Sarah Connor: Alpine Fields

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This week, on The Sarah Connor Chronicles

RECAP DETAILS AHEAD (don’t read if you haven’t watched it yet) …

No, it’s not a road trip to Wally World. Sarah’s just trying to protect yet another Skynet target from getting exterminated by a cyborg. In this case, she’s not actually sure who she’s protecting, only that the family’s name — “Fields” — is one of those written on the blood wall. (Actually, “Alpine Fields” is written on the wall, and although it’s never stated, my assumption is that Alpine is the name of the town they’re in … there’s an Alpine, CA about half an hour to the west of San Diego, up in the mountains, at the edge of a state park. Sounds like the place, right?) Her suspicion is that it’s the father, a bookkeeper who has had illicit financial dealings with a cybernetics company, but it’s really Sydney, the mother’s unborn child by another man, who won’t be born for another six months. While under attack from a T-888, Sarah and Cameron manage to protect the family, and give them the wake up call they need to go on the run.

The interesting thing is, that was “six months before”.

The writers have worked a neat little trick with the timeline here. In case you didn’t catch it, they’ve effectively fast-forwarded the story six months. Or at least they’ve let us know that a minimum of six months have passed since Scut Farkus came back from the future and gave them the blood wall. Because the plot events in the Alpine cabin are predicated on that knowledge. But Derek is in the “present day” helping the Fields family yet again, at a point after the father has (probably) been killed, and the daughter is trying to keep her mother alive long enough to give birth to Sydney (I assume it’s spelled that way, because of all Jesse’s talk about Australia). She and Derek succeed at this, and although the mother dies, Sydney is born. Which is relevant to Derek, because he actually knows both sisters from the future …

To further keep us on our toes, this episode also involves a flash-forward to 2027, to Derek’s past (our future), in which Skynet has developed a bioweapon to kill off humans in much the same way — as Jesse informs us — that Australian scientists developed the Myxomatosis disease in the 1950s to curb their critical rabbit infestation problem. Which makes for a really apt metaphor: Skynet doesn’t consider humans an equal, opposing army; it consider humans a pest to be eradicated. Anyway, as happened with the rabbits, a small percentage of the human population is immune to the bioweapon. Sydney Fields is one of those who is immune, and this is why Skynet wants her dead, and why Derek goes looking for her in the future. Along with Jesse — who he meets for the first time during this mission — Derek finds Sydney, brings her back to the Serrano Point Resistance base, and they are able to create a vaccine.

Missing from this episode is John Connor (and Riley). Missing, but not really missed. After all, Sydney was the “John” in this scenario … and the series is called “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” for a reason. It’s not always about saving John’s ass. Skynet’s opinion of humans to the contrary, this episode spells out what I’ve expressed before, that what’s really happening here is a giant chess game between Skynet and the Connors across time. Each side looks for a weakness and tries to exploit it — Skynet’s goal to eradicate any threat to its dominance in the future, and the Connors’ goal to prevent Skynet from ever being born. It’s such a clean, clear framework for a series that it opens up a wide range of possible stories and episode formats, and writers have really taken advantage of that this season. (If only Heroes had such a clean, clear framework.)

There were two great lines in this episode that I just have to point out …

“We got a scrubbed Trip-8 for a captain.” Jesse is referring here to the neutered T-888 that her people have running all hands on the nuclear submarine they use to travel from continent to continent. I liked the way she phrased it all Australian-ese and the concept itself, which boggled Derek.

“They always come through the front door.” Sarah says this about the terminators when the family asks her what will happen if the cyborg that Sarah is setting a trap for chooses not to come through the front door. I cracked up when I heard it, because it’s true. They always do!