Sarah Connor: Mr. Ferguson Is Ill Today

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Well, the folks at FOX told us that an important character was going to die this week on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. They weren’t kidding …

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

Of course, they never said it would be one of the good guys. Or even the ever-annoying Riley. Instead, after a season and a half, Cromartie has finally bitten the dust. Mexican dust, as it turns out. And really, it was about time. After all, as long as Cromartie was around, always getting closer and closer, the Connors were forever going to be on the defensive. If this were a chess game, he was one of Skynet’s black knights, constantly chasing pieces around the board, keeping White from advancing its own strategy. Now the Connors are free — presumably with some eventual intel from Ellison — to identify and take down Skynet’s Black Queen, Catherine Weaver.

By the way, the title of the episode was a clue about who would die. Remember this? …

Yeah, I didn’t either. Don’t feel bad. Thank you, Google! (For those who don’t feel like watching the video, Mr. Ferguson is the teacher that Cromartie substituted for in the pilot episode. “Mr. Ferguson is ill today. My name is Cromartie.”)

Anyway, so now that I’ve talked about how the episode ends, let’s talk about how awesome the 50 minutes BEFORE that were. I’m a big fan of writers taking a chance at using a clever device to tell a story, and I have to say, this one really paid off big time. Borrowing a page from Quentin Tarantino (who in turn borrowed a page from Orson Welles and Akira Kurosawa), the episode switches points of view from Sarah to Cameron to John back to Sarah to Ellison to Derek to Cromartie, rewinding and overlapping plot details along the way.

It’s really a brilliant bit of writing, which keeps the episode tense and a bit mysterious throughout. Using this method, the writers are even able to trick us for about ten minutes into believing that Cameron might have slept with John as a way of keeping him away from Riley. And I’m sure the hardcore Summer Glau worshipers out there groaned collectively when that turned out not to be the case. As it turns out, Cameron is just using sex appeal as needed to keep John in line … or so she thinks.

Linearly speaking, here’s what happens: Sarah scolds John for getting close to Riley; Cameron has a talk with him too; in response, John takes Riley to Mexico; Cromartie ambushes Sarah at the house; Cameron meets Derek at their supply depot; John and Riley get arrested in Mexico; John calls Sarah and Derek; Cromartie throws Sarah in the car and heads for Mexico; Ellison gets a call from the FBI and goes to Mexico; Derek and Cameron go to Mexico; there’s lots of shooting (reinforcing the similarity to a Tarantino movie); and in the end, the Connors stage an ambush for Cromartie at an old church and take him down, once and for all.

Ellison feels like part of the group now, but Sarah deflects him, and sends him on his way, cool as a cucumber. But in the moment after this, we get what is arguably one of the most emotionally satisfying moments of this series. Sarah asks Cameron for Cromartie’s chip, gets it, places it on a rock … and proceeds to LOSE. HER. SHIT. Her tough facade finally slips for a few minutes, and as she smashes the chip over and over into thousands of microscopic pieces, we get a glimpse of the frustration and fear she must bottle up inside of her on a daily basis, especially on a day like today, when we’ve seen Cromartie drag her around the house like a rag doll. The scene ends with John holding her tight, reinforcing for us the bond between fucked-up mother and fucked-up son that — cyborgs aside — is at the heart of this series.