“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” Wee-View: Episode 1.5

I think it’s high time we eliminate the game of chess as a metaphor within popular drama. I mean, enough is enough, right? We get it. Tonight’s episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles used every phrase possible to relate chess to the coming apocalypse, and I’m all chessed out, people. I propose that any show currently thinking of sticking a game of chess into their narrative should remember that just because it provided J.O.S.H.U.A. with a nice way to spend it’s time when not instigating Global Thermonuclear War, it doesn’t mean you have to use it in your own story.

Then again, I’m not sure what other games could be used in its place. I’m sure this week’s episode of Terminator would have been silly had the Turk been programmed to whup ass at Hungry, Hungry Hippos. That would have been patently ridiculous. Likewise if had Adam created a machine that boggled the world with its skill at Boggle. But maybe the Turk could have sunk a mean Battleship?That would have impressed the military elite in the audience, no?

thebagterminatorsc.jpgThe “who killed Andy?” mystery should be one of those short-term plots that keeps things going, sorta like the Ironic Grief Counselor Plot. (We get it, the dude’s the one in the “freakin’ big” paintings that sent Blondie to her death.) But the Andy plot also introduced us to the fourth member of Future Squad, and he was played by Brian Freakin’ Austin Green. Last week, Brian Bloom. This week, Brian Austin Green. Can’t wait to see Andrew Shue make an appearance shortly. Just, wow. That being said, Green acquitted himself well in this episode, which leads me to believe this guy could been somebody without Donna holding him back all those years.

Another thing that Derek Reese brings to the table? The potential for flash-forwards! That’s right, kids, they’re not just for Lost anymore. Bring on some futuristic man-on-SkyNet action. I’m not hoping for a show that hires Brian Austin Green to have the budget to show me all the future war footage I’d like to see, but it gives a unique perspective on future events and, if used judiciously, can really help the show in the long run.

The most interesting thing about this episode, and indeed the show in general, is not the Connors themselves (good but not great on that front) but how the show treats the evolution of artificial intelligence. Specifically, Turk seemingly throwing the chess match and River-Nator writing a letter to Uncle David Silver Reese: both show actions that are inexplicable in a nominally emotionless entity. Now, I am not watching Terminator for a prolonged treatise in hypothetical AI, but I do appreciate the small steps taken so far to at least put these theories into play. It fits in with the fatalistic approach of the Terminator universe that SkyNet itself would constantly check each attempt to defeat it and simply make another move. (Oh hell, I’m using a chess metaphor. Someone stab me in the face with a broken #2 pencil.)

On a less intellectual note, huzzah for inside-the-police-van fight! Loved the little detail of how the van itself would shake and sway if two Terminators were fighting it out in the back. I’m still wishing the Terminator universe allowed for robots to be expressive or talkative during their fights, but oh well. I don’t want smiley, quip-tastic ‘bots either. But a little variety wouldn’t hurt.

Maybe the Turk could teach those two to shout “Yahtzee!” after each successful blow or something.

2 Comments

  1. Shaggysteve
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I like the show, but they are starting to loose me. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but think it might be the writing. It seems like they are adding characters and situations without thinking them through in the long-run. I think they are more relying on the action and the name of the show to hook the audience.

    I agree with you that it would be cool if they showed some flash-forwards, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    The show has potential, but being on FOX it doesn’t have much of a chance.

  2. Posted February 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Of all the places where chess is used as a metaphor, at least it was somewhat appropriate here given the its close relationship with the development of computer AI.

    Be patient with the Terminator battle banter; I have a feeling we’ll see some (one-sided at least) as River, uh, I mean Cameron, continues to develop her “human” side.

    It still kills me when Terminators pause for dramatic effect (like the triple 8 did when sizing up Reese, giving Cameron, a chance to take him down). A machine would never hesitate. That’s what makes them scary.

    Love the site, by the way.