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SCC: "To the Lighthouse" and "Adam Raised a Cain"

April 9th, 2009 (09:25 pm)
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Yeah, been so busy with getting sick and writing fanfic that I haven't had a chance to write anything about my actual reactions to SCC's last couple episodes.

To the Lighthouse" is a real four-star episode. Dean Winters, unexpectedly back as Charley -- they did a very effective job of writing him out, a while back -- turns in his best performance on the show, and Charley's uneasy interaction with Sarah is terrific. The script does a very good job with their discomfort, and the actors and director did a brilliant job with the blocking here. I love the way Dean Winters and Lena Headey keep a lot of space between them early on; the set is put together in a way that allows them a lot of room, and it's staged and shot very well. The writing is top-notch, too. When Sarah finally comes up close to Charley, and puts his hand on her breast, you automatically think it's a sexual invitation, and that, from Charley's face, that he's going to take away his hand as a careful rejection. Instead, you find out that Sarah was wordlessly showing him the lump she'd found. That's an absolutely glorious reversal. The action is limited, but effective, and it's a really solid episode, all around.

And "Adam Raised a Cain" -- dude, they totally tashayared Derek! Out of nowhere, bullet to the head, like Omar getting capped in THE WIRE. And that's far from all. Lemme just say this again: "Adam Raised a Cain" is an episode where one of the main characters gets *shot in the head,* and *that's not the biggest thing that happens.*

(Although: when the baddie Terminator went rolling down the hill, was I the only one going, "Aaaas.... yoouuuu.... wiiiiiiiiish!" I THINK NOT.)

"Adam Raised a Cain" is that rare creature: a completely satisfying arc episode. It's not just that a bunch of things pay off, but the payoffs are marvelously paced. The bit where Savannah is having a chat with John, for example; it's a cute scene, and the actors are really enjoyable in it (Dekker, in particular, really brings a sense of fun), but you're on the edge of your seat, because you know she's going to say *something* that will make things get hairy as hell. And sure enough, she talks about her friend John Henry, who has a cord in his head. At which point, I said, "Oh, CRAP."

I mentioned Dekker and MacKenzie Smith as being very good in this one (I think Smith is possibly the most enjoyable child actor since Lucas Black did SLING BLADE and AMERICAN GOTHIC; she has a very good screen presence, even in her lesser performances, and it's fun to watch people play against her), but really, everyone is on the ball. Garret Dillahunt is just fantastic as John Henry, and the script gives him some wonderful stuff to work with.

The script has a lot of good bits. Let me just share possibly my favorite moment in the episode: before they decide to head over to Weaver's house. It's the "kitchen table" scene. You know the one, as seen in early episodes -- they all sit down, they need to go do this, John says this, Sarah says it's too dangerous, blah blah blah. This is the scene where they have the preliminary discussion that's supposed to get us excited about what's to come. Except it never works, it just slows things down, so I'm rolling my eyes a little, annoyed that we have to have this --

-- and then John says, "We all know we're going, so let's just go." FUCK YEAH.

As we head into the season finale, the show is like one of those rooms that's loaded with mousetraps and ping-pong balls. You throw one ball in, it sets off one trap, which sets off two traps, and then the whole room goes crazy. A lot of different things could happen -- and that last-minute twist with Sarah being arrested introduces new elements into the equation -- but you know it's going to just go batshit from here.

Here's one thought: Sarah, John, and Cameron are understandably mistaken. They think that Weaver, or her company, is the enemy. They don't know about the third party. And we know what that's like, because for most of this season *we* didn't know about the third party. When Weaver slaughtered her way through the factory, for instance, it was easy to assume that she was ruthlessly covering her tracks. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that she was striking at an opponent. We know that because we've been watching her and John Henry. But John and Sarah haven't. And they're gunning for Weaver and John Henry, in their latest effort to take down Skynet. Because *they don't know.*

If we didn't know, we'd be rooting for John and Sarah -- hell, yeah! Take out that robot bastard! But we do. We may not trust Weaver, but now we know and like Savannah and John Henry.

And if the Connors destroy John Henry, we're going to hate them for it.

We've been set up this entire season to think that Catherine Weaver is the Big Bad.

She's not, guys. We've been suckered.

The Big Bad this season is *Sarah Connor.*

See you Friday.

Comments

Posted by: The Warped One (cordova829)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)

When Derek got capped, there was no drama, no special music, no sudden slowing of the sequencing.. it was just a moment of BANG!, Drek drops, and continue on... I barely had time to shout "Holy shit!".

Posted by: davincis_girl (davincis_girl)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
big brother robot

Yes, I'm with you on everything here...except the roll down the hill--until now. Now when I rewatch that episode, I'll be thinking of the Princess Bride.

Posted by: an east end girl (life_on_queen)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
TSCC - Ellison

I'm with you up until you peg Sarah Connor as the Big Bad - I think the game in play is even more complex than that but Weaver does not appear to be the antagonist we originally perceived her to be.

Posted by: Sinanju (sinanju)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)

I've only been watching intermittently until recently, but I agree.

Weaver may be an antagonist, but that doesn't mean she's The Enemy. It does appear that there are more factions at work than we knew. And given that SKYNET certainly managed to "jump the fence" and ignore whatever programming it was given to become self-aware and self-motivated, who's to say other AIs couldn't manage the same feat--and god only knows what they might decide the best outcome could be.

Posted by: rodlox (rodlox)
Posted at: April 11th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
going to hug

there's an old proverb - "when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers"...an imho a war between the armies of AIs has the same potential (with humans as the grass)

Posted by: Mouseketeer Stigmata (trom)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)

You had me until The Big Bad this season is *Sarah Connor.*

We've now seen several hints about skynet being out there from the last two episodes to the HK Drone and related scenes. I think we're about to see a lot more before the season is up.

Posted by: HJ (hjcallipygian)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)

I'm starting to wonder... Has Skynet itself gone into the past?

I don't think that Sarah Connor is the big bad, because intentions really count in that designation. But she's John Henry's big bad. Because, honestly, if she knew that John Henry was a "good guy," wouldn't she still try to destroy him?

I totally turned to Dr. Scientist and said, "As you wish!" when the Terminator was rolling down the hill.

Posted by: amonitrate (amonitrate)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)

The most recent episode really felt like a season ender to me. I was so satisfied by it that the thought that there is going to be an episode tonight sort of threw me off.

But man, this show has gotten incredible. The one-two-three punch of Riley/Jesse (never cared for Riley but Jesse grew on me), Charlie (who I adored) and Derek is just incredibly painful, moreso because the characters haven't been given any more time than the viewers to really grasp everything that's happened.

Derek's death was even more of a brutal shock than the sudden death in Serenity, and that's saying something. The way they didn't linger on it -- he was just dead, without warning, and Sarah and John didn't have time to react -- really impressed me. It was so realistic for the kind of war they're in, and so rarely done.

I think we've been given hints throughout the season that Weaver isn't quite the monolithic big bad she was made out to be -- having John Henry learn ethics, etc -- and the way they're playing it out -- her line about prioritizing John Henry over Savannah -- was just incredible.

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