Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles – “The Turk”

“The Turk”

January 21st, 2008

Last week, I had relatively positive things to say about Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was a surprise to Dave at The Watchers. Over the weekend, he checked out the series for himself, and their third episode has all sorts of not so nice things to say about the series. And while I’m not quite to the point where I am about to agree with the pessimism he brings to the table, I will say that “The Turk” was really, really boring.

Now, it wasn’t “I’m never watching this series again” boring or anything of this nature, but it got mired down in technology and domesticity too greatly. There were some elements that represent intriguing developments for the series, but they were either glossed over or presented almost too literally for the sake of moving the story along. This would be fine if the story actually moved along, or if we saw anything worthwhile within these settings. Perhaps it was my multi-tasking while watching the episode this morning, but did any of this really make any sense?

As per my concern from last week, isolating Sarah Connor from Cameron has taken her character and turned her into a poorly-dressed, poorly-flirting bore. I don’t understand her real initiative here: there was no chemistry with the young computer programmer, and as a result I really don’t care about her efforts. Destroying the computer seemed like a weak link to the overall story, and I don’t quite understand the technological threat: the computer can come alive, which is obviously a concern, but without seeing it in action I don’t particularly care. And when it’s surrounded by a mundane and pedestrian courtship, what makes it worth watching?

As for Cameron, she spent this week…being robotic around teenage girls on her first day of school. It was a waste of her character, and the entire story with the young woman who is suicidal based on some sort of unexplained threat was never adequately explained. If the purpose of the storyline was to remind John that he can’t be a hero, and to create the internal conflict, it was an extremely poor choice. Cameron needs to be doing Terminator-things, not overusing the term ‘tight.’

As for the other two storylines, I am actually going to refer to a popcorn drama which aired over the summer. ABC’s Traveler was a show that followed three paths by its conclusion: the two friends on the run from the law, the other friend who was caught up in the real villainy, and the FBI agents hot on their trail. In the case of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, we spent a lot of time this week on the FBI tracking Sarah’s activity and the pilot’s Terminator re-growing himself a body based on science of the future.

The latter point was actually kind of interesting, although I would have liked a tiny bit more information on the science involved. I know it keeps it simple, which is of some value, but at the same time I have no frakkin’ clue what happened and kind of wish I at least had a sense of it. The regrowth was kind of cool to see, and the whole “cutting open the eyes” part was interesting enough to warrant the time spent…but barely. It just seems like we’re following something to which we understand the conclusion, and something that exists only to provide some expensive makeup/effects shots.

And the FBI storyline doesn’t even offer that: there is no compelling need to follow the FBI’s search when they don’t actually find anything – their insights into the case are well below our own, and watching people discover things we have already discovered is like watching paint dry. While I may not have enjoyed Sarah’s storyline, it at the very least did something to our understanding of the emerging technology and the type of things Sarah will have to deal with. The FBI stuff is far less compelling than the remainder of the series, and seems like a poor choice to fill out our time.

The entire episode was centered around the question of the Atomic Bomb, which was apparently an obsession for Sarah while she was institutionalized. I ultimately don’t understand the whole narrative thematic: if we’re viewing “The Turk” (Adam’s chess-playing, mood-having supercomputer) as the equivalent to the atomic bomb, was that really an important anecdote. I would have much rather seen a realistic connection to the plot of the series as opposed to an allusion to such an important historical event. As it stands, this episode just never clicked, and one hopes it is in a better mood next week.

Cultural Observations

  • While I only have a few seasons of Project Runway to back me up on this, Sarah’s date outfits were hideous. I do not understand whose idea it was to place her in such clothing, but it totally went against her character.
  • I might have been kinder towards Cameron’s escapades in high school if it didn’t read like a series of log lines for “Terminator Goes to School.”
  • I really, really hope that Cameron gets expelled sometime soon, so she and Sarah can reteam – hopefully the writers and producers will look back at the second episode and see how much more interesting it was.
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3 Comments

Filed under Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles

3 responses to “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles – “The Turk”

  1. majea

    I had a lot of problems with the writing of Cameron’s character this episode. In the pilot, she was an easy, carefree teen-ager, and here she can’t manage the most basic social interaction with another student. I know she was written that way in the pilot to fool the audience, but her robot status was revealed within minutes (and in the freaking promotional posters), so it seems like lazy writing.

  2. Majea: That problem was apparent even within the pilot itself! She went from being perfectly capable of mimicing a teenager to being incapable of even human qualities such as inflection. It was a cheap ploy, and it was clear that in order to mine material out of her culture shock she is less adaptive than she might otherwise be.

    I’m choosing to ignore it for now, dwelling on it would certainly pull me out of the series (more so).

  3. Pingback: Season Premiere: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles - “Samson and Delilah” « Cultural Learnings

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