Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 12 'Alpine Fields’ Review

The gang are fighting to save a family, the Fields, from a Terminator. Meanwhile 2027 Derek is trying to rescue a girl who may be the only hope in finding a cure for the plague ravaging humanity in the future. 

So the previous episode focussed on Cameron and John while this episode focuses on Sarah and Derek. ‘Alpine Fields’ takes place across three time zones, flashing between all three to tell the story. 

We open with Derek walking into a warehouse, he has been sent by Sarah to help a pregnant woman and her teenage daughter, they are the remaining members of the Fields family. We then flash back to the beginning of their story, several months earlier. Sarah and Cameron arrive at the Fields' household and have to defend them from a Terminator who is targeting them. The third time zone is in 2027, with Derek having to travel into an infected zone to find a girl who has somehow survived the plague that the machines unleashed on them.

So I really like that this and the previous episode have focussed so closely on individual characters. This focussed view on a smaller part of the team allows a lot of extra character development. Unfortunately this approach also has its drawbacks. When the storyline focusses on a character so much any strange characterisation becomes far more apparent. Derek is fine in this episode but Sarah has a few issues.

When Sarah is protecting the Fields family she tries to work out which of them the machines is targeting. She immediately seems to discount the teenage daughter Lauren for no apparent reason. At first this could make a bit of sense because she discovers that Lauren’s father, David, is working with a company who makes cybernetic technology. 

However David is ignored by the Terminator and Sarah turns her attention to the mother, Anne, and Lauren. At this point Anne admits that she is pregnant and Sarah automatically assumes that the baby must be the target for the machines. Now I don’t know why Sarah assumes that the baby is more important to the future than Lauren, she has no reason to assume the baby is somehow more special.

Sarah is so sure that the baby is the target that she tells Lauren to hide in a cupboard, as the Terminator will ignore her. This behaviour seems far too reckless for Sarah, she basically flips a mental coin to decide who to protect. To add insult to injury Sarah manages to help the family temporarily escape and then gives them her number to ring them if the Terminator ever tracks them down again. Now Sarah has been cold towards people before but not when the future depended on them being alive. Sarah just leaves them to be pursued by a Terminator; this just doesn’t seem like something she would ever do. Sarah went out of her way to save that alternate Martin Bedell earlier in the series and his life meant nothing to the future. 

It’s particularly weird as when Lauren rings Sarah for help months later, Sarah immediately drops everything to kill the Terminator. Why didn’t she just kill the Terminator straight away?

Anyway while Sarah and Cameron are finally doing their job, Derek is trying to help Anne Fields deliver her baby, assisted by Lauren. Anne has a bullet wound that is pretty serious and Lauren and Derek are struggling to keep calm. Upon Derek meeting Lauren he recognises her, this triggers a flashback to the future. Derek has volunteered to enter a plague infected area to find a girl who appears to have a resistance to the plague. While trying to find the girl, Derek enters a bunker that is filled with dead bodies including a pregnant mother with her children.

This sets Derek off on a bad path, pushing him to attempt suicide. He is interrupted however by Jessie, who manages to stop him. It’s nice to see this scene that was described in an earlier episode played out. Derek and Jessie manage to find the girl but they have been infected by the plague. They rush back to the resistance and are cured using blood from the girl they rescued, the doctor who cures them being Lauren.

One interesting thing about this episode is how much darker it is than the rest of the series. We get scene after scene of corpses and noticeably stronger language in this episode. To be honest these scenes feel weird when surrounded by the more jokey, light hearted scenes. Hopefully this is not the tone the show will be taking from now on as it doesn’t completely work.

Back in the present day, Anne dies during childbirth but the baby, Sydney, survives. Derek rings Sarah, who has managed to destroy the Terminator. When he returns to look for Lauren she discovers that she has left with the baby, leaving behind a necklace that Derek warned earlier in the episode would make her a target.

So ‘Alpine Fields’ had some stuff I liked and some stuff I didn’t like so much. The part set in the future was brilliant. We got to see moments that had previously only been described we also got some subtle exposition for future episodes worked in carefully. Jessie’s speech about a submarine commanded by a reprogrammed Terminator is really interesting and hopefully it will appear in a future episode. The universe of ‘Terminator:TSCC’ is being built up bit by bit in a really effective way, with information drip fed over weeks. 

