Sunday, 19 July 2015

Terminator: TSCC Episode 2 ‘Gnothi Seuton’ Review

Following on from the pilot, Sarah, John and Cameron are trying to get used to living in the near future. While Sarah and Cameron attempt to get new identities for the group, John goes to visit an old friend…

Ok, I let this go in the pilot but why does Cameron have glowing blue eyes? I can only assume she has blue eyes because she is not an evil Terminator, those have red eyes. This colour coding for good/evil is pretty stupid, at least she doesn’t have pink eyes I suppose.

I raise this point because we now have a pretty cool opening sequence, including a shot of her blue eyes. The opening mixes footage of our group with the construction of a Terminator. This is a pretty swish opening but I wish that the sound team hadn’t decided to mix in a proton pack sound effect for the construction of the Terminator, it’s way too well known a sound to not stand out.

So John’s moaning is really starting to get on my nerves. If he were the last hope for humanity I would be helping the Terminators. In this episode he keeps moaning to Sarah about how he wants to leave the house, he wants Turkey or some other nonsense. It’s really hard to understand why she has so much faith in him to save humanity. He decides to sneak out and visits Dean Winters, Sarah’s old Fiancé. I don’t know why he does this really; it doesn’t seem a great plan to go and check on him.

Cameron informs John and Sarah that some resistance fighters are also waiting around, gathering supplies. They go to visit them and discover that they are all dead, dead aside from the Terminator that is waiting for any stragglers that he missed.

This triggers a Terminator on Terminator fight sequence. The action set pieces are notably better handled in this episode than in the pilot. The strength and weight of the Terminators feels much more tangible. As they fight they also have much more of an effect on their surroundings. Debris flies from objects that are hit, glass shatters from force. A real effort has been made to make these frantic moments feel more real and the effort pays off handsomely.

The emotional through line of this episode focuses on Sarah’s discovery that she has cancer. Her realisation of this is well handled and it influences her character from the moment she learns of it. A few subtle moments are worked in to show that it is on her mind, such as casually asking Cameron if her Terminator powers let her do blood tests. This use of subtlety is really good.

Unfortunately the episode decides ruin this subtle approach by having an incredibly poorly thought out comparison between the real 9/11 and fictional Judgement Day. This moment is triggered when Sarah asks what 9/11 is, having skipped that moment in history. The explanation includes the confused gang members she asked miming out the attacks, complete with explosion hand gestures, to Sarah. I think that the fact that ‘Terminator: TSCC’ managed to make a puppet version of 9/11 the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages would suggest that this dramatic idea didn’t work out very well.

The episode actually had some intended comedy also. Cameron’s attempts to mimic human behaviour bring some much needed light relief to the generally quite dark script. The moment where Sarah throws the unconscious Cameron out of a window was really funny also as it is very true to the character that has been established.

So ‘Gnothi Seuton’ is a much stronger episode than the Pilot. It has some flaws but generally nearly all of my complaints from the Pilot have been resolved. Hopefully John’s character will become less whiny as time goes on and the show will avoid comparing fictional atrocities to real ones again… We can only hope!

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