Last week, Fox aired the season finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which might very well be the last episode ever. Ratings have not been kind to the show and its future is uncertain at this point.
There’s much to like about TSCC, but there’s also a lot the show did wrong. While the second season started off with some interesting developments and the introduction of some new characters, it failed to capitalize on these quickly enough and seemed to meander without any idea of where it was going. Add to that a string of episodes focusing on uninteresting characters ancillary to the plot and it’s no wonder that people’s attention wavered.
What makes this such a shame is that the last five or six episodes of Season Two were so great. They found a direction, plot threads started to come together. We got an idea of what was going on after all of this time. And the finale, while answering some questions, set things up for a hell of a third season. Which I now want to see.
So what went wrong?
In my opinion, too many episodes were spent this season focusing on saving some new guest star of the week from the Terminators. Yet another machine was sent back in time to kill someone who was important for some vague reason and Sarah and John spent the episode trying to save them. Which I found I didn’t care about. Neither did I care about the visions that Sarah was having about colored dots.
The sad thing was that they had plenty in the show that was interesting. The idea of time travel and whether or not they were changing the future. John Connor’s path from smart kid to future leader and savior of humanity. Derek Reese, John’s uncle and the brother of Kyle Reese from the first movie who had traveled back in time. Derek’s girlfriend who was now also in the past and trying to get John away from his reliance on machines. Not to mention the strange liquid metal Terminator trying to build an AI, played by Shirley Manson.
They didn’t get to those things until the last five or six episodes. And when they did, the show really started to shine. We saw that the future timeline could be changed. And that as Sarah and team tried to prevent Skynet from being created, other events would occur to make sure it happened. Like a time travel chess match between the humans and the machines.
We learned that future John not only used repurposed machines, but that he was reaching out to the newer liquid metal models and, in the final episode, we find out that Shirley Manson’s character was working with the future John Connor rather than against him.
Then of course there was the jump into the future which changes the game significantly. Instead of living and surviving into the post-Judgment Day future, John Connor skips ahead without necessarily learning all the lessons he needs to learn to be humanity’s savior.
One of my favorite things about the television series was the time they spent in the post-apocalyptic future. Not as much time I would have liked, but enough that we got a better sense of what was going on. And the end of the second season had much more of that (particularly a creepy sequence on a nuclear submarine). The second season ender promised even more of the post-apocalyptic shenanigans.
It’s almost cruel. Now I want to see the adventures of young John Connor in the future. In a time where he never existed in the future to send his father back and start this whole process in the first place. I want to see who the human Cameron (or Allison or whatever her name is) really is. I want to see what Shirley Manson is really all about. And why did Sarah Connor step away from John and let him go forward into the future?
The sad reality is that we’ll probably never see that. The rumblings are that most of the cast members have moved on to other projects. Speculation on the internet is that the show is indeed canceled.
In another post I compared Battlestar Galactica to a girlfriend. The Sarah Connor Chronicles, then, would be that girl that you’re friends with, that you don’t really notice, only to later realize she’s really cool and quite a catch. Of course that realization happens the day before she’s about to move to the other side of the country.
Goodbye, Sarah Connor Chronicles. I’ll hope to hear from you, but I won’t hold my breath.