The rest of the episode had one issue, but it was a big issue, The Fields themselves. So the family accept that they are being pursued by robots from the future amazingly quickly, so quickly that it makes them completely unbelievable. Lauren in particular becomes best friends with Sarah about ten minutes after they were aiming guns at each other.

I feel this episode suffers from trying to do too much. We have to establish the character of Lauren Fields so quickly because we open the episode on her in the present day, forcing the flashback to play catch up immediately. The actors portraying the family do the best they can with the restrictions the episode has set but they are unable to completely salvage their characters.

The central concepts in 'Alpine Fields’ of the future virus and protecting the family are strong. It would have been nice if the family aspect had been given a bit more room to breathe but the episode manages to remain engaging and entertained me reasonably, even with its flaws.

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 11 ‘Self-Made Man’ Review

Cameron spots a Terminator in a photograph from the 1920’s and becomes fixated with discovering what he was doing back in the past. Meanwhile Riley continues to get her claws into John, will he discover her secret?

So within minutes I realised I was going to enjoy this episode. The Terminator franchise has always involved time travel but usually in the most straightforward way possible. Humans and machines travel back to the modern day, at least the modern day from our perspective, and that’s about it. The pilot began to shake up this increasingly stale formula by transferring our heroes into the near future.

The reason ‘Self-Made Man’ immediately impressed me was it trod the painfully obvious yet never touched ground of sending a Terminator back into the past, as in the past from our point of view. As an audience you can’t help but wonder what would happen had a Terminator been knocking about in a different era? ‘Self-Made Man’ lets us see what would happen if a Terminator was hanging out in the roaring twenties; the answer? It would be pretty cool!

We discover that Cameron has been sneaking out at nights, sneaking out to spend time at the library with her friend Eric. Now while hanging out with Eric she spots a photograph from the 1920’s and recognises a T-888 standing in it. Using the archival resources of the library, Cameron and Eric manage to uncover the Terminator’s entire scheme. It turns out that the Terminator arrived 90 years too early. His mission was to kill a senator giving a speech in a specific building. Unfortunately for the Terminator, he accidentally killed the architect who would have built this building and his mission becomes to build the building himself so that his plan can continue when the present day catches up with him.

What I really like about this episode is the use of research to track down the Terminator. Cameron and Eric watch old news recordings and look through old newspapers to follow his actions back in the past. It would have been tempting to either have Cameron travel to the past or have had the Terminator arrive in our time and explain itself. Instead we get this information delivered to us, for example, via an audio recording about a seemingly indestructible bank robber.

Cameron eventually tracks the Terminator to the building he made. He has been hiding in the wall since its completion, waiting for his moment to break out and strike against the Senator he was originally meant to kill. She defeats him with the help of his own Tommy gun and saves the day and yes, adding a Tommy gun to a Terminator fight does make it 1000% better.

As I said earlier Cameron now has a friend in the form of Eric, a man in a wheelchair who works the night shift at the library. Since the car explosion Cameron has been acting weird. The damage to her chip has been making her act unusually, making her act more human. It is nice to see Cameron seem to genuinely have a friend, even if she doesn’t treat him very well.

Cameron cares about Eric but lacks the skills to be able to make the friendship successful. She discovers that the cancer that put Eric in his wheelchair has returned and tells him this to help him, lacking any kind of bedside manner as she does so. Eric points out in no uncertain terms that this is the kind of behaviour that has led to her having no other friends than him. Cameron’s attempts to help her friend blowing up in her face are genuinely sad. Cameron trying to make friends is an interesting direction for the character to go in and I hope it is expanded in future episodes.

While Cameron is hanging out with Eric, John is hanging around with Riley. Riley tearfully rings up John to ask him to rescue her from a party. This is just a trap to bring him to the party however and once there she creates a situation that will make him emotionally vulnerable. They leave the party and John finally begins to open up about his past to Riley.

This segment is considerably shorter than the library moments but does what it needs to do to continue Riley and John’s storyline. It is still unclear if Riley really cares about John or not and this is good, it keeps her interesting as a character. The tension is being built up week by week for the inevitable moment where John discovers who she really is. How well this reveal is handled will depend primarily on how the build-up is paced, so far I would say that reveal is being prepared well.

