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Season Premiere: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles – “Samson and Delilah”

“Samson and Delilah”

September 8th, 2008

The last time I took a look at Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’d think that I wouldn’t be here blogging a second season premiere. Not only was I fairly harsh on the show’s third episode, but the ratings were declining and the buzz was slowly dying. In a strike-damaged season, there was no question that a show like Sarah Connor would just get lost in the wind, a failed attempt to capture a franchise audience with a show that wasn’t living up to its potential.

Well, I had more or less written it off in this fashion, but in the slow summer months I revisited the series and finished off its nine episode run. And while I wasn’t quite driven to blog about my experience, I was quite simply pleasantly surprised: it wasn’t poetry, but the season finale in particular demonstrated a willingness to embrace a larger dramatic perspective, and the episodes leading into it did a strong job of furthering the show’s connection to the broader franchise storyline. As some have taken to saying: it might indicate that we’re living in an opposite world, but Brian Austin Green’s arrival in the series actually coincided with a strong improvement in quality.

So with this new perspective, the show’s surprise second season renewal seems more than justified: it’s a show that was on a definite upward swing heading into the its final episodes, and with the strike limiting pilot development this is one of many shows that deserve a chance to recapture audiences’ attention. So while the momentum is in its favour, and the cheaply priced DVD set likely sold quite a few people on trying the show for the first time, it does need to prove that it can sustain itself in its sophomore season.

The verdict on that front, though, remains iffy: with a rather tepid introduction of the new corporate conspiracy and a chip malfunction that creates a particularly volatile rollercoaster ride of a premiere, “Samson and Delilah” is a heavily action-oriented episode that feels like an organic, but frantic, followup to last season’s cliffhanger explosion. And while I could have done with more set pieces that didn’t feel like one long chase scene, there are moments here that remind us that this show is in better hands than I thought eight months ago.

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