chaila: Diana SWORDFIGHTING in a BALLGOWN. (tscc - soul)
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Title: DLZ
Vidder: [info]bop_radar
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Commentary by: [info]chaila43

Warnings: Spoilers for the entire series, extremely image heavy at 50+ caps (240x180), lots of caps of gun pointing, blinding vid brilliance and lack of use of the letter u.

First off, I gush. I love this vid so much. It is the chewy TSCC ensemble vid that I have been waiting for since I fell in love with this show (which, granted, was not that long ago!). The vid manages to encapsulate much of what is great about the show on both the thoughtful and emotional levels. It is the rare vid that manages to capture the themes and emotions of an entire show, particularly one as layered and smart as this show is, and this vid does that marvelously well. This is a true ensemble vid about all the characters and the big themes of the show. Each character gets their storyline within the vid and the connections, intersections and conflict among the characters drives the vid as much as the Resistance vs. Terminator conflict that is the overarching theme. The futility of the Resistance fight is palpable—they get beat up and bloodied, desperate and discouraged, get killed one by one, but they have to keep fighting. What else can they do? 


Overall structure, song and effects


I never knew that this song was about the apocalypse, but Bop has convinced me that it must be. With her clip choices, she manages to vid what could be rather disjointed lyrics into a coherent story by devoting different short sections to different characters and vidding their individual but intersecting stories within those sections. Together with the instrumental sections which serve as bridges tying each section to the next and extremely skillful cutting and POV shifts (more on these later), the whole vid really comes together as a treasury of the Resistance. This vid reads as if someone put the relevant parts of the story of the Resistance on a chip and is playing it back on a computer, which is a deft and ironic inversion of the technology of the show that I really love.


The song and effects rather brilliantly but subtly reinforce this. The background beats, most prominent at the beginning of the song, are not unlike the show’s own soundtrack. Together with the black and white interference effect used throughout the vid—which, if it’s not actually from the show is very, very close to what John and Cameron see on the screen when they’re hacking the Terminator chip—to suggest the chip playback are smallish details that complete the feeling of the entire vid as an electronic compendium of the show.


Beginning to :24


We start with the image of a gun being carried down a corridor. Remember this image.



The introduction of the vid juxtaposes the desperate situations of all the humans with both caged animals and actual caged humans. Intercutting Sarah, John and Cameron running, Derek walking among the ruins, and the cages suggests a feeling of panic, of being trapped, that is important here to set up the overall feel of the vid.



Congratulations on the mess you made of things


That feeling of being trapped transitions nicely into the story of the vid, which begins appropriately with Sarah’s worst nightmares. Sarah’s tense desperation sets the emotional tone for much of this vid, just as it does in the show. They all fear for John, fear for the future, but Sarah has lived and breathed it in ways I don’t think even Derek, soldier that he is, can understand. Sarah’s a fighter, but she’s a mother first, and she wouldn’t be one without the other, and this vid captures that.



This is beginning to feel like the dog wants her bones saved


One thing that is particularly striking and unique about this vid is the use of Cameron. Most vids explore Cameron’s increasing human-ness, but this vid, told primarily through Sarah, Derek and Jesse, who are often set up against Cameron, most often groups Cameron with the Terminators, and uses her as a stand-in for Sarah, Derek and Jesse’s fear of metal and fear and ambivalence about John’s ever closer relationship with Cameron and with metal more broadly.



:45 - 1:06 – The Sarah, John and Cameron triangle


This is my favorite sequence of the vid, transitioning as it does from the tenderness and violence of Sarah and wee John, to John moving away from Sarah and towards Cameron. The intercutting of Cameron watching John sleep with Sarah watching John sleep:



and these cuts from Sarah stroking John's cheek to John reinserting Cameron’s chip and then pointing a gun at Sarah, is an extremely effective portrayal of Sarah’s deep fear that she’s losing John to Cameron and the fact that she actually is.




1:07 - 1:17 – Your methods dot the disconnect from all your creeds

The contrast between Cameron’s calm violence and Sarah’s reluctance, which will of course come back to haunt them, cutting immediately to Sarah shooting a man in the head point-blank, back to Sarah stopping Derek from unnecessary killing concisely sum up the necessary moral ambiguity of the Resistance, personified of course by Sarah. Sarah draws very clear lines, but this section makes me wonder whether she draws the lines in the right places. Like John says, they’re not murderers. Except, of course, when they are.



But this is beginning to feel like the dog's lost her lead

This section focuses back on Cameron and her various episodes caused by the damaged chip, which highlights the unpredictability of Cameron and the fact that something really could go wrong at any time, which play back into the way Cameron is used throughout.  She could go from Cameron to just another Terminator at any moment. 



