Click to viewWe've seen tonight's season premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and it's one of the strongest episodes of the show so far. It's full of explosions, Biblical references, weird messed-up moments, and Summer Glau and Shirley Manson doubling your psychotic fun. And the episode's last moment (which we won't reveal) is one of the funniest, freakiest events in Terminator history. Very minor spoilers ahead. Almost everything about this episode is the rockage. It picks up where season one left off, with Summer Glau's Terminator, Cameron, caught in a car-bomb explosion and Russian gangsters after Sarah and John Connor. And meanwhile, bad Terminator Cromartie demolishes an entire squad of FBI agents, leaving only Agent Ellison alive. The episode basically unfolds like an action movie, with the Connors under attack and/or running for their lives the entire time. There are enough twists and turns to keep you wondering what'll happen next. And Summer Glau has never been creepier and more demented than she is playing a bomb-damaged Terminator who's lost her shit. She gets a bunch of really classic moments in this episode, but there's one moment in particular, towards the end of the episode, where Glau really proves that she's a great actor in spite of her crazy-supergirl type-casting.
One particular thrill of the episode is that the show has put more work into developing the Terminator-vision, so you can "see" how the Terminators visualize the world, including picking out targets or identifying splats of blood that may belong to a target. Even though the episode is basically about resolving the cliffhanger from season one, you also get the feeling of pieces being moved into place for the second season. The main engine behind this development is Shirley Manson, playing an evil corporate shark who gets hold of the chess-playing computer that formed season one's main McGuffin. I don't think she's the greatest actor in the history of the universe, but she does purring menace pretty well, and it's fun to watch her cut her underlings down to size. More importantly, she'll be a much better adversary than Stock Russian Gangster #35 or whoever, from season one.
There's only one major drawback in the episode, and you can glimpse it in the clips above. Thomas Dekker continues to grate on the nerves as John Connor, and he's at his absolute worst in this episode. I don't think it's entirely the actor's fault. I think the character is being written as an asswipe somewhat. He spends the entire episode sulking and pouting. My worry is that the pouting is supposed to look like "John Connor becoming a man," and instead it comes across as "John Connor being an unbearable diva." This makes me a little bit nervous for the rest of the season - I'm all for seeing John become a man, but if he's going to be a leader of the human race, he actually has to be less self-absorbed occasionally.