Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 10

Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Nov 24, 2008 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

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out of 10
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  • Strange days, indeed...

    Sometimes, when a show gives you what you think it should deliver, it feels predictable. Other times, it feels like patience well rewarded. I think it's safe to say that this episode represents the latter.

    I've been saying for a while now that Sarah's mental state should be a less "together" than it has been, given all the shocks and surprises of the past couple seasons and her existing sanity issues. While she was institutionalized for telling the truth about the future, she was still very dangerous and somewhat unstable. Not that she should be running around taking people out left and right, but her composure has been a little too serene.

    That certainly changed in this episode. Sarah may be right to place significance on the information that was left in bloody scrawls on her wall, but she's beginning to lose perspective. So much is apparent from the very end of the episode. Yet it's also clear, based on some of the potential connections scattered throughout the episode, that she could have been right. And that's the very thing that makes her instability credible; no one really knows how it will all pan out.

    It doesn't help when apparent allies, like Jessie, are playing their own agenda. Maybe I wasn't paying attention earlier in the season, but I thought the revelation about Riley in this episode was stunning. Unless I misinterpreted things completely, it looks like Riley's timely arrival in John's life was anything but random. Jessie's plan appears to be emotional control over John, particular in terms of getting Cameron far away from him. Does she know something about Future John's relationship with Allison/Cameron, leading her to see Cameron as a long-term threat? (Alternatively, did she simply see Cameron in that dress?)

    I've never assumed that the character connections and relations are simple or apparent on this show, and because there's always the potential for betrayal, it's great to see how the pieces move across the board. The message from the writers in this episode seems to be: this is a game of Go, not a game of Chess. Things are not as straightforward as they seem, and the future not as determinate.

    For that reason, and all the seeming hints I've noted over the course of the season, I'm still not convinced that Weaver's AI experiments and terminator nature are what they seem to be. Yes, it's possible that it's just a very clever and oblique means to the SkyNet end. On the other hand, if Babylon is evolving into a stronger AI, able to adapt and grow, why would Weaver care if it has human-based morality?

    Yet in this episode, Weaver assigns Ellison the task of teaching Babylon a code of ethics. One might be tempted to connect that to Cromartie's belief that Ellison will be necessary for the success of SkyNet in the future (otherwise, why save Ellison at the end of the first season?). But I'm still wondering if there's some aspect to Weaver's plan that defies the obvious. I certainly hope so, because all this intrigue should add up to something!

    This series is still struggling in the ratings, and while it will continue into the spring, I don't see it's move to Friday nights as encouraging. I fear that the writers will be forced to finish out the story at the end of the second season, which may not be practical. The current pacing is deliberate, requiring patience, and I can't help but think that an increased pace would disrupt that delicate balance.
  • Sarah invests in a new computer program believing it to have significance due to her nightmares. Elision investigates the murder of the child psychologist. Jesse and Riley (!) convince Derek to join them as they try to change John.

    Pros: The twists in this episode kept coming. I found the twist about Jesse and Riley to be extremely gratifying especially thinking back to earlier episodes. I cannot wait to see the continuation of that story-line. The Sarah story-line is interesting, and hopefully brings closure to her visions. The Elision story-line was probably my favorite, with Elision trying to figure out what makes the super-computer tick. The last 30-seconds of the show are brilliant. Cons: Some of the revelations seem a bit too rushed, but I didn't mind because it made the pacing better. Sarah's story-line seemed unnecessary with all of these big events taking place.
  • What's up with Sarah's obsession with the three dots? Meanwhile, Jesse's plans complicate things further, and Weaver introduces Ellison to someone very important. Perhaps Weaver can introduce Jesse to a wormhole or something while she's at it.

    Sarah's obsession with the three dots leads her to a company that she believes may have Andy Goode's Turk. The steal drives, and realize that this is for an AI system, for which they don't have a server powerful enough to run. All kinds of stuff happen with Alex, who misdirects Sarah into giving him all his money, but when Sarah realizes that the guy is a phony, she kicks both his ass and Alex's. What's up Sarah seeing three dots on her face??

    Meanwhile, Jesse's plans complicate things even further, and reveals to Derek that she's here to stop Cameron (I think?). Derek later tells Jesse that John is his nephew. I shall not mention the nonsense with Riley, except for the fact that she's from the future.

    Ellison discovers that Dr. Sherman died due to an accident in a server room. Weaver tells him that Dr. Sherman was working on Babylon, their AI program. Ellison realizes that the AI program killed Dr. Sherman because it didn't like what he was teaching it, and it that it hadn't been programmed to value human life. Catherine introduces Ellison to Chrome Artie, who introduces itself as John Henry – the AI program.

    Random Thoughts:
    - Jesse and Riley were creepy. At least it's less annoying now that she's working John.

    - John's shrink is dead, sucks for John.

    - Chrome Artie lives! Sorta.

    - Some nice John/Sarah stuff

    - Looks like Sarah might be spiraling!

    Bottom Line: Great episode! I'm glad that Chrome Artie is back!!
  • Once again the show not only entertains but explores human nature.

    Once again the show not only entertains but explores human nature. This episode is all about what happens when we get obsessed with something. We start seeing what we are obsessed with everywhere. Derek said it best... "First it's the dots, then the A.I. Now it's the chip. Whatever you've needed it to be, that's what it is." And I guess I should stick to my guns when I make my predictions about characters. First I said Riley would play a more significant role down the road, then down the road came and she was still just a pseudo love interest for John, so I said I was wrong. Well, I guess I'm wrong about being wrong. I loved the reveal when we see Jesse approach Riley at the clothing store and then their conversation later. I'm guessing Riley came from the future with Jesse and they are trying to "save" John, but in different ways.

    That brings me to another point. the plot progression on this show is timed so well. Most shows give you big reveals and twists in spurts, but I like it when a show always keeps you guessing and the big twists and reveal are not contrived for the sake of drama.

    I look forward to this show more and more with each episode. The plot is always kept fresh.
  • I caught myself saying "Holy F#$*" with the last scene!

    The 2nd season of this show has been so much stronger than the 1st. The introduction of Catherine Weaver, the origin of Cameron, and Derek's girlfriend Jesse are just a few of the points that have made me look forward to this show each week. And just when I think they can't surprise us anymore they release an episode like this. The reveal involving Riley was cool but the end, oh the end just was incredible! It was creepy, unexpected, and what a great way to include a character that I thought was done for good. Is it next week yet? ;p
  • It looked, for a moment there, like Terminator might actually have jump-started Sarah's story again after a lacklustre couple of weeks of being kidnapped and having funny dreams about dots.

    It looked, for a moment there, like Terminator might actually have jump-started Sarah's story again after a lacklustre couple of weeks of being kidnapped and having funny dreams about dots. She managed to spend a good thirty minutes of this episode getting down to duplicitous, detective-like business and, yay of yays, beating people to a bloody pulp but, ultimately, for what? It was all a bleeding con and she's right back where she started… looking at ink splodges and wondering what to do with herself. It's especially frustrating for the viewer, who has to endure week after week of this diabolically slow-moving crap, just desperately waiting for something, anything, to be thrown their way in the form of plot development. To be fair, that's exactly what we get with the B and C stories, admittedly: the staunch curveball of Riley as an impostor is especially pleasing, and the transformation of Weaver's AI into Cromartie shows distinct promise for the future. But how far down the line will it be before either of these actually progress anywhere? Become, you know, significant? Two weeks before the bloody season finale, I'd wager. Another frustrating exercise in water treading, then… but at least it's got the best episode title ever conceived.
  • What a development

    When last episode felt like running around same spot then this one was so much different - first the revelation about Riley. That was the last thing I expected but now we know it - what will come of it, who knows. But she and Jesse are not out for sure.

    And then the whole development of that Babylon project and what was done with Cromartie body.. he is alive again. That's really scary.

    And the whole other storyline with Sarah, who seems to lose her perspective, not too good.. but I did like it.. it was maybe little filler as in the end, it was dead end.. but still. had some excitement.
  • Sarah's obsession with three dots leads to a high-tech company with that logo and advanced computer technology. She and Cameron attempt to acquire an innovative computer chip, while Weaver makes a startling revelation to Ellison.

    In some continuity from last week, Ellison is dreaming of his excavation of Cromartie's body in Mexico, and awakens when he hears a noise outside - he spots Cameron ramming rebar into his lawn, searching for the body. So the Connors still believe he was involved. Nearly everything Cameron does is amusing. Looking for disturbed soil would make more sense than the rebar method, but her technique is more fun.

    Derek and Sarah drive the Dodge Ram to Dakara Systems, identified as one of several corporations that use a "three-circle" logo. They break in to steal hard drives for John to hack into, but he finds it's all vaporware - a design for an AI but another dead end - no positive leads on Skynet. Everything on the wall (in blood in the basement) meant something, Sarah insists, then Cameron arrives to report that the body is not in Ellison's yard. Dakara is building a server farm which would make it possible for them to advance the AI plans, so John comes up with a ruse for Sarah to get into the company as a potential venture capitalist.

    Derek has discovered Jesse has ulterior motives for her time-trip back to the present - the photos of she has been taking - and gives her 30 seconds at gunpoint to explain. "I was sent back to find him," she says of John. She feels a bit betrayed by Derek, too - "You could have told me you were living with metal," she complains, pointing out that John is making questionable decisions. She sees Cameron as a threat - if she spends the next 20 years with John, what will she turn him into? She's here to save John, she asserts. Derek takes his gun back, but departs with a warning - "I love you. But don't push it." So this clarifes her role in this story arc, assuming she's truthful. She's kept enough secrets that I would consider her a threat, and expect to see more episodes where she continues to be untrustworthy. But she does add an element of tension, and will keep Derek agitated about Cameron also.

    When Ellison arrives at ZeiraCorp, someone is dead from being trapped during a power outage. It's Dr. Boyd Sherman, Weaver tells him. Calling the project "Babylon," she explains that the AI shut down other systems to maintain cooling power to itself, killing Sherman. I regret seeing this character written out of the script - Mr. Harewood is a capable actor, one I had hoped to see as a regular in the cast. Ellison is skeptical of Babylon when Weaver refers to it's "intentions."

    Sarah and Cameron come to Dakara, all cleaned up and looking like a normal person. CEO Alex, with his computer whiz-kid Xander, reports that they had a break-in (that was Sarah and Derek) and that the Air Force is interested in their AI research also. In some trivial asides about 80's music and fashion, Cameron gets another amusing line - "It's the hardest thing to get right...hair." Sarah tries to ingratiate herself by any means with Alex, who now needs a miracle and a million dollars of investment cash, and more time to pursue chip technology.

    John comes to the foster home where Riley is staying, but it's not what he imagined. She feels like a loser, a castoff, a reject, like the other foster children there. She exhibits some teen angst, implying she feels like a salmon caught at random by a grizzly. He had promised to explain everything that happened in Mexico back in "Ferguson," but now he says there's nothing he can say...and she accepts this, then he leaves abruptly. That answers any questions we might have had about whether Riley would become a full member of the team - so we could say John has made a decision in favor of security, a good move for character.

    Sarah and Cameron discuss their meeting with Dakara personnel, realizing it's research is not related to the Turk. Young Xander does not play chess, Cameron explains, but rather the ancient oriental game "Go," and Xander will teach her how to play. A reference to the game by Cameron also explains the episode title - "Strange Things Happen At The One-Two Point," a saying about part of the game where the normal rules do not apply. Dakara has no money and will miss an Air Force deadline, but Sarah believes that the three dots mean that Dakara somehow will get the funding they need.

    Another hidden relationship is exposed in this episode - Riley knows Jesse. They are in league together, perhaps in Jesse's mission to keep Cameron away from John. This explains why Riley has been so tolerant of anything - but John just left, she says, and things are "off balance." She thinks she cannot do this any more, she tells Jesse, adding, "What if I want out? Jesse flatly informs her, "There is no out. You have to do this."

    Derek shows John that even he is seeing three dots in random places, and wants to know that John is seeing clearly.

    At something resembling a date with Alex, Sarah tries to gain his confidence, and he claims to have found a chip, a supercomputer, and a company wanting to license it to Dakara. At this point, you wonder which one of these two has the better scam going. He needs $500K for the Japanese chip, a sum which does not seem to faze Sarah.

