Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Terminator: TSCC Episode 6 ‘Dungeons and Dragons' Review

While Charley Dixon works tirelessly to bring Derek Reese back from the brink of death, Derek is battling himself in flashbacks back to his life post judgment day.

It really is amazing how far visual effects have come. ‘The Terminator’s visual depiction of the war torn future was ground breaking for 1984 and now the same effects can be easily created for a weekly TV show. It’s lucky that they are able to sell this world as the majority of this episode takes place in it.

Derek Reese was always going to be a bit of a stretch for the audience. Kyle Reese was always set up as a loner who lived only to protect Sarah. To introduce that he had a brother that was never mentioned is a bit of a leap. ‘Terminator: TSCC’ does pretty much the best job it can of introducing this new piece of lore to the universe and it fits in surprisingly well. An effort is made to establish that Kyle thought his brother was dead when he travelled back in time, this was a good idea as it helps to preserve the character as established in the original film.

It’s nice to see the more humorous aspects of Kyle’s personality Derek brings out in their brief moments together. In a very short amount of time the two actors sell the idea that they are brothers who care about each other. Unfortunately their time is cut short when Derek is sent out by John to do some reconnaissance and is captured by Terminators. Derek, along with his squad, are dragged off to an abandoned building with a mysterious room in the basement for torturing.

The exact nature of what happens in the basement is not told to us. This is a mystery that will be revealed later I assume. However what is revealed is that one of Derek’s team in none other than the future Andy Goode, who tearfully confesses his role in creating Skynet to Derek. The group are eventually abandoned by the Terminators and they return to the, now destroyed base. It is heavily implied that one of the group succumbed to the torture and informed on where the base was.

With Derek being the only survivor this could set up an interesting story point in the future. Derek and his team are found by survivors of the attack and taken to see John, who has already sent Kyle back in time. Derek is not told what happened to his brother but is happy to go back and prevent Judgement Day. Before he leaves Derek looks over at Andy, who understands the mission and nods at what Derek has to do. I like the idea that Andy accepts that he has to be killed in the past, giving Derek permission to do something that the younger Andy would never agree to.

The reveal at the end, that Derek actually did kill Andy is very well handled and was genuinely surprising. All in all, a lot of drama is being attached to Derek for future storylines and I’m interested to see how he will fit into the established group.

While all this is going on, Charley is fighting to keep Derek alive. He is also fighting to understand everything he is being told about the reality of the Terminators from Sarah. His main point of confusion is merely that Sarah didn’t trust him with the truth. Whether Sarah and Charley will resume their relationship is unknown but it is certainly an interesting direction they could take.

The trouble that Charley is having seems nothing when compared to the issues John is having. His only link to his father is fighting for life and he can’t tell him the truth about being related to him. At one point, rather brilliantly, Derek feverishly demands that the teenage John tell him the truth about his brother. John having to deal with the fact that he is going to ruin people’s lives in the future is a good direction to take the character in, an interesting embodiment of teenage angst and guilt.

A lot of effort is made to establish Cameron as being more than meets the eye. She is increasingly being established as someone with her own motivations at work. She destroys the remains of the Terminator deactivated in the previous episode but she is revealed as having kept its CPU. To keep an air of doubt and mystery about the character is a good thing but I wish it was a bit more consistent.

In some episodes she is goofy and in others threatening. It’s not too jarring as It’s hard to say if it is consistency issues or just that we are seeing different part of the character. It would be good if her changes in temperament would happen a bit more frequently in episode. At the moment we get a different Cameron in different complete episodes so it feels more like a script editing issue than anything else.

‘Dungeons and Dragons’ is pretty strong but it highlights the huge amount of time ‘Terminator: TSCC’ puts into setting up future plotlines. The show constantly feels like it is doubling down all the time and this puts the show at risk of losing it all. It is always a concern when a show seems to be taking the direction that ‘Lost’ did in setting up mystery boxes. That being said, so far every payoff has been established long before it was resolved, suggesting a level of planning going on. Only time will tell how these story threads will work out but ‘Terminator: TSCC’ has so far not managed to mess things up in any serious ways, so I have no reason to believe it will start now.

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