Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation are bad movies that desecrate two jewels on James Cameron’s mighty crown. What makes Salvation particularly bad is how un-Terminator it is. I actually prefer it to T3, a lot, but it’s a definitive lose/lose. A few months before Salvation was released, a little show by the name of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles had just been canceled (I for one, alongside many others, was outraged). Yet, somehow, while being far from the golden age of Terminator (and by the power of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s buttocks), Terminator 3 became the third best entry in the franchise by far, perhaps thanks in some small part to its close

Lena Headey (in pre-Cersei, Game of Thrones mode), steps into the role of Sarah Connor in the Fox network TV show, borrowing from Linda Hamilton both in terms of making the role her own and adding her own individual flavor to it. She’s a torn mother trying to raise her son in the aftermath of Judgement Day, only to be haunted by the future they can’t seem to outrun. Her commanding voice and stature make her feel like someone who’s been through hell and back. And yet she still carries a lot of vulnerability, always concerned with the well being of her son, and I genuinely love her in this role.

John Connor is played by Thomas Dekker, who I’m only familiar with his previous work on Heroes‘ first season, but he’s a natural progression of the T2 John Connor. A far cry from the drug addicted John Connor T3, this version is struggling to find his place as a normal teenager before being flung back into the fight against Skynet.

And Summer Glau… well, we all love Summer Glau.

At times you can feel the budget tearing at the seams. A spectacular massacre happens offscreen and we only witness a few bodies falling into a pool as Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” plays to distract us from a boring non-shootout. And my god, several patches of season 2 were variations of mediocre to boring – like, Terminator: Salvation boring. But when the show was on its game, it was a worthy entry in the series.

For every failure of a shootout there was a “Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today.” Who is Mr. Ferguson? Why is he ill today? You’ve got to watch the show to find out. And the cliffhanger, my god, the cliffhanger.

Yes, the show ends on a cliffhanger that will never be resolved (why do bad things happen to good people?). So if you’re wary of being unfulfilled, you might want to just re-watch T1 and T2. But if you want to try the only other worthy entry in the franchise, give The Sarah Connor Chronicles a shot.

Featured Image:  Warner Bros. Television