EPISODE REVIEWS: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: “To the Lighthouse” (Season 2, Episode 20)

Republibot 3.0
Republibot 3.0's picture

The series - and possibly the season - enters its endgame phase. Team Connor abandon their very nice rental home and head for a new safehouse location. Sarah splits them up in to two groups - her and John, and Reese and Cameron, neither of whom she trusts anymore.

Meanwhile, John Henry goes all bat-guano and starts hurting Savannah, the daughter of Shirley Manson from Garbage. One of the techs is on hand to shut him down, though.

Sarah takes John on an unplanned sidetrip to a lighthouse to see Charlie, her ex live-in boyfriend from Nebraska, last seen in the beginning of the season. Dramatically speaking, Charlie held the “Uncle Reese” role in the first season of the show, but for whatever reason they got rid of him shortly after John’s uncle was introduced. While trying to help Sarah, his wife got killed by Cromarty, and he exited stage left, a broken man. This is the first time we’ve seen him in like 17 or 18 episodes.

Anyway: he’s still living in fear of the killbots, and has rigged his place to blow if they set off the alarms trying to find Sarah through him. He’s also got a getaway boat. He’s warm to John, but cold to Sarah who, after all, ditched him to go time traveling and then got his wife killed. Animosity is understandable. I think they offer couples counseling for that sort of thing these days. They warm up fairly quickly over memories of the ridiculously short skirt she used to wear as a waitress in Nebraska (Not that I’m complaining, mind you: hubba hubba!), and then she reveals that she’s got a lump in her breast and she’s going to die.

Whoa! That’s a huge shocker! They haven’t played the cancer card since season one, but I fell for it.

She wants Charlie to take care of John when that happens, then goes to a doctor to get checked out. Meanwhile, they revive Cromarty who informs them that he’s got a brother, another like him, who has been hunting for him and essentially attacked him through the web and caused him to freak out.

It takes the doctor all of like 11 seconds, to realize that Sarah doesn’t have cancer, she’s got a tiny hunk of metal in her breast that’s encysted. Sarah realizes it’s a transmitter put there by the dude who kidnapped her a few weeks back, and uses the defibrillator to shut it down. Simultaneously, Cameron and Reese are attacked, as are John and Charlie. Cameron manages to recover Reese, though dialog makes it very clear that it’s John Henry’s “Brother” that’s orchestrated this.

Sarah hurries to the lighthouse to find the boat gone, and Charlie’s body floating in the water.

OBSERVATIONS

A pretty good episode, a bit more up-tempo than they’ve been on average since I started watching the show again.

The Bionicles show up again. Once was cute, twice seems almost like product placement, however the dialog about “Changing the rules” right before John Henry freaked out made up for that. That, and agent Ellison’s need for exposition regarding JH’s “Daemons” were both really obvious bits of dialog, but despite that they worked really well. Ellison has been on “Helo*” duty - that is, trapped in a Helo side-plot - but hopefully they’re about to plug all this stuff back in to the game. I like the scene where Shirley Manson sort of tenses up when John Henry lists a bunch of humans in the room, but doesn’t mention her. No one notices, but it was neat. Conversely the biblical reference in the sequence seemed understandable but a bit overdone.

Just as obvious, but slightly less effective is a lostback (in my day we called ‘em “Flashbacks”) to when John was little and Sarah was training him in the Mexican jungle, culminating with young John saying “I win. I was lost and you couldn’t find me.” The episode, of course, ends with John being lost and Sarah having no idea where he is.

The scene where Charlie tells John about his dead wife and dealing with it was very well done and kind of heartfelt, and John’s reaction - a slight tremor in his voice as he changes the subject - was very well done. Likewise, Reese learning about the death of a kid he never knew he had was well played, and Cameron’s normally-inscrutable machinations actually made sense this time out. It’s not as effective as the Charlie/John scene, but it worked just the same.

There is, obviously, a theme of loss and separation running through this episode: John lost Riley, Charlie lost his wife, not to mention Sarah and later his life, Reese lost Jessie and the child he never knew he had, Cameron looses Reese (But then gets him back), Cameron and Reese loose Sarah’s trust, and Sarah lost John. There’s lots of regrets to be shared by all, but the underpinning element of this theme is that they all keep going, even if they’re walking dead.

John Henry’s “Brother” is more than likely the flying terminator that was being built by those people at that warehouse out in the desert that time. Sorry to be so vague, but you know, the whole “Mysterious warehouse in the desert” plot where Sarah got shot by the guy who later kidnapped her and stuck a transmitter in her breast. That one. Those guys seem to be running at cross purposes to Shirley Manson’s company, so it makes sense that their own Terminator would be trying to kill JH.

*-Named after “Helo” from the new Battlestar Galactica, who spent the entire first season alone on adventures that in no way intersected with what the rest of the show was doing.

Tags: