Many of my wild speculations have been targeted at the cyborgs and androids of the TTSCC universe. When left to their own devices, they exhibit a clarity of action that the humans miss. Still, it’s important to remember that the reason that Skynet sent back the first T800-101 was because John Connor had managed to gain the upper hand in the war. Skynet was desperate. Clearly the humans have something that the terminators, so far, do not (at least, not that we’re certain of).
We have a significant menu of humans who are exerting an influence on present-future events. It might behoove us to take a better look at them.
Allison was introduced in a future-back in “Allison From Palmdale” as memories from the less-than-optimally-functioning Cameron terminator. Of all the human characters, she is the one whose very existence is still a topic of debate. One line of thought posits that Cameron’s “memories” of Allison are mostly a fabrication of Cameron’s damaged chip trying to validate her own sentient existence. However, since a phone call to Allison’s pregnant mother was actually made, we’ll assume for the sake of this musing that Cameron’s memories were more-or-less accurate.
Allison had an unmistaken loyalty to John. That she wore a bracelet that apparently allowed her access to John’s own camp would indicate a certain level of trust and demonstrated skill that would naturally surround the leader of the human resistance. That Allison never broke, and was defiant during her incarceration upto the cracking sound when the Cameron terminator gave a considerable squeeze to her neck (it’s unclear if this actually led to Allison’s immediate death), shows that this trust was not misplaced. She defied her captors and fed them misinformation flavored with just enough truth to set the bracelet trap. Unfortunately for Allison, but perhaps fortunately for John, Cameron and her discovered the trap before it was sprung.
The question lingers about who is Allison to John? Was she nothing more than a key member of his resistance cell? I have to think it was more than that being that Cameron survived. You would not add a terminator that looks like a trusted member of your own team if there wasn’t something more. Perhaps that “more” is something that Cameron brought to the table, but I can’t shake the notion that Allison’s loss was profound enough for John to give Cameron a chance. I speculated about this before, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that Allison became like a surrogate daughter to John—who, being busy saving mankind and all, wouldn’t have had the opportunity to manufacture his own.
Something that I’d love to see at some point is some future-back scene, or even just a conversational revelation in the present, that gives some clue as to Allison and John.
One of the more confusing recurring characters, and also the newest, is that of resistance fighter, and love-interest for Derek Reese, Jesse. now-Derek recognized Jesse as being in the future, so her stake in the fight immediately had some cred. Unfortunately, that cred is clouded in temporal mechanics and dubious motivations.
With all of the events that have happened in the now that didn’t happen to the post-T2 future John, it’s hardly surprising that characters from the new future would be popping up. As Derek hypothesized in “Complications“, it’s likely that this Jesse is from just a new timeline. Unfortunately, that confuses things as the motivations and history of this Jesse will be altered from what Derek’s memories are…unless, of course, this Jesse is lying in order to make Derek think that the future has changed.
See, that’s the thing: Jesse’s true motivations are still unknown. Even though she claims to be here to save John from Cameron’s influence, she has built up highways of lies and plots that everything Jesse says is suspect. In many ways, she’s the perfect infiltrator: someone who will verify her identity while also having no scruples when it comes to completing her mission.
And what is Jesse’s mission? Clearly, getting rid of Cameron is of prime importance to her (so she says). The cyborg’s influence on John in the future has jangled the nerves of Jesse and those like her to the point where (again, so Jesse says) she has traveled back in time to eliminate the influence. Then again, she could simply be a “gray” and be trying to get in a position to cleanly take out John Connor. This scenario, while making some sense, also has the weakness that he’s not nearly as durable as a robot (as Summer Glau’s character, River Tam, opined in the movie Serenity: “Bullet in the brain-pan…squish”).
Jesse clearly has a plan in place to worm her way into position to do whatever it is that she thinks she needs to do. That Derek is around (none of us thinks that following her surveillance of the Connors that her discovery by Derek was an accident, right?), enables Jesse to implement her full compliment of wiles on the poor slob.
In the end, I don’t think the future is bright for Jesse. She is a minor character with low fan appeal. She will end up being a fatality in this war against Skynet. The major question that is yet to be answered revolves solely around which of the other characters will be the one to take her out?
