It’s all about lies, damned lies, and the men who can successfully pull them off this week as the Connor Clan plays Hide-the-Body and I get to introduce you to Crazy Derek. In other news, Sarah’s delusional…but that’s not really news, is it?
The previously reel would like to remind us that the Connor Clan has a wall full of random names and locations written in their basement. Unfortunately, because the guy who wrote it was writing in his own dying blood, it’s not too organized. No one can figure out which names are of people or places that are good for Skynet, or bad for Skynet. (“Automatic for the People” 2.2) Take Dr. Boyd Sherman, who seems like a great therapist, until you find out that Catherine Weaver’s recruited him to teach the Turk new tricks. (“The Tower is Tall But the Fall Is Short” 2.6) But while we’re talking about people who are mental, let’s meet Jesse. She’s Derek’s Aussie ex from the future, which would be great, except she came here AWOL so she wants nothing to to with the Connor Clan (or so we hope). And finally, the Clan took a road trip to Mexico and finally killed Cromartie. Or did they?
We fade onto a perfectly dug rectangular grave, so you know right off something’s not right. Sure enough, we see Sarah wearing a pale pink frock that wouldn’t look out of place on a polygamist’s ranch. So, dreaming then? Check. She turns to see herself standing with Cameron, wearing a slightly hospital gown-ish dress in the same pink, intently watering a cactus. As Sarah watches, the three cacti grow in a triangular formation, slowly turning into metal and wrapping their arms around John.
Before we can watch them squeeze his head of, or something equally as cool, Sarah snaps awake in the backseat of the family truck. She doesn’t look so good and confirms the obvious when she tells John she’s going to be sick. He pulls over and as Sarah loses the contents of her stomach, Cameron, ever the helpful one, puts morning together with sickness and asks if she’s pregnant. Oh, Cameron, you silly robot, you. She’s quickly shut down (figuratively) and John helps his feverish mother back into the truck, assuring her that they’re almost home. But wait, Sarah’s seen something on the ground. It’s a tortoise, stuck on it’s back and near a tire. Before Sarah will allow herself to be put back in the vehicle, she moves the tortoise to a safer location.
We promptly cut back to home where Sarah, looking like something the Terminator dragged in, is lying in bed with John feeding her medicine. Cameron’s still trying to be helpful in that creepy, yet earnest way she does so well, and has stopped by to provide some “rehydration fluid.” I’m sure it’s just yellowish Gatorade or some such, but her accompanying instructions, “Drink one glass every half an hour, or after you vomit,” make it seem just wrong, somehow. But seeing the Terminator in the room reminds Sarah of unfinished business and she starts struggling weakly with John, trying to get out of bed. John asks her what could be so important and she reminds him that Cromartie’s body is still buried in Mexico, it needs to get the thermite treatment. (“Dungeons and Dragons” 1.6) John protests, who the heck is going to look for a body out in the desert? However, Cameron agrees with Sarah so with a vote of two-to-one, John’s stuck going back to Mexico. “You’re starting to sound like [my mother],” he snits.
Derek’s driving somewhere when his cell phone rings. It’s Jesse, sounding frantic, telling him he has to come right now…and bring a gun. He rushes to a warehouse of some sort, filled to the rafters with shipping containers and calls for Jesse. As soon as she sees him, she begins a crazy and convoluted story about crappy food court Chinese take-out, and waiting in line, and then, “I see him. I just see him.” Derek’s several shades of confused as he asks, “See who?” “Charles Fisher,” she replies. Derek’s blank stare continues as Jesse begins insisting that Derek knows him. I honestly think it’s impossible for Derek’s brow to get any more furrowed in confusion as he follows Jesse into a storage container. “Charles Fisher,” Jesse continues. “Sent back from the future and he works for the machines…” The camera rests on a man, beaten and tied to a chair inside the container. “…and he’s gonna die.” Derek, floored, looks at the very worried hostage, unable to comprehend just how wrong this is going to get.