‘Self-Made Man’ takes an interesting concept and deals with it in a really interesting way. A Terminator pursuing another Terminator is nothing new but to see this pursuit take place via archival research is new. Seeing an evil Terminator forced to undue the damage he did to the time stream is also really interesting. We also get some nice character development with both Cameron and John that will hopefully feed into future episodes. 

‘Self-Made Man’ is a filler episode but manages to be more engaging than a lot of the more central plot driving episodes. Seeing how much life this episode manages to give some tired concepts really shows how much potential ‘Terminator:TSCC’ had as a series. ‘Self-Made Man’ had helped me understand why people were so upset to see the show cancelled, that’s how good it is.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 10 ‘Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point’ Review

Sarah’s obsession with the three dot symbol leads her to a technology company, Dakara Systems, who use three dots for their logo. Meanwhile Jessie’s mission in the past is finally revealed, along with her shocking partner in crime.

So the gang are back to chasing down technology companies this week. One issue I have always had with the Terminator franchise is the seemingly pointless fight to stop the creation of Skynet. Time keeps changing so that different companies or individuals create Skynet. Eventually somebody is going to create an artificial intelligence and give it too much power, that much seems destined to happen whatever the Connors do. Therefore I can’t help but wonder why they keep smashing down company after company and never consider alternate strategies.

Now usually I would be lost in the drama and ignore this issue but a large amount of the episode is dedicated to pointing out how pointless the Skynet stopping endeavour is. Sarah tries to stop Dakara because she believes they will create Skynet, she pointlessly investigates them, only for it to be revealed that they are harmless. Meanwhile at ZeiraCorp The Turk has been wired up to Cromartie’s old body and is communicating freely his intelligence without repercussions.

In addition Jessie is working a plan to save John Connor from Cameron’s influence in the future; Jessie has seemingly given up any hope that Judgement Day can be prevented from happening. It’s a hard balance to make a threat credible without making it insurmountable and ‘Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point’ goes too far into that second category. This episode is 100% in the camp that Judgement Day can’t be stopped.

With no wiggle room it makes our characters' plight seem impossible to resolve happily, which makes it hard to root for them. Part of this is due to the success of the show and its characters. We care about these people and hope the best for them, we don’t want to watch them fail.

The main Dakara based plot is nothing that we haven’t seen done in the show before. Sarah investigates the company by going undercover; she learns hard truths about humanity in the process. The entire first season used this plot repeatedly while Sarah was investigating The Turk. I think that this plot being repeated again is annoying me more this season purely because the show has done lots of different things to try and freshen itself up. Most frustratingly the other parts of this episode are trying lots of new things so this part just feels slow and vestigial in comparison.

Now the weirdest thing is that it’s meant to be repetitive. As I said the theme of this episode is the pointless and ever recurring fight against the rise of Skynet and how the Connors are fighting for seemingly no reason. There is no better way to highlight this but by showing them pointlessly doing the same thing once again. Therefore I feel very conflicted, I found this part of the episode really dull but I was meant to. I really hope that this episode will be used as the turning point for how the Connors are fighting their war and not as the beginning of a spiral downwards for them, we shall see.

As I said the other parts of the episode are far more exciting. Jessie’s secret mission has been discovered by Derek, she has been sent back to stop John from spending time with Cameron. In the future John has been making bad decisions, getting people killed. The resistance believe this is because the only person John will listen to in the future is Cameron.

Now Derek wants to know if Jessie has any other secrets and she admits to having used his toothbrush in the future. What she doesn’t admit to is that Riley has been working for her. Riley is also from the future and is being used as a means of distracting John away from Cameron. Riley being a double agent is a really strong idea and it certainly explains her slightly weird obsession with following John around despite his weirdness. This certainly seems a plot direction that the production team thought out in advance and I suspect clues were left in earlier episodes.

With Riley being the only person that John trusts at the moment, this shock reveal will be devastating for him. ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has managed to sneak up a sleeper agent both on John Connor and the wider audience. I’m looking forward to where this goes from here.

Dr Sherman is no more; he has died in the mysterious basement of ZeiraCorp. James Ellison wants to know why and Catherine Weaver allows him to learn about Project Babylon. During a power cut in the office, Babylon drew all the buildings power to itself, locking Dr Sherman in a room without ventilation. Ellison is horrified to realise that Babylon has been created without any empathy or understanding of right and wrong. Weaver decides that he is correct in his concerns and offers him the job of teaching these morals to Babylon.

