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

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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out of 10
421 votes
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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+.
  • 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.
  • Lots of character development.

    Sarah, John, and Cameron track down another name on their list. Meanwhile, Derek gets a visitor from his past. It's been a while since I have seen a episode of the show I stopped watching back in November but I thought I would pick up were I left off. This episode was a ok episode there was very little development with the story but there was a new character introduced called Jesse she seems to be a bit mysterous. This episode was decent but there was a lot of talking. The episodes second half picks up and I will give it a 8 out of 10.
  • Look, I understand that it would be somewhat counter productive to make each instalment an all out action fest of pant-wettingly gargantuan proportions as the the show would become very stale, very fast. But come on guys! Give us something, would ya?

    Look, I understand that it would be somewhat counter productive to make each instalment an all out action fest of pant-wettingly gargantuan proportions as the inherent formula of the show (John and Sarah pursued by whacked out cyborgs from the future) would become very stale very fast. But come on guys! Give us something, would ya? A mystery here and there, perhaps? Some life-threatening situations or conundrums to work our way out of? Anything but more Shirley Manson! Okay, okay… she wasn't that bad in this one. At least she got to play up the 'I'm a robot and don't understand human emotion' side of her 'character'. But sending her 'daughter' to a shrink? Is that really the most riveting plot point the production staff of the show can come up with? And before any diehards start bleating about the significance of the whole 'lower level', exactly how much time did we spend in those secret rooms with the machine that's developed a sense of humour? I'd hazard a guess at about, oooh, four minutes tops. The main focus of the hour, undoubtedly, was on the human psychoanalysis of Savannah and, later, John by 'Skynet's' latest recruit. Which wouldn't be so bad if there was something significant to be said in amongst it all. Sadly though, all we get is the resolve for cyborg Mommy dearest to stroke her child a bit more (oh, and build some neato Lego sculptures) and, after a number of irritatingly laconic false starts, the revelation that, shock of all shocks, it was John that killed Sarcyssian in the season premiere. Well really, did any of us see that one coming? Blow me down with a feather, what a plot twist! Those writers sure know how to suckerpunch us, huh? Well, erm, no… not in the bleeding slightest. It's not even as if we were treated to much more of an insight into the inner workings of young Connor either (and yes, the double entendre is intended there… nudge nudge, wink wink): his broken utterances, steely glares and limited revelations about his feelings towards his mother don't really add up to anything satisfactory. So what else do we have? Well, the plot is given something of a kick in the pants with the introduction of a new, kick ass female Terminator, and the sequence between she and Cameron in the elevator is the perfect balance of suspense and, oddly enough, comedy, but then there's the other side of the multi-faceted narrative coin: Derek's love interest who suddenly pops up out of nowhere, having a little jog and they indulge in, you know, a bit of sex. As you do. There's one tiny snippet of relevance to the on-going story toward episode's end when we find she's been photographing our favourite fugitives (saucy minx!) but, in the interim, we have to wade through several scenes of irrelevant mush to get there. The poor woman is given virtually no characterisation of any merit whatsoever and, consequently, I couldn't give a flying f**k about her past with Brian Austin Green. Really, I couldn't. Sorry Terminator, but if you want to earn your recent promotion to full season bigwig (yes, FOX commissioned a complete set of 22 episodes), you're going to have to do a lot better than this. Here's a thought: move the plot forward. Here's another thought: get Thomas Dekker to take his clothes off. It'd make me happy anyway.
  • This episode is less about the over all plot of the series and season and more about exploring and increasing the emotional depth of some of the characters.

    In my review of the last episode I talked about the rumors that the show was close to being canceled. Well, FOX has quickly shown those rumors to be utterly false when they ordered the show for a full season. Personally I am glad because this is turning out to be a very good show.

    Anyway, now onto the episode.

    This episode is less about the over all plot of the series and season and more about exploring and increasing the emotional depth of some of the characters. It is revealed that John was the one who killed Sarkissian in Samson & Delilah and this episode explores the repercussions this has had on John.

    There was quite a bit of other stuff that was revealed in this episode as well. Some more of Derek's past (er... future?) is revealed and that there is more to the girl he hooks up with than he knows.

    I really liked the rockum sockum robot action we got with the terminator fight. That was well over due and in as many episodes a second terminator is introduced and destroyed.

    And what the heck ever happened to Riley and Charley?
  • Post-Traumatic Television

    Fans of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" should be very happy right now. Not only have the writers settled into their first season form after a rocky second season start, but FOX delivered some unexpected good news. The series will be receiving a full second season, and that should give the writers more than enough time to make a case.

    This episode, like most of the good episodes of the series, had more to do with character exploration than strict plot advancement. There was plenty of that, of course. A terminator was sent to kill Dr. Sherman, but we're not sure who sent him. Catherine Weaver is actively wooing Dr. Sherman to help her understand the Turk and its primitive, child-like AI, while showing her limited ability to act human.

    That seems to be contradictory. Why would a terminator be sent to kill Dr. Sherman, if his involvement with the Turk and Catherine Weaver was directly related to the eventual rise of SkyNet? It doesn't seem likely that the terminator was sent by Future John to eliminate Dr. Sherman, based on its body count, so why the apparent disconnect? And for that matter, why would Weaver even care about Savannah's reaction to her presence?

    There's something important in the distinction there, and the episode was written to distract from it. Either that, or there is some subtle aspect to the episode that I completely missed (which is always a possibility). All I know is that this is not the first time I've felt like there's something unusual about Catherine Weaver's actions. (It's almost as if two different factions within SkyNet are fighting for control.)

    The rest of the episode was an exploration of the psychological cost of war. Derek's lover seems to have fled to the past to escape the crushing weight of constant resistance, and he's not particularly pleased by the notion. It brings up an interesting question: is there a point where betraying your oath to duty is reasonably justified? Most of us would balk at the idea, but John's cell has been fighting for years without respite.

    Which brings up another good question: how must John feel at this point? John has been making some odd and questionable decisions since the season premiere, and this episode suggests a reason why. It's quite probable that this is the first person he's ever killed, and he's suffering the psychological toll that must invariably come with that choice, even if it was self-defense. It's also layered on top of the guilt that comes with knowing that people have and will die for him. I don't think it makes him consciously suicidal, but it may make him unconsciously willing to take on risks that he shouldn't.

    None of which really pertains to Sarah Connor until the end, when she realizes that she's not holding it together perfectly either. Hopefully this is a sign that her stability will begin to waver. Sarah is still missing the kind of wild-eyed urgency that the character had in "Terminator 2", and part of that was Charlie's moderating influence and John's restored presence in her life. But the underlying fear remains, and sooner or later, those cracks need to show to give the character life.
  • Interesting knowing the inside.

    After a week's break of the show, the episode returns by digging into the inner sensation of John, and Catherine. This familiarized their pasts and presents in their everyday lives. The psychiatrist really questioned both families in depth to comprehend, not knowing what exactly they had to go through. I find the part interesting when the psychiatrist figured out the work of Catherine, and explained the riddle.
    "Why is math so sad? Because it has many problems."
    Some people do not take the humor out of it.
    The fights between the two robots are exciting, and well played. The part of Derek Reese and Jesse was overall redundant.