T:TSCC 0211 – Self Made Man

One of the questions that has lingered since the first season, when Cameron mentioned on a few occasions (and Cromartie, once, about himself) that she never sleeps, was what the heck does she do? That she obtained a newscast to find out that Cromartie was still a threat showed that she does more than just stand still and stare out the window. But aside from that, we’ve had scant little information about what Cameron does. As it turns out, when she gets to take a break from dealing with the Connors, she follows her mission without restriction.

I think one of the key pieces of information we’ve gotten is that Cameron does research. A lot of research. She’s not only filling in gaps in her own knowledge, but also ferreting out Skynet threats. This is not a minor thing. After all, “Uncle Bob” was sent back with detailed files in T2 (and, outside the timeline of this series, T3). Cameron apparently only has files on pertinent resistance personnel plus whatever else she was responsible for. It does not appear that she was sent back with “detailed files”.

The implications of this are staggering. The most likely scenario is that future-John is-will-be dead. Whether through omission or commission on Cameron’s part, it seems somewhat likely that some in the resistance might have issues with her continuing presence. So, Cameron came back in time to both save herself and to right those things that went-will-go wrong. With John, Derek, Jesse, and Cameron, it’s likely that they are all on the same side, but with cross-purposes.

Aside from that, it was interesting to see Cameron’s relationship with Eric (who, in the fancast, I embarrassingly called “Will” for the first few acts). Here is Cameron in full-on infiltration mode. She’s learned well the lesson from “Vick’s Chip” that some well-timed flirtation opens much: doors, file cabinets…friendships.

Yes, I said friendships. For while her behavior is clearly meant to ellicit positive responses, I think it’s not just for the sake of the mission. I’ve mentioned before that I think that Cameron sort of misses John—her John…future-John. He and she talked about many things “a lot”. now-John doesn’t, nor do any of the Cadre. While I think that Cameron could easily drop herself into stand-by mode to await the next step in a mission, I think that while she is awake and “alive”, she has a need for someone who will listen to her, and with whom she can talk without any pre-judging.

So far as Eric knows, Cameron is a smart, beautiful, strong, and socially unskilled young woman who sometimes gets beat up (but doesn’t complain). While I’m sure it’s taxing for her to use the various interpersonal tools she’s slowly acquiring through experience, it gains her someone who will talk with her instead of giving her superfluous chores (laundry? really?). But as much as she’s improving, Cameron makes mistakes. When the mission rears its head, that takes precedence over being a friend.

When Cameron broke into the files, putting Eric’s job, and trust on the line, she realized a some things. First, she needed to maintain her infiltrator cover in order to continue having unfettered access to so much non-digital information. Putting Eric at risk, or risking her relationship with him, was not something that would further her aims. Put there was also the reality that Eric’s fall gave her the most important clue as to the reality that whether Eric was there or not might not be totally tied to her actions. But, being the pro-active sort, she tried in that subtle as a skyscraper way of hers. In the end, she lost Eric, but may have saved her friend. That might be key in some future episode.

In an amazing turn of events, someone from the Connor Cadre was able to discover a problem, formulate a solution, and implement a successful resolution without any mission-threatening SNAFUs. Are any of us at all surprised that it comes from the terminator who is out on her own without some silly humans telling her to not do those things that are, in reality, best for the mission? If Sarah had been with Cameron, would she have stuck around to let Cameron figure out the stellar position thing (apparently a little-known trick outside of robot land)? Of course not. She would have told Cameron not to waste time, and then she would have gone off half-cocked trying to find the mysterious Myron Stark somewhere in the wilds of L.A.

I can’t help but wonder if Cameron noticed that the stellar position thing was the purpose of the three dots? It occurred to me when Cameron and Eric were going through the microfiche that Cameron didn’t need to use the reader. That was for Eric’s benefit. But why? Because Cameron knows that humans make just those sorts of intuitive connections that she, as a robot, cannot. Cameron needed Eric to help her see what she couldn’t. Much like her organic covering and her endoskeleton, both parts combine to create what neither could easily do alone. So, without some human seeing what she saw in her display, did (or will) Cameron be able to connect the dots, so to speak?

Governor Mark Wyman. Wait…let me do that in bold: Governor Mark Wyman. This is a name we need to remember. Why? Because he is apparently a big enough pinhole in Skynet’s cooling system that he was scheduled for termination at the start of 2010. He’s the next important human piece of the Judgment Day puzzle.

Much speculation has been given as to how capable Cameron is in a terminator vs terminator fight. The creative PTB mentioned that Cameron’s quick vanquishing of terminator Rosie was due in no small part to Rosie being a somewhat inferior model—one that Cameron knows well how to defeat. But triple-8s? They are bigger and more aggressive. On most occasions upon battling them, Cameron has had moments when she was on the losing end, and she’s often had human assistance in the form of distracting small-arms fire. So now we have Cameron versus Stark, a confirmed T-888. She didn’t seem to have much trouble dispatching him…albeit with the aid of an elevator and gravity. Even so, during the actually fight portion, she seemed more efficient. It leads me to think that in the several battles she’s had with the T-888 model, she’s been gaining valuable experience. As long as something unexpected doesn’t interfere, I think little Cam can (now) defeat her big brothers all by herself.

Of course there will now be the mystery as to what the heck happened inside the being-renovated building.

I was of mixed emotions with Eric. After all, Cameron was very blunt with her diagnosis of him. There is no way that wouldn’t feel like a betrayal of sorts. Even so, it was also obvious that Cameron was not built to be cruel. She was simply saying truth. Eric telling her why what she had been doing was off will only help Cameron be a better infiltrator. She prefers it when people explain.

The romantic in me wants to think that Cameron was at least slightly cyborgly glad that Eric disappeared on her…presumably to get more medical treatment. Whether she was or not, that didn’t distract her from her goal: she needs the after-hours use of the library. And how does she get in? By flirting, of course. Psychology says that subtle flirting works quite often, the sexual preference of the flirtee being irrelevant. Cameron has definitely learned the subtle flirt.

Which is something that Riley needs to take a course in. That was one of the clumsiest attempts to try to worm your way into someone’s life that I’ve seen. Even John has got to be having some misgivings. He was lured to a party under false pretenses. What was telling, for me, was the hesitation when Riley was pressing for the kiss. Little-John might have ultimately taken control in the truck, but Big-John still has his radar up. Though he can’t articulate it, he’s sensing that something just isn’t right with the Riley situation.

This was one of my favorite episodes of the series to this point. Beyond my being a Cameron fan, it explained a lot of things we needed answers for. It also showed what I’ve been arguing for a while: that the Cadre needs to let Cameron have more influence as she’s actually the only one making good decisions.

The symbiosis is interesting. The machines are better at being the prime actors, but they need the human wetware to interpret meanings and find patterns. We are like multi-parallel PCs with legs (or wheels, in Eric’s case) to them when all is said and done. It would certainly make sense. It also makes sense why future-John might think it not a bad partnership as compared to human extinction, and why a lot of humans—especially those who had been interred and tortured—might not agree. Like I said…lots of beings on the same side, but with totally different ideas of how things should be.

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