Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) / Sci Fi-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 9: What He Beheld

Cast: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Richard T. Jones, Craig Fairbrass, Dean Winters, Garret Dillahunt, Luis Chavez, Catherine Dent, Jesse Garcia, James Urbaniak, Sabrina Perez, Bailee Madison
Director: Mike Rohl

Screenplay: Ian Goldberg

1.9 - "What He Beheld"

The final episode to season one of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" doesn't much feel like a final episode, but given that the writer's strike shortened a number of shows, it's the best we're going to get until the show is picked up for a second season.  There are actually two endings to the show, one being the traditional voice-over recap delivered by Sarah Connor (Headey, 300), and the other being what might be a tack-on cliffhanger ending in order to get people clamoring for the show to continue after hiatus.  As of this writing, the show is "on the bubble" for another go-round, as the last few shows failed to crack the top 25 -- and that's competing with many shows showing re-runs.  Given the expense of the effects of the show, it's not a certainty to return.  Stay tuned.

We start with a vision of a possible future on Judgment Day, where two young boys, revealed to be Derek and Kyle Reese, are playing catch when missiles are launched overhead.  The scene would play itself out later when Derek (Green) actually seeks out his much younger self, apparently playing catch with his younger brother, John's father.  Most of the episode deals with Sarah trying to make a deal with Sarkissian (Fairbrass, White Noise 2) in order to secure the advanced chess-playing computer known as The Turk in order to keep it from its destiny to become the computer that would end civilization as we know it.  Meanwhile, Cromartie (Dillahunt, No Country for Old Men) is hot on their trail, while Agent Ellison, who has quickly become a true believer that the mad rantings of Sarah Connor are not mad at all, is now aware of Cromartie's assumed identity as an FBI agent and is going to try to take him down.

All in all, it's as good an episode to go out with, even though much is left up in the air.  We know it isn't really the intended final episode as Cromartie doesn't come face to face with Sarah and John, and neither does Ellison, which are basically the two biggest plot threads to this dog-cat-mouse show.  Nevertheless, even if intended as just a regular episode, it is one of the more stylish ones, complete with a musical interlude featuring Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around", drawing even more religious connotations to the show about what is essentially the coming of the apocalypse.  The song plays out as FBI agent after FBI agent come to their demise when trying to take down Cromartie.  An underwater shot of bodies multiplying in a swimming pool is one of the more inspired of the series thus far.

SPOILER: The tacked-on cliffhanger ending isn't really much of a cliffhanger, as all it shows is Cameron (Glau, Serenity) starting a vehicle that blows up, apparently a bomb placed by the real Sarkissian (Urbaniak, Fortunes), whom we were introduced to earlier in the episode as the employee of the WiFi spot where The Turk was located.  Of course, anyone who has seen The Terminator knows that this will not kill a Terminator, but we can imagine that her skin will be gone, and her human-like appearance will be no more, not at least until she can reconstruct it.  While it may not kill off Cameron as a character, it does leave open the possibility that someone else could play her in future episodes, given that the Terminators can change their appearance thanks to plastic surgeons (Cromartie's assumed appearance is a prime example).  It's a bit of a cheat, but probably necessary with the show's fate, and Glau's return, still up in the air.

"What He Beheld" is one of the best of the episodes, and though not really intended as a season ender, it will no doubt make fans yearn for more.  The series has been hit-and-miss thus far, but it has hit a pretty decent stride for the last three episodes, and the momentum should hopefully translate into at least a half-season more of Sarah, John and the rest of humankind. 

Qwipster's episode rating:

©2008 Vince Leo