Saturday, 1 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Episode 7 ‘The Demon Hand' Review

Ellison’s investigation into the Terminator hand he found leads him to Dr Silberman, the doctor who was treating Sarah in the asylum. Meanwhile Cameron is pursuing Dmitri Shipkov in pursuit of The Turk computer.

The opening of this episode is really dynamic. Cameron breaks into the city power station to cause a blackout. She then travels to the chaos stricken police station to search for the missing hand. What I like particularly about this beginning is the ‘In Medias res’ nature of it. We start in the middle of the action and have absolutely no idea why Cameron is cutting the city power or breaking into the police station at first and this really increases the excitement. I do find it a little farfetched that the police would automatically evacuate the station in the event of a power failing, it would seem the ideal place for at least some police to remain in a crises but it’s a cool sequence, so I’ll let it off for the most part.

Upon realising the hand is not in the evidence box, Sarah rings around and discovers that Agent Ellison must have taken the missing hand home with him. Ellison’s taken a real interest in the case and has collected all manner of files on Sarah Connor, including files from her time at the Asylum. Sarah discovers this evidence and steals a VHS tape from his house, containing footage of her legally signing away her custody to John.

Of course John finds this tape and it understandably upsets him. John talks to Derek about it and Derek awkwardly admits that “A lot can happen to a person inside four walls, it screws with your head, makes you do things you never thought you’d do.”, all but admitting that he sold out the resistance fighters in the future. It’s nice to see that this plotline is still being referenced, even in episodes unrelated to it.

Sarah realises that John has seen the tape and talks to him about it. She points out the date the tape was recorded was the day that she was trying to break out, the same day John broke in to get her. She admits that she realised she couldn’t sign him away and that she would always find him, he says he would always find her and all is emotionally resolved. This is a really nice scene between the two actors and really gives you the impression that they care about each other.

This is as good a time as any to bring up something I’ve wanted to talk about since my first review of ‘Terminator: TSCC’, the music in this show is really great. The score of this show really enhances it and wouldn’t feel out of place in the original films. A lot of the elements of this show seem quite cheap but the soundtrack is really rich and adds an awful lot to the show, particularly in scenes like the one described above.

Speaking of music, Cameron is pursuing Dmitri Shipkov and does so by signing up to his sisters ballet class. Cameron gets close enough to her that she manages to reach Dmitri, who is also being pursued by the mafia, who he owes money to. Cameron promises to help him with his debt in return for information on The Turk. Upon getting the information she instead leaves the brother and sister to their brutal fate at the hand of the criminals. It was a really smart creative move to make Cameron so inhuman in her dealings with humanity. The earlier movie Terminators generally seemed emotionally invested in their job, Cameron has that cold calculating nature of a machine and it makes her very harsh as a character.

As I’ve said previously I’d like this inhumanity to be a bit more consistent but seeing her leave people to die that she could easily help, because it was not her “mission” really sells how a Terminator operates. This chilling scene also helps to set up the cliffhanger of the episode, where we see that she is practising ballet for no apparent reason, much to Derek’s horror.

Away from the Connor club, Ellison has decided to track down Dr Silberman, who quit the asylum to go and live in the mountains. Ellison quickly realises that Silberman has gone mad however, as he ties him up and tortures him, suspecting he is a Terminator. Silberman recounts the night Sarah broke out of the asylum and tells Ellison of the Terminators he saw. Before Ellison can be killed by Silberman, Sarah arrives to save him and steal the hand back also.

Silberman seems to have convinced himself that Sarah is a prophet sent by god, what with her predicting judgement day and all. Mixing faith with the Terminator franchise works reasonably well and the show does it with just enough care that it doesn’t come across as stupid. I’m curious how Ellison’s new found faith in Sarah will develop, now that he knows the truth about the Terminators. Maybe the Sarah Connor ‘Scooby gang’ will grow yet larger still.

‘The Demon Hand’ is a strong episode. The actors seem to have really settled into their parts and for the first time I’m beginning to accept that these people are the same characters from the earlier films. This is no simple task and one that took a lot of work to get right. The show still has some little issues, a lack of budget being pretty major, but with strong performances and characters like these you can forgive a lot.

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