TSCC Episode 2.16: Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep

terminator-216-012Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep, is the final installment in the triptych of episodes exploring the psychological damage Sarah Connor endures in her struggle to protect her son. The title comes from Act Three, Scene Two of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which is a study of that titular character’s decent into madness. Hamlet utters these words moments after satisfying his suspicions that his uncle, King Claudius, is guilty not only of usurping his father’s bed and throne, but also of taking his father’s life:

Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play;
For some must watch, while some must sleep:
So runs the world away.

Hamlet confirms his uncle’s treachery by sponsoring a thinly-disguised play mirroring the events surrounding his father’s murder. It is a psychological ambush designed to capture his uncle’s unguarded reaction. King Claudius abruptly and guiltily heads to bed at the end of the performance, while Hamlet remains vigilant in the wake of his father’s murder. The title of Hamlet’s play is The Mousetrap, the same title as episode 2.03, in which Cromartie ambushes Sarah, Derek, and Charley, and heads after John.

Like Hamlet, this episode of the Sarah Connor Chronicles examines a tortured mind seemingly undone by high crimes against her person and humanity. A drugged Sarah alternates between dream and waking states but cannot distinguish between the two. This impasse is broken at the end, and she (and we) uncover the true reality. Sarah then takes control of her reality, and decisively kills her tormentor for the first and final time.

The dream state is revealed to be Sarah’s stay in the sleep clinic, and everything that happens within that construct occurs only in Sarah’s subconscious. Sarah’s roommate Dana is an undisciplined version of herself who indulges her vices of cigarettes and younger men, but whose nightmares of sudden immolation comes to pass when embers from her cigarette make a pyre of her bed. Careless indulgences have dire consequences; vigilence is a virtue. Through this alter ego, Sarah frankly acknowledges John’s emergent sexuality as Dana unabashedly flirts with him. Sarah winces, but doesn’t intercede. She cannot protect her son from his manhood, or herself from her awareness of it.

Sarah’s dream state also reveals her deep ambivalence towards Cameron. At the sleep clinic, all but one interaction between Sarah and Cameron is indirect. They stare wordlessly at each other across a divide with only John to occupy the intervening void. In her dream state, Sarah imagines that Cameron has made pancakes for John with an added teaspoon of vanilla – an improvement on Sarah’s box recipe. She also imagines that when John wrestles impotently with a recalcitrant vending machine, Cameron is there to break the stalemate between man and machine. She fears that while she is away, Cameron parades around the house in only underwear, perversely plying her femininity to keep John close. Sarah fears Cameron’s displacement of her as John’s protector. Will she lose her son to the machines no matter what?

terminator-216-022The dream relationship with John is most revealing. If we consider that the conversations between John and Sarah as aspects of Sarah’s subconscious mind interacting, we see Sarah struggling to overcome her demons. John is the anchor to sanity, a representation of her better angels, imploring her to exorcise the demons that weigh on her and steal her sleep.

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