There’s a foot sticking out the truck window. It’s Cameron’s foot and she and John are on their way back to Mexico to deal with the body. Mildly curious, he asks her what she’s doing and she says she’s trying to see how it feels to “get away from it all.” But John is now in a MOOD so he feels the need to point out that as a machine, she can’t feel the associated emotions, nor does she even feel the physical sensation of the wind between her toes. Killjoy. Cameron dreamily waves her hand in front of her face, and puts it out the window as she decides to school John on just how human she is. “I don’t think you understand how we work. I have sensation, I feel. I couldn’t be worth much if I couldn’t feel.” John doesn’t say anything, and Cameron continues to feel the air through her fingers. One gets the impression that this is going to be a very long drive.
Cut back to the hostage situation, and I must pause for a moment to geek out about the fact that “Charles Fisher” is being played by Richard Schiff. I do so love it when my West Wing actors show up in random other shows! But we’re back to it and the audience quickly realizes that there is something really wrong here. Derek is still clueless and he’s having Jesse go through everything again when she bursts out with, “He’s a Grey, Derek, at least tell me you remember the Greys.” The Greys he remembers, and he helpfully exposits that they were human traitors that worked for Skynet. They helped the “trip eights” (that’s the T-888 Terminator), to fit in, act human. But Jesse insists that Fisher was at the top of the bad-guy list. She crosses to the bound man and rips the duct tape off his mouth. Owie! She’s got a gun in her hand as she starts telling him to tell Derek who he is. The man is frantic, says his name is Paul Stewart, and he’s not who she says he is. Jesse points gun at him and barks, “Liar!” before moving to the back of the container. “It’s a mistake, I’m not who she thinks I am!” Derek looks down on him and with a very even tone, he says, “For your sake, brother, I hope you’re right.” The soundtrack swells as it crashes into…
…the title card! Da-da-dum-da-dum! Clank!
There’s a close-up of Paul Stewart’s drivers’ license, as the man himself insists that it proves something. He’s Paul Stewart, he makes watches. “What are you doing here, Fisher?” Jesse asks. The man awesomely corrects her before telling her that he was looking for parts at a second-hand watch shop nearby. He’s describing said parts when Jesse back-hands him across the face. He wasn’t sent to repair watches, why is he here? Derek’s looking uncomfortable as Paul keeps to his story, like a POW to his name, rank, and serial number. Jesse keeps pressing and when she doesn’t get the answers she wants she moves to strike him again. Derek intercedes, gently pushing her back. He crouches down in front of Paul and asks, serious and sincere, “Do I know you?” Paul is beginning to loose it a bit as he draws out his, “Nooooo.” Derek doesn’t know him, he doesn’t know Jesse, “For the love of God, I’m not Charles Fisher.” Derek stares intently for a moment before hurrying Jesse outside the container.
“I need you to be sure.” He tells her, and when she challenges his trust in her surety, he claims it’s not the same thing. He knows the Greys, they caught several of them, “But not Fisher!” Jesse interjects, “They kept him hidden, he was too valuable.” It’s her turn to be confused as she starts to realize that he really doesn’t remember the guy. Derek admits that if she’s right, and he’s one of the Greys – he deserves whatever’s gonna happen to him. But he has to tell them the truth first. Derek has to be sure and to be sure, he has to hear it from him. The man has to talk. Jesse gets a determined look on her face and before you can mumble, “that can’t be good,” she’s walking away and insisting that Fisher will talk. She leaves Derek alone.
Once again Sarah’s trying to sleep, but there seems to be a pesky baby monitor burbling away on the nightstand like it’s a wayward Supernatural prop. Walking through the house Sarah comes to a hospital nursery. Since a) I’m pretty sure that didn’t get installed with the safe during the last episode, and b) Sarah’s wearing that God-awful prairie, school-marm, whatever-the-heck-it-is, dress we know she’s having another one of her dreams. The nursery bassinets are filled with tortoises in groups of three. Stay with me, it gets better. When Sarah notices one of the bassinets is empty, she looks over and sees Cameron nursing something in a baby blanket. She gives Sara a beatific smile and we see she’s holding another tortoise, but when Sarah reaches out for it, Cameron walks away and hands the tortoise to Cromartie. He holds it in an outstretched palm, the soundtrack ominously swells, Sarah takes a step forward and…
…snap! She’s outside, pointing a gun at the garage door in which we can see her very confused reflection. Seriously, I don’t know what was in that cold medicine John gave her earlier, but I want some. We fade back inside, where Sarah’s standing at the kitchen island looking down. Her theme music plays softly and slightly off-key. Next to her gun is a legal pad, upon which she has doodled three dots – the configuration she keeps seeing in her dreams. She stares into the middle distance and the scene dissolves.
