Now that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has officially been cancelled, it’s time to reflect on the good times and bad times that we shared together. I have compiled a list of the top 5 best episodes of the series, along with others that garnered dubious honors. There are, of course, some spoilers for those who haven’t seen the series before…though, I leave out the biggest twists for newbies.
Read after the jump for the best (and worst) of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles! Then talkback and let us know what your favorites (and least favorites) are!
# 5. Heavy Metal (Season 1, Episode 4)
“Heavy Metal” might not make a lot of fans’ favorites list, but the episode is well paced and the characters collaborate quite well. Cameron and Sarah make a rare good team up, more mechanics of a terminator’s survival are revealed, and John makes an impromptu decision that backfires. The intense scene with the “standby” Terminator exemplifies how much this episode worked while the pilot didn’t: smaller and more suspenseful scenes work on a low budget, attempts at bigger actions sequences fall flat.
# 4. Dungeons and Dragons (Season 1, Episode 6)
This episode weaves in and out perfectly with “flashbacks” shown in the first Terminator film. Derek Reese, my personal choice for the best new addition to the mythos this show has to offer, is fleshed out through a Future War story. The blue lighting and apocalyptic shots scream nostalgic James Cameron. We revisit the same human survivor tunnels, the aftermath of a terminator infiltration, and another look at the photo of Sarah Connor. The twist at the end goes so far as to embody what the character of Derek Reese is about and what he stands for. “Dungeons and Dragons” also gives fans the first look at a live action version of the time displacement device.
# 3. Today is the Day, Part II (Season 2, Episode 18)
The first part of this two episode arc is a bit ho-hum, the audience is forced to watch a number of actors shake their bodies back and forth on the set of a submarine…as if they auditioning for a scene on Star Trek. They yell and scream at each other that there are mines in the water and a “Kraken” around, yet the low budget never allows us to see such things. The second part, however, delivers so much tension that you could blow up the room if you lit a match. The Resistance fighters take a stand against their leadership, and a liquid metal terminator makes a choice that will have both past and future consequences. John Connor, who for the majority of the season whined and rebelled against his mother, finally acts like the bad@$$ future Resistance leader he is supposed to eventually be…if only for a brief moment.
# 2. Samson and Delilah (Season 2, Episode 1)
This episode delivered the action, suspense, and acting you would hope for from the main three (Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, and Summer Glau). Extra kudos goes to Summer Glau for pulling off the unforeseen sensitivity that her metal body might have to offer. John Connor loses his innocence (not in a dirty way) and for all the right reasons. Cameron’s “glitch” causes her to be fast and efficient in her effort to track down her newest target.
# 1. Adam Raised a Cain (Season 2, Episode 21)
While there are episodes that deliver more action than “Adam Raised a Cain”, the episode has a double punch to the gut of twists and turns. One said twist is so shocking, so disheartening, and so controversial as to be the top memorable moment of the season bar none. The episode begins and ends in the exact same place, which is made all the more meaningful for the fates of the characters. Also in the mix, Catherine Weaver and John Henry hold more promise than simply being the enemy, and John Connor realizes how much Ellison has been holding back.
“Born to Run” (Season 2, Episode 22), “Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today” (Season 2, episode 8), “Gnothi Seauton” (Season 1, Episode 2)
Unfortunately, I have just named most of all the good episodes in season 2, the rest are a fairly wasted effort. Those action enthusiasts and die hard Terminator fans are recommended to slap down the cash and buy the first season DVD for $18.99 on Amazon.com. The poor average quality of Season 2, sans a few excellent episodes, do not justify paying full price for this season box set ($38.99). Below are some dubious honors the second season holds.
Biggest Gender Bender:
Earthlings Welcome Here (Season 2, Episode 13)
In an effort to investigate a possible lead on Skynet, Sarah Connor is forced to hang out with nerds at a UFO convention. While there, she meets a gender bending blogger who may hold answers. To find these answers, Sarah needs to bring the blogger to a hypnotherapist, who also looks like she is walking the line between a male/female.
Most Despicable Use of Time Travel:
Self Made Man: (Season 2, Episode 11)
A Skynet T-888 goes too far back in time and accidentally kills the man responsible for building a structure necessary in the terminator’s mission. The Skynet assassin makes the decision to wear suits and become a real estate mogul, building the hotel himself. All of this is in the effort to kill the Governor of California (not Arnold). Sounds and plays like a bad version of Quantum Leap.
Flat Out Worst Episode
Desert Cantos (Season 2, Episode 15)
“Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep” almost edges out this sleep inducing entry in the series. Reportedly, the writers also have no love for this episode. “Desert Cantos” is a hack job, an episode hurriedly written by the staff over the weekend to meet the Monday deadline. Someone should have told series creator Josh Friedman that long dialogue scenes in a car do not bring about good drama.