Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 13

Earthlings Welcome Here

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 15, 2008 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

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out of 10
411 votes
  • Another example of The Sarah Connor Chronicles trying far too hard to be something that it's not and failing miserably.

    Okay guys, big mid-season finale here. Terminator's gonna be off the air until the middle of February right, so we need to keep viewers literally wetting themselves with anticipation for its return… we're gonna need a huge episode with a massive cliffhanger… what can we possibly have happen? Natalie Chaidez pipes up, "Oh I know, Sarah whines about the three dots, goes to a UFO convention, meets a male-to-female post-op transsexual, talks, talks, nearly gets shot, talks a bit more, makes a cup of camomile tea, then ends up at a shadowy 'military facility' where she ends the episode staring up at three dots in the sky. Oh, and Riley tries to off herself." Well, how utterly fantastic does that sound, guys? I mean really… what an episode! I think I might be about to overload on sarcasm! Jesus, what were the production staff thinking? Aside from the occasional gleefully b****y exchange between Cameron and Riley, and a bit of quality acting from the guy that plays Ellison as he tries to teach the AI about God (euck! More religious mumbo jumbo!), this was something of a car wreck that went nowhere, said nothing and succeeded in being unnecessarily bizarre at the same time. We were all expecting some sort of action-packed narrative-progressing bonanza before the break and instead we got a load of boring gumf about UFOs. Well, UFOs being military craft used making technology from the future. But the pace is so snail-like and the story so bogged down in self-examination and, excuse me while I vomit, attempted 'poignancy' that any excitement that may have been generated from this is completely and utterly lost. Another example of The Sarah Connor Chronicles trying far too hard to be something that it's not and failing miserably; if the show carries on like this for the remainder of its second season, yo-yoing between fairly good and dismally bad every other week and flatly refusing to move any narrative strands forward at all, it won't make it past the Spring.
  • Cliffhanger much? The writers definitely were on the ball for this one!

    I've seen plenty of shows which left a mid-season or even season finale where there was a major character dying or possibly in an inescapable life-or-death situation ... but rarely does a show leave with TWO major characters on the brink of death.

    Not only is the lead, our beloved Sarah Connor, bleeding out of a leg wound in the desert when no one knows she's there ... but Riley also decided it was time to cash in her chips and shaved a bit deep!

    Personally, without the last few minutes of the episode though, I thought it was worthless. There was NOTHING revealed up until the final moments, and even then, we know less than what we knew before the episode started ... just more questions.

    Usually, I'd say that's a perfect reason why I watch this show, but in this case, I think it just frustrates me too much since I have to wait even longer for the next episode ... February? Really!?
  • Terminator meets the X-Files - an very surprising ending.

    This show continues to surprise and the depth of the writing is great. I loved the exchange between Elieson and John Henry that ended with, "Am I a child of God?" "Well, that's what we're here to talk more about." Like Battlestar Galactica, the Terminator writers don't shy away from topics that most shows won't touch with a ten foot pole.

    Sarah's three dot obsession, leads her, to all places, a UFO fanatics convention. She finds a man, dressed as a woman to be in hiding, but is really a man who worked for....it's unclear. Sarah chases down the lead, it looks like a dead end, but ends up getting shot. And just when I thought she'd pull herself into a warehouse full of terminators, instead she pulls herself outside to find apparently a UFO coming down. Kudos to the writers for bringing back her waitressing background from Terminator 1.

    Meanwhile John and Cameron start coming to a head over Riley who tries to end her life. It is interesting seeing Riley as the future street urchin, looking very much like Cossette from Les Miserables. The story gets deeper and deeper.

    Now we just have to wait for the next one. And the key question is will the show draw more on Friday night? I hope so.
  • Mom meets an alien; sister and girlfriend square off, girlfriend's secret comes to haunt.

