Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 15

Desert Cantos

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 20, 2009 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (15)

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out of 10
377 votes
  • The investigation into the factory continues, link to Skynet established.

    Finally everyone is on board with Sarah with regards to the strange factory, which was vaporized in the previous episode. I think that in this show a lot of episodes stand on their own, because Sarah is pretty agile, not feeling the ill effect of being shot in the leg. Our group attendant the funeral of the victims of the factory incident, but discover that something is not right. Apparently the man that shot Sarah did not perish. So they sniff, and sniff and discover a secret lab in that man's house, with a lot of monitors - looks like a guard station. Going further they find themselves at a swamp where "Skynet" ship emerges from and flies into a truck. Interesting, so we were the ones that actually produced those? Can't wait till next episode.
  • Sarah, John, Cameron and Derek investigate the company town connected to the destroyed factory while Weaver sends her own man into town in search of a potential survivor.

    Not the best episode thus far. This episode seemed to focus more on the drama of the families of the people who were killed in the warehouse explosion during last week's episode, than on the main storyline. Not that there wasn't pieces of the over-arcing plot present, just very small ones. This latest installment in the series did feature some lack luster action in the chase to find the lone survior of the tragedy. Sadly, Cameron seemed to have little or no part to play in this episode, which is a waste since Summer Glau is such a talented actress and the character she plays is an huge untapped resource/mystery. Hopefully the next episode will bring back the amazing action sequences we've become accustomed to and if we're really lucky we'll discover a little more about Cameron's shadowy background.
  • Not much happening

    Ok.. it looked maybe little filler or just badly balanced episode as the ending did promise something and maybe it was something major but so far.. the road leading to it was really weird, not much cathcing and far from being fascinated.

    The scenery of the funeral itself was not too bad - it continued where it was left at midseason break.. and on that light previous episode seems little pointless but ok.. it had it's beauty too.

    I think there was nothing I liked so much to mention or nothing I did not liked to mention but in the end it just felt like another hour pass.. not too badly past but still.. no emotion.. no excitement..
  • Slow but steady

    Much like the previous episode, this installment takes its time getting to its point. That's good for fans of the show, who by now understand that the pacing is going to be measured if nothing else. That's not particularly good in any other sense, because it doesn't even try to give new viewers a hook to bring them to the table. This is reflected in the ratings, which will probably lead to a cancellation after this season is over.

    This episode is a slow boil, focusing heavily on the theme of coping with loss. After Sarah's ordeal in the previous episode, this makes a certain amount of sense. But in a way, it's an interesting smokescreen for the true purpose. It's not just how people cope with loss, but how revealing it is when they don't. Zoe's behavior doesn't fit, and it leads the Connor Gang to the truth about the "heating and cooling" company.

    More importantly, it vindicates Sarah and her decision to pursue the drones as a possible explanation for those mysterious three dots. The drone turns out to be a prototype to the hunter-killer drones that have been seen during the future war. It makes sense that SkyNet would run its development through the model of government black projects. The implication is that ZeiraCorp, run by Weaver, was the one running that show, and Weaver eliminated the human work force to protect SkyNet interests.

    This would appear to verify that Weaver is working to build the foundation for Judgment Day, which has not always been clear in the past. This still leaves open the question of why Weaver would bring in Ellison to teach John Henry human ethics. This may be explained by Weaver's own use of Ellison to better understand human emotional responses. Previous episodes mentioned that selected humans (Greys) were selected to teach terminators how to understand and mimic human behavior. Ellison seems to have been recruited for the same purpose.

    Where the previous episode seemed to touch on many ongoing plot threads, however lightly, this was focused on the mystery of what happened at the factory and the truth about what Sarah saw. While that continues to place the focus of the show on Sarah, as one would expect, it may have been a little too sedate. There is a vague sense that all of this is building to something substantial, but right now, it's not quite in focus.
  • My rating probably echoes the concensus about this episode. The episode was informitive, but something tells me it comes too late.

    After the events in "The Good Wound", this episode winds down and focuses on building up events for later. The series has had a few of these, but I thought this one in particular was a bit long-winded. The end made it worthwhile though and it's the only reason I didn't rate this a six.

    Sarah is clearly going through what John went through after his first kill. To my knowledge, Sarah had never killed someone before the man in the factor. Okay, he's not dead, but Sarah thought he was. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with her dreams. The constant hunting is really getting to her--something that's going to affect her to the end of the season.

