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The Sarah Connor Chronicles season one episode reviews

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Pilot. Great premise, great cast, great action sequences, the promise of interesting sub-plots. Summer Glau owns the show, she's great from start to finish. There's something cool about an apparently slight, and very hot, young woman beating the living crap out of killer robots twice her size. I was very impressed by the ending, too, firstly because it hinted that a couple of dangling sub-plots will be followed up on. And secondly for what actually happened. It was a cool ending to the pilot. Not 100% sure it made sense, really, but it was still cool.

Not much to add. It's good, I want to see more.

Episode 1. I hate the dream sequence at the start. I know that you need it, to clue new viewers in to what this franchise is all about, but I really hate dream sequences. Never mind. This pilot is the second best of the 2007. It never stops moving, and it never puts a foot wrong. Dean Winters is a superb addition to the cast and bring an edge to the role that wasn't there before.

Episode 2. "Gnothi Seauton" Building a sci-fi action series around a mother's fierce love for her son is a stroke of genius. It means you can tell any story from such a solid foundation. And the series is off to a stunning start with this outing. Lena Headey and Summer Glau are two of most beautiful women now appearing on television and each of them brings phenomenal depth and strength to her role. This episode sidelines John somewhat (but - hopefully - the fantastic Thomas Dekker will get a chance to shine in later episodes) and the focus is very much on Sarah and Cameron (I love the "Tin Man" nickname, I hope is sticks) as they set about creating a cover for the trio in 2007. The show has some exciting actions scenes, great character work, a couple of nice twists in the story and - most of all - some reminders that the engine driving this series is a mother's fierce love for her son. It's primal. It's beautiful. This is a great new series.

There are many, many touches I love. The fact that John goes to visit Sarah's ex. ( Perhaps seeking out a father-figure?) The fact that the FBI agent on their tail seems suddenly open to Sarah's odd story. The fact that the the Terminator from 1999 finds a way to come after them. The fact that Cameron has free will. But, most of all, I love the cancer storyline for Sarah. Headey is exceptional with this material. She brings strength and vulnerabilty to the role and it's such a pleasure to watch her work.

I'm so in love with this series that it's not even funny.

Episode 3. "The Turk" Thomas Dekker steps up and gives a great performance in this one. Likewise Richard T. Jones, but the episode (and indeed the series) belongs to Lena Headey. She really is mesmerising in the central role. Great performances aside, this episode has three very strong storylines with one in particular having have very shocking, downbeat conclusion. It's also an episode without action sequences of any kind, yet it is probably the most dramatic and satisfying.

Episode 4. "Heavy Metal" One of this show's (many) strengths is the character of John Connor. He must walk the line between pampered "boy" in need of his mother's protection, and "gutsy hero" who will lead the resistance. If he falls too far into either camp, then the whole premise of this (superb) series is cast in doubt. It could be a case of "How could a wimp like him ever lead the humans?" vs. "Why does he need his Mum to protect/save him?" The casting of Thomas Dekker has really saved the series. He brings everything needed to the role, to make the series work. Particularly in this John-centric episode, where he takes on a solo mission and comes face to face with a Terminator. Even though he needs back-up at the end, the writers are careful to show us that this kid is capable of excellence under pressure.

Episode 5. "Queen's Gambit" When I first read, years back, that this series was in development I had an idea in my mind of what it would be like. And it certainly wasn't anything like this. For one thing, I didn't believe for one second that it would/could be this good. And for another, I didn't expect it to be so slow and thoughful most of the time. Sarah and John spend a lot of time watching a chess game in this one, for instance. It's a great episode, yes, but who would have expected a show with this premise to be so... realistic. Sarah really seems to be trying to lay low and gather intel all the time. Just like you really would do, if you were in her position. It's great.

Episode 6. "Dungeons & Dragons" So I'm watching the latest episode of Sarah Connor Chronicles and I'm thinking various things as the first scenes unfold. The big fear with this show before it started was that it would turn out to be another Bionic Woman, but I'm watching the prolonged opening scenes of Kyle and Derek running around with the resistance in the future and I realise that it's actually shaping up to be Battlestar Galactica. Holy frak! This is the next Battlestar Galactica!

