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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle dot-com
Terminator: Self-Made Man "Self-Made Man"
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
TV episode
Written by Toni Graphia
Directed by Holly Dale
Original air date: December 1, 2008


Cameron's secret night life is revealed; a Terminator is erroneously sent to 1920.


Read the story summary at the Terminator Wiki


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


John Connor

Sarah Connor



Riley Dawson

Myron Stark (T-888)

Rudolph Valentino

Rupert Chandler (seen in newsreel footage only)

Barry (mentioned only)

Mike Silver

Gail Silver

Fred Jeffers (seen in newsreel footage only, deceased)


Janine Barber

Tom Jacobs

Will Chandler (deceased, mentioned only)

Ruby (in film reel only)

Governor Mark Wyman (mentioned and seen in a flash-forward only) 


Didja Notice?


The bottle of Brut Champagne poured in the opening scene of this episode (in 1920) appears to be a brand called R. Roussard. This appears to be a fictitious brand. The term Reserve Cuvee on the label is French for "reserve vat".


The song playing over the speakeasy scene in 1920 is "Charleston" by Cecil Mack and James P. Johnson. But the song was not composed until 1923!


Cameron's quote, "The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief," is a quote from Othello, as stated by Eric. Othello is a tragic play by William Shakespeare.


Cameron asks Eric if the library has A History of California Field Artillery, as she is interested in the muzzle-loading rifles used during the Modoc Indian War. A History of California Field Artillery appears to be a fictitious book. The Modoc War was a year-long war between the U.S. Army and the Native American Modoc tribe of northern California and southern Oregon.


Riley calls John and asks if he can pick her up at 341 Grove Way in Van Nuys. Grove Way appears to be a fictitious road in the Los Angeles neighborhood called Van Nuys.


As stated by Eric, Millvina Dean (1912-2009) was the last survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912.


In 1920, Myron Stark is seen to have attended the opening of The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino. This was an actual silent film and helped to establish Valentino has a romantic hero of the silent film era. But the film did not debut until October 1921! While speaking to Valentino, Stark mentions the female protagonist of the film, Diana. She is played by Agnes Ayres.


At 10:37 on the Blu-ray, a woman brings more drinks and snacks from the store to the party. Brockman Beer and Let's Potato Chips are seen. These are both prop brands seen in numerous TV shows and movies. Let's Potato Chips was previously in The Sarah Connor Chronicles in "Brothers of Nablus".


When Cameron is unable to find records about Myron Stark, Eric suggests that he could have been an immigrant who came in through Ellis Island. Ellis Island was a famous gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants from 1892-1954.


At 14:47 on the Blu-ray, Ray and Ray Drugs is seen in the background during the bank robbery shootout. This appears to be a fictitious business.


At 14:49 on the Blu-ray, Stark is seen robbing La Brea Savings and Loan. This appears to be a fictitious bank. Stark wields an M1921 Thompson submachine gun. Cameron later wields an M1921 taken from Stark in 2008.


Cameron and Eric find records that show that Stark bought property in the San Fernando Valley locations of Burbank, Sunland, and Van Nuys. These are all cities or neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County.


At 16:12 on the Blu-ray, Cameron and Eric view an old newsreel of Worldwide Wire News. This appears to be a fictitious news service.


Eric discovers Cameron's Glock 17 at 17:34 on the Blu-ray.


The video game Riley and John play against Alex at Mike's party appears to be Gears of War 2.


At 21:29 on the Blu-ray, Cameron and Eric watch an old news video of Janine Barber on Channel 6 reporting on a hiker who discovered a 60-year old body off of Mulholland Drive. This is a road through the Santa Monica mountains which drops down into Hollywood. 


At 22:11 on the Blu-ray, the tires on the Ford Model A are Firestone brand.


At 22:55 on the Blu-ray, the law firm of Jacobs & Jacobs is seen in the background in 1920. This appears to be a fictitious firm of the time.


When John and Riley pull into a scenic turnout overlooking the valley at 23:34, notice that the headrests on the front seats of the Connormobile are missing...simply in order to make the filming of the actors heads easier from the camera position in the back seat!



While talking to John at the scenic overlook, Riley mentions Bruce Hornsby. Hornsby is an American singer and keyboard player.


Riley reveals that her old foster parents called her "the deviant" and John tells her that his foster parents called him "the delinquent". John is probably referring to his foster parents Todd and Janelle Voight who appeared in Judgment Day. Riley may be lying about her foster parents, considering she is from the future war.


John asks Riley what happened to her real parents and she ambiguously explains that they died in a fire. This may be a reference to the fires of nuclear annihilation during Judgment Day in the future.


Cameron asks Eric if he's ever considered suicide due to his cancer and handicap. Recall that Cameron told John that she would find a way to destroy herself if she ever went rogue again in "Automatic for the People".


Eric explains that the old films in the library's storage room are "silver nitrate". Silver nitrate is used in photographic and motion picture film.


After his little speech about living and staying young forever, Eric says to Cameron, "Anyway, don't let me get all A.E. Housman on you." Housman (1859-1936) was a British poet best known for his Shropshire Lad poems about the disappointments of youth.


In this episode, we see both Cameron and Stark Terminators calculate the date by the stellar positions of three stars in the L.A. night sky. These may be what the three dots represent on the Connors' basement wall left by Wells in "Automatic for the People".


Another reference to the Wizard of Oz occurs in this episode when Cameron compares the accidental death of the partygoers in 1920 from the fire sparked by the electrical arcs of the T-888's arrival to the house falling on the witch in The Wizard of Oz.


Pico Tower, described as built by Myron Stark in this episode at Pico and Third in Los Angeles is fictitious, though there is an intersection of Pico Boulevard and Third Avenue in the city.


A sign inside Pico Tower proclaims that it will be re-opening on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2010 with a speech by Governor Mark Wyman. In the real world, ironically, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor at the time! The name Wyman may be a reference to architect George Wyman, who designed the famed Bradbury Building on South Broadway in L.A.


Cameron identifies Eric's cancer as Ewing's sarcoma. This is a rare type of cancer, first identified in 1921 as stated by Cameron here.


Eric accuses Cameron of not knowing what it's like to have something inside of you that's damaged. She responds, "It's like a bomb waiting to go off." She is referring to her own damaged microchip which previously caused her to revert to her original programming and attempt to kill John; she fears it could happen again.


Notice that Riley's lip marks are visible in lipstick on John's neck when he walks in the door of his house at 41:49 on the Blu-ray!


The pink sweater Cameron is wearing at the end of the episode has small rock and roll symbols on it, including ones reading "ROCK ON" and "I Y ROCK".


Unanswered Questions


Why does Cameron go to the library only in the middle of the night? Do the Connors know about this? Is she hiding her visits from them?


Why did the T-888 that became Myron Stark end up in the wrong time period (1920) in the first place?


Did Cameron destroy Stark's body?


What happened to Eric? 


Memorable Dialog


baby wipes and ice cream.mp3

I don't know that many happy people.mp3

I don't have any friends.mp3

in a fire.mp3

I work out.mp3


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