Terminator: TSCC Recap: Born to Run

Monday, April 13 by

The Sarah Connor chronicles comes to a chilling conclusion tonight, but doesn’t fail in explaining major pieces to the origins of a story conceived 25 years ago.
 
Watching the News
Agent Aldridge reiterates Sarah’s rights, but it’s a speech she’s heard many times before.  He then lists the details of her incarceration; the murder of Miles Dyson, the destruction of a Los Angeles Bank, and a firefight resulting in a young girl’s kidnapping and five dead, two of which are law enforcement officers.  Sarah’s crimes cover a range of time extending from ten years into the past up until this Monday, just before her apprehension.  Aldridge wants20to know where John Connor is.  Sarah is adamant that her son is dead: he died in the bank explosion.
 
John Connor is not quite as dead as Sarah would hope Aldridge to believe.  In fact, John is watching Sarah’s arrest on television with Cameron at his side.  He wants to act as quickly as possible to spring his mother from jail.  Cameron explains that relocating so soon after the incident is dangerous.  John wants a computer so that he can do research on shielded power sources, like Cameron’s.  He wants to know if prolonged exposure to a Terminator can give a person cancer.  He suspects Cameron is the reason that his mother is ill.
 
Somewhere in front of a mirror the machine who gunned down Derek is removing bullets from the flesh covering his wiring.  He too is watching the news.
 
Heart and Soul
Weaver asks Mr. Murch how long it would take to prep John Henry for relocation.  She wants to be prepared in the event that another attack is launched on the cyborg.  Murch suggests that they shouldn’t consider moving the machine.  He explains that at one point a cooling fan had comes loose, and when they went to fix it John Henry began tweaking.  What they understand John Henry to be- heart and soul, he explains- is this exact ensemble of machinery.  Changing one wire could change who he is.  The man of whom they speak appears to be listening with interest as they converse.
 
Ellison enters Sarah’s cell and explains that he wasn’t the one who set her up.  He had no idea the police would be waiting for her outside the theater.  In fact, he just spent the last four hours convincing them that Sarah and he were not working together.  They had asked him where Sarah had been for the last eight years.
“What did you tell them?” Sarah inquires.
“What was I supposed to tell them?”  Ellison shoots back.  He tells Sarah that if she’s is both honest and innocent she should try telling the truth.  “Draw a picture for them,” he challenges her… if she truly is innocent.  Sarah points out that the last time she drew an honest picture they stuck her in the loony20bin.  Ellison can only apologize for what has befallen her.
Sarah asks where Savannah is.  Ellison tells her that Savannah is with her mother.
“Then she’s not safe.” Sarah claims while Ellison makes his exit.  She repeats herself again in the security camera Aldridge is watching.  She repeats it again on another security camera being viewed remotely by John Henry and Catherine Weaver.
Ellison approaches Aldridge whose office is in one of the prison cells.  The implication is both obvious and ironic.  Ellison proposes that perhaps Sarah is telling the truth.  Aldridge thinks she has a guilty conscience.  He mentions that the Connor reque sted a Priest: Father Amando Bonilla, but can’t imagine what the connection is.  Ellison suggests that perhaps Sarah wanted to pray.  Aldridge isn’t sold on that.  He thinks that because Sarah has denied her right to speak to a lawyer, a priest is the only other option.
 
Sarah speaks with her Priest, asking if he remembers her.  He does.
“Do you believe in the devil, Father?”  She asks him.
“The devil?”
“The actual devil.”
His answer is honest and logical “Something opposes God.  Something tempts man into sin.”
Sarah’s response holds similar characteristics, given the life she’s lived: “I don’t believe in God or Heaven, but I believe something wants this world to burn.  The devil, demons… I believe, and that day in the church, my daughter… you saw things, didn’t you?”
For a moment there is only silence as Father Bonilla pulls the events of that day from the archives of his mind.
“I pray every day to understand what happened that day,” he confesses.
Sarah promises that she will explain it to him, but needs him to do something for her.
 