Nighttime. John and Cameron are digging in the Mexican soil lit by the headlights of the truck. All they come up with is a single boot. Uh-oh. Cameron notes the impossibility of Cromartie getting up and walking away, after all Sarah destroyed his CPU during her weeping fit last episode. John knows there’s only one other person who knew Cromartie was there who would be, “crazy enough to dig him up.” They toss their twin shovels into the truck and drive off, leaving their hole for the next group of miscreants who might need to dispose of a body or two. Nice of them, no?
A train whistles in the distance as Derek enters the container with a nondescript white bag in his hands. It’s time to eat, so Derek releases Paul enough so that he can eat, except he doesn’t, he just sits there. When asked if he’s not hungry, Paul tells Derek he doesn’t know what’s in there, so he’s not going to eat it. Without missing a beat, Derek reaches over, grabs the food, takes a bite and hands it back. “Cheeseburger’s in that.” Hee. But enough about food, it’s time to Bond With Your Captor. Paul, still trying to win Derek over, begins telling his life story. He used to be an engineer, got tired of the cubicles, went to Switzerland, learned about watches, blah, blah, blah…. At any rate, Derek just sits there. See, he’s told a few stories himself and he’s not very convinced. Now Paul decides to change tactics, asking Derek if Jesse is his girlfriend. Since Derek can’t even figure that out, he simply gives us the episode’s title, “It’s complicated.” Sensing an opportunity, Paul starts in on how crazy Jesse’s acting, and I have to grant him the point. When Derek starts looking like the sympathetic ear, like the “good cop”, then you KNOW something’s off-kilter.
But midway through Paul’s very accurate points about Derek not recognizing him, Derek kind of stops and starts staring at something. To appease the curious, the camera cuts to a circular tattoo on the man’s arm. It’s a watch face without arms, and it’s glaringly obvious that Derek’s seen it somewhere before. Paul gets nervous and defensive, trying to explain it away as a bad watchmaker joke, but Derek’s not having it. He says it’s a prison tattoo, the lack of hands signifying, “for all time,” a life sentence. The prisoner tries to deny it, but it’s weak and whatever ground he’s gained with Derek is lost. Derek takes the cheeseburger back and begins pulling off fresh pieces of duct tape and applying them to Paul’s arms. “Lunch is over.”
Cameron and John are on their way back. John spares Cameron a confusing look as she does the very human thing of flipping through the radio stations. She finds something she “likes” and smiles. My skin crawls a little. Cameron acting like a real human scares me people, it just does. Her phone rings and it’s Derek. Cameron asks, “Is it?” Derek hasn’t input the safe keys that were so integral to last week’s plot. He thinks she’s just surprised to hear from him. Considering the constant hostility he projects whenever he’s around her, it’s a safe assumption. He starts to comment on it when, awesomely, she hangs up on him. You can almost see a satisfied smile on Summer Glau’s face when she does it, too. Undeterred, he calls back, this time with safe keys, so he can send her a picture of Paul. After checking twice, she doesn’t recognize him. Derek blows her off when she comments, “He looks hurt.” It gets John’s attention though, and when she hangs up again, he asks if every thing’s OK. She says it’s fine and they continue driving.
Sarah’s back in Dr. Sherman’s office, and the doctor is not impressed to see her as she and her son just up and disappeared on him a month ago. (“The Tower is Tall But the Fall Is Short” 2.6) He tries to get her to make an appointment like normal people, but she’s grasping at straws and begins blurting out her problem. Lucky for her, the sleepwalking bit gets his attention. “Where are you walking to?” Sarah doesn’t quite understand the question. “Where do you go?” The answer gets her invited in:
“I get the hell out.”
Cameron and John are now staking-out a nice suburban home. Since last time they talked about Terminators, it’s now time to talk about humans. Cameron wants to know why Sarah saved the tortoise. John explains that it’s empathy, it’s what anyone would for something helpless. Cameron disagrees. There are people who would leave it, run over it. John asks what she would do. Her answer is vague, “It’s not a threat, we’re not designed to be cruel.” John says that’s one for the cyborgs, then. Ellison arrives back at his home as Cameron agrees, “Yes, one for us.” They get out of the truck.