    SPOILER: ok this episode took this series off the deep end. Riley, from the future? What the heck. good thing she killed herself, otherwise I'd be cheering someone to kill her. And Looking for UFOs? this is terminator, not Alien. I don't get why they want to do an X-Files turn for this. This episode has turned the series worse. I'm not sure I'm going to watch it Mondays. Oh wait they moved to Fridays... the day tv shows go to die. Good thing there is a movie coming out soon. It will probably save this franchise, now that this episode killed it.

    So long!
  • Not the strongest episode this season, but still fairly significant nonetheless.

    I've read a lot of complaints about this episode. Words of fillers and concerns that the plot is going nowhere. As a basic rule, I'm inclined to disagree.

    While watching this episode, I saw both major and minor developments in Sarah, Riley, Cameron and Ellison--though the last two seemed to be only clarifications of previous developments.

    Sarah is the major player this episode, with Riley following in a close second. Sarah's obsession with the three dots returns in full force this episode, and for once it seems like there's actually something to it--but no matter what happens, I hold the opinion that Derek is right about the dots being nothing and that Sarah is only creating problems where there are none. But I also think that this is a deleberate attempt by the writers to show just how badly her life is getting to her. She follows a trail leading from Alien conventionists to a company conspiricy and cover-up. The way this was portrayed was actually quite clever in my opinion. Sarah did find something, but like Derek had previously said, it has nothing to do with Skynet. And as a result, Sarah ended up shot in the middle of nowhere.

    Riley's development this episode pretty much confirmed what most of us already knew: that Riley was from the future and is the key piece in keeping John away from Cameron. Her reluctance to manipulate John, coupled with her fear and frustrations led her to attempt suicide. Now I'm not a fan of Riley's character, but the only thing that I really like about her purpose is surprisingly, her failure. Her and Jesse's failure to be exact. Riley was told to keep John away from Cameron, and she did just that. But it seems to me that her and Jesse's plan is both a sucess and an enormous failure at the same time. They are suceeding in keeping John away from Cameron, but at the same time, they are causing John to rebel against his destiny. Maybe if Riley dies, it will be the kick John needs to fully accept who he is and what he's meant to be.

    Riley's development leads into Cameron's. Because Riley is keeping John away from her, Cameron doesn't know quite what to do. Protecting John is her purpose, but she can't do that if John won't let her in. Ever since Riley showed up, we've been seeing hints of Cameron's conflict here, this episode didn't do much to develop it, but it did clarify it. Did she seem jealous to anyone else?

    This episode also developed Ellison's purpose furthur. Now more than ever, we see that he is somehow important to Skynet's development. Who knows, maybe with all the changes that are being made, Judgment Day may come a lot quicker than 2011.


    The only true plot development that may be connected to Skynet was the possible HK that Sarah saw after she had been shot. Now, I actually thought she was having a delusion at first. She's been shown to have them before, but that was in the mental hospital in T2 and it could have been the drugs they were forcing on her. But Sarah has been slowly decending into madness and paranoia over the course of this season, so it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case.


    Okay, favourite moment this episode. I've gotta say that Cameron's scenes with Riley were quite amusing. Especially the bits about the smoothie and the tatoo's. Cameron really does suit a wolf.
  • Expected more..

    Mid season final and after all the things coming on.. maybe I was having my hopes too high - who knows but for really, I expected more. More action, more answers, maybe even more questions.

    I do not like how it all was going all around Riley. She is lying, they got it but they never seems to get why she is lying or what about. And now when she tried to kill her.. is it over with her or? To be honest, I want to see the shock when John realize that Riley is not what he thought.. so I hope she will be around so that others can reveal they were right.

    But most of the episode went around Sarah and her obsession with three dot.. Did she found it in the end? I am not sure but her story did have some excitement but as usually - looks like something exciting is coming out.. but no..
  • Sarah tracks metal alloys through UFOlogists, meeting an enigmatic character who gives her clues to a mysterious warehouse. Weaver continues to push Ellison to adopt John Henry as a moral project.

