Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) / Sci Fi-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 7: The Demon Hand

Cast: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Richard T. Jones, Bruce Davison, Angela Gots, Mark Ivanir
Director: Charles Beeson

Screenplay: Toni Graphia

1.7 - "The Demon Hand"

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" takes an upswing with "The Demon Hand", arguably the most efficient episode of Season 1 thus far.  Despite the fetishistic garb given to Summer Glau  (who gets to dress up as a cop and a ballerina), the developments in this episode provide the most surprises, as we question the actions of characters we thought we knew, and learn what happened to one character we thought we'd never see again -- Dr. Silberman, now played by vet Bruce Davison (Breach, The Dead Girl).  While Cameron's (Glau, Serenity) outfits might be gratuitous, the action is not (no Cromartie appearance), as the episode plays out with all of the thrills, intrigue and mystery one could hope for, leaving us in eager anticipation of the two-hour, two-episode season finale.

Tension escalates between Derek Reese (Green, "Beverly Hills 90210") and Cameron, who remember each other from the future, though the latter finds that whatever her actions may have been, that she is not someone that can be trusted, despite Sarah's friendship.  Meanwhile, Cameron's mission, as given by Sarah (Headey, 300), is to seek out Dmitri (Ivanir, Schindler's List) the chess pro who once worked with the (ostensibly) deceased Andy Goode, who, for reasons elaborated in the episode, threw the chess match so that they would not get the Defense contract.  To do this, Cameron joins a ballet class taught by Dmitri's sister, Maria (Gots, "The L Word"), as a novice ballerina that learns quite quickly.  Meanwhile, Agent Ellison, carrying the leftover hand of a Terminator left behind in a previous squabble, goes on a trail to find Sarah's former psychiatric evaluator, Dr. Silberman (Davison), who went into a much-needed retirement after witnessing first-hand things he mercilessly kept Sarah under lock and key for.  Meanwhile, Sarah is out to get the return of the Terminator hand from Ellison's possession, finding Silberman's interrogation tapes from the mental institution in the process.

The title of the episode is perhaps a reference to a Harlan Ellison-written "Outer Limits" work, "Demon with a Glass Hand", which is the one of two episodes that some claim was inspiration for the first Terminator movie.  It also fits in with Dr, Silberman's wild assertions that the events that he witnessed in Terminator 2 were the result of forces of good and evil, such that the T-800's reaching out to Sarah stating, "Come with me if you want to live", was like the Hand of God reaching out to man in Michelangelo's famous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Being a hand from a "bad" Terminator, this would make the existing hand Sarah is after a "Demon Hand".  Given the apocalyptic themes of the Terminator films, including the constant use of the term "Judgment Day", the religious allusions fit into place.  Interesting that the Michelangelo painting is actually of God giving life to his creation, Adam, which ties in nicely with the notion of cybernetic organisms being the by-product of humanity's advancements in artificial life, a notion that works so well in android films such as Blade Runner.

Directed by fantasy/horror TV vet Charles Beeson ("Supernatural", "Afterlife") from a teleplay by series co-executive producer Toni Graphia ("Battlestar Galactica", "Roswell"), it has enough good stuff to keep viewers reeled in for the remainder of the season, if not the entire series, just to see where things will lead.  Hopefully, future episodes will follow the blueprint for this one without resorting to the formula filler that plagued some of the more recent shows.

-- Followed by episode 1.8, "Vick's Chip".

Qwipster's episode rating:

©2008 Vince Leo