Here’s your final (for now) historical recap for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, just in time for the new episodes beginning tonight. If the last episode I ‘capped was a little Terminator meets 24, this week we revisit The X-files. Sarah is STILL looking for the answer to her Dots of Destiny Delusion, only now she’s on her own. Add an alien convention, a mysterious blogger, and a conspiracy to cover something up and she just might be in over her head. The truth is out there, can Sarah survive the search; or will the ghosts of her former selves lead her astray?
Previously: Meet John and Riley, both weirdos, both with secrets, and both irrevocably chained to their hidden pasts. The AI, John Henry, needs some morals, will Ellison be the one to teach him some? Sarah’s seeing the all-powerful Dots of Destiny Delusion everywhere, but no one believes they mean anything. It makes her sad.
Sarah’s on the road, driving in the desert and giving us one of her meandering philosophical voice-overs. Man, I was hoping we were done with those – she can be worse than Mohinder. At any rate, she speaks of Alcar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca who became stranded and lost in the deserts of the New World. He adapted, embracing the native culture around him, eventually becoming a healer. “The desert had transformed him. He was not the first, he would not be the last.”
As the voice-over finishes, we open on, of all things, a UFO convention where survivors of abductions are having a group session. A woman named Eileen is describing her frustration at not knowing what is real and what is fiction. The group leader, a psychologist by the name of Barbara Morris, is reassuring her. It’s a common theme for this episode, the real and the unreal, dots and delusions, identity and confusion. Morris turns to a figure standing in the back, watching the group, and she asks, “What brings you here today?” Sarah, says she’s looking for people who may have seen UFO’s with a particular mark. She holds up a pamphlet that shows three dots that are more than familiar to anyone who’s been watching the last few episodes. She goes on to say that she needs answers, she’s having dreams about them and her son doesn’t entirely believe her. “He’s never doubted me before.” Morris says, if there’s one thing this group understands, its doubt. Sarah’s skirting the line between fishing for information and preaching to the choir, and her hints at the truth are very subtle. Normally I wouldn’t note it, but Lena Headey does a good job with the scene, especially in light of the fact that Sarah’s so rarely subtle, so an early kudos to her.
From there we transition to a booth where your typical UFO enthusiast is talking about a “California drone” that’s been spotted all over the desert. Sarah comes up to him and asks, “Alien? Not military?” The enthusiast is certain the military isn’t capable of what the drone is supposedly doing. When she asks about the markings associated with the sightings (a.k.a. Dots of Destiny Delusion), he starts gushing about the “Abraham Blogs.” Abraham was a scientist working with the military on a metal that was light years beyond what was thought possible. He first noted the sightings and then he disappeared, the blog entries stopping completely. Sarah tries to dig for more and the enthusiast shuts her down, essentially calling her a poser. Eileen, on the other hand, asks Sarah if she’s interested in Abraham. If so, she might have some information. Sarah tries not to drool at the prospect.
Back at home, it looks like John’s finally doing something about the kiddie-decor in his bedroom. He’s stripping the wall paper off the walls when his phone rings. Answering, Sarah tells him she’s going to be late, she found a lead on the blogger Abraham. Strangely enough, they forgo their usual button-mashing phone recognition routine, it must not be a necessary plot point this week. Needless to say, John is quite unconvinced, “We all know how reliable bloggers are.” Sarah, bless her, takes offense on behalf of all of us and John asks her to be careful. He hangs up and in walks Riley, back from a smoothie run. They snark on the state of the room and John asks her what’s wrong, “You’re smiling with your mouth and not your eyes.” Riley’s evasive, she says she flipped out on her foster mom, just stress, no big deal, and she hedges the real truth like a pro – Jesse’s been a good teacher, I guess. Cameron enters, and wonders why Riley didn’t get her a smoothie. Hee. Riley says she didn’t know Cameron was there. “I’m always here.” Except when she isn’t. For someone assigned to protect John, she sure does spend a lot of time on errands, doesn’t she? John tries to send her out for more paint (see?), but Cameron’s done the math, and she says he has enough. John disagrees, “Two coats, it’s a bigger job than it looks.” Cameron insists that she has a job, too, and so John asks her to do it in the next room. He tacks on a “please” and Cameron exits with Riley watching every step.
Flash-forward. Actually, I should call these post-Judgment Day scenes flashback-forwards, shouldn’t I? However we call it, we see a recognizably-dirty and bedraggled Riley sifting through some garbage and future detritus with a small group of soldiers, including Jesse, looking on. Riley sees the soldiers and runs, trying to hide, but Jesse catches up. Looking at Riley’s face, Jesse remarks, “Pretty girl. What’s your name?” I shudder.