    "Earthlings" qualifies as a "revealing" episode by giving us more background on several characters. One main story line and three subplots keep the edits coming pretty fast. Most are occupied with Sarah's search for anything she can find about the three-symbol. With an interesting voiceover about Cabeza de Vaca, his capture, and his self-education about his captors, Sarah heads out on the highway searching for meaning. At a UFO Conference, she publicly admits to having nightmares about the dots, to a group of UFOlogists. They all seem pretty normal people, no foil hats or lightsabres. The emphasis is on aliens, of course, but some UFOs have been identified by "Abraham," a blogger, as having high-strength metal, which Sarah thinks may have been a Terminator endoskeleton, and have the three dots. No one knows Abraham, who has disappeared. But an unusual woman (played by Dinah Lenney) approaches Sarah, to ask about her interest.

    There's a side plot about Riley and John; he says she's smiling with her mouth and not her eyes, an interesting observation, and well-put. Many of us do that, including John Henry, whose eyes will never smile. Even a brief appearance by Cameron is ominous, as she questions Riley. What a family member! I wonder if the writers will ever show us that Riley knows the machines on sight, given how much experience she must have had with them in the future.

    The third story line is in 2027 (or before), when Riley, a disheveled fugitive, meets Jesse for the first time. Jesse befriends her, and now we finally see how Jesse brought her to the present day. Riley is stunned at the status of the world, pre-Judgment Day, fascinated by ordinary objects, things she has never seen in her day - or only vaguely remembered. We could question why they returned to this time, when a much earlier arrival would allow living out their lives without fear of Judgment Day? Ok, since Jesse came to this time, she is still committed to protecting John in some way (we think).

    In a Subaru Outback and a Jeep, the unnamed woman and Sarah drive to an old Airstream trailer in the desert, but she says Abraham does not live there. The resident has numerous photos and sketches of a strange object, an alien spacecraft to some, but to Sarah something related to the three dots.

    As the conversation continues, she says Alan Park is a pseudonym for an MIT researcher in LIDAR, light detection and ranging (using lasers), a remote sensing technology for which the main application is robots (they think - it's actually in surveying and geospatial mapping). What is she doing in the desert? Looking for answers to life and the government - she has mapped sightings of drones in the southern California desert near her - other sightings are of the mysterious Abraham.

    At ZeiraCorp, Ellison expresses reluctance to get involved with John Henry, as Weaver offers him a chance to teach the machine moral development. When he protests that it killed 20 FBI agents, she claims that the programming that allowed that attack is gone. When Weaver hands him a remote control, he does what every guy does - pushes a button, and John Henry shuts down. And when JH completes his development - how powerful will he be? Ellison wonders. "Teach him right from wrong," she says. And if you were Ellison what would you do? It's a heavy burden - he cannot walk away, yet abhors staying - if he refuses, he must realize that the outcome could be worse.

    The woman tells Sarah about Abraham's appearance at a diner in the desert, while Sarah presses for details. This provides a brief interlude about Sarah's memory of her life - a spinning knife, "No Fate" cut into the table surface. She finds the woman in the ladies' room, but it's a shocker - the woman was wearing a wig - it's a man. "I'm Abraham, I'm the one you're looking for." Abraham even takes on a slightly different voice, making this a pretty good characterization by Ms. Lenney. Here's a veteran actress playing a man playing a woman. Worth seeing again to learn how she did this intriguing acting job. Back at the Airstream, Abraham now admits he's really Alan Park, insisting that the blog is all true. Alan was in a major project involving LIDAR research, with access to advanced technology. She started blogging, then things happened - a break-in, a near-accident, so Alan decided to disappear. But he trusts Sarah for some reason, revealing that he stole a piece of metal - stored at a warehouse, so Sarah and Alan head for the facility.

    Riley, meanwhile, thinks back on her first days with Jesse, months ago in a previous episode. Jesse finally tells her what she is to do, as she lets Riley out at the school where John is a student. Later, when Riley leaves the house, Cameron sees her bruise and asks how she got hurt. Cameron is detecting more suspicious activity by Riley - "I like your star, your tattoo, I'm thinking of getting one," Cameron says, looking at the star on Riley's wrist, obviously made in some post-JD future, and clearly Cameron must know of it's origin and meaning, but she is cagey. A tiger or a wolf, Cameron says she wants for her tattoo, then saying she needs to talk to John. This must be another discussion of Riley's security risk.

