Posted by : Wendy B Friday, 9 December 2011

How would you raise the child destined to save humanity?
At first glance, you could pass Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles off as just another terminator hunts down the Connors collection. Certainly there are terminators and there are Connors and there are subsequent chases, but think of those as fillers to appease Fox and the fans that only care for blood, guts and explosions.

Get passed that and you find a show with surprising depth, considering its source material. The Connecticut Post placed it on its list of the top 10 TV shows of 2008: "It's smart, with thought-provoking meditations on parenthood, destiny and human nature..."

I have loved the Terminator saga, even using it to fuel my grade 10 English essays. My friend complained that you will always know how it turns out, so what's the point? Yes, we know there will always be a Judgment Day and a Skynet and a John Connor, but the key to the terminator saga is how the players reach and react to those points, with the future constantly altered by the past, and the past constantly altered by the future.

The journey is everything.

TSCC, like me, acknowledges the possibilities of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, but thankfully ignores Terminator: Salvation, much in the same way Terminator: Salvation ignored the entire concept of the Terminator series.

This is the journey of Sarah Connor, raising the boy who will become the man who saves humanity from the machines. No pressure, mom.

The series begins with Sarah settled and engaged; growing comfortable with a normal life until a dream reminds her that the future is coming. So she runs. John is a typical teen with bitter and angry moments that mainly manifest due to mom's constant need to run and her denial of his need for a hug.

Initially, I had trouble accepting Lena Headey as Sarah. She was stepping into Linda Hamilton's shoes, while looking a lot like she needed a sammich. Acting-wise, she was adequate. I can't decide if she grew into her role as the series progressed, or if it no longer mattered because, as usual, it's the supporting cast that, well, supports the lead. And boy did they.

Through all of them, we also get the journey of John Connor and we finally come to understand how that typical teenager can become the man who saves us from destiny, while Sarah learns to be a mother to a son, instead of the mother of destiny who must ensure his survival.

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah comments that, of the many father's John has along their constant flight, the T-800 terminator was the most unusual, but it was a father figure, nonetheless. This time around, our friendly neighbourhood terminator is Cameron, a female model, with a human past we learn pieces of later. We also meet John's uncle, Derek. Between Derek and Cameron and others, Sarah learns that John can't just survive in order to save humanity; he must lead. There's a grudging realization that to become The Leader, he needs compassion. She tried to suppress that part of him, but comes to understand that it is part of him; the part of him that makes him the person people will die for.

The supporting characters have their own intertwined stories and motivations. Nothing that overshadows the main. Everything simply melds together, such as FBI agent Ellison's relentless pursuit of Sarah and his religious issues and how they come to play such an important part in Skynet's future. Opposing Sarah's mother figure is another mother of the future, Catherine, a terminator with her own plans for Skynet.

There are so many layers in these stories and characters that it's no wonder Fox got scared and cancelled it.  I hate that it ended so abruptly, but I love to death where and how ended because of how perfectly this unknown and these new questions fit with the entire Terminator concept, which is something this show grasped so firmly:

"The future's not set; there is no fate but what you make for yourselves."

Besides, endings like these make perfect fanfic fodder. And for your viewing and listening pleasure - vidlets by Beccatoria.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Aww, thanks for the shout out. And ugh, also I just remembered this show never got a third season. :(

  2. I would like to talk to the writers to learn what their plans were, but I fear it actually getting that third season and falling into crap (I'm looking at you, BSG), or worse, that made for TV movie that just doesn't quite cut it (*shakes head at Peacekeeper Wars*).

    But the thing is, that ending was so perfectly inconclusive and it totally blows the concepts of John and Sarah and Skynet and EVERYTHING out of the water! We've always had the future and the past eating at each other, but the results were always the same. They are still essentially the same here, but so creatively twisted....!

    This is what fanfic is for. I should hunt down some good ones...

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This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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