Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) / Sci Fi-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 5: Queen's Gambit

Cast: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Richard T. Jones, Brendan Hines, Brian Austin Green, Garret Dillahunt, Luis Chavez, Neil Hopkins, Matt McColm, Dean Winters
Director: Matt Earl Beesley

Screenplay: Natalie Chaidez

1.5 - "Queen's Gambit"

This episode of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" sees the return of Andy Goode, the computer whiz from "The Turk" who Sarah Connor (Headey, 300) should have killed in order to avert the possibility that he would create a chess-playing computer that would eventually be the beginnings of the dreaded Skynet, which would be responsible for wiping out nearly all of humanity in the future of John Connor.   Sarah destroyed the original computer, Turk, but Goode has spent all his time creating a better and more compact version.  It turns out that Goode and his machine are in a contest against a similar computer devised by the Japanese, and the winner of the contest will get a government contract, which is surely the impetus for the fall of civilization, right? 

Meanwhile, Cameron (Glau, Serenity) learns about human grieving, Cromartie (Dillahunt, No Country for Old Men) continues his search for Sarah Connor, and Sarah discovers that one of the men John has sent from the future bears a resemblance to someone she has known from her past.

While I can't say that this episode is completely without interesting developments, I won't go so far as to say that these developments foster any excitement for the possibility of continued interest.  This episode only continues preexisting storylines, but not really any of the good ones, and the end of the episode doesn't really go out with the promise that things might get better for the series given the convoluted fashion that they are presented here. 

I'm wondering what the merit is of continuing to let new writers and directors take over each successive episode, and though Josh Friedman continues to develop the series and dictate where things are supposed to go, there is an unevenness that persists from episode to episode.  If there is a word I would use to describe "Queen's Gambit" it would be "lackadaisical", as even the fight scenes don't ripple with the energy you have come to expect from a Terminator adventure.  Once again Cameron goes hand to hand with another Terminator machine, which she has done in practically every episode, so it's not much to write home about. Watch each Terminator take turns slamming the other into walls or bashing each other in the heads with various metal objects, then repeat.

This one is lean on sci-fi and heavy on action, which will please some and not others, depending on why you enjoy the Terminator mythos.  As it stands, plot points are pushed forward, but not much else other than the introduction of Kyle's brother, Derek (Green, "Freddie").  The writing and directing are about as standard as TV fare gets making "Queen's Gambit" a middling effort in a promising series that is building momentum too slowly for my taste.

-- Followed by Episode 1.6, "Dungeons and Dragons"

Qwipster's episode rating:

2008 Vince Leo