This segment of the episode has some really cool ideas. Ellison interrogates Babylon, wishing to know why Sherman died but the AI is only able to silently answer using images on a computer screen. It can answer with ‘1’for yes and ‘0’ for no. It is interesting to see Ellison have to keep changing his questions so that the machine is capable of answering them in such simple terms.
It’s a weirdly compelling scene, given that it is just a man talking to a silent computer. This is purely because we do not know what Babylon will say next, what it is thinking. I am a little sad that we won’t get a scene like this again. A consciousness without a recognisable face is far scarier than anything we can easily recognise as being like ourselves.

The cliffhanger reveal is that Cromartie has been repurposed as a body for the AI, now known as John Henry. I appreciate that endless conversations with a computer screen might have got boring but they had more potential than just another Terminator to talk to. It’s not even another Terminator; it’s a Terminator’s body with a far more advanced mind, one that can understand emotions. In essence Ellison will be training a human to understand emotions, a human with a metal body but a human all the same.

Now ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has had episodes that worried me before, ones that seemed to set up worrying trends for the future of the show. So far those fears have not been realised, so I have no reason to suspect the show will go downhill from this point either. As a standalone episode ‘Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point’ isn’t that great. Every so often we get an episode that spends it’s entire runtime merely serving later episodes in the series. Some manage to use the remaining time to have an engaging mini plot and some do not, this one does not.

I did like the shock reveals, with the Riley one genuinely surprising me. The fact that I’m looking forward to both the Riley and John Henry storylines shows that this episode was successful in wetting my appetite. ‘Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point’ is the bread before the meal. If the main course will be enjoyable is yet to be known but this restaurant has not disappointed me so far.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 9 ‘Complications’ Review

Jessie has cornered a man from the future she claims was sent back by the machines. With Derek having no memories of this infamous war criminal can he afford to trust the mysterious Jessie with a man’s life? Meanwhile Sarah is sick and is having vivid nightmares. What do the three strange dots she keeps seeing mean and are they a warning of things to come?

So those dream sequences in ‘T2’ certainly have a lot to answer for. Strange dreams have now become a core part of Sarah Connor’s character. Unfortunately much like most dreams in real life they have very little value to anyone but the dreamer themselves. The show usually has the good sense of having Sarah narrating her own dreams, explaining her fears and what the abstract images mean. The dreams in ‘Complications’ are just that, complicated. Sarah is confused to their meaning so we are left in the dark until she figures them out. Therefore we get an endless stream of tortoises being treated like babies and other bizarre concepts without an obvious justification for the audience, this gets a bit boring after a while.

Also why do tortoises always represent mental health? I guess a howler monkey might be a bit less subtle but I really don’t get what tortoises have that say, crabs don’t also have? The rest of the visuals manage to avoid the most obvious stock dream concepts so why fall back on one of the most obvious? At least they avoided clocks……in this part of the episode at least.

So Jessie has captured a man who she claims is Charles Fisher, a ‘Gray’ in the future. Now ‘Grays’ are humans who work for the machines. Charles Fisher was the worst of these, using his experience of the evils of human nature to help the machines understand us better. Now Jessie is incredibly angry with this man but Derek doesn’t remember him, much to Jessie’s surprise. Derek finds himself with the difficult task of having to work out which of them is telling the truth. Is the man Jessie has tied up a simple watchmaker as he claims or the monster that she thinks he is.

So this is an interesting angle to take with a character whose motivations we don’t know yet. It’s possible that the man Jessie has tied up is completely innocent and she is just playing some kind of game with Derek, we just don’t know. Well, we just don’t know until Derek takes the tape off the prisoner's mouth. Once the captive man starts to calmly claim his innocence despite being tied up by people threatening to kill him we realise that he has seen worse before, that this is nothing compared to the future he has left behind.

It’s a shame that the actual Charles Fisher ‘shock´reveal isn’t more of a surprise but the episode still handles it pretty well. Jessie has gone and kidnapped the younger Charles Fisher and ties him up opposite his younger self. Derek realises that the war torn Charles fisher will never break but his younger self will, which his older self won’t be able to watch.