    At the ZeiraCorp, Ellison hears a computer technician discussing Babylon - to Ellison, that's an apt name for something that was destroyed by God, biblically speaking. How did it "feel" about Dr. Sherman? he asks. Did it know it was killing Sherman? Impossible, the technician answers.

    Sarah and Cameron dig up their diamonds - still not enough for the $500K. But Sarah is obviously driven to this desperate attempt when all the clues point to the Dakara company. So close they are to the ZeiraCorp and Ellison, yet she has not discovered this. One word from Ellison would reveal the origins of Skynet, yet we know he's going to go it alone with Weaver.

    She brings cash to a meeting with dealer Minamoto, making us wonder how they converted so many gems to cash in such a short time - it wasn't done at a local pawn shop. Cameron surprises everyone with a toast in Japanese, multilinguist that she is, and if Ms. Glau doesn't really speak the language, she gave an impressive acting version of it, but Ms. Headey can barely eke out a badly-accented "domo arigato." Cash for chip - the deal is made.

    Riley returns to the house, where some of the others are fighting, but she has little patience for the family dynamics. She loses it, sounding like an early version of Sarah from the '84 Terminator - "It's all going to burn and you all are going to be bleached skulls!" She apologizes and leaves.

    Back at Dakara, Xander tries to use the chip, but the processor register has an error, and cannot process the data. Cameron looks at it - "It's 40 nanometers, not 12," - an older design disguised to look more advanced. The scam is revealed. Alex promises to fix the fraud. Sarah believes that Minamoto is Yakuza, a Japanese gangster, and that Alex is part of the scheme.

    Ellison and Weaver discuss the "intent," of the AI, and she tells him to ask "John Henry," surprising him by giving it a proper name. "It's not a person," he objects. And her chilling response - "No, but it's a Mind." They look at the displays of the AI's output, and the AI recognizes Ellison. It displays a photo of Sherman also, using binary to answer his questions. Ellison asks for a display of Sherman's activity - he was trapped during the power outage, then died. But the AI called paramedics, it "thinking" that medical care was still possible, therefore it cannot understand that it caused the death. It has no ethics, no morals, Ellison says, opening the door for Weaver - "What would you teach it?" Teach it commands, start with the first Ten, he replies. As fundamental as that might seem, the Commandments against coveting and taking the name of the Lord in vain would be irrelevant to a machine. A prohibition against killing could fit, but Isaac Asimov translated that into tenets for machines - the Three Laws of Robotics, the first of which prohibits a machine from harming a human being. That's much more appropriate for a robot than merely avoiding killing. I'd like to see the TSCC writers bring that into the philosophy of an episode, an appropriate subject for Ellison as he struggles with this growing threat. Only good sci-fi deals with these questions - the distant consequences of our decisions today.

    Derek, Sarah, and Cameron break into the hangout of the chip scammers, and Minamoto admits at gunpoint that he's an actor - Derek sees that he is not lying. It's a great scene for Cameron, holding two pistols like a poster for TSCC, but of course they do not recognize the danger she poses. Derek thinks it still adds up to nothing - "You got played." But Sarah cannot let go of the feeling that it's all part of a larger meaning. She returns to Dakara, assaulting Alex. "I spent a couple years in a nut house!" she yells, as she pummels him. Cameron guards Xander, then Alex confesses to his son there was no chip, it was all a setup to get the money, which he still has.

    Derek comes back to see Jesse - tension high between them now. "John Connor is my nephew," he reveals to her, now the fourth person that knows that. He came to fight a war, to stop Skynet, and there's no room for secrets, as he presses her to open up on anything she's hiding. She deflects his demand with a trifle, but we know she still hides the truth about Riley, so there's more to come with Jesse. We fans have more reason to trust the Cameron character than Jesse.

