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Sarah Connor Chronicles Fodder

Review: Sarah Connor Chronicles - 'Automatic for the People'

automatic.jpgSo, John Connor has a girlfriend. I'm curious to find out what loyal viewers had to make of the ├╝ber cheery Riley (Levin Rambin). I can hear the theories now: She's liquid Shirley Manson in disguise! She's an unknown fembot like Cameron! She's John's time-traveling future daughter nursing the ultimate Electra complex! Or maybe she's just a girl.

Not likely. If she was "just a girl," John wouldn't have given her the Connor's super secret cell-phone ID code. I'm sure that will come back to bite him. Either way, I'm intrigued. Rambin showed a lot of charm in the role, even though her dialogue was mostly awful ("Carrots and apples"? Really?). I'm looking forward to the eventual love triangle subplot between John, Riley and Cameron. Who knows, maybe we'll get to see a good girl fight down the line. That would certainly make up for this ep's unusually subpar action scenes.

I fondly remember Cameron knocking out Terminators twice her size, surfing on top of big rigs and punching holes in concrete walls in past eps. Last night, we saw her her take on a Terminator that looked, sounded and fought like a short, balding, 55 year-old man. How disappointing was that?

As the ep opened, a wounded resistance fighter from the future dropped in on the Connor's nice new house and mumbled some, seemingly, vital info. They were given a name, Greenway, a date and the location of a power plant that resistance fighters will use to their advantage in the future. After future soldier apparently kicked it, Sarah, Cameron and Derek infiltrated the plant to try and make sense of it all.

Sarah and Cameron got jobs as the hottest power plant janitors ever and started snooping around the place. After Cameron identified a plant worker as Greenway, the three followed him to a nearby bar where Sarah sweet talked him into giving her info about the plant. She learned that Greenway had the power to shut off the plant's reactor and was against turning it on. She also learned that Greenway had cancer.

This, of course, reminded Sarah of what Cameron warned her about in the pilot ep: She was supposed to die from Cancer before 2007. Will she still become ill in this new timeline? That question was left open, but I liked the way this ep explored Sarah's fear about that possibility. I really felt for Sarah after she entered the plant's radioactive room and later endured a brutal radiation-cleansing shower. They really do put her through hell on this show.

The Cancer fears were calmed, for the moment, after Sarah realized that the plant manager lied about her radiation level. She was clean, and it was back to the mission, which seemed to be about saving the power plant so that the future fighters could use it in the war. SkyNet had other plans for the place, though.

Later on, Derek found Greenway dead and Sarah figured out that he'd been replaced by a Terminator. Now, did anyone out there think this was going to be our T-1000, or was I the only one? It made little sense to me that SkyNet would build a boring old T-800 to look exactly like this one chemical engineer. But, apparently it did.

Terminator Greenway then turned the plant's reactor online and caused it to overheat. After some odd hesitation, Cameron quickly fixed the problem by knocking him around a bit and shoving his broken bits into a toxic waste drum. Like I said, the action was subpar, but the focus seemed to be more on Cameron's bizarre behavior. It's easy to say that she's still a bit fuzzy from last week's explosion, but I'm sure there's more going on here than that. My guess is that her program is evolving and she's becoming more human. Remember, she told John she loved him last week. Could this love be motivating her to become a real girl?

What if she does become more of a real girl? Will John still care, or will Riley be too much of a distraction? Apparently, Riley is already a big distraction. While the rest of the household was in full mission mode, John was goofing around in his bedroom with his new gal pal. It was frustrating to see John out of the action after watching him mature in last week's ep. I get that he's trying to rebel, but couldn't he do it in a more badass way? Staying up all night chatting with a cute blonde seems like pretty tame behavior.

This ep was all about set-up, which made it a lot less satisfying than the season premiere. Still, many hints were dropped about where this season might go. In the last scene, Sarah discovered that the future soldier (or someone else?) used his blood to write a bunch of random information on their basement wall. Also, we were reminded that time itself is the main battleground in the war for the future. We got a cool, quick look at a post-Judgement Day battle, but this ep made it clear that time travel will continue to play a major role in the war and in this series.

