This week’s episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles was definitely lighter on the physical activity, and heavier on the psychological activity. Not so coincidentally, most of it centers around Dr. Boyd Sherman, one of the names from the blood wall, who is a child/family psychologist who used to work primarily with war veterans. The Connors set out to protect him, and they do. Yet somehow they never quite figure out why he’s so important to Skynet. But we do.
Catherine Weaver’s “perfect” yet soul-less performance for the photographer (“a quarter-inch to the left”) in the opening scenes was eminently chuckle-worthy, and makes us appreciate all the more how much finesse Cameron exercises when it comes to seeming human. But the humor is drained from the scene when we see that Catherine’s daughter Savannah is pee-the-pants scared of the T-1001, who/which she can sense is not her real mother. At every turn, the writers challenge us to both to laugh at and fear the terminators at the same time.
Along these lines, the Baby Skynet (the “Human Interactive A.I.”) that ZeiraCorp is developing down in the basement is having some issues, showing its programmers images and equations that they aren’t asking for. Dr. Sherman diagnoses the A.I. as a “gifted child who’s grown bored,” and Weaver hires him in a consulting capacity to help them “raise” it. “Why is a math book so sad? Because it has so many problems.” Apparently, Baby Skynet has a better sense of humor than a T-1001 does.
With Dr. Sherman’s help, Weaver — the cyborg single mom — is also able to find ways to comfort her child, even if only through the repetition of small gestures, like touching. The irony is that Sarah Connor — the human single mom — is at first completely oblivious to the fact her son needs any comforting at all. (Even Cameron seems more in tune with John’s potential for suicide than Sarah does.) And even after Sarah sees John’s pain, she seems to have no idea what to do about it. As we learn in flashback, it turns out that John — not Sarah — killed Sarkissian in the season premiere, by choking him, while his bound mother watched. On his sixteenth birthday. It was his first human kill, it was brutal, and it’s a burden he clearly still carries with him.
The one bit of clear action in the episode is Cameron fighting with the Redheaded Terminator Temp. But it sure is a doozy of a fight scene! Both tense and hilarious, with outstanding sound effects, it ends with Cameron tying the Redhead into a pretzel. Unfortunately for the Connors, though, they can’t learn anything about the Redhead’s mission. Because Skynet has grown wise in the future, rigging terminator CPUs to self-destruct when tampered with — presumably to keep John Connor from reprogramming them. It’s essentially cyborg suicide, and this point is driven home when in the final montage, we see Cameron with the fried chip in one hand and a suicide pamphlet from earlier in the episode in the other.
We’re introduced to a new character this episode — Jesse, played by the actress who played Kendra Shaw in the Battlestar Galactica: Razor movie. Turns out she’s Derek’s girlfriend from the future, and has apparently hopped aboard the same express train that’s bringing everybody else back from the future these days. There’s something suspicious about her story, though. And I doubt anybody will be surprised if it turns out that she’s working for Skynet. Because she’s already admitted that Future John didn’t send her back, and for some reason, she has a stack of photos of Derek and John together. Is she here to kill John? Or does she have some other more complicated motive that we’re not aware of yet?