    I'm missing Cameron. The last two episodes, she's only had a few lines. Summer Glau is one of the stronger cast members and Cameron is one of the most popular characters. At this stage the series can't afford to be holding their aces back.

    With the way Terminator is heading, they really need to pick up the pace. The first half of the season only had a few really good episodes in my opinion, the rest were just alright. They didn't really stand out. I don't know why the series did what it did this season. I can understand the desire to become less self-contained and less serialised, but they barely had any episodes that really dealt exclusively with the overarching plot. Shows that have similar formats to Terminator do this. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes to mind) I know the main plot AND style in Terminator is incredibly different and that's a good thing, but I thought this season would have had them looking for the Turk, but in the series it seems like they're forgotten about it. I don't even remember them mentioning it since the season opening. The only thing I can think of that can be called an overarching plot is what happened at the factory.

    Aside from the end, not a lot actually happened in this episode. We found out that the guy Sarah shot wasn't dead and that she wasn't having a delusion about the HK. Not much, but at least it's something.

    Another thing that doesn't really have anything to do with the episide, but with the series as a whole. I don't see Terminator being picked up for a third season and that's really disappointing. I hope that the season finale doesn't end with a cliffhanger like last time. It should leave the series open, but it has to have some kind of closure at the same time. That's just my opinion on that.

    I really hope the series picks up, because it's proved it can be a lot better than this episode.
  • Good show! Been better, but contains some important information, so hopefully the drama will add to the excitement of future action.

    Spoiler alert: I'm confused as to why some reviewers think the "security guard" Sarah shot is still alive. The video they saw of him shooting Mike, the girl's ex, was recorded. I think Cameron found it while searching through the video feeds. The man driving the truck was the girl's father, who John deduced didn't die in the fire.

    Anyway, maybe I missed something, but I'm pretty sure the dude Sarah shot is dead, passed on, is no more, has ceased to be, has expired, he's a stiff, bereft of life, rests in peace, pushing up the daisies, his metabolic processes are now history, he's kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!! He is an ex-security guard!!

    BTW, I thought this was a good episode. Not as exciting, or as active as, say, the previous episode, but I think if T2.5 fans are patient, they'll find that the slower, more informative episodes will pay off, as they have in the past. Hang in there, folks! This could turn out to be a wild ride!
  • A bit slow to start, but loaded with drama, and a shocking cliffhanger that begins to put together the puzzle.

    The episode starts off at a funeral. Fun, eh? The whole crew is along. As you watch, you soon discover the entire EP is talking, exploring, and more talking. It may seem boring to some, but the episode does a great job at getting it's plot and idea across seamlessly. The episode is about the Connors visiting the funeral of those who died due to a building explosion in the previous episode. On the outside, the Connors were a mourning family, with Sarah as their Co-worker (a sandwich lady). In reality, the Connors are searching for any information they can get about the factory.

    As their investigation goes on, they discover NO ONE knew what was happening at the factory. Those who knew what it was were now all dead, ashes on the ground.

    The Connors race against time to uncover the truth before skynet's operatives can bury it forever. The ending will leave you wanting more.
  • Kinda mad at the moment....

    im mad they canceled the show. I still gotta finish the 2nd season. I watched half of it. and my dvr didn't work anymore. So i got internet and I can finally watch it online...im drunk. I wish Fox didn't cancel this great amazing show. I loved it. its better than dollhouse which Got renewed for another season. I thin Terminator Sarah Connor chronicles should have gotten renewed. Terminator Bring it back...........its da **** and we need it. Terminator Bring it back...........its DA **** and we need it. Terminator Bring it back...........its da **** and we need it. Terminator Bring it back...........its da **** and we need it. Come on Fox...don't be ****
  • To much nothing

