Could it be the writers for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles heard my complaints, took them to heart, had a writers’ meeting, rewrote their remaining season, filmed it, edited it and put it out for viewing in less than a week? They must have because tonight Terminator: TSCC returned with an absolute vengeance. “Ourselves Alone” was, by far, the best episode of the year; possibly the best hour of the show to date.
“Future John has better information than you do.” – Cameron
Things aren’t right around the Connor house. To begin with, no one likes Riley right now and the family (Sarah and Cameron) share a common distrust of her. In addition, something is wrong with Cameron. Early in the season she had a meltdown and since has had some programming problems. Tonight she accidentally kills a bird and realizes something is wrong with her circuit board. John finds her cutting herself open (identical to how Riley attempted suicide). He could fix her if only he had the right parts, but unfortunately they don’t make parts like hers for a couple of more years. Cameron shows John that she has been keeping parts of terminators she should have been destroying. John gets angry, but she alludes to the idea that John’s future self has given her explicit instructions to save these parts. Future John knows there will be Cameron problems along the way. I love this admission to the future playing a role in the past. It is a crucial element of the Terminator series and this episode doesn’t shy away from its implications. While Cameron fixes herself up, Riley spies in the room and sees the metal. This begins a classic you-don’t- know – that –I-know-what-you-don’t-know scenario between Cameron and Riley.
“I’m not here to stop the war sweetie. I’m here to win it.” – Jessie
Jessie has plans of her own. Up until now she has been Riley’s handler; comforting when need be, but more often there lending a quick fist to straighten Riley out. We discover Jessie has been doing a bit more with her time. When Sarah gets suspicious about Riley’s attempted suicide she decides to pay the foster parents a visit. She finds out that Riley has been screaming about the end of the world and Judgment Day. Red Alert time! Sarah also hears about a guidance counselor who’s been bad talking the Connors. Sarah confronts this guidance counselor. Low and behold, it’s Jessie. In talking about the situation, Jessie lets on to the idea that Riley’s been talking a lot about the Connors. She’s been passing along some fairly specific information about the family doings. To Sarah, this is unacceptable. Riley must be dealt with.
“What’s happening with you?” – John “I don’t know.” – Cameron
John, Cameron, Sarah and Riley meet together at the Connor house. A knock comes at the door. It’s Social Services wanting more information about Riley. Cameron and Riley hide in the garage. It’s obvious Cameron wants to kill Riley but for some un-Terminator-reason does not. Her Terminator side realizes the obvious problems with having Riley in the picture, but I think her rapidly developing human and moral side understands the pain it would cause John if Riley was gone. She spares Riley and while John is relieved, he is genuinely surprised.
“The real plan is for her to kill me.” – Riley
Jessie is in her hotel room planning on meeting up with Derek when she is attacked from behind. Riley figured out the plan and has come to kill her. Jessie brought Riley back from the future to get John to turn away from his dependence on Cameron. Riley realized, though, the only way John would ditch “the metal” was if Cameron took away something John loved. Jessie’s plan, from the beginning, was for Riley to play the martyr. Cameron was supposed to kill Riley, but that didn’t happen. A fight ensues and, in the end, Jessie shoots and kills Riley.
“I’m not capable of self-termination.” – Cameron
Cameron knows her programming has gone awry. She designs a device and gives it to John. It’s a detonator attached to a small explosive in her head. She has given John the control to terminate if Cameron goes off the grid. Cameron’s obsession with Riley’s suicide makes sense now. She wasn’t worried about Riley killing herself. Cameron was worried she’d be able to do it herself if the time comes.
Tonight’s episode brought this show back from the brink. The future has implications. The present has its own. The fight to save the world is on.
“What would future John do?”
“Future John doesn’t live here now... You do.”