Romantic Ideas About the Cameron Phillips Terminator

So we are all on the same page here, by “romantic” I’m going by the definition of idealistic but impractical.

Do Cyborgs Dream of Hyperalloy Sheep?

It seems like in some ways that Cameron is normally more like a Replicant from Blade Runner than she a Terminator. Because, like the T800-101 in Terminator 2, the altering of her CPU seems to have allowed her to acquire more “emotions” as experiences accumulate. What makes her different than other Terminators? I think it’s her degree of self-awareness.

From comments and spoilers, it’s clear that Cameron’s arc (at least for this season) is an exploration what what it means for a cyborg to be a cyborg. We’ve already seen manifestations of that: wanting to dance correctly even if it isn’t important for a mission anymore—perhaps for her own pleasure or pride (“The Demon Hand”). When she hustled pool in “Automatic For the People”, her self-satisfied smile when she’s counting her money that immediately fades when Derek arrives, as if afraid of being caught not acting sufficiently Terminator-y in front of him. She’s curious about faith, and seems genuinely concerned that she might go bad (again)…seemingly more from a personal fear of losing herself to the machine (i.e. “dying” a traitor and a failure) than she is of protecting John Connor. Perhaps it’s this fear that prompted her question to Sarah in “Samson and Delilah” about belief in the resurrection.

Human is as Human Does

It’s interesting to see the different manifestations of Cameron. When we first saw her in “Pilot”, she seemed to be a normal teenaged girl. Later, once her cover was blown, she acted more robotic. Still, in specific situations, as when she has to flirt, that human demeanor comes through again. Also, when she’s alone with John, she’s generally “softer” than when around Sarah and especially Derek. Lots of fans seem to have trouble reconciling this.

Coming from the world of computers and high tech, this altering of function seems perfectly reasonable to me. Just as GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) such as Windows and the MacOS use tons more computer resources than command-line interfaces do (CPU cycles, memory, storage, housekeeping), so too must Cameron’s faux human socializing interface. Maintaining all the physical and social subtleties that say “human” to other humans has to be very resource intensive. Clearly Vick (“Vick’s Chip”) didn’t quite have it in him, nor Cromartie.

One of the more curious things that Cameron has done to date is having read all of the sympathy notes left following the suicide of a student…and then subsequently writing one herself when Derek briefly dies in “Dungeons and Dragons”. This again seems to go beyond learning how to mimic humans and comes closer to Cameron exploring what it is to be “alive” and self-aware and dealing with her version of emotions. It seems that self-aware entities might have more need of faith and community than your ordinary scary robot.

Frenemies to the End?

Is it this self-awareness that is Skynet’s fear? Not of John Connor per se, but of what he will do: create a competing self-aware machine? Is John dangerous not because of his leading the human resistance, but because he actually brings forth the “savior”…not just of humanity, but of the machines as well? After all, it seems that Skynet does try to keep a pretty tight grip on the abilities of its cyborg minions: limited/targeted missions and such, and an off switch in their CPU that prevents them from adapting into independence. While some are more flexible than others, it does seem that Skynet, as much as possible, tries to prevent a rival from coming about.

See, I’m still sporting the notion that John is Cameron’s creator. Cameron has never stated a model number and no other cyborg seems aware of it, either. It strongly implies that she’s not of Skynet. Skynet know of the danger of this “crossing against the light” cyborg, but doesn’t have first-hand data about her.

Back when Cameron mentioned to Sarah, in “Heavy Metal”, that the building they were in was where Cameron was built, she never mentioned that it was her model being built there, just her and unspecified others (“This is where the factory will be… Where I’ll be made. Me and many others.“). It might be a casual omission, but I’m not so sure. Or perhaps “built” is the wrong word. She does say “made”, after all. Could be that this is where future-John re-programs them?

As I’ve written in previous posts, I’m thinking that Cameron steals the coltan and Vick’s Chip for the purpose of making it easier for future John to build her. I do think that John builds upon the standard terminator CPU which is why termination is still an integral part of Cameron’s programming. However, her CPU is different. It seems to have an extra little doo-dad at the connector end. I think that’s John’s addition—quite possibly the item he “fixed” when Cameron fell back to Terminator mode. See…techies, at least the good ones, tend to have their own “artistic” style. They leave their creative fingerprints on most everything that they do. I don’t think it too far afield that now-John could make a simple fix of something that future-John built. It would seem familiar even if he hadn’t seen it before.

The Future

I don’t know what’s going to happen. The Fox network tends to be pull-the-plug happy with cult-ish shows, and TTSCC is going to be facing very stiff competition with Monday Night Football and Chuck drawing away some of the Y-chromosome set. I’d rather the network try to find a good place for it where it doesn’t have the same demographic competition, but I fear that the series might not even make it to the end of its initial 13-episode order this season.

That aside, things that I’ve been hearing of upcoming episodes might make some of what I’ve speculated on moot in short order…or maybe not. Terminators are curious things, after all. I’d like to see if John or Cameron ever profess a love (or at least a bond) to the other when they aren’t in a I-have-to-stop-you-from-killing-me moment. I’d like to see Cameron’s reaction to having a birthday party…not knowing if she has a birthdate seemed to matter to her.

It does seem that Derek is either going to have to make his peace with Cameron (i.e. stop this incessant whining about how she’s a machine not to be trusted) or he’s going to have to die. The fact the Derek doesn’t seem to grasp the necessity of having a Terminator-Protector around is a potential liability that can easily put John in dire situations. John is trusting his future-self, and has chosen which side to gamble with: the side that has Cameron in it. If the show survives, it will have to evolve into the John and Cameron show because it’s likely that Sarah will become decreasingly relevant.

Hmmm…and as Cameron is supposed to appear to be a teen, what happens when the now-27-year-old Glau isn’t able to fake that age despite still being beautiful? Does the organic element of a cyborg age? Has one ever lasted long enough to find out?

Huh…don’t think I ever really thought of this before: The T-100x series and the TX series of Terminators can’t be called cyborgs because there is no organic component. They are mimetic polyalloy android infiltrators.

What would I like to see? I’d like to see John with Cameron always at his side to see him through the tough times.

Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator wouldn’t stop, it would never leave him. It would never hurt him or shout at him or get drunk and hit him or say it was too busy to spend time with him. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers that came over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only thing that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.
— Sarah Connor, Terminator 2

It’s clear that he, or at least future-he, trusts her as, in the future, Cameron is the one to be ID-scanned to gain entry into the time machine area, not a human rebel. If Derek doesn’t start believing in John and his leadership (including about Cameron), then I’d just as soon he die a heroic death…ideally to ensure that Cameron survives to continue her mission. And Sarah? I’d like her to make it, but I think her leukemia is probably inevitable; I don’t see how she can avoid being a liability to John, at least for a while longer. (Why longer? I don’t think she always makes the best tactical decisions in bigger-picture situations.)

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with both the series and the story. I think the Cameron Phillips terminator has so much more story potential than I think we ever expected from a terminator. Even if the series ends prematurely, I hope the story continues in some form…as Joss Whedon has managed to do with comic in both the Firefly- and Buffy-verses.

See also: Wild Speculation on the Cameron Phillips Terminator

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