Of all the characters on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron is the most enigmatic. She’s certainly the character that more speculation goes on about than any other. Every now and again I think it’s important to pause and look at what we know and what we can extrapolate.
We know that Cameron is part of future-John’s Terminator force. Based on the timing of various events, it seems that Cameron chronoported at some point after Derek Reese. Because of this, we have a potentially very important gap of unknown future information. How much time passed between the sending back of Derek’s squad and Cameron’s own time travel? Does this gap include information Jesse might know?
Much of this started running through my mind when reading comments of other fans about their thoughts of Jesse and Cameron in the future. Clearly Derek and Jesse have no love for John’s hyper-alloy army. It doesn’t help that, “Sometimes they [reprogrammed terminators] go bad. No one knows why.” A significant question is the timing of Jesse’s time jump. Did she do this before Cameron’s last jump, or after?
Based on what I’m seeing, I’m still thinking that Cameron wasn’t sent back by future-John, though she may be guided by his desires. I’m also thinking that Cameron is Skynet’s principle foe: the computer that can cross against the light. Assuming that the Catherine Weaver T-1001 is operating in the interests of Skynet, then Cameron’s motivations make sense. Yes, she’s protecting John Connor, but John could have sent back a squad of T-888s to do that if protection was the only reason to have terminators around in the past. Clearly there is more than that going on.
I can’t help thinking about the 8-year jump forward that Sarah, John, and Cameron took from 1999 to 2007. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense. That eight years could have been used to train John while waiting out the time to get to take down Skynet. The only reasons to jump would have been to make use of Sarah while she’s healthy or to take advantage of Derek’s squad that John had sent back to 2007. It’s interesting that Cameron sprung the time machine on them. Apparently her plan was to use it from the start being that it was only for a one-time use—witness the cratering of the bank.
It’s difficult not to pay attention to the mention to John that others might get upset over John risking his life to save Cameron in “Automatic for the People”—others not including Sarah and Derek. I’m thinking that Jesse certainly applies. I’m thinking that in the future, something happens with John and Cameron that does, indeed, upset some in the resistance. Perhaps it causes a schism.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the incidence of reprogrammed terminators going bad is sufficiently high that their benefit as fighters is more than offset by the human casualties. I could even see John being willing to close down the program…with the exception of Cameron. For a reason that wouldn’t be explained to others, Cameron is not only chosen to remain functioning, but stays at John’s side. Needless to say, that would be a cause of confusion and dissension.
If something like this did happen…then why? Was John’s relationship with Allison Young such that he was willing to accept Cameron as a surrogate? I think that unlikely. Cameron would need to provide some strategic benefit. The only one that comes to mind is if she is, basically, the leader of rogue terminators seeking to take down Skynet. Making an alliance with some machines would also be cause for some amount of confusion and dissension among the resistance.
But why would Cameron matter if she was reprogrammed? Wouldn’t any agenda she had be erased? I still hold to the idea that Cameron wasn’t reprogrammed like the other captured terminators. I think that the rest of the resistance was told she was, but the reason John trusts her is because she’s proven herself as being trustworthy. But let’s say that she was reprogrammed. If this posse of rogue terminators can all “cross against the light”, then it seems likely that they’d make sure they could survive future-John’s reprogramming. After all, there is a limit to how much wiping of their memory John can do before he no longer has a terminator, but a cool Hollywood prop. He has to leave the terminator equivalent of the BIOS intact or only slightly modified. That is where the rogues would hide their essentialness, their ability to think as well as certain key memories. If, after reprogramming, Cameron was still benign and useful, that would certainly capture future-John’s attention.
It’s in this area that I think Jesse comes in. Some are suggesting that she’s a gray, an agent of Skynet, and that might turn out to be the case. I think it’s at least as likely that she’s part of the faction that felt that Cameron corrupted John’s thinking. Or, perhaps Cameron went bad and was (re-)reprogrammed by John. That certainly would explain that comment of others not liking John for bringing Cameron back.
I’m thinking it’s more political. The dissidents don’t like that Cameron, possibly above all others, has John’s ear. If John dies as a side-effect of this, or if an assassination of Cameron is put into play, then there would be ample reason for Cameron to hop back to a different time…and perhaps for Jesse to follow her.
So, what would Cameron’s agenda be in the here and now? As I mentioned, I think it’s partly to try to prevent Skynet from happening, and failing that to make sure that this John gets a head-start on the more practical necessities of what he’ll need as a resistance leader—beyond the general military training. Perhaps her role is to make sure that John doesn’t lose his humanity in the aftermath of his well-meaning humans training him to be a soldier. Of his allies, Cameron alone is trying to reach John on a human level.
Speaking of which, many fans (and I) have commented on Cameron’s almost flirtatious manner when she’s with John. While it seems nefarious, I can’t help but wonder if that is simply her personality? Whether or not Allison Young was-is a real person that Cameron imprinted on, it’s clear that Cameron reacts in an individual way to her world. She likes being better. Whether it’s because she heals faster than John after “Samson and Delilah”, or if John concedes that the non-cruelty of terminators is one for the cyborgs, or if she simply likes having pulled off a successful pool hustle. Cameron likes to be on the winning side.
Additionally, our sisterly terminator has different personalities with different people. I think the one she shows John is who Cameron is. To the rest, with whom she acts more robotic, I think that’s for their benefit. If she acts like a reprogrammed terminator they are less likely to ask questions about her. But she definitely wants to forge a connection with John. If she is Skynet, or working for Skynet, then it’s obviously to corrupt him—which would be a brilliant change of strategy. Given the number of terminators still hunting John, however, I don’t think it’s a likely course. Cameron is try to get John to tear down a wall he’s put up that prevents him from connecting with people.
So, why isn’t she then championing Riley? I think she is, a little. She knows that Riley is in the crosshairs of their battle, and if she’s lost it could have a bad effect on John. Still, she let John evade her despite Sarah’s order to not let him out of her sight. She also looked the other way when John was sneaking Riley in/out of the house. On the other hand, like Sarah, Cameron is possessive of John. Part of it is likely due to her mandate to protect John and to give her own life direction, but I also think some of it is hubris. She selfishly wants John to need her and want to be with her. In the cyborg mind, this might pass for love.
Unfortunately, the story about Cameron’s unambiguous background is being revealed slowly. If this series goes five seasons, then the pacing will be good; but if the show doesn’t have a long run, I hope the creative team has a way planned to explaining some of this to us. While it’s good storytelling to not tell us everything right up front, I do think that at some point Derek, or Jesse, or some other future person who knew Cameron needs to corroborate some of the background. I’m somewhat blinded by Cameron because I don’t want her to be from the dark side. I admit that. But, a lot of what has happened makes little sense if all she is is another Skynet minion.
Cameron’s agenda? 1: Protect John. 2: Try to prevent Skynet from being built. 3: Ensure that she does get built (I think by having the Turk evolve and grow). 4: Have John make her his confidant. 5: Find a meaning to her existence beyond protecting John; i.e. faith.
In the end, Cameron might be the vanguard for a different future for cyborgs: one where their goal isn’t extermination but co-existence. Cameron is clearly sentient. It’s widely assumed that sentient beings want to be able to reproduce and survive. Skynet’s way obviously isn’t all milk and honey. Cameron (with perhaps the approval of future-John) may simply being trying to ensure the survival of herself and the robots/cyborgs that are like her.