Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 6

The Tower is Tall But the Fall is Short

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Oct 20, 2008 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
420 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Sarah, John, and Cameron track down another name on their list. Meanwhile, Derek gets a visitor from his past.

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  • Finally we are focusing on John again!

    This episode is off the pace of the show, meaning its kind of slow and talky. I think this is good and the perfect time for an episode like this. We finally see John growing up a bit and trying to take control of his life may be figure out how he's going to deal with the pressure of saving the world etc. That being said Cameron has like no lines and nothing much to do in this episode. The last few episodes have focused on individual characters, which is good for character development, but a bit difficult for people who like how the characters interact. Overall, quite a good episode.moreless
  • Getting some answers on John!

    Finally we see what happened to the two that jumped Sarah and John after blowing Cameron up.

    I assumed that it was Sarah that killed Sarkkisian but it was actually John. No wonder he is having issues and acting less whiney lately.

    He does need to talk to people, i think Derrick would be able to help hime cope a bit better, but he also needs to talk to Sarah. Although Derrick would be better equiped to explain to him what it is like. But I'm not sure that Derrick has killed a human being rather then killing metals.

    Still love this series, and so happy that Fox has picked this up for a full season! Hopefully, not the last!moreless
  • This was great...

    The day after or day of announcing they got picked up for a full season this show really delivered with an amazing episode. We learn that it was John who killed that guy in the first episode which was a shock considering we all thought Sarah did it so nice twist there. I think that was some major character development with John and it is one step closer to him becoming the leader of the resistance. That besst scene in this episode would have to be when Cameron was fighting the other treminator in the elevator it was a great fight scene. I've got got to admit it was a little discusting when Cameron shoved the heal of the shoe in the eye but still great. Even though I am a big fan of Derek and he is my favourite character I didn't like the part he played in this episode it really wasn't needed. Hurray to the show for getting a full season pick up.moreless
  • Weaver and the Connors both contact Dr. Boyd Sherman about the same time, setting up a possible encounter. Derek's friend Jesse, a resistance fighter, travels back to his time, and they take up an old romance.moreless

    No TSCC episode is "usual," but "Tower" is unusual. One plot with Ellison and Weaver show us more about her (or "it") as a machine that lacks the programming to simulate a number of normal human behaviors, such as warmth and caring - in this case, for the little daughter of Weaver's human predecessor. The writers have given her a chilling presence in several scenes, which causes little Savannah to withdraw and eventually to show Dr. Sherman that she fears this machine.

    As part of this depiction of Weaver, she brings in Dr. Sherman to help her understand flaws in the Artificial Intelligence project, "Babylon," which is spitting out bad data and generally going haywire. Dr. Sherman is played by Dorian Harewood, a characterization that I enjoyed, enough that he could or should become a series regular. He's also counseling the Connors, who set up family sessions as a scheme to learn more about his potential connections to Skynet. Even though both groups - Weaver and the Connors - come to Sherman's offices at the same time, tense scenes play out as we wonder whether they will bump into each other. This also raises the question of whether Weaver would know by sight either Sarah, John, or Cameron. All the near-meetings are instead a near-miss, but fun to watch as they pass within a few feet of one another.

    In the opening scene, Weaver responds to a photographer's direction to move 1/4 inch this way or that, which she does with alarming precision - laughable to us, but undetected by the involved humans. It's always a nice touch to give the viewers the sense that they know something that most of the characters don't.

    The Connors bug Sherman's office, and John's sessions with Sherman reveal the tremendous strain he is under over the killing of Sarkissian. But John makes another one of his unwise and untimely moves by removing the bug so Sarah won't hear everything he says. This has serious consequences - Weaver's later discussions with Sherman about the AI are never heard by the Connors, thwarting their entire purpose. At this rate I wonder if John will ever grow up and stop sabotaging their efforts to survive. The Ellison-Weaver subplot moves glacially, as he eventually is brought to the restricted AI lab in the corporate offices. Weaver had gotten a report that the AI/Turk is processing less data, and taking more time to do it. A sign of the illiterate times in which we live is one tech's reference to the AI's "optimality," which sounds like tortured, made-up sports English by a writer who just never developed a good vocabulary. These writing gaffes are amusing fodder for morning chats in the break room by fans who can hoo-haw about the latest recently-invented nouns-as-verbs and "gerundizing." Or perhaps the writers actually were making fun of people who can't come up with a standard English word and invent one on the spot...but I doubt it.