Derek gives a nice speech while torturing the younger Fisher, all about the nature of self-loathing. We get yet more signs that Derek has done something that he is not proud of in the past/future.

With Charles finally broken he admits who he really is but claims he has merely been sent back by the machines for good behaviour. Derek doesn’t know what to think and asks Jessie why she hates him so much, what Fisher did to her? It turns out that Fisher did nothing to her but he did do something to someone she cared about, Derek. She is amazed that Derek has managed to forget the months of torture he received from Fisher.

Riled up Derek is about to shoot the younger Fisher, to punish the older version, but Jessie stops him by shooting the older Fisher before he gets the chance. Having buried him, Derek has a realisation; he doesn’t remember Fisher because for him, Fisher never happened. Derek has managed to change the future and created a universe where Fisher tortured him, the same universe that Jessie escaped from.
I really like the idea that not only have they changed the future but they have changed it in some ways for the worse.

A nice moment to end the Fisher story is that we see the young Fisher being arrested. The future Fisher survived Judgement Day because he was in a secure prison. Before Fisher was captured by Jessie he used a retinal scanner to hack a military computer which happens to be in the office where the young Fisher works. Young Fisher is framed for a crime that he will commit later, by himself…I LOVE THIS!  I also love that the younger Charles Fisher has his life ruined by the retinal scanner. “Computers, don’t lie” as the FBI man tells him, they will when Fisher gets to them.

I really like it when the Terminator franchise manages to make a complete paradox loop. Without Charles Fisher framing himself he will never be put in prison, without being put in prison he will not survive judgement day to be working for the machines in the first place. The darkest thing is that Charles Fisher knows that he is sending himself to work for the machines and still thinks that is the best option to take.

John and Cameron have travelled to Mexico to destroy Cromartie’s body but find it is missing. John immediately suspect Ellison so they travel to his house to question him. Cameron believes Ellison is lying when he claims to have no idea where the body is but John sets him free, believing otherwise. Unfortunately for John, he should have trusted Cameron as Ellison hands the machine over to Weaver, warning her that they should work together to stop the machines… Whoops!

So ‘Complications’ is really engaging. Some of the ideas aren’t as well realised as I would have hoped, such as the dream sequences, but this episode has a lot that works perfectly. The character of Charles Fisher is interesting, as is the idea of people working for the machines. I would have liked the mystery of his true identity to have been better handled but the surprise reveal that Derek has changed the future is good enough to make up for that.

Charles Fisher is also an interesting comparison character to Cameron. While we hear about Charles Fisher teaching Terminators how to act human we hear from Cameron how she is struggling to understand humans and human behaviour. Of course maybe had she come from the universe where Charles Fisher was working she would be better at her job; that’s the best part of ‘Complications’, it gets you thinking.

Is the alternate timeline that the Connor gang has created worse than the one they were trying to prevent? Can you have a relationship with somebody when you’ve only met alternate universe versions of each other? Would I ever work for the machines if it meant them sparing my life? ‘Complications’ is a bit rough around the edges but it is genuinely thought provoking and that is rare enough to cover the odd creative hiccup or, complication if you will.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 8 ‘Mr Ferguson is Ill Today’ Review

John ignores the numerous warnings from Sarah and Cameron about the risks of dating and escapes the house to visit Mexico with Riley. Unfortunately for him the trip does not go as planned and Cromartie tracks the couple down. Is this the end for John Connor?

So this episode decides to take the structure of movies such as ‘Go’ or ‘Run Lola Run’ of showing the episodes’ events multiple times, each time from the perspective of a different character. So we see part of the plot as Sarah sees it before jumping to Cameron’s version and so on. Now I usually hate it when stories try to do this. As interesting as it is to see alternate takes of an event I feel that one character is bound to have the most interesting version of the story and everything else is usually distracting away from them. ‘Mr Ferguson is Ill Today’ managed to avoid frustrating me for the following reasons.

Firstly, the characters go through vastly different locations and events, making the crossovers elements quite subtle. Secondly, the episode completely ditches the idea about half way through. As the episode goes on the repeated sequences get rarer and rarer until we are eventually just cutting from character perspectives in a linear sequence. Now you may ask what the difference is between say a regular episode that cuts from character to character and this episode that does it as a gimmick? Well this episode keeps putting up text that says which character they are cutting to next, that’s it.

