Click to viewI'm beginning to have a radical idea about how to fix Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: What if the mysterious death that's coming up this year is John Connor's? What do you do when the guy who's supposed to be the savior of mankind, the leader of the resistance and our hope for the future, bites the dust? That would be a pretty shocking turn of events, and a powerful storyline - and it would have the bonus effect of getting rid of the show's weakest link. Thomas Dekker, who plays the teenager who's destined to grow up and lead the fight against the robot apocalypse, is a fine actor. I liked him on Heroes, and he's had some great moments on Sarah Connor. But I can't escape the nagging feeling that his character just isn't gelling, for some reason. He's literally the only aspect of an otherwise fantastic show that doesn't work for me. Is it the pouting? The emo vibe that continues despite the disappearance of the emo hair? I feel as though Dekker, at least, is aware there's a problem with his character. I've read several articles where he's said something along the lines of, "Everybody was waiting for John Connor to step up and be awesome, and it's going to happen in season two." In season one, John Connor was a bit whiny and dependent on his mom to rescue him from stuff. But in season two, John is sulky and shuts his mom out. Since his mom rules, watching him be a jerk to her does not endear me to him. I'm just not sure "sulky" is an improvement on "whiny." Obviously, I'm generalizing based on two episodes so far, and maybe tonight's new episode will represent a total turnaround for the J.C. But comments Dekker has made about how Connor's rebellious streak "gets worse" in upcoming episodes don't fill me with hope.
John Connor is starting to remind me of Jason Todd, who took over as Robin after Dick Grayson got too big for those little shorts. Someone at DC decided to make Jason Todd "edgy" by making him rebellious and "troubled." They retconned Jason Todd's origin from a Dick Grayson clone to "punk kid who tried to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile." And he was always getting up in Batman's grill, either defying or questioning Bruce, plus he was a loose cannon. When DC had a 1-900 number vote on whether to kill Jason, it was smoked-Robin time. When DC finally introduced another new Robin a few years later, Tim Drake was the opposite of Jason Todd: he was a nice kid who looked up to Batman, was incredibly psyched to be in the Batcave, and pretty much never disobeyed Bats' orders. He was a way better surrogate for the readers, in other words. So how do you have a Terminator show without John Connor? That would be the interesting part, I think. Seeing what people do when the worst possible thing has already happened often makes for the best drama. How do you carry on when your whole reason for fighting is gone?
Lena Headey is continuing to blow me away as Sarah Connor, and I can only begin to imagine what she would do with the grief and rage at having her son taken from her by the monsters she's fought all her life. Since John was the linchpin of her relationship with Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), it would be interesting to see what would happen between those two as well. Would they blame each other? Would they come together more than ever? What would happen to Cameron (Summer Glau) if the guy she's supposed to protect is gone? In the end, our heroes would have no choice but to keep fighting. Maybe they'd have to try and make a new John Connor, by picking some other kid and trying to mold him into the future leader of humanity. Or maybe they'd redouble their determination to stop Judgment Day so that the world never needs a John Connor in the first place. And of course in a show about time travel, there would always be the possibility that they might be able to change the timeline enough that John would be returned from the dead. That could actually be the end of the arc - the triumphant return of John Connor from an alternate timeline, possibly with a slightly mellower attitude. (Maybe they could find a John Connor from a timeline where the Terminators never tried to kill his mom or him?) The Sarah Connor Chronicles remains one of my favorite shows on TV right now - hey, did I mention there's a new episode tonight? And Penny from Lost is on it? - so I'm just throwing out an idea for how to make it even cooler.
Just picture the scene: John has gone off half-cocked again, in spite of his mom's advice, and he runs smack into Cromartie (the awesome Garret Dillahunt) who does that thing he does with his head. Cameron shows up, and we, the audience, assume she will save John for the umpteenth time. The Terminators fight, and Cromartie backhands Cameron. We focus on her heroic struggle to get up, and then the camera swings around to show Cromartie throttling the bejeezus out of John Connor. Oops. Everything just sort of stops dead for a moment, and everybody gets a "game over" look on his/her face. Even Cromartie looks a bit bewildered or even despondent, now that his life's purpose is over. Cameron and Cromartie fight some more, but neither of them really has their mechanical heart in it any more. Sarah scoots out and quietly retrieves her son's corpse from the battlefield. Fade to black. I'm thinking sweeps month. What do you think?