Sarah’s followed Eileen, who’s claiming to be an Abraham expert, back to her home. It’s a small trailer in the middle of nowhere. She leads Sarah into the trailer, where stills of the purported drone are tacked onto the walls, as well as a few technical-type drawings. Sarah looks on intently as we fade to…
…the title card! Da-da-dum-da-dum! Clank!
Tea’s whistling on the stove as Eileen tells about Abraham, which is a pseudonym for a man named Alan Parkins. He was an MIT grad who specialized in LIDAR which has primary applications in…”Robotics.” Sarah finishes. Come-on Eileen mentions that Sarah says that like it’s a bad thing. Guess she hasn’t seen this show, then. There’s some small talk and Sarah asks what Eileen’s doing out in the desert. She says she’s looking for answers, about Abraham, about aliens and about the perfect cup of tea, and when she turns the question back on Sarah, Sarah has to admit she doesn’t even know all the questions yet. After more talk about solitude and the desert, Come-on Eileen gestures to a map with sightings of the drones and Abraham neatly pinned. Sarah says they’ll start with the most recent Abraham citing.
Flashback, not forward, with a flashy-sphere of time travel. It’s Jesse and Riley newly arrived in the present. After an artfully decent cut of the nekkid ladies, the camera arrives at Jesse’s familiar hotel room as she and Riley check in. There are a few shots of Riley smelling the flowers and the clean pillows with wonder before we cut to a hot shower where we see the mud and dirt streaming off her and into the drain, literally washing her old life away. Jesse brushes her hair and tucks her into the nice warm bed, like a good manipulator should.
Cut to the bedroom where John and Riley are stripping. They wall paper, you guys, the wall paper. There’s some cutesy back and forth that I refuse to recap and soon John sees a scrap of paper in Riley’s hair. He goes to pull it out and notices a bruise on the side of her face. She tries to blow it off, but John’s discovered testosterone this season and he demands to know who hit her. “Was it your foster dad? I swear I’ll kick his ass.” Riley begs him to drop it and walks away.
Back a Zeira Corp, Ellison’s telling Catherine that he can’t do what she wants him to, even after sleeping on it…for a night. Not that he actually slept, mind you, he just did a lot of thinking. But it implies only a night passed since Ellison’s introduction to John Henry (J.H.) and that’s stretching it, even for a show about time travel. Just sayin’. Catherine tries to tell him that J.H. needs someone to talk to and, after all, didn’t Ellison say that Sherman’s death wasn’t necessarily J.H.’s fault? She says that this is Ellison’s chance to rectify the moral oversight in J.H.’s creation. Still not anywhere near sold, Ellison mentions that after the carnage at the end of last season (“What He Beheld” 1.9), “It needs a whole lot more than just a talkin’ to.” But Catherine’s adamant and counters, correctly for once, that the mind behind that attack is gone and that J.H. is something new. Something with potential.
And if any of that wasn’t creepy enough, she crosses to J.H. and lifts his hand, absent-mindedly playing with it, “Many believe that tactile experience is integral to AI development.” …there’s a sex-bot joke in there, but I’m just too tired to make it. Long story short (too late), it’s a puppet, an interface, and to that end, she pulls out his remote control. Ellison takes it and hits a button. Garrett Dillahunt assumes the traditional robot-in-off-mode position of head down, hands on the table, as Ellison walks around him. “And when John Henry completes his development, when he realizes what his puppet is capable of, do you know how powerful he’ll be?” Buddy, she’s betting on it. But she’s not exactly going to admit that, so she replies, “Cows are more powerful than men, Mr. Ellison, but I’d still rather be the farmer with the rifle.”
…I got nothing. That’s rare, so cherish it. She asks one more time for Ellison to teach J.H. morals. He walks out the door. If I thought he was serious about leaving I’d cheer.
Oi, there are pie-plate UFO’s tacked to the ceiling of the diner where Abraham was last seen. It’s not exactly The Crashdown, but Fox tried. Come-on Eileen asks if Sarah’s a member of the internet forums and seems genuinely surprised when Sarah admits she’s not that into computers. She’s only interested in the markings and the drones, the ones Abraham saw and she wonders what they’re doing there. Um, wasn’t it YOUR idea to start there, Sarah? But Come-on Eileen’s the snarky type and says she, at least, is going to go pee. Sarah sits at her booth and looks around. She sees a waitress off to the side, a vision of her former self turning away, and when she looks forward she sees another version of herself, in her psych-ward regalia. PsychSarah is spinning a knife on the table-top with the words, “No Fate” carved in front of her. Sarah looks around and when she turns back, PsychSarah is gone. Safety or madness, walk away or continue, those seem to be the choices Sarah’s being offered. Choosing madness, Sarah gets up and crosses into the ladies’ room where Come-on Eileen is washing her face. She demands to know where Abraham is. Come-on Eileen stands, mascara running and her wig falling to the side, “I’m Abraham, I’m the one you’re looking for.” So, transgenders for the win?