And I CALL SHENANIGANS! Because for the next scene to happen, Cameron and John have to teleport, or Ellison has to be the slowest door-opener EVER. For no sooner has Ellison has taken a single step into his home, then Cameron is at his throat. She throws him across the room onto the couch so John can accuse Ellison of going back and stealing Cromartie. Ellison says he didn’t, Cameron says he’s lying and proceeds to break some furniture with his body before laying him out on the ground and choking him. So much for not cruel, huh? John starts looking mighty uncomfortable as Ellison keeps denying the allegations, one might even say he looks as uncomfortable as Derek does with Paul. See what the clever little show did there? John finally breaks and orders Cameron off, but not before Ellison loses consciousness. John looks at the wreckage of the living room and finds the picture. You know the picture. He takes it with him when he leaves.
Jesse’s back, and she’s brought Warren from Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her! Well, now he’s another hostage, but we’re just happy to see him working. Derek can do little more than gape, as she claims the kid is her proof. She pulls down the shoulder of the polo shirt the new kid’s wearing to reveal a strawberry-colored birthmark near the base of his neck. Crossing to Paul, she reveals the same birthmark on him. She also hits him. Because she’s Jesse and that’s what she does this week. Derek…still looks confused. Angrier, but still confused and we fade to a commercial break.
We come back and now the new kid is tied to a chair facing Paul. Jesse rips the tape off of the kid’s mouth and demands, “Who are you?” He stammers, “Charlie Fisher!” He continues to tell us that he’s a low-level service tech, a nobody. God, I hope there’s not more than one “Charles Fisher” in the greater Los Angeles area, or someone’s gonna feel stupid. Turning back to Paul, she demands again, “Tell him who you are!” Paul continues to stonewall, it’s a trick, every one’s in on it, even Charlie. “What do you want from me?!” Paul cries. Jesse casually strolls over. “I want. You. To tell. The truth!” She punctuates each with a punch, and Charlie begins flipping out.
Derek and Jesse have moved back outside the container for a pow-wow. Even if Paul is who Jesse says he is, Derek wants to know what he’s doing here if he’s not AWOL like Jesse. For now Jesse agrees, and she slides up to Derek, pulls his forehead to hers and whispers, “You need to beat the hell out of him. You need to get him to talk.” The camera stays on Derek’s face as she releases him. The grave look on his face does not bode well for the hostages.
Upon re-entering the container, Derek picks up a pair of pliers. Never a good sign. Fixing Paul with a withering stare, Derek crosses to the pair of tied up men, leans over, and pulls out Charlie’s fingernail. Even Jesse looks surprised, but anyone who’s watched this show from the beginning knows that every once in awhile – Derek shuts off and goes quietly crazy. Nothing’s sacred, no one’s innocent. He threatens little kids (“What He Beheld” 1.9), he verbally shames military school brats until they’re hiding under the floorboards (“Goodbye to All That” 2.5), and he shoots computer programmers in the head (“Queen’s Gambit” 1.5), so it’s no surprise, really, that he’s pulling out the fingernails of an innocent kid. Wait? Did I use the plural? Yes, I did, for as I was giving you the low-down on Crazy Derek, he pulled out another one of Charlie’s fingernails. At least this time he apologized first. I’m not kidding, he actually apologized and it even looked like he meant it.
It’s Jesse’s turn for shock and confusion and Paul is completely blown away. He begins begging for Derek to stop. Derek turns to Paul, and with a matter-of-fact tone he delivers a monologue that is so perfectly descriptive of his issues, it still gives me chills. “Some people, you can beat them and beat them and they’ll take it. Whatever pain you give them, they absorb it – like it was theirs all along. All you’re doing is giving it back to them. See – deep down, they hate themselves and they use that hate to eat the pain. See, we were all good once, we all loved ourselves once. These young men trying to get through the day [Charlie], or us kids who play in the park [Derek and Kyle, “What He Beheld” 1.9]…” He randomly trails off, holding Paul’s dumbfounded gaze with his own. Paul says nothing, so Derek nods, whispers, “OK,” and turns back to Charlie. That spurs Paul to speak.
“My name is Charles Fisher.” Crazy Derek for the win.
