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.