After commercials, we’ve arrived back at the trailer. Come-on Eileen, now Alan (kinda), is telling Sarah that s/he didn’t lie, s/he’s hiding. “From who?” Alan doesn’t know, but that’s not good enough for Sarah. After MIT, Alan sasy s/he was approached and offered a lot of money to work on a black-box project. But s/he didn’t know what it was, everyone’s assignments were kept separate, but s/he does know that s/he had access to equipment and technology beyond the norm. Sarah asks if it was military, but Alan ignores the question, preferring to continue the exposition. S/he started blogging, trying to see if anyone recognized what s/he was working on when strange things started happening. Apartment break-ins, car brakes going out, you know, the usual. Enough was enough and Alan went into hiding. Sarah wants to know why s/he trusted her. “You know things…” Sarah doesn’t disagree, but asks for proof and when Alan doesn’t offer, she’s out the door. As she reaches the car Alan claims to have a piece of the uber-mystery metal s/he was working on in a storage facility s/he rented the day s/he disappeared. “I’ll drive.” Sarah commands.
Riley looks at her bruise in the mirror as we flash to her and Jesse in a car, sitting outside of school. She’s looking at her nails, thinking that the brown was better than the red. “The lady at the store said I was an ‘autumn’. I’ve never even seen autumn.” Show, it’s too late for me to like about this girl, OK? I feel sorry for her, but I don’t really like her, OK? Jesse assures her that she’s just not used to it. To further the scene, Riley asks Jesse why she picked her, she always wanted to know. Jesse notes that she never asked and Riley assumed she’d just be told when the time was right. Jesse looks out the window and sees John, “No, sweetie, the time’s passed.” She opens the door and practically shoves Riley out.
In a mirror in the present, she’s covering the bruise with make-up. When she runs into Cameron in the hall it fools the Terminatrix all of ten seconds. Like John, she wants to know where Riley got it. Riley’s lies are worse here than with John and I wonder if she knows what Cameron is. Knowing Jesse’s proclivity for lying, I’m guessing, no. Out of the blue, Cameron says she likes Riley’s star tattoo and asks to see it closer. Without waiting for permission, she pulls Riley’s arm out to see the small star on her wrist. When asked if it hurt, Riley demurs. John interrupts and asks what’s going on and both girls speak the basic truth – they were just discussing tattoos. Apparently Cameron’s considering a tiger or a wolf. If I were Cameron, I’d go with an Apple I and the word “Mother”, but that’s just me. Cameron tells John they need to talk. Riley says she’s cool and she walks off to give them space.
Ellison’s at church, possibly so the preacher can lay a guilt trip about missing choir practice. Ellison tries to say he’s been going through a rough time lately and the preacher hints that they should see more of him in that case, not less. There’s some small talk and some exposition about Ellison’s former wife and how she decided after 9-11 that she didn’t want kids. She terminated a pregnancy without telling him, and that more than anything is what killed their marriage. The preacher asks if his need for counseling is about “the child” and Ellison says, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” See, get it? John Henry’s a child, Ellison lost a child. It all makes perfect sense…well, sense for this show anyway.
Storage space. Alan and Sarah are inside, opening a safe which is now empty. Sarah thinks she’s being played but as the pair leaves a figure on a motorcycle drives by, shooting at them. Sarah returns fire, but the cyclist gets away. Back at the trailer, Alan’s all , “Who are you?” Pot? Kettle? Whatever, Sarah’s pissed and reloading. Alan insists that the company on her/his paychecks led to a shell company, s/he has no leads, but Sarah keeps pressing. Alan fights back, “You’re a Mother, a Seeker, a Soldier, you’re everything, but you’re nothing.” That cuts a little close and after another harsh comment, Sarah slams her/him against the wall, still wanting more information, but now Alan decides to freak out. S/he could feel the bullets, they were too close. “We nearly died. You don’t feel it, why don’t you feel it?” Alan asks in awe. My guess would be long, personal experience with chaos.
Time and emotions pass and Sarah brings some tea outside to Alan, who is much more composed and non-bitter. Sarah mentions that “they” tried to kill her/him, twice, and Alan admits they actually did. They killed Alan and she thanks them for it, she was repressed, not living the life she wanted to, her deepest truest self. Sarah asks about the lab, and Eileen says they were always picked up and driven in a blacked-out van. Sarah passes over the UFO pamphlet from earlier, she thinks she knows how to jog Eileen’s memory. The camera lingers on the speaker listing, one Dr. Barbara Morris, hypno-regression therapist.
