Terminator:TSCC Recap: Ourselves Alone
Riley is back, bringing more drama to John and Sarah’s table, while a small glitch in Cameron’s wiring makes her actions volatile.
To Kill A Bird
The episode begins with Cameron speaking to a bird who is flying around the living room. Cameron explains to the bird that the chimney is an unsuitable nesting spot for multiple reasons. She tells the bird that she is a migratory bird and should find a mate. The little creature flaps its wings, and soars right into the glass screen door, falling to the ground. Cameron picks it up and escorts it outside. Holding it in her hand she attempts to free the bird, who cannot fly because Cameron’s is unable to release her grip. After a moment, Cameron’s robotic fingers unwillingly clench violently, crushing the bird between them. It’s lifeless body then falls to the ground.
Sarah is cleaning the bathroom when Riley walks in looking for John. When he shows up the two talk briefly about Riley’s attempted suicide before John claims that he is content to leave it in the past. Elsewhere, Derek and Jessie are shooting bullets into apples. Derek asks Jessie when he her judgment day is, but Jessie doesn’t have much to say. Before leaving, Derek tells Jessie that he needs her to help him ‘get information from someone.’
Getting Back On Track
Upstairs, a frustrated Sarah is at her desk shuffling through some papers. She’s looking for some research she’s done on a lawyer who set up the Drone Shell Company. Cameron tells her that Derek took the papers, and Sarah gets annoyed when she learns that she’s out of her own loop. She then begins to question Cameron about the day Riley tried to kill herself. Cameron explains that Riley was upset and had a bruise on her head. Riley had said that she’d hit her head on the door. John believed that she had been hit by her foster dad. Later, Riley had cut her wrists and almost bled to death. Sarah leaves to speak with Riley’s foster parents.
Lending A Hand
In the tool shed Cameron slits her own wrists and pulls apart the flesh covering her arm, exposing her inner wiring. Riley walks by, gazes in at the window and is shocked by what she sees. She turns quickly, and continues walking, but her trespass hadn’t gone unnoticed. John walks in to find Cameron, resuming her work. She confesses to John that she killed the bird in the chimney: a result of her fingers acting involuntarily. He steps in to help and is angry to find that Cameron has been keeping spare parts from vanquished terminators, to use for her repairs. Cameron gets him to focus on the point: she has damage on her hand, and with these parts he will be able to fix it.
Riley meets with Jessie and tells her what she saw. She is adamant that Cameron saw her, and is now going to kill her. Jessie comforts Riley by saying that if Cameron knew that Riley saw her, Riley would already be dead. Reminding her of their mission, Jessie promises that she won’t let Cameron--or anyone else--hurt Riley.
From A Stranger’s Lips
Sarah has a drink with Riley’s foster dad and learns that Riley had provoked an attack on his wife the day she attempted to commit suicide. She had been ranting about the end of the world, and bleached skulls as the foster father recollects. He also explains that a guidance counselor came to see them, shortly after the incident. Sarah is surprised to learn that Riley had been so cavalier about divulging information that the Connors struggle to keep hidden with complete strangers. Before leaving, Sarah asks for the guidance counselor’s number. Ov er the phone, Sarah tells Derek to stop running off without her knowledge of where he’s going. She has to cut the conversation short, however, because she is meeting Riley’s guidance counselor, Ms. Wilson, who steps up to the table and turns out to be Jessie! ‘Ms. Wilson’ begins to ask Sarah what the living situation is like at home…
Derek is at a bar tailing the lawyer, when a girl approaches him and asks him to buy her a drink. He refuses, explaining that he is here for business not pleasure. The girl takes a look at the man Derek is following and seems amused when he tells her the guy’s a lawyer. Turns out, the lawyer may have bought her drinks once or twice. When the guy gets up to leave, Derek follows.
Stranger Among Friends
When John finishes his work on Cameron’s arm, she tells him that he is ahead of schedule in learning what he needs to learn. John realizes that Cameron was testing his ability to fix her. She is, after all, a terminator who is capable of self-repair. Sarah confronts John about the conversations she had with both Riley’s Foster father, and the guidance counselor. Sarah is disappointed to have learned that Riley knows so much about their affairs. John claims that he never told her anything.
“I don’t believe you,” Sarah tells her son.
“Well, I swear to God, I’ve said nothing,” John replies.
Sarah tells John to be ready for what Cameron will do, when she finds out what Riley knows. Riley shows up and Sarah confronts her about the things she had said to the guidance counselor. Cameron enters. Riley seems both pressured and confused, so she asks John if they can go to speak somewhere in private. A knock at the door puts the discussion on hold. Cameron and Riley head out the back to the took shed, John and Sarah stay to open the door. The lady at the door is Molly Molloy with the Department of Child and Family Services. She asks if Riley Dawson is there, and asks to come in even when John tells her that Riley is somewhere else.
