Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 2

Automatic for the People

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Sep 15, 2008 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
518 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


A surprise visitor causes Sarah, Cameron and Derek to investigate a nuclear power plant that is central to the resistance effort in the future. Meanwhile, Sarah sends a reluctant John back to school and he repays that indignity by befriending a student, risking their security.

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  • Desperation.

    Whatever they do, all of them become eventually useful for Skynet. We all know what happen next 'cause of the movies. However it's frustrating to watch. We want good guys beat the bad guys. But this is not gonna happen. In this episode, Cameron was definitely confusing, John was aimless and unconcerned, Sarah was feeling totally hopeless. They try to stop something evil, but Skynet wins again. In this show, the heroes don't win everytime. Maybe that's why we like it. I am really curious what is wrong with Cameron. It is all about malfunction or something emotional like jealousy?moreless
  • Some interesting tomfoolery regarding a nuclear power plant that would leave us with a pretty good episode, except, RILEY.

    Okay, for many of us fans of the series, this is where things begin to go sideways. The premier to Season 2, Samson and Delilah, gave us the best TSCC episode yet made. In it, John risked his life, and the future of mankind coincidently, to save his terminator protector, Cameron, who obviously, he is in love with, whether that is right or wrong or even possible, devil may care. He risked his own life, he killed a man, and he defied his mother. So, at the end of the episode, he cuts his hair. He is no longer going to hide behind his mother for protection. He is no longer going to hide from what he must become. He is going to stride forward, be a man, and become the person he needs to be in order for mankind to survive. Except.... wait.... MAYBE NOT.

    So, here we are, the very next episode, and John immediately does... none of those things. In fact, he acts more like a thoughtless teenager here than in any recent episodes. His character actually goes the OPPOSITE direction. Now, I understand that Cameron telling him, first thing after he reactivates her, that HE can not be trusted was akin to a lover's slap in the face, but what did he expect? She is a robot programmed to protect him. Her rebuke, actually, is her equivalent of the human appreciation for his act. She also very astutely points out that humans in the future will be upset that he would risk his life for a machine, which makes complete sense, though John and much of the audience aren't in position to understand that right now. This brings up an extremely interesting point unto itself when thought along the arc of the entire season. Cameron from this point on may have already set her course for Born to Run, knowing ultimately she needs to leave John before he becomes too enamored with her to be the person he needs to be. On the other hand, we also see, all along the arc in glimpses, Cameron struggling with this decision, struggling with what must be very human-like thoughts and reactions. There is definitely something wrong with her, and the human part of her programming is definitely becoming more profound.

    That is kind of my whole point here. The John/Cameron dynamic is absolutely laden with different thought-provoking directions and room for exploration. BUT, instead of delving into any of that, the writers decide to cool us all down and put an infamous dramatic roadblock up by inserting RILEY. In watching this episode a second time, I actually was somewhat charmed by Riley. I think the biggest part of my initial reaction was just the disappointment, the let down from what Samson and Delilah seemed to offer. This time, of course, I knew what to expect. So, I understand WHY the writers inserted Riley, one for her own story arc which we will discover later, and two to keep John from having to deal with his feelings for Cameron. And MAYBE I could even learn to like her a little, a very little, maybe. But I still have these two complaints: 1) her story arc is WAY too long. This is actually a main bugaboo of this series, if not THE main problem. Sub-story lines last too long. If a season is 22 episodes, then a story line like Riley's should have lasted 11 episodes, max. Instead, it went on for 16 episodes, and really, 8 episodes would have been more like it. So, basically, the Riley arc lasted twice as long as it should have, and by the end, most of the viewers for TSCC would be gone. 2) this is regression for John instead of growth. As Cameron rightly explains, bringing Riley into his life is tremendously dangerous for her, unfair to her, and a danger to him. The new, older, tougher John should not be acting like this. A relationship with him can likely only lead to a girl's death, and John knows this better than anyone. Ultimately, it is this predictable death that eventually motivates John to finally act like John Connor. However, by the end of Samson and Delilah, you wouldn't have thought this needless death was necessary.

    Regarding the rest of the episode, the events surrounding the nuclear plant are for the most part preposterous if you think about them. However, if you just let it slide, there is some entertainment to be had here. Once again, the dialogue throughout the entire episode is brilliant. I may disagree with some of the story lines or the pacing, but there is no doubt this series has tremendous dialogue, aided by great actors delivering it. Lena, Summer and John are all at their best, as usual. For the strength of that part of the script and the performances, I can still give this episode a solid 8.moreless
  • they kill terminators and try to save the world, whan more do you realy need?

    this eps was ok, it delt with the fact that john just is not gonna get together with cameron, all though i cant see him in a normal relashionship with a girl.

    but mayby thats why cameron(aka the toaster) keep saying that she takes orders from "future john" and that they are not the same person yet.

    also loving the liquid terminator, she is so cool and i cant wait to see all the trouble she is gonna cause them down the road.

    on a nother note, why is cameron "zoning out" jurring the fight with the other terminator, i diddent get that, is she still a littel messed up with the chip thing? i thought they fixed her?.moreless
  • Start of Skynet?