Riley’s looking in the mirror at her bruise again and remembers knocking on Jesse’s door. Jesse’s surprised and suspicious, but Riley assures her that she doubled-back like Jesse taught her. “Phones. It’s why we have phones.” Jesse snits and mentions that Riley should never be there. Since Derek has a key, that makes sense, but Riley doesn’t know that part and Jesse doesn’t tell her. Instead, Jesse listens to Riley expositing that she’s been kicked out of her foster home for shoving her foster mom about. She needs someone to talk to, a friend, so maybe instead of a foster home she can maybe stay with Jesse? SMACK! Jesse disabuses her of that notion. “I’m not here to babysit, and you’re not here to feel sorry for yourself. I’m not your friend, I’m not your mother, and YOU are here to keep John Connor away from her. Go finish your job. Go.” Jesse leaves.
“She’s lying.” Cameron states. When John asks about what Riley’s lying about Cameron tells him she doesn’t know “but her pulse was elevated and her hand was perspiring.” That explains that tattoo check. Ah, Cameron, our lovely walking polygraph. John thinks it was just because Cameron was freaking Riley out. Cameron offers to get the truth and John orders her to stay away from Riley. He goes back inside and knocks on the bathroom door. There’s no answer, so he begins pounding. He tells Cameron to open it and when the door springs open, we see Riley, pale and on the floor, her wrists bleeding. John takes her in his arms and looks at Cameron.
Dr. Morris is in a group, talking about abduction and recovered memories when Sarah arrives, summarily dismissing the group. She leaves Eileen with a hug and a recording device, subtly dropped into Eileen’s purse. Where the hell did that come from, the glove compartment?
Ellison and J.H. are playing chess, along with some comments that J.H. didn’t play with Dr. Sherman, they played other games, word games. Ellison asks if J.H. misses Dr. Sherman, but not exactly. J.H. is designed to learn and Dr. Sherman helped him to learn, so his absence slows his growth. “His absence is more than that,” Ellison begins. “His value was more than his function….” Ellison begins to tell J.H. about the sanctity of life, “Do you know why human life is sacred?” J.H. offers a quantitative answer and Ellison counters that we are sacred because we are God’s creation, we are all God’s children. “Am I God’s child?” Ellison doesn’t hesitate, “That’s what we’re here to talk about.” He moves a chess piece, J.H. checkmates him.
“Would you like to play again?”
Dr. Morris is hypnotically taking Eileen back to her pick-up point as Sarah’s listening in the car. Down the block, Sarah notices a police car coming toward her and ducks as it passes. When she rights herself, she hears a door opening in Dr. Morris’ home. We cut inside where a pair of denim-clad legs pop into view. “Can I help you?” Dr. Morris asks, and gunshots ring out. When Sarah rushes inside, both Dr. Morris and Eileen are dead and a motorcycle is heard driving away.
With the recording, Sarah begins retracing Eileen’s steps. It leads her to a warehouse surrounded by desert. With binoculars, Sarah can make out an office entrance for a A/C company. She loads up a bag of goodies (read: guns and explosives), and enters the office. Aiming at the guy at the desk, she barks, “Where’s the metal?” He stammers, she shoots. He’s understandably losing it so Sarah just pulls his gym bag out from under his desk. Opening it, she sees an appropriately innocent-looking ID. The guy claims that the warehouse space is rented out to another company and he doesn’t know anything more. Sarah buys it, tells him that she knows where he lives, and begins to leave.
So of course, the guy has to pull a gun and shoot her in the leg. Sarah, you have GOT to learn how to be a better judge of people. She goes down and he walks over to her. They begin to struggle face to face and after an impressive head-butt the man’s gun goes off between them. There’s the typical who-shot-who fake-out and the guy goes down. Surprisingly enough, I’m pretty sure this is the first guy Sarah’s offed herself. She falls, and looking over to the side, by the warehouse, she sees PsychSarah and her spinning knife. Madness and answers. Pulling herself across the floor, she sees WaitressSarah in the exit doorway with her hand outstretched. The words are unspoken, but the gesture is universal, “Come with me if you want to live.” Sarah pulls herself outside and as she looks up at the sky, a shape flies across the bright sun. Something mechanical hovers overhead, with three openings, dots if you will, and Sarah passes out. There’s a pop to whitescreen.
That’s it guys, hiatus is OVER, and next episode is “The Good Wound.” Per TVGuide: The image of Kyle Reese (Jonathan Jackson), John’s father, visits Sarah while she deals with her injuries; fatal consequences result after Weaver becomes protective of John Henry.
KYLE!!!!! INJURIES!!!!! FATAL CONSEQUENCES!!!!! It’s like a Terminator Christmas! I’ll see you in the future – look out for cyborgs! If you want to squee about the new episode, discuss the potential disasters inherent in teaching a computer morals, or ask me the quickest way to correctly strip wall paper off a wall, head to our forums!