Riley’s Close Call
In the tool shed, Cameron tells Riley, “this is all your fault. You’re why that woman is here.” Riley’s expression of worry is amplified when Cameron asks “What am I gonna do with you? Department of Child and Family Services only respond to complaints.” Cameron’s arm begins to twitch; the way it had when she’d tried to release the bird earlier in the episode, just before crushing it. She accuses Riley of being a threat to John and says she can’t let her leave, but can’t let her stay either. Cameron advances threateningly. Riley admits that she is freaked out, but manages to find some confidence and begins to shout, “What are you gonna do? You’re just his sister!” At this moment, John enters and Riley runs to hug him. John casts an accusatory look over Riley s shoulder at Cameron, and asks his girlfriend to wait outside. When she’s gone, John turns to his robot and asks if she had been about to kill Riley. Cameron claims that she was uncertain as to what she was going to do. There seems to be a problem with her- a malfunction similar to the one that brought about the end of the chimney-bird earlier. Cameron admits that Riley is a threat to John and she should have killed her. John scolds her, telling her that that’s not her decision to make. Confronting Riley, he says: “Is there anything you want to tell me? Because today is the day where you tell me whatever it is you might want to tell me.”
The look in her eyes implies that she probably has something to say, but Riley is unable to confess her secrets. Instead, she turns John’s question on himself. “Is there something you want to tell me. Because you’re right: today is the day.” She looks back at Cameron while saying these words as if to imply that she knows what Cameron is, but wants to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
John says that he has nothing to confess to her.
Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Derek goes over his plans to apprehend the lawyer with a disinterested Jessie. She gives him several excuses as to why she can’t help him with this mission, but he tells her to be there and exits. We see him later that evening, hiding in the bushes, waiting for his target.
John and Sarah are talking while Riley paces back and forth in the background outside.
“This is not good. It could mean bad things,” Sarah tells her son.
John is about to say something when he realizes that Riley is no longer pacing, and has disappeared from the backyard…
Jessie is in her room getting ready when Riley begins to attack her. Riley approaches from behind and tries to strangle her. The two fight, and break off to either side of the room.
Riley accuses Jessie of having conspired against her. She’s learned that Jessie was trying to get Cameron t o kill Riley because this would be the only way to get John to distrust his protective robot, and turn him against her. Riley knows that it was Jessie who told her foster parents about the end of the world, bleached skulls, etc, and it was her who called the Dept. of Child and Family Services.
Jessie makes no attempt to deny this. “I rescued you from hell! I took you to paradise, and I gave you a purpose, a chance to be a hero… A chance for your death to mean something!” She calls Riley a coward, strikes again and the two fight for another minute. For a second it looks as though Riley might have the upper hand, but Jessie pulls a gun from a secret drawer, fires once, and Riley falls.
Derek is still waiting in the bushes. It’s dark out. Cars are coming, but Derek lets them pass by with a look of disappointment written across his face.
Meanwhile, Cameron seems to be fixing a pocket watch when John walks into the shed looking for Riley. Cameron doesn’t seem to know where she is, but is certain that she’ll call eventually. John asks Cameron if she killed Riley. Cameron responds in the negative, and hands him the pocket watch. She explains that John has tried to fix her twice already, and it’s not working. She also mentions that she is a Terminator incapable of self-termination. The pocket watch is actually a remote device that sets off explosive materials set in Cameron’s ‘brain’ next to her chip. Cameron tells John there may be a day when John will have to put her down. John struggles to find words to say to her, manages a smile and leaves. In the grass he spies a bird’s lifeless body. John casts a skeptical look back at the shed, and the episode ends.
Although Riley cries a lot, it was sad to see her go. I like how the issue of trust was played in this week’s episode. It’s hard to not feel some sort of sympathy for Riley, even though she’s been in cahoots with Jessie since she came into the Terminator series. The scene where John asks Riley if she has something she wants to confess to him proves that her loyalties certainly are not with him, yet she demands his trust when she turns his own question on himself and asks if there is something he has to say to her. She seems upset when he says no, but should expect that he treat her with the same distrust that she treats him.
There is also a moment in this episode where Sarah tells John that she doesn’t believe he’s kept their situation confidential. She believes he’s been telling Riley about their affairs, implying that she distrusts him. Jessie, the villain in today’s episode, is using trust as weapon by trying to turn John’s faith in Cameron against Sarah’s crew, by putting Riley in the middle of things.
When this episode ends, John is searching for Riley, who he feels he can trust, while Cameron makes a subtle attempt at regaining his trust by giving him the key to her destruction. Giving the watch to John is a symbol of her trust in him, because she has to believe that he will do the right thing with it.
This was an exciting turn for Terminator characters, and the concept of an unstable cybernetic protector is sure to make for some interesting plot twists in the next few episodes.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler