Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) / Sci Fi-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 6: Dungeons and Dragons

Cast: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Dean Winters, Brendan Hines
Director: Jeffrey G. Hunt

Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz

1.6 - "Dungeons and Dragons"

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" takes a step in the right direction with this mostly explanatory episode that gives us the background to much of what we've been seeing in the previous episodes through "flashbacks to the future", showing the resistance against Skynet and how and why Kyle Reese's brother, Derek, made the jump back to the present day.  Somehow in the future, they were captured by one of the Terminators and some sort of experiment (they call it another one of their games) takes place, but we're not quite privy to the events.  

We also learn of the reason why Andy Goode was (ostensibly) assassinated in the previous episode, having a confessionary moment where he discusses how he was partially responsible for the events that had led up to the Judgment Day occurring.  In the scenes set in the present day, Sarah (Headey, 300) confesses to her former lover, Charley, as to why she mysteriously disappeared and divulges most of her origin prior to that point.  Meanwhile, Derek continues to recuperate physically, though he is obviously delusional, while Cameron (Glau, Serenity) disposes of the Terminator she all but destroyed in "Queen's Gambit" (though she keeps one vital component).

It seems as though the formula for the series is to have episodes that are little more than explanation and tying up loose ends, and others are meant to deliver action and thriller elements.  Although the movies were built up to be action extravaganzas, the reason why they aren't as thrilling in the TV series is a lack of budget, characters that we don't care a great deal about yet, and the fights lacking any real spin on what we've already seen.  It's nice to get a breather and try to learn about the characters and their motivations first before we see them in peril, so this episode gets bonus points for doing the most in any thus far in filling in the blanks. 

Detective Ellison, Cromartie, and some of the other story angles are absent, but some intriguing new notions are pushed forward, including the strange behavior of Cameron, juxtaposed after a scene explaining how the reprogrammed Terminators meant to assist humans sometimes go haywire.  Although the events are somewhat confusing, especially since many of the male actors look so similar to one another (not to mention that the time travel headaches are still a recurring component of the show for many viewers), there are enough fill-in-the-blank moments to shed light on older confusing threads, while offering some new developments to explore in the future.  All in all, one of the better entries thus far, especially for those intimately familiar with the original Terminator.

-- Followed by episode 1.7, "The Demon Hand".

Qwipster's episode rating:

2008 Vince Leo