The character of Riley was introduced with little fan glee in “Automatic For the People“. For all intents and purposes, she came across as a bit of a gold-digger. Her effect of leading John away from Cameron now is seen as being much more calculated than first supposed. With the revelation in “Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point” that Riley is working under the supervision of Jesse, many of Riley’s actions make a lot more sense.
While it has yet to be solidly confirmed, the clues that were dropped in both those episodes give a lot of weight to the idea that Riley is from the same future as Jesse. I don’t think she was in the resistance. From T1’s brief exploration in the tunnels, we saw that while much of humanity is in the resistance, not everyone is. That makes sense. In any war, there will be many not directly involved in the fight. Some people will simply be too young. There will be equipment shortages even for those who want to fight. Babies will still need to be made and born. What it means to be human has to be preserved beyond fighting for survival. And some people will simply not have the constitution for it.
I have the impression that Riley is in that last group. She, like the rest, reveres John Connor, but she doesn’t have it in her to tote a weapon and fire on “metal” installations. It’s this sort of innocence that a person like Jesse would search for if her goal was to find an “in” with the young John Connor. While Riley has gone along for the ride, it still doesn’t seem like her heart is in it. She doesn’t want to hurt John, and after the small incident with Cromartie in Mexico, I think the trauma of the future war has crept back into her life. The fantasy of being lovey with John has been transformed back into a fight between skin and metal.
Because of this fragility, I think Riley is going to crack. I think either she’s going to spill something to John, or Cameron will find out. Riley might end up in the crossfire, but I don’t think anyone of the Connor Cadre, even Cameron, will deliberately harm her. Jesse might. I think Riley’s chances for survival are better than Jesse’s but I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t last. For John’s sake, I hope she does. If she proves her loyalty to him, the Cadre could certainly use another ally.
So far, the only human not genetically tied to John that has performed well is Kacy. Though not often seen, the fact that she didn’t spill the beans to Cromartie when he was going house-to-house looking for John (“Brothers of Nablus“), and then had the smarts to call and warn John…well, that shows a lot of good common sense. That’s a supply that has been on the low-inventory list for a while now.
While the character hasn’t gotten much story time, and her affiliation with a(n ill-advised plot device) detective is worrying, I think that she is another of the few “civilians” that the Connors need in their lives. Yes, they are commandos and stuff, but Kacy can be an important ingredient by reminding all concerned (or teaching, in Cameron’s case) what the fight is all about…why humans deserve saving.
Oh, poor Charlie. The man has a heart as big as Rhode Island, but doesn’t know how to make a smart decision. Obviously telling a scary robot that she’s a very scary robot is a dumb thing to do. If it wasn’t for Sarah’s pre-emptive intervention, Charlie would have been taking a dirt nap in short order.
I like Charlie. I really do. The guy totally ignores his job (twice) to help out John and Sarah. He tries to get his wife to safety. But almost every one of his moves ended up creating more complications and/or getting people killed. While trustworthy and loyal, I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the Connors to have anything more to do with him.
Of even less use is F.B.I. Special Agent (suspended) James Ellison. He nearly scuttles his career with his obsession with Sarah Connor. This obsession leads him to discover that the robots that Sarah talked about are real—which nearly ends in his death, only to be saved by said Sarah Connor. He then signs up to help a mysterious Scotswoman (unknown to him, a T-1001) to find the robots. When mildly rebuffed by Sarah after a terminatory adventure, he then sabotages the Connors’ known plan and delivers Cromartie’s body to the T-1001, who promptly hooks it up to a very smart A.I. computer.
Upon that last revelation, if Ellison doesn’t immediately run (don’t walk) to the Connors and spill what’s been happening, and then offer to be a double agent, any shred of hope for the character is lost. He’ll have become a pure “gray”.
It’s actually ironic that this man of faith, so concerned about his own salvation, has basically handed over the future of mankind for thirty pieces of silver. If there is any figure that can be considered purly tragic in the terminator arc, it certainly has to be James Ellison. He’s had the tools to be a pivotal player on the side of humanity, and with a combination of good intentions and hubris, has actually made just about every wrong choice possible…with the sole exception of going to help John in Mexico.
As a biblical allegory, there is little doubt that Ellison is intended to be Judas Iscariot (the betrayer). His survival is of less import than the possible damage he has done and may yet do. The question for him is whether or not he can redeem himself.
(Click to go to Part 2)