Prudence
Weaver and John Henry welcome Ellison back.  They are watching Sarah conversing with her priest.  Ellison points out the wrong in what they are doing, but Weaver bulldozes over his objections.  It is prudent of them to watch all the law enforcement tapes so they have an idea of what’s going on, she explains.  Weaver cuts to the chase: she wants to meet John Connor.  Ellison tells her that this is a bad idea, but Weaver has too many questions that need to be answered; why was he at her house when Savannah was attacked, why does his mother think he’s the messiah, and why is he (along with his cyborg buddy) connected to the John Henry body?  When Ellison claims that he doesn’t know how to find John Connor, Weaver claims she does.
 
A Terminator enters a gun shop and asks if he can purchase silencers.  His request is initially refused, but after producing a wad of cash the proprietor exchanges it for a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it.
 
Everybody We Love
John asks Cameron how much weight his mother has lost.  He is trying to gauge her illness.
“Eleven percent of her body mass in the last six weeks,” Cameron explains with mechanical indifference.  John mentions that she had been healthy before Cameron ever showed up.  Cameron gets defensive.  She would know if her power sources were leaking: she has sensors for that.  John asks if he can inspect the sensors but Cameron says he can’t see them.  He laughs, but not because he is amused.  He laughs because he has to trust something which has proven to be faulty in the past.
“Yo break stuff, you kill birds, you twitch.  You try to murder me.  You’re not perfect.  You are a machine.”  His harsh words are interrupted by a phone call.  It’s Father Bonilla.
 
The Priest enters his side of the confession booth and rolls a rosary between his fingers.  The other door opens and a female takes a seat, her features are blurred by the screen separating them and shadows.
“Under the bench there is an envelope.  I hope it’s enough, it’s all I could find.”
The girl feels beneath her seat and procures the envelope without saying a word.
“I have a message for you as well,” Father says.  When the girl leaves the church she passes a car occupied by Ellison who follows.
 
Cameron stares at the street from a window in the Apache Motel, thinking.  There is a knock at the door and guns are drawn.  They are lowered when John and Cameron find that the face on the other side of the door is recognizable and friendly.  The envelope contains two passports; one for John and one for Cameron.  John looks through the envelope, searching for a third and not finding it.  The implication begins to set in, but John stubbornly refuses to let it enter his mind.  There is no passport for Sarah Connor.  Cameron asks John what’s wrong.  She points out that the passports are perfect in every way, missing the source of his frustration entirely.  The purpose of John’s frantic search is not lost on the living flesh sitting in an adjacent chair.
“There’s nothing else there,” she says softly, “Nothing hidden there.  No secret message there for her escape.  Her message is for you to leave this place as soon as it is safe.  Leave this place.  Do not think of her, do not come for her.  Leave.  You are to make sure that he does.”  The girl indicates that Cameron is the you she means.  She then gets up and heads for the door.  John stares solemnly, disbelievingly at the passports.
“We lose everybody we love,” the girl offers fr om the door.
“She said that?” John asks, meaning his mother.
“No.”  She opens the door, red and blue light reflect off the wood and she walks through.
“Hasta Luego!” Cameron calls out after her.  Something catches her eyes and she cocks her shotgun and walks out the door, returning a moment later with Agent Ellison.
 
Just a Machine
Ellison tries to assure John Connor that he had nothing to do with his mother’s arrest.  John looks at the man like a cat would look at an injured mouse.  Ellison explains that Weaver wants to meet John, wants to thank him for saving Savannah.
“She just did,” John claims.  By sending Ellison as her messenger, John now contemplates making good on his promise to Ellison at the end of last week’s episode.
“You’re mother wanted to meet Weaver.”
“When she gets out, she will.”
“I told weaver you’d never come without your mom.  She told me that if that was the case I was to ask one question.  I was told to ask it to you,” Ellison says, gesturing to Cameron with his chin, “Will you join us?  She says she hopes you’ll know what that means.”
John looks over his shoulder at his cyborg and asks if she does.
Cameron’s response is unconvincing, “No.  No I don’t.  Please leave now, Mr. Ellison, I think you’ve said enough.”
Ellison begs for John to intervene because Cameron is approaching.
“You’ve said enough, Mr. Ellison.  I won’t ask you again.”
John looks confused by Cameron’s uncharacteristically emotional response, but he doesn’t call Ellison back from the door.
“He upset you,” she says when she comes back from escorting the agent out.
“Me?  I think he upset you,” John counters.
“You know that’s impossible!” Cameron is all denial, which raises some suspicions.
“Is it?”
“You said it yourself John, I’m just a machine.”
 