Now a few sequences are improved from this style of storytelling. Cromartie has a shootout from three different viewpoints for example, each one highlighting a different aspect of it. Most of the episode doesn’t really take advantage of this however, as if the episode was shot both experimentally and regularly and two different editors kept taking turns to make it one of those versions. I wouldn’t say this structure harmed the episode but overall it didn’t really add anything either I don’t feel.

As for the story itself, it is pretty simple aside from the way it is presented. John and Riley go to Mexico and the rest of the Connor gang, Ellison and Cromartie follow them there. What would have been a pretty standard framework is improved by brilliant scripting and excellent direction.

‘Mr Ferguson is Ill Today’ is stuffed full of really nice character moments. It seems every character gets lines that only they would say. One exchange that sticks out to me is between James Ellison and Sarah. Ellison is talking about the last time she faked her death, “I lost a lot the last time you died, my marriage, my career.” To which she perfectly responds “That’s a lot to you?”. It takes both a good script and comfortable actors to create such appropriate dialogue.

We also have a nice moment between Cameron and John, one which suggests the two of them were far closer in the future. This feeds the theory Allison from Palmdale was somebody very important to John.

The direction is also really strong with the frequent action sequences feeling low budget but never cheap. A lot of this is due to cinematography, with shots frequently blocked out in such a way to give the action maximum impact. We see the action from low angles and from extreme close ups, which does a lot to hide the lower cost production values. It is fairly clear that the director, Michael Nankin, is a big fan of both Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez. We get shots in the episode aping both directors' signature filming styles.

This episode shows the end of Cromartie, at least for now. He is lured, rather appropriately by James Ellison, to a trap set by the Connors and gunned down. I have to say It is a shame to see the end of him, at least in this form. Garret Dillahunt brought both a genuine menace and sense of humour to the character, making him one of the villains you really love to hate. This episode kept laying hints that Riley would die, including her dancing with a man dressed as death! However our audience expectations were brilliant subverted. I guess that the show runners know that the only deaths that carry real weight in the Terminator franchise are those of the Terminators' themselves.

‘Mr Ferguson is Ill Today’ is structured in a needlessly dramatic way but doesn’t suffer from it. This episode both delivers in terms of action and character moments, which is no easy thing to do. It also manages to set up a lot of storylines for future episodes. Will Riley hang around now she knows about the risks in John’s life? Is Cameron’s chip damage about to bring Allison out once again? And Is Ellison about to give what is left of Cromartie to Weaver? ‘Terminator: TSCC’ continues to build on previous episodes the more the show continues. I’m looking forward to where the show can go next from here, at the moment it seems only ever up.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 7 ‘Brothers of Nablus’ Review

The Connors have been robbed. They immediately go looking for their stolen belongings, which includes their fake IDs and diamond stash. Meanwhile Cromartie steps up his search for John Connor and Ellison is arrested for murder!

So this episode opens with one of the most bizarre sequences I’ve ever seen in anything. James Ellison is eating breakfast when a Terminator smashes through his front door. The machine is an identical match for Ellison and is about to kill him when it is destroyed by Cromartie. Ellison questions why Cromartie saved him and Cromartie explains that he has faith in Ellison, faith that Ellison will lead him to the Connors.

The above sequence isn’t a dream sequence, it actually happened. It is a pretty big issue that ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has established itself as a show that can open with crazy dream sequences. To cold open a show with such a bizarre and unexplained sequence is a really odd concept for a show that usually so clearly separates grounded ideas and dream ideas.  To compound matters, Ellison is very confused when he is arrested for murder. It takes him being questioned at the police station to suddenly remember that his breakfast was interrupted by his evil twin.

You would hope that a former FBI agent hunting a machine that took a man’s face to go rampaging might be concerned if a machine turned up with his face, might assume the worse perhaps? However we are led to believe that Ellison just went back to breakfast once Cromartie left and continued his day until he was interrupted by the police arresting him at home.