    Ellison visits with his Pastor, filling us in on more of his background - he was from a family of seven, and hoped to have several children with Lila. But she graduated from Quantico (the FBI Academy) just before September 11, 2001, ending their family plans, and eventually their marriage.

    At the storage facility, Alan digs out a safe, but it's empty - the metal has been stolen, but Sarah is skeptical. As they leave, they are attacked by a cycle-riding machine-gun totin' assailant, but everyone escapes. Sarah accuses Alan of being a liar and a fake - Alan asks, "Who are you working for?" Alan is not used to gun attacks, but Sarah is, hardened to the violence, realizing herself how she has changed. They talk. Alan was chased away from his other life, but into a more fulfilling life out away from civilization. But Alan cannot remember where the secret government lab was. Sarah believes a hypno-regression therapist, who was at the UFO conference, may be able to help Alan remember.

    Riley goes to see Jesse, who is alarmed by this breach of her security. Riley is not keeping it together, and wants to talk. Knowing something of Riley's past (in the future) we might wonder why Riley is not combat-hardened like Jesse? How did she escape the responsibilities of the future? Perhaps she was equivalent to "Allison from Palmdale," only able to escape the machines, never to learn to fight back. And Jesse clarifies Riley's task - "You are her to keep John Connor away from "Her." That would be Cameron, a tall order, surely beyond Riley's capability. Thus far in the series, the Riley character has shown no such ability to take any drastic action, only to wheedle John away from good decisions, and in fact, as Cameron continually points out, creating a security risk.

    She's lying, Cameron tells John of Riley. John is defensive; Cameron wants the truth. They have to break into Riley's room, finding her on the floor, her wrists cut, blood everywhere. This is nearly an annoying script diversion, no doubt angering some fans who tire of her drain on the Connors' time and attention, yet not being an effective antagonist. But we have to wait, knowing how TSCC slowly reveals the truth about some characters, at the rate of one brief scene per episode sometimes.

    Ellison tries chess with John Henry, who remains plugged in to the AI, but the absence of Dr. Sherman slows his growth, he says, while Ellison tries to tell the AI that human life is sacred, all God's creation. "Am I God's child?" he asks, a chilling question. How would one answer that? Given the future of Skynet, it's a potentially important question. There's no answer - they continue their game to checkmate, John Henry the winner, of course.

    The therapist uses hypnosis on Alan - with Sarah is listening outside via radio. Alan rode in a closed van along a dirt road, to a warehouse, without windows. As she nearly completes the regression of this trip memory, Sarah hears shots, and inside finds both Alan and the therapist shot to death. We're losing a lot of interesting characters! Another death in the quest, but it appears we will not learn who is behind this assassination.

    Sarah has only the recording of Alan's story, and uses it to follow the route into the desert to the government warehouse. At this point, we have to question this storyline - Sarah is taking great risks to track down some clues on her own. Why would she not have Derek along? Good military (and police) procedure always requires backup and sufficient force to handle potential hazards, so this script leaves some big questions. We would like the characters to show better judgment after all their experience. Sarah enters, finding a man - "Where's the metal?" she demands. She shoots a warning shot. The man claims he installs air conditioning, and has reasonable i.d., but Sarah is careless again - distracted, she is shot in the leg, but then he looks pretty careless, too, getting so close that she can fight him for his own gun, and this time he's shot dead. Wounded and bleeding, Sarah pushes herself outside, in her delerium seeing images of herself in the past...a waitress, beckoning herself outside, and overhead, the brilliant sun descends - she sees the image of the three dots, one of the machines from the future? A dramatic scene fades out, leaving us hanging for the next two months!

