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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: "Adam Raised A Cain"

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Illustration for article titled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: "Adam Raised A Cain"

Finally! After months of waiting, we're finally getting some serious movement on bringing the Connors into John Henry's orbit. It's like getting a check in the mail you'd long given up on ever receiving; I want to go out and buy myself something pretty now, just 'cause. There's some robot-on-robot fighting, a lot of important plot reveals, and a major character death. Christmas, heaven, birthday, all that stuff wrapped up into forty minutes. Oh sure, not all of it's done perfectly, and it doesn't make up for that huge chunk of time we spent waiting to get here, but man. Suddenly I'm actually glad I'm still watching this.

"Adam Raised A Cain" opens with Sarah meeting Derek, Cameron, and John in the cemetery where Kyle Reese was buried. It's overgrown, and the graves are only marked with dates; Derek seems reasonably satisfied with it, and there's not much time to mourn anyway, since John found something during last week's attack. One of the men in the charge on the lighthouse had a cellphone with a picture of Savannah on it (or one of the guys had a photo of Savannah and John took a picture of it with his cell phone), which means that the three-pronged charge of last week wasn't the end of the assault. John remembers meeting Savannah at Dr. Sherman's office—we're left to fill in the blanks here, but it's easy to believe that, armed with this knowledge, the Connors are able to track the girl to her home.

A good thing they do. Savannah's friendship with John Henry continues to develop; he chats with her while she's in class, and calls her on the phone at home when she's working on her homework. (Of all the various relationships on this show, this one has fast become my favorite—it's just so charming and deftly handled.) But just because a robot-human avatar plugged into a giant AI wants to protect you from bad guys doesn't mean it can, and when a water delivery man arrives at the Weaver residence, shooting the cute nanny with a frightening precision, protection is all that matters. JH tries to guide Savannah out of the house and to safety, but even he can only do so much; so it's a relief when Savannah runs right into John Connor's arms.

The ensuing fight here, with the revelation that the WDM is a terminator himself, is a good one, most memorably for finally taking Derek off the playing field. Killing a major character is a bold step, and as this is not Heroes, we can be fairly certain the Derek isn't going to pop back into our lives any time soon. The death was abrupt, too, which is a nice change of pace on this show, but I'll admit to feeling a little cheated. There's no logical reason Derek shouldn't have gone out the way he did, but it was odd to see someone we'd spent this much time with getting dropped almost as an afterthought. But maybe that's for the best; this series tends to wallow in depression enough already.

The rest of the episode follows Ellison's efforts to get Savannah back from the Connors, and Sarah's refusal to turn the kid over until she gets a chance to figure out what's going on. (I can relate.) Ellison works with Henry to find out what happened, and a cascade of revelations follow: Henry realizes that Ellison knew Sarah Connor, and wonders if Sarah might represent a danger to himself. As uncomfortable as it can get, this is the kind of plotting the show needs more of; characters we like on both side of a line with every reason to try and kill each other, as much as we might like them to play nice. It gets even more complicated when something we've long suspected about Weaver and her efforts finally becomes more overt—she tells Ellison that Savannah's survival could depend on the survival of John Henry.

If you read between lines, it's not hard to figure out that Weaver isn't actually a force for Skynet. She's got John Henry hooked up in the basement, and as John Connor points out, why would she bother? The only use of the Cromartie body is to reverse engineer his materials; why spend all this time having Ellison "teach" him stuff? I'm willing to wager a guess that Weaver is trying to create a robotic force to oppose the Skynet take over; that just as John Henry was infiltrated from outside by his "brother" last week, Weaver is building up to some infiltrating action of her own. Or something. (There's a confirmation of this when the head detective visits Weaver in her office, and remarks on the way her pet eel eats other eels.) While none of this is precisely relevatory, it's satisfying and exciting to see.

Even better, since the Connors don't know about the plan, once John realizes that Cromartie's body is being used at Zeiracorp, the goal for everyone becomes "burn it to the ground." The episode's one big flaw is that it's clearly playing for time; the back-and-forths between Sarah and Ellison go on a little longer than necessary, not as bad as some of the lulls we've seen on the show, but draggy nonetheless. (This should would benefit hugely from the sort of shortened season Lost is running on—many of the problems I have with it would be fixed by some tightening, and having less air time to fill would make that a necessity.) But just knowing that the Connors are now setting their sites on Weaver goes a long to making the time pass.

After the build up, the ending went differently than I was expecting, and in a hugely satisfying way at that. One she gets Weaver to agree to meet her face to face, Sarah turns Savannah over to Ellison; but when she leaves the theater where the hand-off was made, she finds about thirty cops waiting outside to grab her. Ellison claims that he isn't responsible, and I believe him—this may be Weaver's doing, or it may just be that the cop was smarter than he looked. Whatever the reason, Sarah goes down, John and Cameron run, and John Henry starts singing.

I loved the hell out of that last bit. He's doing a traditional Scottish song called "Donald Where's Yer Troosers," and it strikes this excellent mix of childike innocence and mourning. The lyrics are a little silly, but the tune is melancholoy, and John's steady, inflectionless delivery turns it into something eerie. Savannah takes up the song with him, and she's the one to finish it, over shots of Derek's ashes getting buried in the same cemetery that holds Kyle's remains.

Goodbye, Derek. It's too bad you had to check out just when things were getting good.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

  • Still no more word on the brother. Interesting that they'd only send a terminator when going after Savannah; as far as I can tell, it was just a bunch of meat sacks that got sent out last week.
  • Brief as it was, it was great seeing John Henry try and get the little girl to safety. "Debbie's in the foyer. We're not going that way."
  • Wow, Cameron really doesn't like Ellison.
  • The movie playing in the theater at the end was Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman. For whatever that's worth.
  • Season finale next week, so start the popcorn poppin'!