Fans of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" should be very happy right now. Not only have the writers settled into their first season form after a rocky second season start, but FOX delivered some unexpected good news. The series will be receiving a full second season, and that should give the writers more than enough time to make a case.
This episode, like most of the good episodes of the series, had more to do with character exploration than strict plot advancement. There was plenty of that, of course. A terminator was sent to kill Dr. Sherman, but we're not sure who sent him. Catherine Weaver is actively wooing Dr. Sherman to help her understand the Turk and its primitive, child-like AI, while showing her limited ability to act human.
That seems to be contradictory. Why would a terminator be sent to kill Dr. Sherman, if his involvement with the Turk and Catherine Weaver was directly related to the eventual rise of SkyNet? It doesn't seem likely that the terminator was sent by Future John to eliminate Dr. Sherman, based on its body count, so why the apparent disconnect? And for that matter, why would Weaver even care about Savannah's reaction to her presence?
There's something important in the distinction there, and the episode was written to distract from it. Either that, or there is some subtle aspect to the episode that I completely missed (which is always a possibility). All I know is that this is not the first time I've felt like there's something unusual about Catherine Weaver's actions. (It's almost as if two different factions within SkyNet are fighting for control.)
The rest of the episode was an exploration of the psychological cost of war. Derek's lover seems to have fled to the past to escape the crushing weight of constant resistance, and he's not particularly pleased by the notion. It brings up an interesting question: is there a point where betraying your oath to duty is reasonably justified? Most of us would balk at the idea, but John's cell has been fighting for years without respite.
Which brings up another good question: how must John feel at this point? John has been making some odd and questionable decisions since the season premiere, and this episode suggests a reason why. It's quite probable that this is the first person he's ever killed, and he's suffering the psychological toll that must invariably come with that choice, even if it was self-defense. It's also layered on top of the guilt that comes with knowing that people have and will die for him. I don't think it makes him consciously suicidal, but it may make him unconsciously willing to take on risks that he shouldn't.
None of which really pertains to Sarah Connor until the end, when she realizes that she's not holding it together perfectly either. Hopefully this is a sign that her stability will begin to waver. Sarah is still missing the kind of wild-eyed urgency that the character had in "Terminator 2", and part of that was Charlie's moderating influence and John's restored presence in her life. But the underlying fear remains, and sooner or later, those cracks need to show to give the character life.