Sarah battles with vanquished enemies, deceptive doctors, smoking roommates, and a bad case of insomnia in this week’s installment of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Buildings whiz by as Sarah cruises the deserted night streets of downtown Los Angeles. She calls John to tell him she is heading to a place called Western Iron Metal in Industrial Park, explaining that she got a lead off of one of the security tapes from the Charmachres surveillance system. She begins to jack the door but stops to draw her gun when she hears a noise. Rounding a corner, she finds a coyote, patrolling the premises. The coyote holds her gaze long enough for a masked man gets the drop on Sarah. He pulls out a taser and uses it to bring her to the ground. She writhes for a moment before waking up in a hospital bed. A brief discussion with a doctor informs us that Sarah is being treated for insomnia and bad dreams, much like the one which has just ended.
It’s been two weeks since Sarah has gotten any sleep. She’s checked herself into a facility where they can monitor her sleep behaviors and find the cause for her insomnia. Her new roommate, Dana, confesses that she is a smoker and is reluctant to give up this particular vice. She is being treated for similar conditions. John and Cameron meet Sarah for breakfast in the cafeteria. There seems to be some flirtation between Sarah’s boy and his robot over pancakes.< SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Sarah is adamant that she shouldn’t be here, but John tells her that her condition makes her useless. “You need to get better,” he tells his mother. John leaves the table, and a busser comes to remove some dirty plates. The man has a coyote tattooed on his neck.
Am I Dreaming?
Sarah’s caught in a dark place. Her hands are bound, and she sits imprisoned in the back of a large cargo van. The door opens, and Winston steps into view, so this must be a nightmare.
“I killed you,” Sarah mutters.
“And I killed you,” the ghost replies.
He asks Sarah who she is and demands to know who blew up the factory. Winston slams her around the van, asking who her accomplice is. He prepares a syringe, but before he can stick her with it, Sarah wakes up in her hospital bed.
The doctor tells Sarah that the observation machines indicate that Sarah is experiencing “night terrors” in the fourth stage of sleep, REM. She mentions that brain tumors tend to be a cause for this symptom, but that Sarah’s MRI came back clean. The doctor tells Sarah that something in her mind is making this happen, and recommends psychotherapy. The doctor also asks Sarah about her roommate’s smoking habit, which Sarah claims she has no knowledge of. In private, Sarah talks with Dana and confesses that in her nightmares she is always being chased by someone or something. Dana explains that in her nightmares she always on fire… burning
Back in the cargo van, Winston comments on Sarah’s battle scars. Sarah attempts to sway his sympathies by explaining that “they” will kill Winston, just like “they” killed everyone who worked at the factory.
Winston is skeptical… “Why would anyone destroy their own factory?” He asks.
“To hide what they were building”
“What were they building?”
Sarah mentions Winston’s wife, which drives him into a rage. A scuffle ensues, and Winston trips on his own syringe.
Sarah wakes in her hospital bed just in time to witness the doctor pulling a needle from her sleeping roommate’s neck, and duck quietly out of the room. Sarah shakes Dana but fails to wake her. She also notices an ugly, red mark where the injection had been given. Sarah follows the doctor to lower level, and almost blows her cover. In the morning, the doctor approaches Sarah and asks her why her electrodes became unplugged in the middle of the night. Sarah claims that she used to sleepwalk and can’t remembe r anything from the night before. Sarah tells John that something strange is going on here, citing the previous night’s events as evidence. When Dana appears, smiling and well, John dismisses his mother’s concern as paranoia. He asks her about her dreams, asks if the guy she shot is the same guy in her nightmares. Sarah affirms this, and tells her that in her nightmare Winston locks her up in the van and demands to know who she is. John assures Sarah that the guy is not real, and can’t hurt her. At that moment the doctor approaches Sarah with a smile and the words: “Nap time.”
Winston asks about his wife and starts talking about the job. He confesses that the worst part of the job was hurting people. Through his conversation, Sarah learns that Winston’s bosses are foreign. He tells her that after she shot him, they patched him up so he could get her. He tells her that she didn’t kill him, but Sarah doesn’t look for truth in his words. She offers to help him escape from “them”. She wins his trust for enough time to make an escape which is ended just as quickly as it began; compliments of a locked gate. Winston pulls Sarah back and the sequence is ended.
Sarah wakes. In a hospital bed. An alarm is blaring and flames consume the bed next to hers, and the body in it. The following morning the doctor claims that Dana is in critical condition and they want to monitor patient sleep patterns in this time of duress. She requests that Sarah take some Diazepam to induce sleep, and is satisfied when Sarah takes the two pills with water. Once the doctor turns her back, Sarah spits up the pills. Back in her room, Sarah meets Hector- the guy with the coyote tattoo- who tells her that Dana should have taken control of the thing in her head which brought about her ruin.
Winston asks Sarah to tell him a story and she brings up the time that she killed him. She tells Winston that she initially had mercy on him because he’d told her that he had a son. Winston learns from Sarah’s story that she is prone to be merciful on people who are trying to protect their sons. He derives from her story that she is protecting her own son, and points out that when asked to tell a story, she gave him his own story. Winston concludes that her son must be her accomplice. Sarah is unable to conceal this truth, and it seems that Winston holds the upper hand.
Sarah wakes briefly to find a syringe on a table next to her bed, and a red mark where an injection had recently been given on her shoulder.
Back in the van, Winston tells Sarah that he is going to make her call for her boy.
“I’ll die first,” Sarah claims, defiantly.
John wakes Sarah and tells her they have to get her out of here. Sarah wants to inspect the locked security door first. They find a scanning program which houses thousand s of files, including Sarah’s brain activity. Sarah demands that John erase it. John still thinks his mother is paranoid, but does as she asks. Her file is deleted as the door unlocks from the other side. The doctor enters and finds only Sarah, standing at the computer. Sarah claims that she has been sleepwalking again, but the good doctor isn’t buying it. The good doctor also turns out to not be so good… turns out to be a robot, as a matter of fact. Sarah is tossed about the room, choked by the doctor who tells Sarah that she is going to make her call for her boy.
“I’ll die first,” Sarah sputters, as John steps out and puts a few bullets in the doctor’s chest. The doctor falls, but rises again and puts a bullet of her own in John’s chest. As Sarah screams the doctor raises the gun again, and ends Sarah as well…
…Which can only mean that the hospital sequence was the dream, and Sarah’s captivity with Winston is the reality. She wakes in the back of the cargo van, and the weight of her peril is made clear. Winston is alive, and she really is his hostage. And he knows it’s her son she is protecting. Winston paces outside the van, talking on the phone, telling a voice on the other end that Sarah’s son is the one they are looking for. Sarah dislocates her own thumb and un-cuffs herself just as Winston rounds the corner to shoot her. He gets a syringe in his eye for his troubles. The gun falls and the two fight for it. Sarah emerges victorious.
“You’re real!” Sarah shouts, and repeats herself.
She puts the gun to Winston’s head and pulls the trigger.
I thought it was interesting how this episode was broken up. The sequences force the viewer to experience Sarah’s insomnia from her own perspective, making us think that one sequence is the reality and the other is the dream, and then pulling the rug out from under us at the very end. Like Sarah, we are unable to distinguish the difference between what is a dream and what is not.
There are several little clues which hint towards the ending, the most noticeable of which is John’s uncharacteristic disbelief of his mother’s concern. He is a little too dismissive of her paranoia, and has lived with her long e nough to now that when her nerves are unsettled he should be on the lookout. Also, John’s flirting with Cameron was too bizarre to be accepted blindly, and definitely raised a red flag.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler