A lot of small stuff flits through my brain about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Some has to do with time travel, some about relationships, etc. Lately, I’ve come to wonder if it’s time for the Connors to prep for Judgment Day?
Now that John and Cameron have given up any pretense of being high school students, and any hope for innocence was destroyed once John killed Sarkissian with his bare hands, I think it’s time that the Connors move from suburbia and begin building the foundations of resistance John will need if Judgment Day isn’t averted. While Cameron has noted that there are only four years left until the end of the world, as the Connors and Skynet play their temporal tug-of-war that date likely moves around. If it ever disappears, the Connors will never know. It will be like the end of T2: until presented with evidence to the contrary, you’d have to assume that they’d managed to find a timeline where Judgment Day (JD) doesn’t happen. Since that timeline is the one that ends the series, let’s assume that JD is inevitable.
It seems to me that the Connors need to make the whole Skynet/JD thing their job instead of their hobby. To that end, John is going to need a stockpile of materials, many caches of weapons, and many (movable) bases of operation. In the center of all of this they will need several camps where our intrepid heroes can gather and do stuff that to all of the rest of the world will look like they are planning some homeland terrorism.
With an estimated 1500 days before JD, there isn’t a lot of time to lay the groundwork for John’s resistance movement while also “staying off the radar”. The Connor’s leap into the future cost the cadre eight years of prep work. John has eight less years of experience than he did before, experience that he now has to cram for. The leap forward may have actually hurt the cause more than helped.
To make up for this, the Connor/Baum/Phillips/Reese group needs to set up a shadow business that will allow them to receive and ship a variety of goods without attracting attention while at the same time being the sort of business that doesn’t get a lot of government oversight. Part of the reason of this pre-JD hub is to keep the faces of the principles out of the public eye. Reese is a murder suspect escaped from federal custody. If anyone updates the homeland security facial recognition software then it might include John, Sarah, and Cameron who are all wanted for armed bank robbery among other crimes. Sarah is most definitely already on the radar following the events of T1 and T2.
With this sort of cover, the Connor cadre will be able to bring in weapons, equipment, materials, snazzy bracelets, and other items necessary to help in the coming fight. These would be installed not only in SoCal, but throughout the country.
In order to accomplish what they must, John must start training key personnel who will eventually become his top soldiers and aides (Derek and Cameron will likely have mucho input). These people will also be helpful as John spreads his force beyond his current locale. Surely JD causes misery in more than just the L.A. basin.
The key to this build up is finding people who can be trusted to keep the secret. So far, the list of people who know the secret are: Charley, the two Martin Bedells, Dr. Silberman, Rita (the halfway house shrink), and the T-1001’s pet Ellison. Of these, only one is a known ally in the future. Is it no wonder that John cleaves to Cameron? He’s sorely in need of the opposite of foes.
At present, the options aren’t many. Certainly Ellison could make an indispensable double-agent if he decides that the Connor Cadre are the correct side to be on. I think the Cholla has already proven herself—Cameron giving her a gun certainly shows that the quiet Latina earned her way into the gang. Other than that…maybe Dr. Sherman, but I think he’s more useful in his current job as Connor shrink. Perhaps Riley, but unless she’s already on Derek or Cameron’s radar, I don’t think she made much of an impact in the future.
Two people they can’t recruit are Derek and Kyle. They are too necessary to ensure John’s birth that they can’t be risked.
Being insular is hurting the cause. Once JD happens, John isn’t going to have a lot of time to waste in setting up a cohesive resistance.
The most important asset for John right now is trust. He’s rebeling a little against his mother, and I’m not certain that he’s totally committed to Derek, though Derek telling him how loyal he is, “We all die for you,” I’m sure helps. The one thing that hurts Derek is his obsessive desire to be rid of all “metal”, even Cameron.
John has made his choice with Cameron. “She saves my life!”
Regardless of the inherent risk of trusting a machine, John trusts Cameron. She’s sorely tested that trust, but in the end…before family and friends, he picked the cyborg. In a way, he’s also putting his trust in himself. If he sent Cameron back then it must be for a very necessary reason. The question is, did John make a mistake; can Cameron be trusted?
With Cameron, there are a lot of unanswered questions. I’ve gone through many of them in previous posts, but the one that persists is whether, and to what degree, there is love between John (either vintage) and Cameron? I think there is ample evidence to suggest that Cameron loves John very much in her own cyborgy way. As with Derek, she’d die for him without hesitation, and not simply because it might be her mission. Future-John’s feelings are a mystery, and depend to an extent on whether Allison was a real person and whether future-John had feelings for her. Now-John’s trust in Cameron has been shaken with recent events…being hunted and then finding out your robot went all amnesiac-human on you will do that. Still, it’s there. Perhaps not as frivolously as before, but he did pick his side.
The central mystery of the series is: what is Cameron’s agenda? Whether it’s her own or something she was directed to do by future-John, that part of events is still unknown and unfolding. I just hope the creative team knows the answers and aren’t just making it all up as they go.
The central piece in this opera is the creation of Skynet. I’m still of the opinion that the winners of the chess tournament, the Japanese team, are the true path to Skynet, and that the Turk is the path to Cameron. The fact that the Turk made a joke (“Why are math books sad?”) and that only Cameron, among the terminators, has shown an equal penchant for humor helps to lead me to that conclusion.
Still, it’s interesting to see the differences in the various artificial intelligences. Cameron is clearly autonomous. She’s constantly learning to adapt and sometimes just does things. Cromartie (and Vick) have pretty much just been sticking to their missions. Catherine, too, while showing signs of trying to blend in, exhibits a more mission-oriented style.
In the special edition version of T2, “Uncle Bob” explained that Skynet didn’t want the terminators to think on their own too much. I wonder if that’s how control is maintained…by flipping off the learn-and-adapt switch? Cameron told Allison that not all terminators held to the same agenda as Skynet did. I’m thinking that their switch was either left on too long or it malfunctioned and allowed the learning and adapting to continue.
I’m still left with the idea that Cameron is sort of unique. I don’t think her memory was wiped. I believe that she’s been learning and adapting at least as far back was when she got Allison’s likeness. Perhaps she was a Skynet experiment gone awry…an attempt at immersive infiltration that led instead to independent terminators. In this way, Cameron is perhaps at least as advanced as Skynet—which is why I think Skynet wants the Turk…to either prevent another Cameron, or to enhance itself with all of Cameron’s neural flexibility.
Predicting the Future-Past
The tricky bit is in trying to see the endgame. As we’ve been reminded time and time again with this franchise: the future is not set, there is no fate except what we make for ourselves. But with such a fluid future comes scores of uncertainties. Plus if you factor in parallel futures being able to alter other timelines, then things get totally unpredictable. For example: let’s say the Cadre Connor manages to build their house of cards in such a way that Skynet never happens in their future, but the Skynet in another timeline doesn’t like that possibility, and so sends agents to topple that house of cards. Personally, I think the parallel timeline thing is basically bunk and makes everything, in all times, random. That’s no way to run a universe.
So, if we adopt the thought that when the future is changed the Connor clan will have to adapt to changing circumstances, then much is still in turmoil. The most obvious ramifications are that the timing of JD becomes an unknown until they are otherwise informed, and that the future that Derek and Cameron remember becomes less and less valid as a source for information. In a changed future, alliances that Derek had in his timeline become suspect (e.g. Jesse). Technology changes. It appears that, in the current future, Skynet has redesigned Terminator CPUs so that they self-destruct. John needs to adapt to this as it alters the possibilities of espionage and reprogramming.
What To Do
With all of this uncertainty building, what is John Connor to do? As I’ve outlined, it’s time that he start preparing for the inevitable. If JD doesn’t happen, he’s only out some time and effort. If it does happen, it might give him the edge to prevent things from getting out of hand once and for all. John needs to start gathering necessary allies along with equipment and materials. While a domestic cover needs to be maintained (i.e. the house), the Connors need a more flexible base of operations…perhaps located near where the resistance time machine will be.
Speaking of the time machine…along with scuttling Skynet, I think John and Co. need to start trying to prevent ANY time machines from being built. Perhaps the only way out of this tangled situation is to cause a pardox in the temporal loop that started it all.
Or…or maybe John and Cameron should start thinking about taking their relationship to the next level and breed some cylon “skin jobs”.
Seriously, as for what will happen, I haven’t a clue. I think much rests on John and Cameron’s affinity for one another. That, to me, is the core relationship of the series. Much to my surprise, I’m finding the T-1001 almost as compelling. I wonder if she’s a production model or an advanced prototype like the T-1000 was?
If I were on the creative staff, I’d be pushing to try to end most of the time-travel and the endless stream of human and metal time-travelers. Maybe one or two a season, but not the numbers we’ve been seeing. I’d start focusing more on the necessary build-up and trying to keep from seeming like a terrorist. Alliances would have to be forged. Secure installation have to be breached in an effort to thwart Skynet. Basically, there is a lot to do with the materials and information we have at hand that the show doesn’t have to be a robot chase show.
Whatever the future brings, it’s obvious that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Likely for every answer there will be new questions. I’d like to see a few more answers, especially about the backgrounds of the future time travellers. I’d also like to see some of future-John. What does now-John turn into? There are many seasons worth of stories yet to be had. Don’t you think?
- Was Allison a real person, or did Cameron imagine her?
- Was future-John the one who sent Cameron back?
- What happened in that terminator camp room in the basement?
- How did Derek recognize Cameron as “metal” so quickly?
- Is future-John still alive in his time?
- Since Skynet apparently gets built, how big a role did Andy really have?
- Is Catherine working for Skynet or someone/thing else? She hasn’t said.
- Why do all of Sarah’s plans seem to backfire?
- What sort of feelings to Cameron and now-John/future-John share?
- What sort of relationship did Allison have with others in the resistance, including future-John?
- Did Cameron kill Allison, or just choke her a little?
- Will John or Sarah mention to anyone that it was John who killed Sarkissian?
- Why hasn’t anyone noted these random circular pits (associated with electrical damage) popping up around the city?
- Given the boldness of the rescue, why aren’t the police and feds all over trying to find Reese and his accomplices?
- Will we ever learn what was up with the “Friggin’ big” graffiti?
- How does John have AB- blood when Sarah has O-?
- Does Cameron cut herself open to fix endo-skeletal problems (e.g. the limp in 0201)?
- Why are terminators such bad shots? Shouldn’t they be better marksmen than humans?
- Do terminators have greater mass than their size suggests, or do they weigh approximately the same as an equivalent human?
- Was the Aibo that barked at Cameron a coincidence, or do robot dogs bark at terminators, too?
- Is behaving like a human so processor intensive that it then become difficult to be a fully capable terminator?
- What is with all the small arms? Shouldn’t the majority of the weapons be terminator-lethal?
- Is Cameron “fixed”?
- Why is no one looking for the Baums after the suspicious fire with two dead bodies (one with a broken neck)?
- Just how many people/robots have traveled through time, anyway?
…and I could go on and on with this. Like I said, there are a lot of questions.