    To much of nothing happened in this episode. I am far from ready to give up on this show because of a couple slow episodes. Too much time is spent at a funeral where not much happens except for finding out that one of people from the warehouse is still alive. Sarah talks with the widow of the man she shot while there and that shot here. Sarah follows the man that is looking for the man who is still alive into a house and finds a secret passage behind the staircase which leads down to a station for monitoring all of the families that worked at the warehouse. John figures out where the man who lived went and when they get there they find the man that was looking for him shot dead. All of the sudden from the pool of water springs some kind of spaceship in the shape of what Sarah has been obsessing about and it flies away. It arrives at it's destination where the man that lived is waiting with a transfer truck and the thing flies into the truck and he drives away.
  • There are times when I ask myself why I continue to watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    There are times when I ask myself why I continue to watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; they usually occur just after the latest episode has finished (legally) downloading and I'm faced with having to make the decision of whether to press 'play' on it or the newest instalment of Battlestar Galactica, which airs the same night. Invariably, Battlestar always wins. I subsequently tend to spend a few days pontificating, putting off the inevitable and when I eventually do come around to sticking the ruddy thing on, it's usually when I have at least one other thing to distract me. So perhaps it's slightly unfair that I deign to review the thing when I'm probably not giving it the level of attention that it naturally deserves. But then, if it bothered to actually be good, solid entertainment week in, week out, I'd be less swayed by other things. Hell, I'd be less swayed if it could muster up a quality episode every couple of weeks or so. As it currently stands, the show has been unquestionably lacklustre for quite some time, with even then one above average episode that I can remember, 'Alpine Fields', still being a distraction from the overall season arc. If the writing staff would dust themselves down and get on with it, I'd question my resolve to work through the season a whole hell of a lot less.

    To be fair to 'Desert Cantos', we do see a slight improvement in the quality of the writing this week, even if it is only because something actually happens. It's not much, granted, but at least it takes the show a couple of baby steps forward towards the inevitable climax of the previously disparate Connor and Weaver narratives. The family work together (which is incredibly refreshing to see) without any distractions from useless Jesse or even more useless Riley to acquire some additional information on the nature of the work going on at the mysterious warehouse that we first saw in 'Earthlings Welcome Here'. A mildly intriguing mystery ensues, in which it is determined that one of the supposedly dead fathers is actually alive, and the whole thing is paid off nicely with the sudden appearance of a drone from the bubbling waters beside a bunch of dead cows. There's also a welcome burst of tension imbued into proceedings when Sarah and John are wandering around the interconnected houses of the warehouse workers and particularly when Sarah uncovers the basement area with its unusual CCTV system and technology. Bear McCreary's music is perfectly pitched here and ensures that you're perched on the edge of your seat, unsure of both the fate of the character and the nature of what she will find.

    It's a pity, then, that this is where the good stuff ends. There is still far, far too great an emphasis placed on exploring the psychological make-up of the characters involved in the narrative and in 'Desert Cantos'' case, it's made all the more frustrating by the fact that it's people that we've never met before, are poorly sketched out in the dialogue, and that we therefore don't care about one iota, who are given the episode's undivided attention. I mean Christ on a pedalo, look how long it takes to actually get to the point where something interesting happens! We spend the first twenty minutes dancing around the obvious issue - that the Connors need some sort of lead - by essentially musing about how horrible funerals are. Huh. Well, there's a highly poignant observation if ever I saw one. Oh wait, but it wouldn't be realistic if they got the answers they needed straight away, right? Well, no, it wouldn't. So why not cut the slow-moving procession through every facet of the flaming funeral (the episode even predicates its structure on the stages of the thing for God's sake! It actually divides it up ON-SCREEN) and show us snippets of the thing? Dare to get us beyond the point of one minor plot development each episode and actually do something worthwhile with the story! And while you're at it, get a better casting director: the actresses playing the mother and child whose husband/father didn't die are truly abysmal. There are times in which they come across as if they're reading their lines off a Teleprompter; the most notable of which is probably the scene in the basement. Mind you, this is the show that cast Shirley Manson as its central villain so maybe that's too much to ask. She's cringe worthy again here actually, especially when she utters the ridiculous line "excuse me Mr. Ellison, I'm feeling emotional." You're telling me that any sane human being who was in contact with machines that talk exactly like this wouldn't cotton on to the fact that something was up? Pah!

    While this is something of an improvement on the dire 'Earthlings Welcome Here' and 'The Good Wound', 'Desert Cantos' still showcases many of the problems that are currently inherent in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It's far too slow moving and focuses its attention on tropes and characters that it's difficult to muster any interest in. The show continues to stare blankly at its navel, only occasionally choosing to look up to give its viewers a tiny snippet of something relevant to that pesky little season-spanning narrative that the cast and crew seem to have forgotten about. Things need to pick up fast if there's going to be any interest left anywhere in this programme: sadly, the synopsis for next week's episode indicates that Sarah will be visiting a clinic for help when she starts having nightmares. Again. I despair, I really do.
  • The Connors and company mix with the families of the victims of the warehouse blast to learn the plant's connection with Skynet. They discover a survivor and get confirmation of Sarah's vision of a drone.

