Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 11

Self Made Man

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 01, 2008 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
439 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A Terminator sent to the wrong time causes catastrophic results changing history.

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  • What? Hold on a second. Eh? Rewind that back to the start for me would ya… I'm not sure I quite believe what I've just sat through.

    What? Hold on a second. Eh? Rewind that back to the start for me would ya… I'm not sure I quite believe what I've just sat through. Thirty minutes of Cameron talking to a bone cancer victim about suspected terminators, suicide and donuts? Fifteen minutes of John and Riley being teenagers and, like, making out and stuff? Really? Is that ALL 'Self-Made Man' gave us? Are you sure? I just don't want to believe it. After all the interesting developments in the over-arching plot that occurred in last week's episode, you'd at least expect some form of pay off somewhere. Guess again. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Toni Graphia's episode actually manages to have absolutely no relevance to anything that's happened in the past few weeks AT ALL, and also does nothing to advance any other existing plot in any way, shape or form (oh come on… we all knew John and Riley were doing the naughty). That's no mean feat, guys. Complete and utter irrelevance is difficult to achieve. Oh sure, this is all nicely executed; the cinematography and attention to detail in the construction of the mock-newsreel footage, radio broadcasts and all the other mediums that Cameron and her disabled friend use to piece together Stark's life is impeccable and looks fantastic… but did it not just bore the **** pants off you? The viewer solves the 'mystery' that the pair work through in about ten seconds flat at the start of the episode, so we spend the remainder twiddling our thumbs, waiting for, like, the relevance to kick in. Which it never does. Ever. And no, I don't care about Cameron's emotional development. She's a freaking robot. And I care even less about John and Riley. As the oh-so-wise Bis once said, 'give me action and drama and less of this inane, pointless drivel'. Okay, so they only said the first bit but I bet that's what they would say if they were sat down with this episode. Honest.moreless
  • Feels like it was written by an amateur...

    This episode just felt lazily put together. It's clearly designed to develop Cameron, but is hamfisted in the execution - particularly the wheelchair bound librarian. The actor valiantly gnaws at the scenery, but is hamstrung by the fact his character exists only as a tool for the writer - one to examine Cameron's issues and anxieties. Especially painful is the 'frozen in time' monologue, which emerges from the flimsiest of pretexts as a romantically ironic reflection on Cameron's existance. I am all for exploring theme and character motivation, but with Terminator it increasingly feels as if the world around John, Sarah and Co exists only for them. And we need to believe in the world and the people in it, or the world John is striving to save may as well be the matrix.moreless
  • Felt a little bit too familiar to the episode "Alison from Palmdale" and a little out of place with the revelations that took place last week.

    Pros: The terminator story was told very well and I liked the concept of a Terminator being sent back in the wrong time. Great acting from Summer Glau, and I liked the librarian for the most part. Cons: I didn't understand why this episode needed to be in here, especially with "Alison from Palmdale" already being told. I would have thought that we would be getting a big revelation from her Also I didn't really understand why the terminator needed to assassinate that mayor. And John's plot was fairly laughable, especially the part where he lost at Gears of War. Riley seemed wasted in this episode, especially considering what happened to her last episode.moreless
  • While this episode is primarily just filler, as it adds nearly no meat to the overall storyline, it's still a very well-written and character-driven episode.

    The dialog between Cameron and Eric was great. When he told her, "You have no idea what it is like to have something inside you that is broken." -- I laughed out loud. Cameron's chip is broken and yet she continues to go on. From other Terminator references, we know that Terminators with damaged chips are often erratic and completely malfunction, yet Cameron seems to have found a way to compensate for the damage to her chip. Just as Eric has found ways to compensate for the Cancer in his body.

    Probably the strongest and best part of this episode were the performances by the two major guest stars: Billy Lush (Eric) and Todd Stashwick (T-888/Myron Stark). Most people will probably recognize Billy Lush from his recurring roles as Kevin Donnelly on "The Black Donnellys" and/or as Trombley from "Generation Kill". Todd Stashwick is probably recognized by most from his role as Dale from "The Riches". Both of them are talented actors who shined in this episode, though Stashwick's talent as a comedic actor were not put to use, he still was able to use the experience of playing the inbred and dull-faced Dale Malloy from "The Riches" to good use when playing the T-888 in this episode.

    On the other hand, Billy Lush was wonderful opposite Cameron, bringing out the "cyborg" emotional side we've all seen growing, whether it's her programming and imitation of human emotion, or whether she is truly becoming a sentient being capable of emotion ... only time will tell.moreless
  • Riley tries to reach out to the armored John yet again, while the truly armored T-babe shows us what her sleepless nights are really like as she battles a Terminator 90 years in the past.moreless

    This focused on the triangle between Riley interrupting the John and T-babe that will be more prominent in the future and delving into the failing attempts of Riley to get closer to John, of John to let anyone close, or of T-babe to feel emotion.

