rachelmanija: (Firefly: Kill you with my brain)
rachelmanija ([personal profile] rachelmanija) wrote2009-04-06 12:43 pm

Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season One

Based on the Terminator movies. In the future, robots take over and kill nearly everyone, except for a bunch of raggedy fighters led by John Connor. In the first movie, the robots send one of their own back to kill Sarah Connor, John's mother, and prevent his birth. This doesn't work out.

The series picks up with Sarah Connor as a hard-as-steel fighter, her teenage son John who is trying very valiantly not to be as emo as he has every right to be, and their protector, the spooky-funny-beautiful terminator played by Summer Glau (River from Firefly), in possibly the best portrayal I've seen on TV of a genuinely non-human intelligence. They're all trying to stop the creation of Skynet, the AI which launches the war against humanity. Clever time paradoxes, great action sequences, some very touching relationships, and excellent storytelling proceed from there.

I can see why this didn't get a big audience: every episode builds on every previous one, and if you don't watch from the beginning, it's confusing and you'll miss all the emotional resonance. Though not depressing, it's rather somber, which is an unusual mood for a TV series.

I LOVED it. This is definitely a series to watch on DVD, when the connections will be fresh in your mind and you can sustain a mood without commercial interruptions.

Buy it from Amazon - a great value at $18.99 for the entire first season! Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season

Spoil me for Season 2, and a very scary robot will pay you a visit.

Cameron is unsurprisingly a scene-stealer, but what's most intriguing to me is how inhuman she is, and how her most evocative moments - dancing in her room, observing the bar of metal that perhaps becomes her own skeleton, watching her ancestors in the hall of robots, giving John a terrifyingly fake wink of complicity, letting him remove the chip that is her self - suggest not the growth of humanity, but new development along an entirely different path.

Derek is just the best portrayal of PTSD I've ever seen on the small screen, and it is slightly disturbing to me how much I identified with him. He is most excellently fucked up, and in a very different way from Sarah or John - he's actually lived through the future, and the past never seems to feel quite real to him. I also like the way his first suggestion is always to blow something up. You can feel the weight of the future in his eyes, and his casual remarks: "Of course the mall's a concentration camp now."

Ellison is so smart and quiet and thoughtful. His faith is clearly real, not tacked-on, and I was so glad he didn't die in the gorgeous swimming pool/Johnny Cash shoot-out. But I am really curious why the terminator let him go - not a threat? Or a chess piece they need for later?

I love that John tries so hard. I love that Sarah does pull-ups on a swing-set. I love that the show is full of metaphors like Sarah doing pull-ups on a swing-set.

I am still piecing together the time-travel paradoxes. We know that two versions of the same person can be at the same place at the same time. And since Derek killed Andy Goode, we also know that the future can be changed.

Maybe changes can happen if they're not important in the grand scheme of things - Andy had already invented the Turk, so what happened to him later wouldn't prevent Skynet. Or maybe it's all alternate timestreams and there are millions of them already.

It doesn't seem possible to prevent Skynet - it's in the air, like the atom bomb. If Sarah could have killed Oppenheimer, someone else would have invented it later. It seems like the true mission has to be to prevent Skynet from killing everyone, not to prevent it from existing.

I don't think it's possible to make robots good and harmless. All the paralleling between humans and robots seems to indicate that sentience brings with it the inevitability of individual choice, which inherently cannot be purely benevolent. Vick's marriage, Derek repeating John's words back to him just like Cameron does, the bloody operations on Derek and Cameron, blood tests, the blonde FBI agent's comments about human monsters, and many more moments tell us that the line between human and robot is blurrier than we might want it to be. I think the best they can do is a future in which Skynet walks the line that human governments do, in which they probably do destroy a lot, but hold back - so far - from bringing down the entire world.