1:28 - 1:33

Another bit of truly brilliant intercutting with Derek going into the mysterious room of torture and Cameron watching Derek walk by suggests Cameron's complicity as a Terminator in all that came before(after) for Derek. Pictures don't do the editing and use of motion justice.



1:37 - 1:39

One of the great things Bop does throughout this vid is shift seamlessly from the story and POV of one character into the story and POV of another through cuts between them. For example, at the end of this section about Derek’s experiences in the future, here’s Derek puling a gun on Cameron.


But the next cut is Derek pointing the gun at Jesse in another scene, which then begins Jesse's story. Again, hard to do these cuts justice with pictures!



1:39 - 1:49

This is a great section for Jesse, again using Cameron as a stand-in for metal generally to great effect, as Jesse tries multiple times to run away from the machines. It doesn’t work.


This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never


This section is an overview of the increasing frustration, fear and desperation of the characters as they just keep losing, anchored again with Sarah as she loses control. Jesse kissing Riley juxtaposed with Jesse slapping Riley is a particularly emotionally affecting moment, as is Derek as he watches his fellow fighters get shot by on the chip. Then, to top it off, the section ends with John watching little!Kyle and Sarah’s dream!Kyle on “you set your sights so high,” using Kyle on multiple levels to remind us what they’re fighing for: children, love, and if all else fails, the last stand: John Connor’s existence.  




2:21 - 2:22 – And shoving their souls to ghost


I love these clips of Jesse closing the eyes of the Terminator and Sarah closing the eyes of “Abraham.” This show is visually brilliant and Bop has noticed many of these small mirrored moments.



Death professor/ Who’s next


Each section of the final verses of the vid starts out with the repeated lyrics, “never you mind, death professor” and ends with “who’s next.” Bop has vidded these lyrics to great effect, correlating the beginning clip of each of these sections with the ostensible victim of the “death professor” in the next line: Sarah and her dream Terminator, John and Cromartie, Cromartie and Cameron, the scientist and Sarah. Then, of course, each clip on “who’s next” someone who actually dies. These verses cycle through the various fights against the Terminators, as well as tell the story of the costs and the relentless march of death that was this show, particularly in its second season.  


Your victim flies so high

Andy’s death. The show made me care about Andy and believe that he didn’t deserve to die when he did, which is only reinforced by by the final episode’s revelation of what happened to the Turk. Even given what he told Derek, should Andy have died?



2:48 - 2:49 – If love is life, my love is better

I love this cut between John giving blood to Derek, and Sarah shocking herself with the paddles. These people just get the crap beat out of them, emotionally and physically. What medical stunt have you performed for your loved ones today?



2:53 - 2:54Confused with who’s next

Charley’s death. It was supposed to be John, of course. A startling lyrics match.


3:03 - 3:06All could be the diamond

Derek’s and Jesse’s deaths. The cut from Jesse running to Derek’s gun, to Derek’s own shocking death, is another of Bop’s brilliant POV shifts. I don’t know if it’s purposeful, but what really strikes me is that the clips on “who’s next” prior to this verse only suggest death but don’t show the actual death, until Derek, whose death will never not shock me.




Sarah, oh Sarah

Sarah on both the final “death professor” and the final “who’s next” in this last verse is quite the combination. First, we have the scientist as victim to Sarah as “death professor.” Sarah Connor face to face with that scientist is one situation that I believe would turn Sarah Connor into a murderer, and she wouldn’t regret it. I believe the song has been edited to end with this verse for Sarah, and it’s a flawless edit and allows this section to end on an effective one-two punch to the gut, in the best way, made only more so if you remember that this shot of Sarah on the death-associated "who's next" is from when she told Charley she thinks she has cancer.  


This is beginning to feel like the dawn of the luz of forever


This final section portrays all the different ways the machines could “win”, are in fact winning: killing humans, killing John, replacing us. These are extremely effective lyrics matches if I’m correct in thinking that “luz” means “light.” To me, it's a darkly ambiguous ending: is the dawn of the light of forever the beginning of the end? The clip choices in this section—Derek in the graveyard in a beautiful transition to his own grave, Cameron gone bad and chasing Sarah and John, Derek watching Cameron dance—suggest that maybe it is.



And the last shots, cutting from a last stand of Team Connor, towering over Cromartie, and Cromartie’s hand twitching with its last movements to a gun falling from a human hand, recalls the opening of the vid perfectly (I told you to remember that image).



This final shot serves as both an appropriate bookend  to the beginning shot of the vid, suggesting again that the vid has told us the story of the rise and the beginning of the fall of the Resistance, as well as serving as a potentially depressing prophecy that all this running and fighting might get them nothing in the end. They fight, but they don't win. But the real story of the vid is what comes between, of course: they fight. It’s what they do, it’s who they are. Trapped indeed.

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