Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season Two

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season Two


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Much like mankind in James Cameron's visionary Schwarzenegger-starring movies, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles constantly has to live with the threat of extinction hanging in the air. However, despite a muddled first season that only took off after the introduction of Brian Austin Green's Derek Reese, a larger second year was commissioned and the show faced a judgement day of its own...

As for the Connors, Sarah (Lena Heady) decides its time to move on with Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt) still pursuing them in a bid to stop their efforts against Skynet. Meanwhile, John meets a pretty girl called Riley (Leven Rambin), Derek (Brian Austin Green) receives a visit from his ex Jesse (Stephanie Jacobsen) who warns about Cameron (Summer Glau) and Agent Ellison (Richard T Jones) forms a partnership with the mysterious Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson).

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Season Two sees Sarah get the occasional break from stoic frowning with some paternal storylines (looking after a pregnant mother, babysitting), John behaves more like a leader (making decisions and, erm, shaving his hair) and the best episodes are still those which focus on Derek or offer flashes to the future like last year's best episode, Dungeons and Dragons.

However, recurring problems from the freshman year bring it down. The Terminators are too easily defeated for them to pose any form of threat, the sheer amount of time-travellers coming back plays havoc with the internal-logic and there are simply too many killing-machines out there for any of them to become memorable. Having said that, Dillahunt is effective as the returning Cromartie and Patrick Kilpatrick makes you wish he got more than one ep as a T-101.

Additionally, Chronicles also falls into the all-too common trap of padding the series with filler episodes and non-essential material (Cameron’s late-night library trips, a family out in the woods, Sarah at a sleep clinic). Had a smaller, more mythology-focused approach been taken, the average quality would have soared like one of Headey's eyebrows.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that there's plenty to be admired here as we get a lot more than just mindless action. The characters remain well-drawn and sympathetic, the understated-yet-beautiful score grafts an emotional heft to proceedings and there are plenty of welcome fanboy nods. Furthermore, as stated, the glimpses into the post-apocalyptic future (such as the machines learning how to interrogate or Jacobsen's unlikeable Jesse talking about rabbits) are superbly done.

While Green and Jones - arguably the two best characters on the show - should get more screen time, Dekker improves as John, Headey does her best with a tough role and Glau continues to come across as a strange girl instead of a methodical killing-machine. Of the newcomers, Rambin is sweet and Manson oscillates between (don't use garbage as a pun) overly-wooden and suitably-detached.

As Linda Hamilton’s once stated (paraphrased from Michael Beihn’s Kyle Reese of course), there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Aside from a poor mid-season string of pointless episodes, Season Two ought to have done enough to change the show’s destiny - unfortunately Fox thought otherwise and cancelled it.

Reviewed on: 31 May 2009
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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season Two packshot
The second, longer season of the Chronicles leads us further into stacked paradoxes and the genesis of a resistance machine intelligence.
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Director: David Nutter, Jeffrey Hunt, Bill Eagles, Charles Beeson, Bryan Spicer, Tawnia McKiernan, Milan Cheylov, Michael Nankin, Steven DePaul, Scott Peters, Holly Dale, Felix Enriquez Alcalá, Jeff Woolnough, J. Miller Tobin, Scott Lautanen, Jeff Woolnough, Guy No

Writer: Josh Friedman, Natalie Chaidez, John Wirth, Toni Graphia, Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Denise Thé, Ian Goldberg, Daniel T. Thomsen, John Enbom

Starring: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Richard T Jones, Brian Austin Green, Leven Rambin, Garret Dillahunt, Shirley Manson, Dean Winters, Stephanie Jacobsen

Year: 2008

Runtime: 975 minutes

Country: US


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