    Subplot C introduces a new character - Derek sees a familiar face at the park and chases her to a hotel - it's Jesse, a member of the resistance, who has fled to her past to escape the war. Although Derek is romantically involved, he fails to tell Sarah about this new time-traveler, and we see that Jesse has an agenda which she hides from Derek - she has photos of John and Derek together.

    The most inventive and exciting scenes of the episode begins in a city bus at night, with all the Terminator time-travel effects taking place within the bus. The newly-arrived Terminator is a red-haired woman, who kills the bus driver on the spot, then stalks and kills Dr. Sherman's assistant. Why? Just to steal her car? It would make more sense to have a terminator mission require laying low and not attracting attention by unnecessary violence.

    When John returns to Dr. Sherman's office for another session, Sherman remarks that his assistant is gone. John disables the hidden transceiver - outside, Cameron loses audio of their conversation, and enters the building. In an amusing coincidence, the red-haired Terminator is also entering, side-by-side, they both exhibit that slouchy model-on-the-runway walk, neither detecting the other. They enter the elevator together, then look at each other in that Terminator-way, both appearing to have a "social disorder."

    Cameron and T-Red begin to battle as they reach Dr. Sherman's office, Cameron twisting Red into an impossible shapes. In an elevator, they pause - it's another clever scene as a small boy sees them bloody and disheveled, but his nearby parents notice nothing. After the family exits the elevator, the battle continues. Cameron rams the T-Red's own high heel into it's eye, doing serious damage. Fan sites describe this actress as a contortionist, which explains an unbelievable scene of Cameron twisting her body into a human pretzel. That's a stunning scene, and loads of fun to watch. Cameron somehow gets this burned-out T-corpse to the house, but they discover that the machine's chip self-destructed, a new Terminator feature that would make them harder to back-track.

    Sarah begins a voice-over for the final scenes - in the year 1678, soldiers were first diagnosed as suffering from "nostalgia," or homesickness. Today, of course, we would call it post-traumatic stress. "There is no return home," she intones, as we see Sanvannah try to get affection from her robotic mother. "All are suffering, no words of comfort. No words of forgiveness." Sarah returns to talk to Dr. Sherman, probably to tell him about the necessity of John killing the home invader, but we'll have to wait until next week to see if this happens.

    The episode title is still a mystery to me - what is the tall tower? Several scenes with Shirley Manson as Weaver are chilling, showing her danger as well as her limitations in impersonating a human. And the fight scene between Cameron and T-Red is a series classic, making "Tower" a good episode for a repeat or two. With the addition of Jesse to the present time, the regular cast is up to nine people. That's a load to keep occupied and interesting in a script, but at least we should not have to keep up with that many in each story. This one doesn't have the stunning impact of "Goodbye to All That," but with the usual outstanding sound, photography, and acting, it's good TSCC. Re-run rating C+.moreless
  • The emotional side...

    Wow.. I love the feeling this episode had.. first the voiceover is back and I really love it.. the way it opens the emotional, inside of the char as there is so much going on inside what we only see slim reflection to outside.. and the whole thing with psychiatry and John and gun.. I do not think he tried to kill him but I think that should be warning for the mother.

    And then the whole thing with Savannah and her mother. That moment there turned the storyline very exciting and I really found that it has a purpose (I did know it before but I doubted it has any catching)..

    but the Derek thing.. quite lame sadly.moreless
Dorian Harewood

Dorian Harewood

Dr. Boyd Sherman

Guest Star

Christopher DeMaci

Christopher DeMaci


Guest Star

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang


Guest Star

Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen

Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen


Recurring Role

Shane Edelman

Shane Edelman

Matt Murch

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Goof: As the naked female terminator walks up the bus aisle, her hair is initially clear of her neck, but she apparently brings her hair forward between shots for modesty's sake.

