he’ll be incredibly upset when he learns who Catherine Weaver is.) (I HAVE TO YELL ABOUT CATHERINE WEAVER LATER, Y’ALL, OH MY GOD.) His interactions with John Henry have been guarded and calculated. But Garrett Dillahunt portrays John Henry with a bizarre sort of childishness, and it’s an absolute trip to watch. When you watch him with Ellison, he almost seems eager for Ellison’s validation. Pair that with his reaction to Catherine Weaver’s refusal to trust humanity, and I’d say that John Henry is progressing. He’s already somewhat protective of Ellison, enough that he brought up the fake resignation papers for Ellison. This is what Catherine wanted, right? But why?
I have a theory. I’ll get to it.
Jesse / Queeg
I could not possibly have guessed what was in that box. I’m still struggling to understand the ramifications of it in terms of the story arc for this entire show. At the very least, we finally find out how Jesse went from a loyal soldier to one who distrusted Connor so much that she traveled back in time to sabotage his relationship with Cameron. After the Jimmy Carter picked up Connor’s secret cargo, the writers dropped us into a claustrophobic nightmare, akin to many closed-room thrillers. (I was reminded of The Thing the most here, since the Terminator alloy could disguise itself as anyone.) But it was far more fascinating to me to see how Jesse’s sense of trust eroded as the events became more nightmarish aboard that ship. While she was frustrated at being left out of the mission details, she still swore her loyalty to Queeg. She had no reason to doubt his loyalty, but once that thing came out of the box? WELL. WELL.
The paranoia was bad enough, but I was horrified by how far the rest of the crew went to prove that Jesse was human. I can’t imagine how betrayed she must have felt, but it’s also clear that she puts this aside in favor of her own suspicions. That’s all due to Dietze’s death. I don’t think she necessarily felt that Dietze was in the right; she just knew that Queeg had gone too far. Even if he would have eventually been executed for treason and mutiny, Queeg shouldn’t have murdered him. And that’s how the seed is planted, and that’s how Jesse begins to question everything Queeg does. We watch her unravel, but it’s not entirely irrational. I appreciate that! How can these people trust a machine when it is behaving so secretively about another machine that no one has ever seen before? (I feel safe saying that no one had seen a metal alloy Terminator prior to this.) Even if Jesse was misguided, she truly believed that John Connor and Queeg were putting the entire Resistance at risk. That’s an important thing to establish because we see it reflected in Derek’s conversation with John at the end of the episode. John leads the Resistance as he sees fit (I liked the chess metaphor used), and that means that there are always going to be people who disagree with him and dislike him. He’s not in charge because he’s liked.
Unfortunately, Jesse becomes one of the people who utterly distrusts John Connor because of the events on the Jimmy Carter. On top of losing faith in his leadership skills and questioning the place Terminators have within the Resistance, Jesse loses her child with Derek. It’s left unsaid whether that was due to the beating or the change in pressure during her escape, but it doesn’t matter. Both things happened because of John Connor’s cargo. It’s why she befriended Riley and used her. It’s why she was so determined to tear apart Cameron and Jesse. In her mind, this was the only way to truly save the future.
IS THAT CATHERINE WEAVER? IS THAT HOW CATHERINE WEAVER ENDS UP IN 2007? Granted, there’s not much here to perfectly validate this theory, but I’m hoping that her little speech about not trusting humans is a reference to the events in 2027. But I was utterly devastated by the question Connor had asked those Terminators: Will you join us? We knew that the answer was no, so that means… is this a third party? A non-Skynet set of machines? Is Catherine Weaver a third party, separate from both John Connor and Skynet?
I’M A MESS.
My god, there are just SO MANY thrilling and emotional and brilliant scenes in this episode that all center on John Connor. The big moment, of course, is John’s confrontation of Jesse. It’s obvious to me know how long the show had been leading to this moment. My god, how had I never questioned Riley’s behavior in Mexico? She knew that John shouldn’t be photographed! I DIDN’T EVEN PICK UP ON THAT. It makes sense to me, then, that John would have long ago been able to determine if someone was treating him as John Connor or John Baum. Christ, I want to re-watch this season because I feel like I could see John’s awareness of Riley’s true identity.
It’s heartbreaking to think about it, y’all. He knew she was lying for at least the last few episodes she was in, and he gave her a chance to tell the truth. But she never did. At the same time, I was so refreshed that John accepted responsibility for Riley’s demise. He saw that she was in trouble, and he chose not to help her. (Is that a reference to the suicide last season? I feel like it is.) That’s on his conscience, and he’ll always have to live with that. I suppose it’s weird to think about what John’s life has become, you know? This is who he is and what he’ll always have to do. He got like… what? Ten years of “peace”? Even then, he was on the run or in foster care for most of that time. And now he’s sitting in Jesse’s hotel room, confronting her about her murder of Riley, and the whole thing is unbelievably surreal to think about.
I think that’s why the final scene is so devastating. John Connor has had to live this unfair life of violence and paranoia, and that often means he doesn’t get a chance to just be human. His breakdown in the arms of his mother is his first human moment in “Today is the Day, Part II.” And it’s haunting to see it contrasted with Cameron’s reaction: disinterest.
John Connor let Jesse live, but I’m guessing that Derek did not. It’s not his Jesse, and I think I finally understand the timelines. Derek makes reference to Andy Goode being Billy Wisher in his future, and the only way those two names make sense is if the murder of Andy Goode is what created the two timelines. There’s no Billy Wisher in Jesse’s timeline, despite that she should know who he is. Therefore, Jesse’s actions in this timeline could potentially ruin everything for John Connor. In Derek’s eyes, as a loyal friend to John Connor, Jesse is a complete risk. So he takes her out. He eliminates the threat.
Everything hurts, y’all. I don’t feel good about Jesse dying, and I don’t feel good about Riley dying, and everything is a complicated disaster. I do appreciate that the writers have given us such a layered story, but I also hate them because do they not care about my emotions?
The video for “Today is the Day, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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