When I first learned that this week would mark the season finale of Terminator: The Sarah Chronicles, I was surprised. And actually a little sad, which means that I must, you know, actually like this show. And not just because it’s not The Moment of Truth or some God-awful reality show of that ilk: it’s actually a solid show. It won’t change the world or anything, but what it sets out to do it actually does, which is more than 75% of the shows on air today.
That being said: this two-hour finale (really, two episodes aired on the same night, should one deem a spade a spade) felt insanely rushed. I don’t know the behind-the-scenes of Terminator, but I think somewhere along the lines this conversation happened:
Fox: Guys, we really like the show so far.
Terminator Peeps: Gee, thanks!
Fox: So what we want is a 9-episode first season. We think this makes sense.
Terminator Peeps: Um, nine?
Terminator Peeps: Why nine, if you like us so much?
Fox: Do you know how much money we had to spend to get Brian Austin Greene on this project?
Terminator Peeps: $11 per ep plus free taquitos at the service cart?
Fox: $12! And all the hummus he can stand! And Green, he can stand a lot! We’re not made of money, people. Wrap it up in nine.
I mean, how else to explain the rapid pace of the last hour of tonight’s twofer? The first half felt like a normal episode which, frankly, it was. Not a bad episode by any stretch, but nothing that suggested a second half that would answer the issues raised in the first. At the heart of Hour 1 was the hijacking of the L.A. traffic signal program, along with Cameron working her mojo and turning John’s drive extremely hard. This marked the second episode in a row in which a male in that house looked at Cameron and thought, “Man, if I were drunk enough, and the room dark enough, I’d hit it, hit it hard, and then regret it forever.”
(Speaking of the house, have we EVER gotten a good explanation as to how they acquired the rights to said property? Will that be a deleted scene on the DVD set?)
Hour 2 revolved around the obtaining of the Turk, a bizarre sequence set to Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around,” and a cliffhanger that depended on two total weak plot twists. I honestly can’t pretend to care about the search for the Turk, as its absence will define the show for as long as it’s on air. As for the Cash sequence, given that Garret Dillahunt plays Cromartie, I couldn’t help but get a John from Cincinnati as the Deadly Pool Cam caught the bloody bodies splashing to their deaths.
And the cliffhanger: are we supposed to be worried about a car bomb killing Cameron? I assume we’re not. No way guy-posing-as-owner-of-an-Internet-cafe. The rapid twist, coupled with a severe lack of stakes, left me a little cold in the last moments of the season. Then again, there’s always the chance that the show wouldn’t bring back Summer Glau now, and thinking about that makes the world a little sadder.
The true standouts of the final hour? The scenes between Brian Austin Green and Thomas Dekker, quite frankly. After the first hour all but clanged, “REESE IS A ROBOT,” it was nice to have some emotive scenes between John and Derek, especially when John gets to finally see his father. It was a very “Field and Terminators” moment, quite frankly.
I really expected FBI Agent Ellison to save the Connors at some point, but I suppose Terminator is planning for the long haul, gradually bringing together Ellison, Charley, and the Connors clan over a number of episodes seasons, working to prevent Judgement Day on multiple fronts. At this point, Ellison is pretty much a full Connor acolyte, but with 100% less crazy than Bruce Davidson exhibited last week. Having an inside guy in the FBI should prove useful, both to the Connors and the writing staff of Terminator.
All in all, I’d rate this initial, abbreviated season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles a solid 7.5/10. It didn’t break any new ground, but provided a solid, exciting hour of television more often than not, and in this day and age, that’s nothing short of miraculous, really. Here’s hoping Fox gives them clearer episode mandates going forth so the writers can break the story in a way that doesn’t leave the audience short-changed in the end.
What did you think about this initial season? Happy with the way Season 1 ended, or did you want more? What would you like to see in Season 2 and beyond?