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I’m Only Happy When It Rains Skynet Drones

Last Friday’s season finale – and possible series finale – of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles struck a fine balance between the mopey fatalism that’s come to define the mood of the show and absolute balls-out insanity. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this actually watches T:TSCC enough to be invested in its outcome, SPOILERS AHEAD.

In the final minutes of the episode, Shirley Manson (lead singer of Garbage / T-1001 liquid-metal Terminator) does this:

I’m no scientist, but the physics of this whole sequence are pretty dubious.

I’d estimate the Skynet drone is traveling at a speed of AT LEAST 800 mph (its closest real-life equivalent, the Harrier jet, has a maximum speed of 735 mph, and the Skynet drone has been reverse-engineered from better/faster/stronger materials). It should have shoved Shirley Manson forward, liquid-metal shield or not, and engulfed the entire room in flame, right?

Either way, it was a bold display of the kind of jaw-dropping craziness the show’s been sorely lacking. Maybe if this episode had aired mid-season, T:TSCC would’ve locked down enough viewers to escape cancellation. I certainly would’ve been more likely to actually recommend it, instead of gritting my teeth in frustration with its squandered potential.

But now I’m wondering if some of that frustration wasn’t misplaced, or at least overly influenced by the harsh realities of being a fan in the age of internet forums, online rumor mills, and behind-the-scenes peeks. I truly believe that the writers of T:TSCC were attempting an ambitious, slow-burning character study, and I think it would’ve been easier to sit back and enjoy the ride (or crawl) if I hadn’t been hyper-aware that JOHN CONNOR IS A PUSSY and THIS SHOW NEEDS MORE ROBOT FIGHTS OR IT’S GOING TO BE CANCELLED NEXT WEEK. Yes, more hot robot-on-robot action would have been nice, and sure, many episodes missed genuine pathos by a mile and ended up somewhere between generalized angst and petulance, but it was all in the service of some worthy questions: What happens to a teenager who’s forced to self-identify as the savior of humanity? How does the foreknowledge of Judgment Day influence the actions of people burdened with it?

It took the writers two seasons to figure out how to grapple with these issues in an honest, entertaining way, and in the process they’ve built up some real emotional and narrative currency. Hopefully they’ll have an entire third season in which to spend it.

In the meantime, I’ll immerse myself in message boards and cast interviews that will further confuse and manipulate my true feelings for the show.

Who wants to collaborate on some fan fiction?

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