I really find is pretty unlikely that the character previously established wouldn't look into his evil twin or try and find an alibi for himself. I would also suspect that he might try and follow Cromartie, considering he is being paid to do so. As it is, he is arrested by the police and positively ID’ed by a witness for the murder. It takes Catherine Weaver to spare him jail. She poses as the detective investigating the case and questions the witness, forcing him to reveal the ‘truth’ about the energy ball he saw when ‘Ellison’ arrived. This new testimony from the witness is thrown out due to insanity and Ellison is free to go.

I like the sequence where Weaver tricks the witness into appearing crazy. I like the idea of a witness explaining the appearance of a Terminator to the police. We get so many confused cutaways of witnesses when these time distortions appear but never get to hear them failing to explain themselves to the police, as least not until now.

Now when Cromartie isn’t patrolling to save James Ellison he is patrolling for John Connor. This week his fake cop act gets him a fake partner, that of Jody from ‘Allison from Palmdale’. Jody is still a bit angry about Cameron trying to kill her so assists Cromartie in finding Cameron and John, revealing their alias surname in the process.

I would definitely watch a show where a street kid patrolled targets with a Terminator. Jody is written to be like John Connor was in ‘T2’, constantly berating the Terminator for acting weird.  These scenes are pretty funny so it is a shame that they spend so little time together. Cromartie quickly gets sick of her company and throws her out of his moving car. Hopefully Jody will surface again as she has the potential to be an amusing foil for the Connors, particularly John due to their similarities.

As for the Connors, Sarah spends the majority of the episode tracking down the stolen items with Cameron, while John dodges Cromartie who has managed to track them down to their house.

Sarah and Cameron manage to track the goods via a diamond fence who dealt with the thieves, this fence explains that he brought the stolen diamonds from a failed filmmaker and his friends trying to raise money for a zombie film.

Eventually the thieves use the stolen credit card at a bowling alley, leading Sarah and Cameron directly to them and the stolen objects are recovered. Sarah notices however that one of the thieves is missing, due to an extra pair of shoes, and goes to look for him in the bathroom. Meanwhile Cameron takes it on herself to kill the thieves she has been asked to "keep an eye on". “They knew where we lived” she calmly explains. Sarah find the last guy in the bathroom and spares him. Unfortunately for the Connors it is revealed that Cromartie tracked the stolen card also and the cliffhanger is him questioning the survivor for the location of the Connor house.

I like the recurring theme that human emotion is a dangerous thing in the Terminator universe. Sarah spares a man who will later betray them. John refuses to mention Cromartie to his mother, knowing that she will force them to move house again. If everyone merely did what Cameron suggested they would be much safer.

Speaking of Cameron she gets a really funny moment where she has being covering for John and when questioned by Sarah simply responds “No one likes a nag”. Sarah is clearly both amused and irritated but does her best to hide this. I like the small occasional suggestions that Derek and Sarah are growing to be fond of Cameron, little character moments like this do a lot to build the subtle changes that need to occur in attitude to make scripted people seem human.

Derek and Jessie continue to spend time together and she continues to manipulate him. I hope that this storyline is developed a bit more soon. I appreciate that she is meant to influence Derek over time but she comes across as far too suspicious to be easily trusted by someone as paranoid as Derek. The longer he spends hanging out with her the less believable her hold on him becomes.

‘Brothers of Nablus’ is reasonably strong on ideas but a little weak on common sense. Ellison being arrested for murder is a really good idea but badly handled. The opening scene should have been the fake Ellison appearing and committing the murder, this would have given the scene where he attacks the real Ellison some much needed context. Having Ellison chose to ignore being attacked and saved by Terminators in his own house is also rather stupid for a character who is usually so sharp.

Similarly the pursuit of the thieves seems pretty badly handled by the usually intelligent Sarah. She rings up the credit card company and asks them to put a trace on her card. They then kill the guys at the location where the card company sent them and just leave the bodies there. I would hope that Sarah might have assumed that the card company might mention that they had a stolen card transaction moment before a multiple homicide, particularly when they have just directed the real owner of the card to the location. Maybe Sarah was hoping that professional embarrassment will lead the card company to not tell the police that they sent them there to kill them?

The ideas in this episode are pretty strong but the execution is really rather sloppy. Even so this episode is far from being bad. We do have some nice sequences, such as Weaver interrogating the witness and a confrontation between Sarah and john over his freedom and as I said the central ideas are strong. This is as close as ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has come to having a bad episode and ‘Brothers of Nablus’ still has a lot to like.