Good Intent
Aldridge tells Sarah that he believes her.  He believes that there are machines and that they have tried to kill both her and her son.  He believes that there exists a world he has not seen and that she has been through the miraculous and the terrible yet retained a moral and good soul.  He believes all this because he has gotten over thirty phone calls from people who claim to know John Baum and his sister, and their mother, Sarah Baum.  Each caller has identified the Sarah Connor of recent headline news as this person.  Also, John and Sarah do not appear to be their actual ages.  John looks like a sixteen year old boy and Sarah looks to be 35, when in fact they would be 24 and 43, respectively.  If they hadn’t traveled through time, the age of eight full years would have set in.  Aldridge tells Sarah all this because, he claims, he wants to help her and to help John.
“My son is dead,” Sarah states while looking down, undeceived by the lure of good intent.
Aldridge is flushed and gets up to leave but before doing so asks her: “Do you know who Danny Dyson is?”
“Miles’ son.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“No, why?”
“He’s been missing for three months.”
 
In the parking garage of Weaver’s building our new Terminator wastes the security guard and makes contact with Weaver.  The bullets which put an end to the guard have no effect on Catherine.  She absorbs them, heals her wounds and morphing one arm into a giant spike, impales the Terminator.  She uses her other arm to pierce a power box on the wall behind her and a surge of electricity is conducted through her body, into her victim.  The Terminator falls to the ground, powerless.  Examining its’ chip, Weaver asks John Henry if any data can be retrieved from it.
The cyborg is doubtful, but Weaver wants to know who sent it.
“I think it is safe to assume that my brother did,” John Henry responds.
When Ellison enters, Weaver scolds him for not delivering better news from John Connor.
 
Cameron watches John Connor sleep.  When he wakes up, she opens herself to him… literally.
“What’s going on?” the boy asks.
“You need to understand how it works: this chip, this body.  My software is designed to destroy humans.  My hardware is designed to destroy humans.  That is my sole function,” she seems to be sorry for confessing this.
“Not you.”
“No, not anymore.  But what was there is still there and always will be.”
“So down deep, you want to kill me?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“I might someday.  I need to show you something.  This body…”  Cameron undresses and lies down on the bed, next to John Connor.  She tells him to get on top of her and gives him a knife.  She shows him where to cut, explaining that if she is damaged, they should know.
Connor cuts while she watches.
“Reach down under the breast plate,” she instructs, “There!  What does it feel like?”
“Cold.  That’s good, right?”
”That’s good.  That’s perfect.”
For an instant John holds her and their face get closer, like they might kiss.  The moment holds awkwardly before Cameron suggests they move out.
 
Sprung
Father Amando Bonilla enters the interrogation room.  Sarah sits at the table and asks why he is here.  The Priest was sent to deliver a message from her son: “She is coming.”  An alarm goes off and Bonilla tries wiggling the door handle with no success.
“I don’t know what to do!” he shouts nervously.
“You’re a priest: Pray,” Sarah advises.
Cameron’s entrance is a rare display of what her kind were made to do.  She walks determinedly through the prison with a shotgun in her hand, blasting in the direction of guards to make them scatter.  Her bullets are responded to in kind, and her body eats a great deal of lead.  Soon enough she looks like Arnold; half her face blown away, one red eye exposed.  John Henry is watching on the security cameras from somewhere else in the city.  He hacks into the prison’s system and overrides the locking mechanism for the cell doors.  At this point all hell breaks loose: a current of prisoners rushes through the banks of cages like a river of the liberated.  Cameron is the lone salmon who swims against the current to deliver her charge.  She meets Sarah; all fucked up, and breaks her cuffs away.  An SUV pulls up outside the prison doors and they get in.  John, Sarah, and Cameron are reunited again.  After a few angry words, John and his mother reconcile and they go to meet Catherine Weaver.  Sarah explains that they have to get Weaver to destroy whatever is in the basement.  She has made the connection that Comrarterie is now John Henry.
 