Then the focus shifts to a short moment between Sarah and Dean Winters. She has no dialogue. He talks about what it was like for him when she left/died. It's a powerful dramatic scene. Winters nails it (of course). And I'm thinking: these are great characters. Holy frak! I love these characters!

Then the scene shifts to John and Cameron. Another short scene. Two characters on completely different pages. Dekker is playing the weight and enormity of the moment as he comes to terms with who is lying on the table inside. His uncle. Glau is playing it for comedy, as Cameron misunderstands his words. It's a pitch perfect scene. Both actors nail it to perfection. And I'm thinking: Holy Frak! Summer Glau is hot.

After that, the episode just gets better and better. More flashforwards/flashbacks than a typical episode of Lost, lots of foreshadowing with regard to Cameron and a truly heartbreaking scene between Sarah and Charley. Sarah Connor is magnificent. Majestic in her strength and dedication to thwarting her son's fate. Yet, as briefly shown by Lena Headey in this scene, she is vulernable, too. It's not a new idea. Strong woman, soft heart. What is new is the way Headey plays it. It's not the fact that she embraces Charley before he leaves her, it's more to do with her stance during the embrace and that split-second thing in her eyes. Lena Headey is fairly magnficent, too.

And the show? Well, it's the next Battlestar Galactica.

Episode 7. "The Demon Hand" The scene were Cameron walks away while the girl she has just befriended and her brother are murdered is chilling to watch. But it proves beyond any doubt that the producers/writers are doing it right. They know how to extend/expand this franchise. This is the world of Terminator and it is awesome. Character-driven drama at it's best, with almost no action, but plenty of excitement. There are many high points in this episode. Many. To the show's considerable credit, once again, all of the characters get to partake in the highpoints. The regular cast are fantastic, and the script gives all a chance to shine.

Episode 8. "Vick's Chip" At some stage, perhaps late in the second season, I will be able to watch this show and not marvel at the fact that they are doing it right. And have got it so right. This episode has no action sequences at all and - instead - offers up some of the best character drama the series has thus far delivered. Derek doesn't trust Cameron. A revelation during the episode means that the others have a reason not to trust Derek. Cameron tells John that she sometimes lies to him. Meanwhile, John lies to Sarah about how close Cromartie. And on and on. It's only four people, alone in a small grey house, yet this strong episode puts each of them in conflict with one (or more) of the others in splendid fashion.

The actual storyline is brilliant, too. The heroes use the brainchip from a destroyed Terminator to learn more about it and it's plans. They get a window into the life that "he" led. The wife he used, deceived and (in the final chilling scene) killed. Deceptions and conflicts at every turn. A great show.

Episode 9. "What He Beheld" brings this (short) first season to an end. And what an ending. The best episode? Maybe. After the pilot. I loved this episode because it was framed around the journey of Agent Ellison. He started this series as a skeptic and, by the time the battle at the end is over, he is a believer. He's a good character, I like him, and I've enjoyed this journey. It was predictable, but not any less worthwhile.

I loved this episode because Derek is cool. Possibly the coolest character on the show at this stage. He backstory makes him very interesting. But he gets two of his best scenes in this episode. First, the bit where he takes the child hostage and blows the bad guy away to save John. That was amazing stuff. Jack Bauer amazing. I loved it.

But, of course, his best scene was where he took John to the park. They sat, talked, ate Ice Cream. They watched two kids playing baseball and John realised one of them would grow up to be his father. Such a low key and powerful scene. So so good. Thomas Dekker was great in this scene (and, yes, it did bring a tear to the eye.) but Brian Austin Green was even better. His delivery of the revelation (that he knows who John is) was simply perfect.

My one fear going into this final episode was that the writers would kill Derek in some great moment of sacrifice to save John. I'm glad that didn't happen and I hope it doesn't.

I loved this episode because of the bad guy and the effortless way the show generates it's storylines. This was a kick-ass baddie and it was very satisfying to see our team take him down in fine style. But, again, aside from the visceral pleasures of this show there is a lot to think about to.

Finally, I loved this episode because they showed us the big gun battle from underneath the swimming pool. Seriously? How cool was that?

And they brought Dean Winters back! I loved that.

And Cameron didn't kill the girl in the car at the end. What was up with that? Man, there was a lot to love in this episode.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

Thanks for writing this.

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