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Self Made Man (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)

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"Self Made Man"
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 11
Directed by Holly Dale
Written by Toni Graphia
Produced by Ashley Edward Miller
Zack Stentz[1]
Featured music Bear McCreary[1]
Cinematography by Stephen Collins[2]
Original air date December 1, 2008 (2008-12-01)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point"
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"Alpine Fields"
List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes

"Self Made Man" is the 20th episode (11th of the second season) of the United States television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (T:TSCC). Aired on December 1, 2008 (2008-12-01),[3] "Self Made Man" explores Cameron's nighttime activities of enlisting help to research a Terminator's presence in the past, as well as John Connor's continuing relationship with Riley Dawson.


Written by Toni Graphia,[2] the plot of "Self Made Man" consists of two separate storylines.

Todd Stashwick played the time-displaced T-888 Terminator.

While the Connors sleep, Cameron (Summer Glau) secretly visits the library and her friend, bone cancer survivor and nighttime library attendant, Eric (Billy Lush); it's revealed that Cameron has been doing this regularly to improve her human disguise and infiltration capabilities.[4] After discovering the 1920 photograph of a T-888 model Terminator (Todd Stashwick), Cameron uses the library's resources to deduce that it time travelled to the wrong date. The T-888, having accidentally killed the architect of a downtown landmark (Pico Tower) crucial to its original mission of assassinating the governor of California in 2010, it invented a new identity: 1920s Los Angeles realty magnate, Myron Stark. As Stark, the T-888 funded and designed the building itself before ensconcing itself inside a wall to wait for New Year's Eve 2010. Returning to the library after finding and tending to Stark, Cameron damages her relationship with Eric by revealing to him that his cancer has returned; the following night however, Eric is missing, but Cameron is unconcerned and succeeds in wooing the new attendant with the doughnuts she had brought for Eric.

Simultaneously with Cameron's escapades, John (Thomas Dekker) also sneaks out of the house, responding to a phone call from Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin). Meeting her at a house party in Van Nuys, they leave after John beats up the host (Oren Dayan) for accosting Riley—who stole his lighter. Driving to a vista overlooking Los Angeles, John and Riley discuss their relationship and supposed foster family backgrounds. The official T:TSCC blog revealed that John Connor's fight was written knowing that he's still dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder and having killed Margos Sarkissian earlier in the season.[5]


"Self Made Man" is the third T:TSCC episode written by Toni Graphia, whereas it was director Holly Dale's first foray into the Terminator franchise.[5] Graphia vetted the episode's historical information alongside T:TSCC department heads, and History for Hire, a prop house specializing in period pieces. All of the 1920s scenes were shot on the Warner Bros. backlot, which itself was inaugurated during the same era. "Myron Stark's" meeting Rudolph Valentino (Branden R. Morgan) at the premiere of The Sheik is the first occasion of the series referencing a real-life person. The fictional Pico Tower was written at the intersection of Pico Boulevard and 3rd Street, despite the two roadways running parallel in real life.[5] Costume designer Amanda Friedland created the flapper-themed wardrobe for "Self Made Man".[6] Production wrapped on "Self Made Man" on October 15, 2008.[5]


"The entire idea of Cameron would not work, conceptually, if [Summer Glau] were not able to pull it off as an actress. And she does, continually surprising with the nuances of her performance."
—Travis Fickett (IGN)[7]

Reviewing the episode for IGN, Travis Fickett extolled Summer Glau's performance, and held it up as an example of her acting ability keeping the whole series from failing. Fickett also explained that "Self Made Man" received better ratings than the preceding episodes of the series' second season.[7] At the website Television Without Pity (TWoP), the staff review rated the episode a "C", and specifically took issue with the suspension of disbelief required for Cameron's ability to find anything and everything about the Myron Stark storyline in a closed public library; as of January 2010, 757 of their readers awarded it an average grade of "B+".[8]

Though the series never specifically explains the three dots written on the Connors' basement wall in "Automatic for the People", reviewers (including IGN, TWoP, and Total Sci-Fi's Owen Van Spall[4]) attributed them to this episode's revelation of the Terminators' temporal triangulation ability. Van Spall and TWoP also noted the plot point of the T-888's mission to kill the governor of California.[4][8] Stark's assassination mission was to take place on New Year's Eve 2010,[1] at which time Arnold Schwarzenegger would still be the Californian governor (leaving office in January 2011);[9] Schwarzenegger is the star of the first three Terminator films in the franchise, having premiered the role in 1984.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Self Made Man". Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Season 2. Episode 11. 2008-12-01. Fox Broadcasting Company. 
  2. ^ a b "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Self Made Man - Yahoo! TV". Yahoo! TV. Santa Clara, California, USA: Yahoo!, Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  3. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (2008-12-02). "Terminator, "Self-Made Man": History lessons". The Star-Ledger. Newark, New Jersey, USA: George Arwady. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  4. ^ a b c Van Spall, Owen (2009-02-09). "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Self-Made Man (season 2, episode 11)". Total Sci-Fi. Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2009-02-23. While Sarah pursues her obsession with the three-dotted symbol, Cameron might accidentally have found its meaning when she learns that a Terminator was mistakenly sent back to the 1920s and has altered the timeline for purposes unknown… 
  5. ^ a b c d hadley (2008-12-03). "self made episode". Terminator - Sarah Connor Chronicles. United States: Fox Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original (Blog) on 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  6. ^ hadley (2008-12-03). "dressed in time". Terminator - Sarah Connor Chronicles. United States: Fox Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original (Blog) on 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  7. ^ a b Fickett, Travis (2008-12-02). "Terminator: "Self Made Man" Review". IGN TV. Brisbane, California, USA: IGN. Retrieved 2010-01-01. A clever, innovative - if not entirely successful - episode. 
  8. ^ a b Daniel. "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times". Television Without Pity. NBC Universal. Archived from the original on 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  9. ^ Marois, Michael B.; William Selway (2009-12-24). "Schwarzenegger Seeks Obama's Help for Deficit Relief". New York City, USA: Bloomberg L.P. Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on 2010-03-21. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  10. ^ "Arnold Schwarzenegger". The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 

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