Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
While Sarah and Cameron creep through someone's house at night (Cameron even checking out the medicine cabinet -- how rude!), Sarah voiceovers some as-far-as-I-know new information about her dad, who slept with a gun under his pillow, and how he never talked about the war he fought. Timeline-wise, we're talking Vietnam, I suppose. "I never thought I'd follow in his footsteps," she says. Sarah and Cameron bolt when the homeowner comes out in his bathrobe, wondering if anyone's there.

Then there is a commercial for a certain auto company, which just kind of happens to star John and Sarah and Cameron, who have no idea what they're supposed to be doing with Dr. Boyd Sherman, child psychologist, whose name was one of the ones on the wall.

Over at that crazy offices where you just might get an icepick through the eye for urinating on your co-worker, there is some kind of photo shoot going involving Catherine Weaver, who is amazing the photographer to move her head exactly the quarter-inch or half-inch he demands. Unfortunately, when he asks for a "warmer" smile -- well, it would be like a shark for one.

The photographer's assistant tries to cajole Catherine's daughter Savannah to join Mommy for the photo shoot, but Savannah refuses, and when Catherine calmly tries to talk to her, Savannah wets herself (and the floor) and runs away. Careful, kid! God knows you don't want to get that on Mommy. Everyone at the photo shoot stares at Catherine.

Later, Catherine tries to get some parenting advice from the assistant, only blows it by referring to Savannah as an "it." The assistant admits that she had some troubles with her own child (Catherine positively perks up when she says, "Some days I wanted to kill him") but she took him to see someone, a miracle worker. Savannah isn't Helen Keller, lady. Besides, the problem's clearly Catherine, who despite having passed easily for human for god knows how long, is for some reason moving more robotically and taking things more literally than we've seen before.

So the Terminator family is going to see Dr. Boyd Sherman, pretending to be a dysfunctional family, I suppose, with Sarah pretending to not think counseling is necessary (although it's clear later that she really doesn't think it's necessary), and Cameron slips a bug under the doctor's lamp when he's not looking. The doctor suggests meeting individually if they're to continue, and John's all over it, somewhat to Sarah's surprise. But they're already letting the doctor think the family's all torn up over the war death of John's father. I mean, they kind of are, but obviously not in the way that they're presenting it here, and ... anyway. Let's just say Tony Soprano is a piece of cake for an analyst compared with this bunch. And Sarah is rather clumsily asking questions of Sherman, finding out that he's a counselor who's seeing more and more veterans back from the Iraq war.

Agent Ellison -- well, he's not an agent anymore -- is in Weaver's building and wants her to hold the elevator for him, only a security guard tells him he's got to wait for the next car, because this one's full, even though it's just Catherine and one other guy. Why a security guard couldn't just tell Ellison that he's not cleared to go where Weaver is, is beyond me.

Where they're going is to a lab where the other guy from the elevator along with some more people are working on an AI project. At first I thought this was a team working on Catherine, teaching her not to act like a freaking robot, but they're working on a separate project, and they're having trouble with it. Instead of running the programs it's supposed to, it's running random images: math problems, a question mark, books, kids crying. They have no idea what it all means. Not only that, but its "computational time" is increasing while successful output is decreasing. "It's taking more time to do less," she says. "You could say that," says one of her employees. "I just did," she says. Again: why so robotic all of a sudden?

So here's where the Boyd Sherman connection starts to become clear: it's where Catherine Weaver takes little Savannah to get her head shrunk. Savannah is one happy little girl, and Sherman does her best to draw her out, showing her the toys she can play with, including little emotion cards that have people's faces on them, indicating happy, sad, scared, etc. Again, though, it's not like you need a PhD to figure out what's going on; when Sherman points out Savannah's shoe's untied, Catherine wordlessly gets up to tie it. Savannah seems absolutely terrified of her mother, and Sherman takes Catherine aside to tell her it's going to take some time. "I can wait outside if it'll make things go faster," says Catherine. More time than just today, says Sherman. When he goes back to Savannah, she's taken the emotion cards and put the Scared one on top, and she hands them back to Sherman, who ought to be a little more discreet than to look so dismayed while an arms-folded Catherine watches from a distance.

At the Connor Compound, Derek's getting back from a six-hour run. "I guess I'm slow," is his excuse. If Derek is anything like me as a 12-year-old, then the real reason he was gone so long is because he stopped off at that comic-book store after school again. He says he doubled back on Sherman's place and can't find anything significant. Sarah says they bugged the house but still need the patient files. Then there's the sound of a gunshot, so Sarah and Derek and Cameron all start running in slow motion for John's room. I really would appreciate it if, since they're going all cheesy slow-motion that they really embrace the cliché and have the characters speaking in slow motion too. Might as well, right?

They find a startled John in his bedroom, with a gun in his hand. He says he was just cleaning it and it went off. Well, that's puberty for you. He's all right, save for a burn on his cheek from an ejected shell casing. Sarah gives him a look, all, "Young man, what have I told you about making sure the chamber's clear before cleaning a gun!"

Cameron sits outside Sherman's building listening to the bug through headphones, although I'm kind of surprised the audio isn't just patched directly into her. Savannah's having a session, playing with dolls, Sherman trying to find out where the doll's mommy is. "She's working," says Savannah, adding the doll wants to tell Sherman a secret, which is, "I want my old mommy back." Again, Catherine stands outside, creepily staring at the session, and tilting her head like a breakdancer DOING THE ROBOT, and with none of the fluidity of something MADE FROM LIQUID METAL. I mean, GOD. The receptionist strolls up to tell Catherine that her daughter is beautiful, and that she looks just like her mother (which really just means they both have red hair). Session over, Sherman brings Savannah over and says he needs to talk to her mommy, so she goes into the waiting room and continues to look forlorn while Sherman takes Catherine into his office.

He starts by asking her what her most vivid childhood memory is. She doesn't offer one, and he tells Catherine that Savannah's most vivid memories are of her father's death: hearing the news, the funeral, etc., and because she's so young, she has no distance from it. "Well, we can't make her grow faster, can we?" says Catherine, awesomely inflecting the last bit to make it sound like it's not a rhetorical question, as if Catherine's actually open to suggestions. Sherman delicately tells Catherine that she needs to reassure Savannah that she hasn't lost her mother as well as her father. I guess that means he doesn't get that when Savannah wants her old mother back, she's not speaking metaphorically. In his defense, "my mommy has been replaced by a liquid-metal killing machine from the future" is not a problem that crops up often enough that he should have recognized it right off.

In the waiting room, John gives Savannah a lesson on how to tie her shoe, and his back is to Catherine when she stomps by, barely glancing

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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