Just in case we didn’t hear him the first time Charles repeats himself and asks that his younger self be released, he’s not needed anymore. Charlie, finally getting some sense of what this means, starts stammering about the “impossible.” We ignore him as Derek leans down to to ask, again, why Charles is here. “I’m not on a mission,” he states. “This is my reward.” Charles was in Pelican Bay, solitary confinement, when Judgment Day happened, and when the machines sprung him, they discovered that, in prison, he had learned something they desperately needed to know. He was given a choice, he could teach them or be killed. He taught them. What did he know, you might ask? “I learned what makes people tick.” That trips something in Jesse and she rushes Charles, knocking him over. Derek has to physically pull her off of him.
Therapy. To say that Sarah Connor needs therapy is an understatement. Is she going to get some this episode? No. Every time the Dr. Sherman asks a questions, she gets defensive and shuts down. He asks if something happened since the last time they saw each other, she gets defensive and shuts down. He asks about her relationships with John and Cameron, aka, her daughter (wink-wink), she gets defensive and shuts down. Dr. Sherman believes the “three dots” are representative of her family, Mother, Daughter, Son, so if Sarah won’t talk, he can’t help. Why is she here? Brokenly, Sarah admits, “I have no one else to talk to.” Unimpressed, Dr. Sherman tells her that she has to be honest, and since honesty isn’t an option, Sarah leaves.
Charles and Charlie have been talking, you know, “I’m you all grown up.” That kind of thing. Charlie isn’t quite convinced about this whole “Judgment Day”, time-travel idea, so Charles starts chatting, dropping the names of old girlfriends, family tragedies…. “You think you know who you are? You don’t have a clue.” Charlie wonders why Charles doesn’t talk. “You’re here now, you’re safe.” Charles replies simply, “Are you?” Charlie gulps and I’m totally stoked at what he’s implying. If I’m lucky, folks, we just might get to see the Grandfather paradox kick in onscreen. They flirted with it by killing the younger version of this guy Derek knew in the future (“Dungeons and Dragons” 1.6), but we didn’t get to see his future version wink out of existence as a result. I mean, Terminator’s always leaned toward the predestination paradox anyway with the whole, CPU from the first Terminator leading to Cyberdyne in the second, but the entire T-universe concept, going back in time to kill John Connor, is the essence of a potential Grandfather paradox and with Charles and Charlie right there, in the same room, with Crazy Derek…
…Oops. Sorry bout that, this is why I don’t recap Heroes or Lost – I’d never get to the recapping. Where were we? Ah, yes. Derek and Jesse are back outside discussing, again, Derek’s apparent lack of memories of this guy. Jesse still can’t comprehend that Derek just doesn’t remember. He finally gets her to calm down enough to tell him what the hell happened. There was a raid, she begins, and all the kids and everyone over thirty were killed. All the other survivors were taken away. As she talks, there are flashes-forward of her tied to a gurney. It was like theatre, she says. Terminators standing, watching, while Fisher used drugs and starvation to teach the machines how to get people to talk. Fisher would talk for hours, Jesse says, digging in and breaking people down. Derek asks how she got out, Jesse says she doesn’t know, Derek never told her. Wait, what?
“It wasn’t me Fisher had, baby. It was you.”
Oh, crap – I did NOT see that coming. Derek stumbles backwards as the flash-forward flashes to Derek on the table, haggard and screaming. “You don’t remember. I can’t believe you don’t remember. But it was you.” Derek’s pained face takes us into the commercials.
When we come back, Derek’s done with this. Game over. Rushing back into the container, he stands before Charles and gives his name, rank, and serial number. “Oh, well good for you.” Charles snits. “Not for you.” Derek replies, and hits him. “I told you, I’m not on a mission.” Derek doesn’t care and hits him again. Charlie looks like he feels every hit but Charles decides, stupidly, to gloat, wondering why it’s taken so long for Derek to remember. But Derek knocks the wind right out of his sails when he replies that he doesn’t remember, Jesse does, and that’s (finally) good enough for him. Charles asks Derek the question we’ve all been begging him to, “Are you going to kill me?” Derek stands, I hold my breath, and he says to Charles, “Not you.” Paradox! Derek aims at little Charlie and – BANG!
Charlie looks confused. So does Derek. (So do I.) But Jesse’s not and since she just put a bullet in Charles’ head, he doesn’t count anymore. Darn. I really wanted to see the the FX department wink someone out of existence.