In the lobby John asks his mother if she is sick but before she has an opportunity to lie to him- or tell the truth- an elevator door opens and Ellison steps out.
“I love you,” John tells his mother before Ellison takes them up to meet Weaver.  The elevator ride is tense, neither side quite trusting of the other.  Ellison asks where Cameron is and Sarah tells him that she’s watching the car.
If “watching the car” is code for “taking the back entrance and beating up hapless security dudes”, then Cameron is doing an amazing job.  With half a face remaining, she opens a door to find John Henry on the other side.
“Hello,” he says in a friendly tone.
“Hello,” she replies.
“I know you.”
“And I know you.”
John Henry then repeats a question put to Cameron earlier:  “Will you join us?”
Cameron’s response is non-verbal and open ended.  She pulls out a knife and shuts the door behind her.
 
At the top floor of her building, Weaver is thanking John Connor for saving her daughter.  When asked where Savannah is, Weaver tells them to assume that she’s at school.  She then explains that they all have a common enemy: “One we cannot fight with conventional weapons, or means.”  She is talking abo ut Skynet.  Before much else can be said, Ellison notices a flying object accelerating toward their window at the top floor.  It is a machine of some kind, and it bursts through the window with explosive speed.  Weaver yells for everyone to get down, and makes herself into a big metal shield, protecting them from the debris coming down around them.  She yells for everyone to run and they do.  Their legs carry them to the stairs leading down to the basement.
Sarah turns and pleads with Weaver: “We need to get out.  They’re trying to kill my son!”
“No,” the liquidator responds, “They’re trying to kill my son.  Just like you are!”
“I’m sure she’s done it,” Sarah yells, meaning she is sure that Cameron has done what had been asked of her.
“You’d better hope not!” Weaver threatens, “You’re John may save the world but he can’t do it without mine.”
Beyond the door they find Cameron’s body slumped in a chair with a bloody knife on the table beside her, her chip removed.
John is frantic.  “Where is John Henry?” he cries, “He took the chip, where’d he go?”  Weaver tells John that her son didn’t take Cameron’s chip.  She gave it to him.  On the giant LCD behind them the words: I’m-Sorry-John are written over and over again, a miserable supplement to Cameron’s now empty eyes.  John turns his eyes back to Weaver and demands to know where John Henry is.
“Not where: when?” she corrects him.  All eyes fall on the machinery behind them.
“I know that, I’ve seen it before,” Sarah claims, observing the black box.  It’s Andy Goode’s “Turk”; three dots line the bottom of the machine.  They are the three dots Sarah’s been chasing through her dreams.
“You lying, Terminator bitch.  You’re building Skynet,” Sarah accuses, addressing Catherine Weaver.
“No, I was building something to fight it, and I’d watch who’s calling who a bitch.  Are you coming, James?”  Weaver turns and gets the machine ready for time travel.
Ellison isn’t coming, so Weaver asks if he’ll be good enough to pick Savannah up from gymnastics.
 
The blue bolts of electricity signaling impending time-travel begin to flash across the room.  Everything becomes charged with it.  John Connor and Weaver stand on one side of the desk, Ellison and Sarah on the other.  Sarah and Ellison are backing away, but John looks like he is compelled to go with Weaver.
“John, we can’t,” his mother cries.
“He’s got her chip.  He’s got her,” he replies, unmoving.
Behind them numbers are counting down, and the faint outline of a blue sphere becomes visible.  The sphere separates John and Weaver from Sarah and Ellison.  Sarah makes no move to enter the sphere which is growing more prominent as the seconds tick by.  In fact, she takes another step back.
“Mom?!” John says confusedly, for it is the first time in his life she’ taken a step in that direction from him.
“I’ll stop it,” she promises to him and her meaning is unclear.  Behind the wall of the sphere her features are dulled, but the expression on her face is pained.  In a flash, John and Weaver are gone.
 