    Sarah returns home, her facial injuries ironically including three dots on her right cheek, leading her to smash a mirror in anger and frustration. I have no doubt she will continue her obsessive quest for anything related to the three dots - it still has meaning for her, still draws her to anything that may mean Skynet. Meanwhile, Riley comes to see John, saying, "I reject your rejection," and he takes a walk with her, seeming to re-set the Riley situation back to where we were before, except for the revelation of her relationship with Jesse. That means Riley is a mole for Jesse - given her growing feelings for John, this divided loyalty will provide some story material for Riley. Despite the complaints by some reviewers about her presence in the cast, it looks like she is staying. When we see her actually contribute to the Connors' mission, she'll have more fan support. So far, she has exacerbated John's weaknesses, and hasn't helped his strengths. Like the season premiere title - it's "Samson and Delilah."

    Weaver again is thinking about rules and the Ten Commandments, but she cannot teach the AI about it. She takes Ellison to the basement, discussing the American legend of the steel-drivin' man. John Henry challenged a machine and defeated it, but he could not stop progress, folklore that is given a new interpretation in TSCC. In the AI room again, she shows Ellison a startling development - Cromartie's chassis has been repaired and reactivated - it's an avatar of merciless terror, a personification of the machine, a mobile Mind. "My name is John Henry," it smiles. It's an entirely new interface - the developing AI mind with the unstoppable physical power of a Terminator. A frightening combination, and a new acting opportunity for Garrett Dillahunt, who I thought was written out of the series after the last couple episodes. But without it's Skynet programming, Cromartie/John Henry will no longer pose a threat to the Connors, right?

    Most of "One-Two Point" is a futile pursuit of the three dots, but it was all for naught...or was it? Xander still believes that he can make something of his technology. I would not be surprised to see in a future episode some type of merger or cooperation between Dakara and ZeiraCorp. It's a plausible story line - the writers having left open this possibility, but if it's not used, then "Strange Things" is mostly a throw-away plot - all that time spent on Dakara ended up meaning nothing. The loss of Sherman from the cast is regrettable - but the Connors do not yet know of his death. Perhaps his name on the basement wall was a clue that he would also be a casualty of the Babylon project, a probable precursor to Skynet. "One-Two Point" is a pretty good balance between a stand-alone episode (the Dakara plot), and some continuity in moving forward on the Riley-Jesse subplot. Re-run rating B.
  • Secrets revealed, plots unfolding, more mystery created! This series rocks.

    First, I did like the episode a lot! No question about it. That out of the way I still have some beef with most of the characters. Only Cameron (loved her search of the garden, seemed very her) and Sarah who at least tries to stay on the mission even if it is uncertain if there is any real connection between Dakara and Skynet, because even if Dakara isn't Skynet lite, no harm no foul in the end.

    John, okay, he had his mother's back which is good, he almost broke up with Riley, also good, but then fell for her again, rather stupid but okay, still human so I guess he gets a pass from me as well. Though after the Cameron reveal of the first season one would think he had learned the lesson that cute girls don't just approach the sulky new guy.

    Then Derek! So he wants to believe in his girlfriend, fine. But in his shoes wouldn't you have shadowed her for a while to make sure she was not doing more nefarious things thus revealing her connection to Riley? Or even instead of showing her you have discovered her duplicity, hidden your knowledge and shadowed her to find out what was going on before revealing that you knew about her? Out of character I say.

    Jessie, well, let's say it is true that somehow growing up with Cameron changes future John Connor into someone who fights the machines in a different way that others don't like anymore. Have they confronted John about it (in the future)? She doesn't mention it, so let's say no. Does she confront him in the now? No. She is sneaky and untrustworthy and still keeps major secrets from Derek so in my book she is still stupid by dividing the human force and so limiting its effectiveness against the machines until I see proof to the contrary.
    [Of course alternatively, maybe the machines have learned that they cannot impact John in any direct assault way and have figured out a way to divide and conquer through Cameron. Could be as it seems to be working that way. Let's hope not though]

    Ellison, what can I say? If he doesn't turn around and heads straight toward the Connors telling them about Weaver and Cromartie, he too has lost my respect. Okay, maybe he doesn't know how to contact them, but still there should be ways to let them know.

    Riley? Still don't like her, broken soul and everything. I get that she too believes she is doing the right thing and that she is being manipulated by Jessie but that doesn't mean I can't still dislike her a lot. Just that I also find her pitiable.
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