Cameron (Summer Glau) looks pretty good after her season-finale explosion, with just a cut on her face. She picks herself back up and drags her way to rescue Sarah (Lena Headey) and John (Thomas Dekker) from some gun-toting intruders. The intruders pick up the hard drive our heroes worked so hard to steal last year, and of course the scuffle leads to the whole house burning down. That’s just collateral damage in the Terminator world.
Uh-oh, it looks like Cameron’s reprogrammed herself to terminate John. That’s not good. Luckily that house fire blows her away, so Sarah and John can escape. Meanwhile, Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt) lets Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones) go after he’d terminated the whole SWAT team at the motel pool. That’s odd. Cromartie leaves the body of George Laslo, the identity he stole, to take the fall for the motel shootout.
On the run, Sarah gets distracted and crashes the car, leaving the duo to limp away from an also limping Cameron. Charley Dixon (Dean Winters), Sarah’s former paramedic beau, leaves the scene of the motel and follows a call to the Connor house fire. He finds the two burned bodies of the intruders, and an incognito Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), who fills him–and us–in on the exposition of the Turk chess computer from last season. It’s the program that provides the initial basis of Skynet’s artificial intelligence. Got that?
Now we meet Catherine Weaver (Garbage singer Shirley Manson), who’s making a deal to buy the Turk. That’ll pay off later. Elsewhere, Cameron cleans up with baby wipes and staples her face back together. (Gotta love Terminator first aid!) She finds Charley and Derek following leads on Sarah and John, so they are in double pursuit. Her limping stagger kind of looks like Arnold going in slow motion in the movies. It’s intense.
Sarah and John find a church in which they can nurse their wounds and hide out. John realizes how powerful the now-evil Cameron is, with all her knowledge of the Connors. Out of anger, John jams a knife into the table; anyone who obsessed over T2 should appreciate that. They come up with a nifty plan to shock Cameron when she comes looking for them. They try to carve out her CPU chip (remember the director’s cut of T2!) but run out of time, so she wakes up even more pissed. John and Sarah try to flee by stolen van, but Cameron overturns their vehicle!
The chase continues like an epic Terminator chase. All attempts to stop Cameron fail, so the heroes flee, despite increasing injuries. There are even more loving homages to lines from the films for fans. Sarah ultimately helps incapacitate Cameron, giving John the chance to shut down Cameron. Cameron protests, even begs and pleads with human-like fear, insisting she’s fixed herself and she’s good again. As a last resort, she professes love! John pauses, but pulls the chip.
John still has some questions about Cameron, feeling that she must be different if his future self sent her back. He almost incinerates her but reinserts her chip to find out for sure if her new emotions were real or fake. He gives her a gun to test her. Her POV does show an order to terminate, but she overrides it and wins back John’s trust. The stakes of this drama are amazingly high. I mean, if you’re believing in a world of Terminators, the idea of the most important human putting his life in an assassin robot’s hands is staggering. And clearly, this is a defining moment for John. He is not the same after it.
Sarah and Cameron talk religion, and Cameron tells her never to let John bring her back if she goes bad again. Sarah offers the best apology she’s able to as John reveals he’s cut his hair, just in case you didn’t get that this is a new John.
Throughout this, Ellison gets a few scenes. He answers all his superior’s debriefing questions with “I don’t know.” He confronts Cromartie again, insisting he’ll never help him find the Connors, but Cromartie seems to have a plan.
With her Turk, Weaver announces a new division for her company. An employee complains about her new decision in the men’s room, and she rises out of the urinal as a liquid metal T-1000 to kill him.
This could really be the best episode in what is already my favorite series on TV. The pilot was amazing for showing Terminator action, redefining the timeline legitimately, and just bringing back Sarah. Dungeons and Dragons was awesome for future war stuff, but man, this Cameron chase, character decisions and introducing the ultimate movie villain step it up to the next level. So yeah, there’s a T-1000 running a computer company. Cameron could flip her good/evil switch at any time. John’s dissing his mom (who, don’t forget, is the title of the show), and Ellison is about to become a free agent. Wow!