    • When John fires his gun at the beginning of the episode we see, that the bullet went into the wall, but in the end of the episode John is staring at a bullet hole in a mirror, although there was only one shot fired.

    • It is revealed that it was John who killed Sarkissian in the premiere episode "Samson & Delilah."

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Sarah: (opening narration) My father slept with a gun under his pillow. There was no pill for his sickness, no medicine to ease his mind. He left blood, and sweat, and part of his soul in a foreign land. My father never talked to me about the war he fought. He never talked to anyone. Ever vigilant, ever silent. I never thought I'd follow in his footsteps.

    • Sarah: (voice-over) In 1678, doctors diagnosed the mental affliction soldiers suffered from as nostalgia. Homesickness. A longing to return to the past. The cruel reality of war is that there is no return home. No return to innocence. What is lost is lost forever. Like my father, war's wounds have bled me dry. No words of comfort. No words of forgiveness. No words at all.

    • Sarah: John is not suicidal.
      Derek: No. But what is he? He's not a boy. He's not a man. He's not a soldier. He has changed.

    • Cameron: (reading a leaflet in Dr. Sherman's waiting room) Did you know that sixty percent of all teen suicides are committed with a gun?
      Sarah: He thought it was cleared. It was an accident.
      Cameron: Some first attempts may appear to be an accident.

    • Sarah: (discussing the next name on the list) Dr. Boyd Sherman, child psychologist, family therapist.
      John: Well, what's his link to Skynet? Friend or foe?
      Sarah: Don't know.
      Cameron: Skynet doesn't have friends.
      John: (annoyed) Well, it's got foes, and whatever the opposite of foes are, okay?
      Cameron: Friends.

    • Derek: I doubled back on Sherman's house. I got nothing. How was he?
      Sarah: Curious, smart, annoying.
      Derek: So he's good at his job?
      Sarah: Better than we were at ours.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      New Zealand: November 12th, 2008 on TV2
      United Kingdom: November 27th, 2008 on Virgin 1
      Denmark: November 28th, 2008 on TV3
      India: February 10th, 2009 on Zee Cafe
      Sweden: March 12th, 2009 on TV6
      Australia: April 17th, 2009 on FOX8
      Norway: July 25th, 2009 on TVNorge
      Finland: October 4th, 2009 on Sub
      Czech Republic: October 8th, 2009 on Prima COOL
      Slovakia: August 26th, 2010 on Markiza

    • This episode marks the second time in the show's history where the episode does not open with a theme song. Like in the pilot, only a title card is shown at the end of the first scene.

    • After a five episode absence, Sarah's monologues return in this episode. This marks the first time she has provided the opening and closing voiceovers in the second season.

    • Leven Rambin and Garret Dillahunt do not appear in this episode.


    • Marooned in Realtime:
      When Jesse is explaining that she's is in the past illicitly, she says she has a "friend who is a bobble-tech". Bobble is a term coined in Vernor Vinge's books The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime. Bobbles were artificially created stasis bubbles which held their contents frozen in time, until the bobble would decay naturally and release their contents back into normal spacetime. In Vinge's novels bobbles were used to send people and objects forward in time (sometimes involuntarily) and could not be used to travel backwards in time, so the analogy is not perfect, but as both bobbles and the effects of the temporal displacement equipment used in Terminator are spherical force fields, the two are reminiscent of one another.

    • Kill Bill: Vol. 1:
      When Cameron is fighting the other terminator in the elevator of Dr. Sherman's building, they stop and try to "act natural" when the doors open and some people get on. Only one little boy notices how roughed-up they both look. This recalls the scene at the beginning of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 where "The Bride" is fighting with one of her former female co-workers when the woman's little daughter comes home. They both stop fighting and pretend nothing is wrong, even though they, and the room, are thoroughly trashed.