    "Cantos" was a surprising episode on several fronts - first, that the whole team would work together to learn everything possible about the desert warehouse destroyed by Weaver in "The Good Wound." Second, there's no Riley or Jesse in this story, so it's easier to follow, with only a short subplot about Weaver and Ellison, and no John Henry. It's more character-driven, as Sarah and even John try to befriend the families of the 32 dead in the explosion. The townspeople, in mourning, all have some clues about what went on at the warehouse, several well aware that it was a front for some type of government activity. Sarah quickly gains the trust of the widow of Winston, whom she shot to death last week, and even gains the key to a storage unit, in which she finds bloody rags. The terrain resembles the Santa Barbara area, and sets of scenes are captioned as successive parts of the mourning process for the town - vigil, procession, burial, wake etc.

    In an early scene, a self-proclaimed OSHA investigator looking into the explosion is seen phoning Weaver - who knows that there was one survivor of her attack on the facility. Surely she knew that immediately after blowing the place, but she didn't stick around to pursue him herself. But Derek quickly picks up the scent on this sneaky character, and gives him a ride, learning that he's evasive, and suspicious.

    John and Cameron also work the crowd, befriending a young woman named Zoe, who has an annoying boyfriend, and going with them for his father's funeral. Enroute, they find dead livestock near the road - there's no wasted scenes in TSCC, so this is a tip about some future event. When the OSHA investigator also appears, Sarah trails him to a break-in at a vacant house. Both Cameron and John, meanwhile, detect a serious lack of mourning behavior on the part of the young woman.

    Ellison visits Weaver, sympathizing with her on the anniversary of the death of Mr. Weaver. Ellison asks about little Savannah - why she is not present for the occasion, but to all his questions, Weaver only has questions. "I'm feeling emotional," she says, which we can see in her eyes is an automated response. She calls for Savannah to be brought in, while dismissing Ellison.

    At the wake, Derek, John, and Cameron act like members of the family, despite their inappropriate combat-biker duds. Cameron's ability to observe brings out that the woman and her daughter have not looked at the portrait of their supposedly-deceased father. John concludes that the man is not dead, so Cameron's ability to interpret human behavior exceeds that of Derek and John. A few more insights like this, and the writers may have to show Derek giving Cameron some respect.

    Sarah follows the investigator into a vacant house, another in a series of poor decisions - a potentially dangerous situation - she has her gun drawn, but has no backup or support. Even worse, the other three team members are eating hors d'oeuvres at the wake, while Sarah is in a dark basement. I'd like the TSCC writers to stick to some "rules of engagement" and protocols for all their activities. Otherwise, how is John going to learn good military procedures? Then she finds an elaborate security console, with monitors for virtually every home in town. She follows a corridor to a garage above - which is right across the street from the house where the "fake wake" is taking place.

    John gets caught red-handed searching Zoe's house, but talks his way out of it, telling her he knows that her father is alive, but then she points out a hidden camera - she is living in fear of the surveillance.

    When all four bring Zoe and her mother to the surveillance console, they talk openly of a Skynet work camp, right in front of Zoe and her mother - that all seems a bit indiscreet. What about "need to know?" Sarah wants to know what was being built in the plant, but the mother denies knowing anything, until Zoe admits that her father is alive, while Sarah accuses them of sleepwalking through their lives, paying no attention to the dangerous conspiracy going on right under their homes. Cameron finds archive footage of Winston and Zoe's father killing residents in their homes, so things are not as they seemed. John finds a muddy boot, which leads them back to the watering hole where the dead cattle were found.

    Weaver makes another attempt to learn how to be a mother, or at least perform a believable impersonation of one, but in a clever use of dialog, she repeats to Savannah verbatim the words that Ellison used to describe his own father's demise. Saves on original thought in that cold, impersonal brain of hers. Little Savannah misses her daddy and his reading to her, but Weaver simply asks questions of this small human, offering to read also. One of the best lines of the episode is dished out by little Savanna - "Your lap is cold" she says to her faux Mommy. Wow, chilling dialog, as the machine still plays Pinocchio, trying to become a better human impostor. Why, just to avoid detection? Or to learn more about these mysterious beings who don't follow rigid programming.

    Out at the watering hole, now in the dark, the latest carcass they find is the investigator, shot dead. They are out of ideas on what is going on, until they see the pond bubbling...and suddenly a drone emerges from the depths, hovering for a few moments, illuminating them, surely a security lapse if the wrong forces see them. Off it flies, like a surveillance scout from "Close Encounters." Our entire cast stands flat-footed.