No Stranger to the Apocalypse
John arrives naked with Weaver.  He finds a jacket and throws it on.  They’re somewhere in the future, alright: the building in which they’ve landed looks like it is no stranger to the apocalypse.  Dogs bark somewhere ahead and a soldier emerges with his gun trained on John Connor, who turns to realize that Weaver has abandoned him.
“Please, I’m not metal, I’m human,” Connor implores.
A familiar face steps up and verifies that John Connor is no machine.  The soldier before him is Derek, John is relieved.
“Derek!”
“Yeah?”  Derek looks confused as to how this kid knows his name.
John is equally stumped, but tries to jog the man’s memory.  He tells Derek his name.
“I know a lot of people kid, I don’t know you,” he turns to his fellow soldiers: “Anybody heard the name John Connor?”  No one seems to know the name of their savior.
John looks dejectedly toward the floor.  How can this be?
“Well you know what?  I think you’re gonna be famous.  My brother is back and you’re wearing his coat,” Derek says.
Derek’s brother, Kyle Reese, steps up to take a look, and John is humbled at this opportunity to finally meet his father.  He can say nothing, only stare.  John smiles when a female form emerges from behind Kyle Reese.  It is Cameron who bends to pet the dog and smiles back at the boy looking at her.
 
The show ends with a blue bolt of lightning coursing through an empty room, presumably the room where the time-travel sphere dropped John off into the future.  The bolt of electricity carries the words: “I love you, too” with them.
The words are Sarah’s.
 
Review
What came first: the chicken or the egg?  Some people will beat their heads striving for the correct answer, while some will accept that both answers are correct.  When considering John Connor’s tale one cannot help when this metaphorical question is brought to mind.  Thankfully, The Sarah Connor Chronicles does not seek to answer this question.  If it did it would likely fail.
 
If the parallels are not obvious, I’ll point them out here.  John Connor sends his good friend, Kyle Reese, back through time to protect his mother, Sarah.  His goal in doing so is to ensure that Kyle Reese would not only protect Sarah from the machines, but so that the two of them could conceive John, who will later head the war against Skynet.  In order for John to be born, Kyle had to be sent from the future.  In order for Kyle to be sent from the future, John had to be born.  John’s existence, after all, would never have been if he hadn’t somehow made his way into the future to prevent his pre-birth execution.
 
Though this episode explains how John got to the future, it leaves many questions unanswered, namely the chicken/ egg dilemma.  Those who seek to answer this question are invariable bound to follow the perpetual path of a dog chasing his own tail.  The resolution to this puzzle is cyclic because the fact remains that each of the two answers is a pre-condition of the other.  What this episode succeeds in doing is in grounding us for even a brief moment on that mind-numbing loop, and showing us how John Connor came to meet Kyle Reese.
 
The question that is now answered is: Why did John choose Kyle Reese to be his father?  The answer is this: he did not necessarily choose Kyle Reese.  He was bor knowing that Kyle Reese was his father, so when he finally makes his way into the future at the end of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, there is no one to send but Kyle Reese to save his mother and birth the savior.  One could always argue this p oint from the other end, after all: one answer is a pre-condition of the other, but I’d like to get some sleep tonight.  We’ll flip a coin on it… there you go: the chicken came first!  He sent his buddy back through time to lay an egg, and made damn sure that the hen cared for that egg until it grew and became the chicken that sent his buddy back through time…
 
I am sad to see this series go with so much left unexplained, but thank the people behind this project for at least getting John Connor into the future so he can ensure that his past will get him there.

Recap by Jonathan Friedler

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