    I really most say I like this show and the way it is going.. This episode was little slower maybe than previous one but really had some exciting storylines. First John who wants to live as a teenage boy should and is not so happy the way his mother treats him..

    And then there is Sarah and that nuclear plant and she hasn't forgotten what Cameron told her - that she died in cancer and oh.. the amount of radiation she probably got.. that's not good for her.

    And the way it all went with that power plant.. how they were in nowin situation.. not good..moreless
  • A glimpse of future battles, a girl for John, and Cameron looking hot in a bar!

    I like how this one continued almost immediately after the last episode. Kudos to the make-up person who had to keep up with John, Sarah, and Cameron's wounds from the previous episode. I liked the introduction of Riley. I like that she's kind of like an outcast just like John. Cameron looked so hot in the bar scene, too. And the glimpse of the future battle to secure the power plant was awesome. And we got to see more Terminator butt kicking! John starting to pull away from Sarah was also interesting too. Look forward to more episodes that balance the action and story like this one did.moreless
Paul Schulze

Paul Schulze

Carl Greenway

Guest Star

Dean Norris

Dean Norris


Guest Star

Tommy Hicks

Tommy Hicks


Guest Star

Busy Philipps

Busy Philipps

Kacy Corbin

Recurring Role

Dean Winters

Dean Winters

Charley Dixon

Recurring Role

Sonya Walger

Sonya Walger

Michelle Dixon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • The writing in blood on the garage wall is as follows.
      On the left side:

      STARK 3007 LA
      TB 3 NQ C84

      On the Right Side:
      P. ALTO
      Last line only shows the top of the letters.

    • A new Terminator is introduced and killed off in this episode: "Greenway." It is not shown how Terminator Greenway was able to take the form of regular Greenway, but it's assumed that he did it in the same way as Cromartie did with George Laszlo last season. But one can argue, how did he have time to go through such an elaborate, time-consuming process when he had only a couple of hours to take control of Greenway's operation? Though if Skynet knew who it needed to replace then it may already have had pictures of Greenway allowing it to create a 'Greenway' T888 in the future and send it back in time already disguised.

    • The body of the "Greenway" terminator is placed by Cameron in a radioactive waste barrel. It's a neat way of getting rid of it without attracting attention, since such barrels are buried deep underground between concrete walls without anyone opening to check what's inside.

    • Goof: Some of the equipment seems to be inadequately installed, especially for a nuclear power plant. When the Greenway terminator opens the valve, and later, when Cameron closes it, the pipes wobble noticeably.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • John: About what you said before, about not being able to trust me.
      Cameron: Yes.
      John: I don't have to prove anything to anyone. Anyone...including you.

    • Riley: 16 November.
      John: Hey, you got it right. What's up?
      Riley: Just practicing.

    • Cameron: You can't be trusted anymore.
      John: Me? I can't be trusted?
      Cameron: You risked your life to fix me. That was a very dangerous thing to do. That could upset people.

    • Sarah: How many months are you?
      Kacy: Seven. I feel like a whale.
      Sarah: You look great.
      Kacy: I'm an orca. With boobs.

    • Sarah: I've seen how you handle it. I send you and the landmine to do this, I guarantee someone's ending up dead.
      Derek: Maybe somebody's supposed to end up dead.
      Sarah: And the other part of that equation is maybe not.

    • Michelle: Sarah's alive? In LA? And these things, they're not human, they're ... I can't ... I, I can't ...
      Charley: I don't love her anymore, babe. Not like that.
      : (slaps him) Of all the things you just told me, Charley, she seems to be the least of our problems.

    • Riley: I wonder where your room is.
      John: I don't know.
      Riley: Let's go look for it. (cuts to them staring at a room filled with toddler toys and furniture)
      John: She can't be serious.

    • Sarah: I'll have what he's having.
      Greenway: I'm drinking tonic water.
      Sarah: I won't have what he's having.

    • Sarah: Every girl loves a uniform.
      Greenway: My ex didn't. At least not the one with my name stitched to it.
      Sarah: Bitch!
      Greenway: Affirmative.

    • Sarah: (about Riley) Now is not the time for this.
      John: Now is not the time? Well, when is the time? For me, I mean, to live my life.

    • Cameron: You have a new friend.
      John: Her name is Riley. And you probably creeped her out. When you talk to people don't stand so close.
      Cameron: I was assessing her threat-level.
      John: Well... Am I safe?
      Cameron: I don't know - girls are complicated.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      New Zealand: October 15th, 2008 on TV2
      Denmark: October 17th, 2008 on TV3
      United Kingdom: October 30th, 2008 on Virgin 1
      Latinoamerica: November 11th, 2008 on Warner Channel
      India: January 13th, 2009 on Zee Cafe
      Australia: March 20th, 2009 on FOX8
      Norway: June 27th, 2009 on TVNorge
      Finland: September 6th, 2009 on Sub
      Czech Republic: September 10th, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: August 12th, 2010 on Markiza

    • In this episode Busy Philipps (Kacy) is noticeably pregnant. Busy's daughter, Birdie Leigh Silverstein, was born on August 13, 2008.

    • Garret Dillahunt (Cromartie) does not appear in this episode.