    Finally, we see a parked semi - the machine swoops down, landing inside the trailer, and the driver is Zoe's father! Now we wonder if he is a Terminator - or is this more of the government operation? Presumably he discovered the investigator at the surveillance console, then killed him, as indicated by Sarah's discovery of blood on the tunnel floor - but why simply dump the body out at the watering hole? Possibly the drone is the one in Sarah's delirious vision in "Good Wound." It's a nice cliffhanger - I hope the team will discuss this sighting in the next episode - and that there's some resolution about the destination of the semi.

    There's a lot of content in "Cantos," and even some of the townfolk would be good to see in continuing roles, for an episode or two more. "Cantos" was an intriguing story that drew us in and kept our full attention - we don't need major violence in every story. Much of the enjoyment is the atmosphere that the series has created - somber, always threatening, conspiracies coming from every direction, fear of detection always present. If you're a fan and regular viewer, this can be enough to keep you going while waiting at times for your favorite character to be featured, or for a major plot development. I'm pretty easy to please - TSCC has proved itself as a superior production in many ways, and the sometimes-long story arc is fine with me. Keep them coming. Re-run rating B.
  • Too much character exploration

    OK as many others have said this CANNOT continue. This is an action series with NO ACTION!!! People that are dedicated viewers will suffer through this but casual viewers and people who are just checking the series out for the first time will say "screw this" and NEVER come back. The ratings for this series are borderline at best and they can't afford to take forever to develop a relatively simple story arc.
    What ever happened to trying to find the turk? They left that strand swinging in the wind. Now they are on this "three dots" bit.
    Whatever happened to the Riley/Cameron confrontation they teased us with?
    I don't want stuff blowing up and shootouts every week but action can take many forms. Things need to be resolved and not just in the season finale.
    I like this series a lot and would like to see it continue but episodes like this that have only minimal forward movement will kill it for sure.
  • Boring!

    I hope the writers get to the point soon, because I won't keep watching if this series degenerates into another "alien" (as in beings from another world) or flying saucer sci-fi! They've been treading thin ice the last few episodes, and I'm about to give up. The beauty of the Terminator genre is that while being sci-fi, it's not run of the mill sci-fi! With the exception of time travel and cybernetic organisms, all rules as we know them apply. It's still bullets and knives and fighting, NOT alien experiments and other assorted nonsense that is a dime-a-dozen out there in TV land! If this show takes the wrong turn and becomes yet another boring "flying saucer" sci-fi, what will be the point of watching it?
  • is this terminator as we know? you know, fear of the unknown and the machines? where is all that? it has to focus more on the action, and i mean now!

    i thought they were gonna push it hard for this 9 episodes to make it into a third season but they are still doing the same mistake. it doesn't feel like terminator at all. they are lingering around drama too much. it's too girly. they are not telling any stuff right. they are trying to make it mysterious but it's no use when you know the end of the story. it should focus more on the action, and i mean now! and they say that the next episode is about sarah's nightmares. Again?! Come oon! havent they done that, and all the other girly stuff about her already?

    if i have a single other episode of sarah walking around secretly with his gone, questioning random people, who's drama's are the main focus, and cameron doing nothing, i'm probably done and out.
  • An entire episode shot pretty much in a single location. It might sound dull but it wasn't. I fear for the show because it spends much time layering the storyline and I fear the average viewer wants more things blowing up and guns shooting. I like it.

    The Good:
    -- I like seeing the team working together instead of arguing.
    -- I like the balance between caring for people and yet sometimes knowing the best thing isn't a full disclosure of the truth.
    -- The storyline with "John Henry" is quite interesting. If the female T-1000 just wants him to kill, then why does she want him to have ethics? She is about something far larger than simply creating Terminators to kill of humans.
    -- The storyline with her "daughter" is still just outright scary. I hope someone saves this little girl in the end.

    The Bad:
    -- In Season One, John and Cameron seemed to get closer and closer. This season has this whole Riley sub-plot going on. I know they need to resolve this but I am interested in seeing the relationship grow versus endless tension. Overall, although I like the storylines, I feel Cameron's storyline has been very underdeveloped of late.
    -- I simply fear we are all investing time in something that will soon end. Like BSG, I think many watch this show via Hulu or from Fox Online but its ratings are low by traditionally gauging it. Like Jericho, we're watching a great show which will be cut short.
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