Once again with Goodbye To That 2×05, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes us through a world on the edge of an abyss, channeling that same end of the world angst that the James Cameron Terminator movies did so well, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles continues to excel at showcasing our world in its pre-apocalyptic stage.
Goodbye To That S2e05 picks up T3’s plot about Terminators going back in time to assassinate key members of the resistance, extending the temporal war further, as alerted to an assassination plot by a newspaper story about a murder of a man with the same name as Martin, a member of the resistance, Sarah Connor and Cameron scramble to protect a boy who also carries the same name while Derek and John run off to protect the real Martin.
There are continuing plot problems here, namely Sarah’s increasing willingness to put John at risk and take on Terminators with little to no realistic chance of defeating them. Some reviewers are griping about Derek being able to take out a Terminator, but that’s not unrealistic because if the Resistance couldn’t kill Terminators there wouldn’t be a resistance, just a bunch of corpses. Sarah’s nurturing side being stimulated is handled better in Goodbye To That then it was in last week’s Allison In Palmdale. Seemingly she’s being put through the stages, first with an unborn child and then a little boy, that may enable her to reconnect with John again.
But the strength of Goodbye To That lies in the military side, integrating Derek’s flashbacks and the real world waiting to intrude on a military school that is only preparing boys like Martin for the real war they will soon have to fight and the burden weighing on John Connor. It’s far darker than anything HBO is putting on and despite the sneers from Mania and IO9, it’s a better and more evocative show as the flashbacks build to the revelation that saving Martin’s life only enabled him to die in the war to come and that he died to save John Connor, turning the plot on its head as an assassination attempt indirectly aimed at John Connor himself. When Derek tells John, “We all die for you”, he reinforces his role once again as an unwilling savior for a world about to be destroyed while carrying the burden of humanity’s survival.
If Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles survives for several more seasons it will become a truly groundbreaking series. The writing is there. The acting is there. And the concept is there. It is ultimately the story of one man chosen before his time to save the world and the journey he takes to get there. It’s the ultimate Chosen story but without the prophecies and the only visions are of destruction. It’s the ultimate journey into the apocalypse that makes the fixations of SciFi shows like Babylon 5, DS9, BSG and Andromeda on turning their character into a chosen one seem childish by comparison.