If Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Allison from Palmdale 2×04 does nothing else it reminds us of why it and not cable favorites such as Dexter or FOX’s new favorite Fringe, is the darkest show on television and Cameron is the most disturbing character on a series that features a gun toting family running for their lives and routinely hijacking vehicles at gunpoint and turning civilian areas into war zones. And Allison from Palmdale s02e04 pushes that already disturbing line on Cameron, at once humanizing her and making her monstrous as losing her memory once again, she associates instead with the murdered girl whose identity she incorporated as part of becoming a Terminator.
Allison from Palmdale is a disturbing episode on many levels. On one level it shows how the Terminators were created, itself a valuable contribution to the Terminator canon, on another it shows us humans as another species being hunted to extinction by ruthless killers who always know exactly where to put the net and on a third it’s the story of a girl who was sent off to die despite fighting against it to the last and how her killer came to wear her face and how that killer is becoming something more now and something partly human. It’s the kind of thing Angel Season 5 might have tried for with FredIllyria but failed badly. Cameron succeeds quite disturbingly until by the end when she steps into the vehicle with John Connor you no longer know just exactly which Cameron you’re looking at, the evil one, the one who’s ruthlessly homicidal and yet has her softer moments or is there no real difference at all?
It’s Summer Glau’s performance that brings the different faces of Cameron and Allison Young herself to life, a girl still unborn but whose fate in a future cybernetic concentration camp has already been decided. She exemplifies the encompassing tragedy of Judgment Day and the terrible decisions that have to made for mankind to survive. It’s telling that the same people who embraced the self-conscious soap operas of Battlestar Galactica as “dark” have nothing but contempt for Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, maybe because TSCC is what BSG would have been had it stayed true to its premise, the story of man as a hunted species in his darkest hour fighting to survive.