Mark Watches ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’: S02E04 – Allison from Palmdale

In the fourth episode of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I am destroyed. How is Summer Glau real? H E L P. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of torture.

Seriously, Summer Glau is a gift.

Sarah / Kacy

I’m thankful that the show gave so much space to the Cameron/Allison plotline because REASONS, but there’s another part of it that works incredibly well. Sarah Connor is completely out of the action, but her storyline is still incredible. While Cameron reflects on her past life, Sarah thinks back to her own experiencing raising John. This is done through Kacy, who is BEAUTIFULLY given her own story within this show. And fuck, y’all, I’m so thankful that this is the type of show that cares about its secondary characters like this. Kacy’s anxieties over raising her unborn son are legitimate, given that she’s unsure if she wants to raise him with a father who is also a police officer. Does she want her son to be in an environment that might be prone to violence? Which is TOO REAL for Sarah, since that’s precisely the kind of world that John grew up in, and… well, he’s not too bad. But she can’t exactly tell Kacy that, you know?

So what does she tell Kacy? What sort of advice does she give? I thought it was incredibly empowering that Sarah made a point to tell Kacy that she survived raising a child all by herself. Whatever Kacy chooses to do – raise her son with Trevor or not – she’s got the power to do it alone. That’s such a rad message for this show, and honestly? It’s pretty rare for a mainstream American show to say that you don’t need two parents or a father to raise a child.


WHAT’S REAL? WHAT’S FAKE? WHO IS A MACHINE AND WHO ISN’T? So, that helicopter crash was real? Is that the point where Catherine Weaver became a Terminator? But what if her entire history – including the crash – is fake? BUT IF THAT’S THE CASE, WHO THE FUCK IS THAT CHILD?

I think that it’s entirely possible that Savannah is real, and that her mother is simply an imposter at this point. My guess? That helicopter crash is the moment when the Terminator decided to infiltrate ZeiraCorp. But I still don’t understand why. This doesn’t make a bit of sense to me because… what is she doing here? Why test Ellison like this? What does he have that she needs from him??? That has to be the explanation for this or else she’d ignore him or dispose of him. She wants something she can’t get to, and Ellison is how she’ll get it.

I was surprised by the revelation that Ellison had once been married. What’s with this entire episode being an unending series of depressing histories? Good lord.

Allison from Palmdale

You know, I knew from this franchise that Terminators – at least those tasked with infiltrating human ranks – were all once people, and yet? It never once crossed my mind that Cameron had once been a human. Well… okay, technically, that’s not true. They were always separate entities, but Cameron’s “flesh” is based entirely off of a real person, as was her voice and some of her behavior. Plus, Cameron had to be programmed in a way to best replicate humans, so why not base that off her original self? There’s a lot of worldbuilding accomplished by Cameron’s flashbacks that helps explain this process, from the way the Terminators study humans to the horrible ways in which they torment them. It’s unsettling to watch for a number of reasons that are super obvious (HUMANS IN CAGES, WHAT THE FUCK), but one that’s never going to stop being unnerving:

Seeing Allison.

There’s no way that “Allison from Palmdale” works with an actress who isn’t on Summer Glau’s level. After spending twelve episodes with the emotionless and cold Cameron, we see how Glau can stretch her range to portray the fierce and terrified Allison Young, both in the future and in her interactions with Jody. We don’t ever truly find out what caused the glitch that caused her to forget who she was, but Cameron reverts to the earliest memory she has, which is all of Allison. (Oh my god, that means that voice we heard in the early interrogation scenes… that’s Cameron’s original voice.) While she latches on to Jody in present times, we see how Allison is desperate to escape the hellish nightmare that she’s trapped in. All of this is paralleled with Cameron’s therapy sessions with the halfway home’s social worker, and it’s just… I’m so messed up. What’s so fucked up about this is that Cameron is merely channeling Allison, and all of this information she learned was from torture. That’s how she was able to access those emotions to use them in the present time, AND IT HURTS MY HEART TO THINK ABOUT THIS. Allison was a resilient young woman dedicated to John Connor and fiercely courageous. Is this why Derek hates Cameron so much? Did he know the real Allison???

Regardless, there was no way for this to end well. Cameron was not Allison and she could never be her. Was it fascinating to watch her bond with Jody? Of course it was! And it’s the most capacity for emotional depth that we’ve ever seen in Cameron, but… it’s not real, is it? I guess that’s what “Allison from Palmdale” wants us to think about. There are moments where Cameron, in her glitch state, evokes an entirely human persona. Is there something here or is this just really good programming? At what point did John Connor get a hold of Cameron and re-program her from what we see here? God, that’s going to mess me up forever, y’all. Cameron killed the person she was based off of. And she nearly killed Jody for lying to her, too! (And for the record, I can’t even count how many people I met while living in Los Angeles who were just like Jody: pretending to be poor while actually being upper middle class/upper class. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE, OH MY GOD.)

If we accept that Cameron was always programmed to despise humans, that she was part of Skynet’s domination, then what the hell was that moment where she claimed that she was part of a faction that wanted peace? Was that a technique to throw Allison off? To gain her trust? WHAT WAS THAT? Look, Cameron hates lies and lies all the time. Was she lying to Allison? She’s definitely lying to John at the end of the episode, and we know she’s lied plenty of times before. So where does her programming start and where does it end?

Summer Glau for all the awards, by the way.

The video for “Allison from Palmdale” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

Mark Does Stuff is now on Facebook! Feel free to Like the page, which I’m running myself, for updates and SILLINESS.
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next two Double Features are now in the schedule! I will be watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles and then Leverage. Commission away!
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout 2015, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.