Other Bits:

- Charlie's wife, who looks an awful lot like Linda Hamilton, found a gun in the house that Charlie had to explain. It's unclear if he told her the whole story, but the two left town after a friendly warning from a Bible-toting Agent Ellison. I liked seeing Charlie and Ellison hang out. I hope these two team up in the future.

- The Connor's new hippie neighbor, Kacy Corbin, is played by a very pregnant Busy Phillipps (Freaks and Geeks).

- At the end of this ep, Catherine Weaver, impersonating a male corporate official, announced to the media that the power plant would be under the control of an automated system from now on. Damn liquid metal Terminators. They're always one step ahead. Also, Shirley Manson continues to annoy me with her Hayden Christensen-like stiffness. I know she's supposed to be a robot, but she's not supposed to be a mannequin.


- So, what did you think of Riley? Any theories?

- Who was Cameron referring to when she told John that others were watching?

- What's up with Cameron hesitating? Will she go bad again?

- Where was Derek in this ep? He didn't have much to do. Do we need a Derek-centered ep this season?

- Seriously dude. Didn't the actress who played Charlie's wife look just like Linda Hamilton? That took me out of the show for at least five minutes.

Posted by Mike Moody on September 16, 2008 11:57 AM
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Yes, wifey looks just like Linda Hamilton. But she's also Desmond's wife on LOST. I don't think girlfriend is Shirley Manson or else she'd have ended his life ASAP. She is supposedly a T-1001. The ending on the wall was a bit confusing but hopefully they talk about it.

-- Posted by: JS at September 16, 2008 12:59 PM

The wife doesn't look like Linda Hamilton at all. Only that they share blonde hair. That's Penny from Lost.

Riley is ANNOYING. Not sure what her story is. I'm sure it's not good.

I have a feeling the pregnant landlord is gonna eat it...

-- Posted by: Connie at September 16, 2008 1:58 PM

YEAH! I too thought it was going to be the T-1000 terminator, that is why I thought Cameron was having such a hard time killing it.

If I could re-write it, I would have it be the T-1000 that was fighting Cameron, Sarah turns up to help (like she did) and they fight it off and ust when they think it is dead and they turn away when Derek come running in to help, they turn around and the Terminator is gone.....DUN, DUN DUN!

-- Posted by: Paul at September 16, 2008 3:46 PM

Count me in with the Riley was Annoying crowd. I like the idea of John deciding to live his life - I'm the mom of teen boy so I get the angst -- I just didn't care for this character.

And come on - couldn't we do better than her building him a lego robot to "protect" him.

Cameron hesitating - I think this is all part of her becoming more human which is going to become a problem.

And hey, someone is living in Stars Hollow.

-- Posted by: Cynthia at September 17, 2008 3:46 AM

I love the idea of Cameron praying to the Jesus statue. Am I the only one who thinks that was..well...adorable? There, there...Nice robot...nice robot....

-- Posted by: Ursula minor at September 17, 2008 2:16 PM

re: Ursula minor
Yes, that was one thing I forgot to mention. I liked that Derek said she'd been talking to the Jesus statue all night. Also, Ellison's faith is fully on display. Good stuff.

-- Posted by: Mike Moody at September 17, 2008 2:19 PM

"Sarah and Cameron got jobs as the hottest power plant janitors ever." Now that was seriously funny.

You can count me into the group that thinks Riley is annoying but John was also irritating. I mean after all the crap he's been through he still doesn't get it. He's shown recent flashes of leadership capabilities, but then he severely regresses into this dumb defiance? I guess when everyone's life revolves around his you can't blame the kid for thinking about only himself. Right?

Summer Glau's portrayal of a Terminator is evolving and getting more sophisticated. She should get an Emmy nom next year.

-- Posted by: Janaki at September 22, 2008 2:37 AM

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