    This was a well written and wonderfully constructed episode. Here we have 3 or actually 4 attempts that further elaborate more aspects of these characters and how this is timeless. Riley seems more disparate than in previous episodes -- a character which was once strong and vibrant and that faced off against a terminator is actually so shattered and completely broken that future caught up to her and beat her down. Meanwhile, T-babe is facing her past and her programming in dealing with another terminator. Her humanity that viewers may think be growing is shown yet again to be stagnant as the librarian ultimately gives her a failing report card. And far beyond that, the past T-888 is so set in his ways and his programming, that he seems to act beyond reason to fixate on a unique place and unique target... the specific definition that he maintains probably says a whole lot more than anything else... there were countless other ways attack the same situation... a different place? an earlier ancestor? another time? It is not unreasonable for SKYNET to kill a parent but Terminators don't seem to revise their programming and so that may say something about the creative and mechanics and logic of ALL terminators.

    So while T-babe and her past T-888 incarnation march on relentlessly so does John. Ultimately it all seemed to focus on a major tread in the episodes John and T-babe in the future and why Riley was sent back... her mission has not ever succeeded or will it ever? how likely is it that T-babe can alter her programming when T-888 was so fixated? so as any Terminator can it ever. Riley attempts to penetrate John's armor and both it and T-babe emotions remains undented.

    No episode is a 10 (there can always do better -- unless you've seen next weeks or next years episodes -- please) so my top score for an episode 9.5. It is the mechanics of how the episode furthers how far Riley desperation progresses, or how sad I am that T-babe has always been more machine than babe, and more ultimately how future, past and present can possibly distort each other if they can.

    Finally, if I want to guess and be a SPOILER: as far as past and future proceed, I think T-babe was talking about suicide herself and later she was honest in explaining it was like a ticking bomb was inside her... I also remember the last time she had access to a Terminator CPU... she tried to keep it. If she is broken she may want to survive? This episode may have little impact or much more than we yet know.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Cameron: (Looking at herself in the mirror) Do you ever think about dying?
      Eric: What?
      Cameron: Or about suicide?
      Eric: Why would I think about that?
      Cameron: Because there's something wrong with you.

    • Eric: If Stark wanted to take out Chandler, why kill 42 innocent people?
      Cameron: It happens.

    • Sarah: (handing a laundry basket to Cameron) You never sleep, make yourself useful.
      John: Most efficient killing machine ever, you got her doing laundry. (Sarah takes the basket from Cameron and gives it to John; he thinks about it and hands it back to Cameron) You do never sleep.

    • (Cameron returns to the library another night and rings the buzzer. The door opens but instead of Eric there is a woman)
      Woman: Sorry we're closed.
      Cameron: (looks inside confused) Is Eric here?
      Woman: Eric?
      Cameron: He works the night shift. He lets me in.
      Woman: I've no idea; they just called and asked me to come in. Sorry… (moves to close door)
      Cameron: (smiles understanding) Do you like donuts? (holds up bag of donuts brought for Eric) I have one glazed, one sprinkle and one cinnamon twist.
      (She takes the bag and lets Cameron into the library.)

    • Eric: Are you afraid of someone?
      Cameron: Afraid? No.
      Eric: I've seen cuts on your face. There was one last week. You were wearing makeup, but ...
      Cameron: Sometimes ... I get into fights.
      Eric: Wha ...?! Why?
      Cameron: My brother. There are people out to hurt him. I protect him.
      Eric: Who protects you?
      Cameron: I do.

    • Riley: My old foster parents are these '60's hippies. Always talking like they were single-handedly saving the world because they recycled. They called me the deviant. Like, "the deviant got a C in math"; or "should we take the deviant to see Bruce Hornsby"? That's why I came up to you that day, John. Because, I thought since you're a weirdo, you might get me.
      John: My foster parents used to call me the delinquent.

    • Eric: Film vault's on the top floor. You'll have to go alone.
      Cameron: Why?
      Eric: No wheelchair access. (Cameron looks at him, leans over and picks him up) Wh-whoa. You're really strong.
      Cameron: I work out.

    • Cameron: I know what he was looking at. (Cameron scans the sky) He was measuring the stars' radial velocity, the distance in parsecs and the Cartesian coordinates.
      Eric: What? Why?
      Cameron: To pinpoint the date.
      Eric: You can tell the date by looking at the sky?
      Cameron: Stellar motion can be used to calculate what the sky will look like for hundreds of years in the future, or the past.
      Eric: Why is the date so important?
      Cameron: It's not … unless it's the wrong date. Myron Stark was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      United Kingdom: February 12th, 2009 on Virgin 1
      New Zealand: April 15th, 2009 on TV2
      Sweden: April 16th, 2009 on TV6
      Australia: May 22nd, 2009 on FOX8
      Norway: August 29th, 2009 on TVNorge
      Germany: October 12th, 2009 on Sky Cinema Hits
      Finland: November 8th, 2009 on Sub
      Czech Republic: November 12th, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: September 16th, 2010 on Markiza


    • Myron Stark: (checking a man's body dimensions) Give me your clothes!

      This is a reference to all three Terminator movies, in which Arnold Schwazenegger's first spoken words would have to do with obtaining clothes.