Sunday, 20 September 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 20 ‘To the Lighthouse’ Review

While moving on to a new safe house, Sarah takes John on a road trip to meet an old friend. Meanwhile at Zeira Corp, John Henry receives a visit himself, one that may mean big changes for the AI.

So ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has always had its cancellation hanging over it. It’s difficult to watch a series slowly set up storylines when you know they will not have time to develop them properly. A lot of shows have the issue of receiving the cancellation news after they have finished filming. When this happens the show either ends on the original cliffhanger as planned on has to tack a small addendum on to clear up loose ends. Neither of these options are very satisfying for an audience.

Now ‘Terminator:TSCC’ had the fortune of receiving the cancellation notice mid-season, giving them time to come up with some level of conclusion for the show. Now this is obviously good news but the rush to conclude the series is not seamless in its execution. The pacing of this episode is notably increased.

For example, within minutes of the episode starting John Henry has been hacked into by a rival AI, one created by Cyberdyne Systems. The reveal of the overall villain being a separate entity to John Henry is pretty significant and almost certainly one that would have been saved for a later date in better circumstances. It’s not just the big reveals either that are starting to appear. Derek selling out the resistance due to torture was hinted at but never confirmed; now it is revealed in a throwaway line by Cameron.

You very much get the feeling while watching that the writers are trying to make the best of a bad situation and have decided to close every loose end they had created. A lot of these reveals would have hugely benefitted from being revealed more gradually but at least they are being resolved in some way.

So Sarah and John decide to go on a detour while travelling to the new safe house and go to meet Charley Dixon. Charley is living in a light house that Sarah set up previously and is not entirely happy to see Sarah arrive. Sarah has not visited for her own sake however but to help John. Firstly she brought John so that Charley could help him with the loss of Riley, Charley having lost his wife Michelle earlier in the season. The second reason Sarah brought John to Charlie was due to the large lump she discovered in her breast.

Sarah is worried about who will look after John when she has died and doesn’t trust Cameron or even Derek with the task. With John already having an established relationship with Charley, Sarah is hopeful he will take on the parenting task when she is gone. Sarah visits a doctor to confirm her hypothesis but discovers that the lump is in fact caused by tissue defensively covering a tracking transmitter put in her body by Ed Winston.

This reveal triggers a series of coordinated attacks on the Connor clan. Sarah is attacked in the hospital, John and Charley are attacked at the lighthouse and Cameron and Derek are attacked on their way to the new safe house. Derek is kidnapped and rescued by Cameron. Sarah manages to fight off her attacker and heads to the lighthouse where John appears to have escaped but Charley has been killed. This episode served as a fitting resolution for the character of Charley. He gets several nice scenes with Sarah and John and manages to go out like a hero.

The identity of the force trying to kill the Connor gang is revealed in John Henry’s side of the episode. While playing with Savannah, Henry is hacked into and taken over by an external source. He is powered down before he can do any substantial damage but the very process of powering down John Henry has perhaps caused the most damage of all. Due to the nature of computers and electricity, the feeling of powering down would have been felt like an eternity for John Henry. Upon powering up he simply states...

John Henry reveals that the external source is another machine like him, one who is doing everything possible to survive. Little hints have been given before that Catherine Weaver isn’t working for Skynet and this idea has all but been confirmed now that John Henry is being attacked by the machine from Cyberdyne. It will be interesting to see how this information is presented to the audience and how James Ellison will feel having been tricked into working for a machine; maybe he knew all along?

‘To the Lighthouse’ feels somewhat rushed but never uncomfortably so. Despite having to cover a lot of ground in the rush to form a conclusion for the series, we still get a lot of nice slow character moments woven in. One such moment being after Charley has attempted to instigate a heart to heart with John and all John can emotionally cope with responding with is a question about home security.

I don’t doubt that this series would have benefitted with more breathing room but even when it has its back against the wall ‘Terminator:TSCC’ still manages to hold its own. With two episodes left I have renewed confidence, purely from the handling of this episode, that this show will have a satisfying conclusion, I hope to have my faith rewarded.

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