John’s walking quietly through the house as Sarah lies on the couch. But she’s not sleeping so she stops him to find out if the dots mean anything to him. John gives the first of what I think will be many, “you’re tired, you’re seeing things,” speeches. He ‘fesses up about not finding Cromartie, and when she asks about Ellison, John says he believed him when he said he didn’t know where the body was. Sarah’s nervous, she’s seen Cromartie in the dreams and she thinks it’s all related. Also, she decides it’s time to ‘fess up, too, and she tells John that Cromartie found them because of the boy at the bowling alley. The one she kept Cameron from killing. (“Brothers of Nablus” 2.7) “We’re not murderers.” John says. Sarah reminds him that they have to find that body and the scene ends. It was necessary, but dull and disjointed. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose.
Derek’s finished his round of grave-digging and after tossing his shovel into the back of the truck he climbs into the cab next to Jesse. They debate the merits of letting Charlie go, and Jesse admits that he didn’t deserve it, he wasn’t the monster Charles was. They talk MORE about Derek’s apparent memory repression when logic, of all things, hits Derek over the head. What if he’s from a future where he wasn’t brutalized, and Jesse’s from one where he was? After all, he and the Connors have have been mucking about changing things for awhile now. Had to have some impact, right? Huzzah! Possible many-worlds theory! But now Jesse’s concerned, does he think there could be a time where they weren’t together? Derek answers simply, “No.” We leave them holding hands and fade to….
…Charlie. Who, bandaged and exhausted-looking, arrives at his crappy service tech job. Man, I would have called in sick. But he’s a dedicated low-level minion so what are we gonna do? He begins passing through security, which requires a finger-print and retinal scan in order to get in the door. As soon as he’s in, men in suits sweep out from around a corner and Charlie is shuffled off to nice little interrogation room. It seems Charlie entered the building off-hours a few days ago, and they’re not happy about that. Charlie stammers, he wasn’t there. A copy of the entrance logs in tossed in front of him, “Computers don’t lie, Mr. Fisher.” They do on this show, mister. As Charlie continues to deny, the camera fades to Charles, using the same finger-print reader and retinal scanner we just saw to enter the building. The Feds want to know how Charlie set up a “roving backdoor” they can’t get rid of on a number of high-security systems, but Charlie can’t even spell “roving backdoor” at this point. Charles on the other hand, coolly opens a terminal and begins working. The Feds want an explanation for why Charlie’s so banged up. He says he’s not sure he has one to give. “Try,” they tell him.
Ellison, none the worse for being thrown into his furniture yesterday, is waiting in a nice, secluded parking area as a little Mercedes drives up. It’s Catherine Weaver, wanting to know what Ellison wanted to show her. Without a word, he opens his trunk and reveals the body of Cromartie. That rhymes! Also? You, sir, are a LIAR! “We need to learn how they work, how to fight them,” he says. Charlie is seen, silently showing the Feds a very empty and completely scrubbed shipping container. The Feds don’t look happy and as we see them lock Charlie up in an institution, Ellison’s still talking. “We can’t allow history to repeat itself, not when we have the power to stop it. It’s up to us now, the two of us.”
“Yes, it is.” If Catherine the Terminator could squee, we’d hear it in the next century.
The pink dress of Sarah’s delusion appears for a final time this episode, as she climbs down into a hole in the ground. On one side of the hole, there’s a door that opens to Dr. Sherman’s office. There’s some banter about Sarah lying, but that’s not the important part. I think. When we’re talking about freaky dreams there’s no telling, but it’s boring so I’m moving on to what I think important part of the scene is. She says she has to go back to work so we cut to Sarah, awake, in the basement of the bloody wall. Seriously, they really should take a picture and wash that off, their landlady isn’t exactly shy and her baby daddy’s a COP. But once again, the pretty shot wins out over the plot logic as Sarah reaches, fingers outstretched, and places them…
…on her three dots.
The Terminator theme clanks and the episode ends.
Next time: “Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point” Strange things? On this show? Go on, pull the other one. But in the meantime, if you wanna chat about Grandfather theories, dream symbolism, why Derek is Crazy, or what the HELL was with that pink dress, head on over to the forums. I won’t send Cromartie after you, I promise.