    "Earthlings" has a couple annoying plot points and questionable decisions by Sarah and John, the latter continuing his unjustified defense of Riley and the security problems she causes. I see a more dramatic episode coming, where the consequences of these mistakes will once again be felt by everyone. It's also an important turning point for Ellison - he now seems committed to ZeiraCorp and trying to make the best of an ominous threat. Despite those writing shortcomings, it's all good TSCC - for fans it's always worth seeing again. Twice is routine for me - always lots of dialog that escapes me the first viewing, clarity coming along on the repeat. Re-run rating B.
  • A satisfying mid-season cliffhanger

    Some fans seem to be worried about the pacing of the plot. Others have gone so far as to suggest the writers are casting about aimlessly for direction. I couldn't disagree more. I think this is the kind of series that rewards patience and careful attention, and the writers have proven to be more creative and flexible than most.

    After the previous episode, I was certain that Sarah's obsession with the three dots had been vindicated in some way. After all, the rest of the team was happy to march to her drum when saving the Fields family. Perhaps I overlooked John's absence a little too much. Apparently Sarah's obsession is still a problem for him, and in this episode, it becomes a problem for her. In the end, we still don't know if this is the "right" interpretation of the three dots, but it did manage to expose some interesting information.

    I love the fact that the writers took actual proported "drone" pictures, the kind of images that have been circulating on the internet and various cable programs for years, and incorporated them into the "Terminator" mythos. It makes sense that the drones would actually exist, and that they might be connected to SkyNet and its unusual technology.

    This episode also dropped a huge surprise in terms of Riley. Fleshing out her arrival in the past and the brutal nature of Jesse's treatment of her, it's not hard to understand her decision. Riley was trapped between a rock and a hard place, and Jesse had tossed her to the wolves. With Cameron onto her, and no place to go, was a suicide attempt her only recourse?

    If Riley does survive, John will likely blame Cameron. If Riley doesn't survive, then John will definitely blame Cameron. Either way, Riley's desperation move fulfills her mission and brings her closer to John. And then Jesse can achieve whatever goal she's had in mind. I doubt very much, given the subtlety thus far, that Jesse just wants Cameron out of the picture. If she wants John's protector and future advisor gone, it's to fill that void with someone else.

    With all the Connor family intrigue, it would be easy to overlook Ellison's subplot. Not only do we get to know the reason why Ellison and his wife are no longer together, but we now understand why he's compelled, against his better judgment, to help Weaver on her latest little project. I'm still not sure why a terminator would want to have a human being teach an artificial intelligence human concepts of morality, but it does open a number of interesting doors.
  • This "Fall finale" raises far more questions than it answers. With three plot lines, it's another one of the more hard-to-follow installments, but is worth watching more than once to extract all the intriguing plot twists and imagery.

    This was the first time an episode story line was all about Sarah's journey, which is surprising considering the series title. Unfortunately for her, it appears to be about her descent into PTSD-induced detachment from the love and humanity that has animated her until now. This dysfunction inspires behavior of questionable utility (one is tempted to say, sanity) and ultimately leads her to a breathtakingly reckless choice that ends in a chilling cliff-hanger. Along the way she experiences intriguing flashbacks of her former self. A second story line concerns the relationship between Riley and John, and Cameron's growing certainty that Riley is not what she seems. Although John forbids Cameron to "make her" tell the truth, there is a flashback subplot in this story that finally explains the relationship between Riley and Jesse for viewers. This part is also interesting in its depiction of Riley's trajectory from her wretched, near-animal existence in the future (her past) and her wonder at the creature comforts of the present day. Fans will be gratified or disappointed, depending on their previous guesses about this pair, but if nothing else, it's nice to get some answers. This story has a second cliff-hanger, for those who are into doubling their suspense. Third, we have Ellison's dilemma at being confronted with the challenge of teaching ethics to the "John Henry" program. What an opportunity, if he overcome his horror at having to work with the Cromartie chassis. This story also gives fans a full answer to the question of what came between Ellison and his ex-wife, Lila. Turns out that answer plays a key role in his decision to take on the "teaching" of this strange software "child." His early efforts are a bit unnerving, but let's hope to God he succeeds. All in all, another solid effort from the creators of the series.