Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles S1 E4: Heavy Metal

"You know what I love about you guys? Even when you've evolved into the ultimate, indestructible killing machine you're not above self-examination and improvement." -Sarah Connor-

"Thank you." -Cameron-

"Please shut up." -Sarah Connor-

It's unfortunate this adaptation of the Terminator universe wasn't built to last, because FOX appeared to have another winner a la Firefly (2002). You may have heard of that one too. It seems the network knows how to pick them, but just doesn't know how to handle or maintain them. What a shame.

Our trio of heroes decides maybe it's time to stop running and fight in the lastest installment of the series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season One, Episode 4, Heavy Metal.

The group, thanks to Cameron, determined the enemy knows where they are. Information indicates the Terminator unit known simply as Cromartie arrived in their respective time frame right along with them.

Armed with the ability to self-repair, Cromartie has already placed human tissue over its newly rebuilt endoskeleton as explored in Ep3, The Turk.

The episode's title is certainly appropriate as the team, intent on preventing the end of the world, suspects Cromartie will see a Coltan shipment on the docks, a heavy metal alloy used in the making of Terminator endoskeletons. They must go there to destroy it and hopefully Cromartie.

There is also a kind of grunge-like heavy metal vibe to the look of this series too that reminds me of the heavy metal band greats of the 1980s. It's just a feeling combined with the metallic sounding soundtrack scoring by Bear McCreary.

The series is simple in story foundations, but is so effective in creating tension and building on that suspense with each Cromartie encounter. It's not so much the encounter, but often the anticipation to it that works so well for T:TSCC.

Writer John Enbom and director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan cleverly work in a nice tribute to Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) by applying the name to a truck called Testsuo Corporation. The name is an allusion to the Japanese film about a man who transforms from the inside out into metal. This is not your Marvel's Iron Man. Terminator's Cromartie is also a nameless entity much like the Iron Man himself in the Japanese cult classic. Heavy Metal certainly offers its share of clever subtext.

Heavy Metal centers on Sarah and John's efforts to score one for the good guys, win a battle in the war against Skynet by destroying the Coltan metal shipment.

In this installment, the supply is guarded by another Terminator unit at a military bunker. The Terminator's sole mission or purpose it to protect the metal. There is a good bit of suspense surrounding the effort to steal away with the metal.

Elsewhere Cromartie has fashioned his face through a plastic surgeon in the likeness of actor Garret Dillahunt.

The episode also sees John Connor continue to propel forward as a savior of mankind in the mold of what would one day become his future self we all came to know and love in the original film portrayed by Michael Biehn, while Sarah does her best to balance a tough act as the mother of teenager, the mother of a future hero that absolutely must survive at any cost and herself as mom and action heroine. Her heroine, too, has the maturity of age and that wisdom and balance offsets her hot headed son. The Terminator unit Cameron, played rather expertly by Summer Glau, is also a heavy highlight each entry.

In fact, it's interesting Glau's two major performances for me are not at all conventional to date. She nails the Terminator unit role as Cameron and is quite convincing here in a manner that speaks to her intelligence regarding the physicality of the role. As Glau noted herself in SciFiNow #12, "It was the little details you don't think about. I had to really strip myself of all those human habits" (p.42). She was also quite special as the unique almost otherworldly living weapon River Tam in Firefly (speaking of earlier). It would be interesting to see Glau take on a more conventional role one day with a considerable degree of dialogue when you consider these two key parts. It would be intriguing to see. There is, of course, her work in Dollhouse, Arrow, The 4400, The Cape or Alphas.

But here in T:TSCC, like in Heavy Metal, she sometimes steels (wink) the show.

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