I have to say, the thing that most caught my attention from this episode was the timing of events. In many ways I think this installment was meant to get some of the questions out of the way before new ones crop up.
The events happening to the Fields were tagged as being 6 months ago (TTSCC time). But 6 months from when? What was the temporal reference? We were given a few clues to try to pinpoint things. Sarah commented about electrocuting terminators: “I’ve only tried it on the girl…and no, it doesn’t always work.” This is clearly referring to the first attempt by John to remove Cameron’s chip in “Samson and Delilah”. Thus we know that Cameron going bad happened more than six months before this episode.
At the very start of the story, when Derek was on the phone, he started with “217”. I have to think that with Cromartie out of the way, and he being the only hunting terminator who had broken the code, that it was re-instituted over (or in rotation with) the keypad code. It makes sense, as the keypad is more obvious to observers to be a code, and it necessitates drawing your attention away from something that might be a threat. Using this as a suggestion, I combined it with Cameron’s being damaged enough for her to require a reboot.
My total speculation/leap of faith is that it was this fight that altered Cameron to the point where “Allison From Palmdale” happened. When she downed Roger and then looked at Lauren, Cameron’s face seemed to have a bit of that “lost” quality it had in “Palmdale”. I had originally thought that her mistaking Roger for a terminator was an aspect of that, but then I thought back to “Heavy Metal“, where Cameron also dispatched a human thinking it might be a terminator. It would seem that when battle is the current operating mode, Cameron’s direction is to eliminate credible threats first, worry about accuracy later.
Unless we are told something different, I think I’m going to stick to this timeline: “The Mousetrap“, “Alpine Fields” (the Fields in the past timeline), “Allison From Palmdale”. The pieces and dates seem to fit.
But this timeline wasn’t the only one of interest. In 2027, we not only have Derek and Jesse (Flores…so the official blog says) meeting, but also the incident that Jesse referred to in “The Tower is Tall But the Fall Is Short” where Derek was thinking of offing himself while taking a leak, but Jesse stopped him. I had to go back to review the scene, but the two match. Continuity…you gotta love it.
It turns out that 2027 was an eventful year for Derek. Not only does he meet Jesse in that year, but he’s captured and “interrogated” by terminators, his brother is sent back in time, and so is he. The question in relation to this episode was when did he meet Jesse? Clearly after his capture and time at the Skynet Hotel, as Kyle was chronoported at the end of “Dungeons and Dragons”, and was still gone at the beginning of this episode. Yeah, it’s a trivial thing, but it’s these sort of events that have intrigued the practitioners of fandom for decades.
So, what about Jesse’s future-history of Derek’s interrogation? As she described it (apparently according to Derek’s description), it lasted for months. Given the now established timeline, and Fischer’s corroboration of the event, it seems that we have a stronger case for what happened in the basement of the Skynet Hotel. Why doesn’t Derek remember? For now, we’ll have to label it PTSD amnesia, or perhaps some implanted hypnotic suggestion. In any case, I think it weakens the case that Derek was supposing that Jesse came from an altered future. Except for Derek’s memory of one incident, one person, the events jibe.
But this episode was only tangentially about Cameron’s and Derek’s place in the timeline. This was a story of Lauren and Sydney Fields. I have to tell ya…I like Lauren. With all due respect for Leven and the character of Riley, Lauren totally fits this show in exactly the same way that Riley doesn’t. I mentioned this in the fancast, but I could so see Lauren as being like a step-sister to John. No romance at all, but a sort of sibling rivalry with respect and cooperation.
Lauren “gets” it all almost from the start. She had no trouble accepting cyborgs or becoming a willing foot-soldier in the Connor army. Given her strength of character, it’s really no wonder that she was part of future-John’s group at Serrano Point. She’s tough, and she cares. In many ways she’s like Sarah, just without the baggage.
Then again, when you think about it…she is Sarah. She has suddenly been thrust into the temporal battleground of Skynet and John Connor just as surely as Sarah was. She now has to care for and raise a child who is destined to be a salvation for humanity due to a quirk of fate. But she also seems to be, as a teenager, much more of a fighter than Sarah was. So, in some ways, she’s both Sarah and John. While it’s unlikely that she’ll be in the show for at least the rest of the season, I could see her finding a place with this unlikely band. Or, perhaps the Connors help set her up with other future allies. I’ve argued before that time is short and while the focus is still with preventing Skynet from becoming…well…Skynet, they need to start planning for Judgment Day and its aftermath. Allies like Lauren will be key.
She stood in stark contrast to both of her parents, Mike and Anne. Mike and Anne were just these fallible humans. Mike was willing to risk his life to save his family (which Sarah would never let him do…that was dumb). Anne, on the other hand, seemed to be ruled by her crotch. True, while it did provide for the creation of Sydney, it also created one heck of a security risk…which was realized. We’ve found the key for recruiting for the fight: people not only able to accept the reality of the situation, but also able to divorce their passions for the sake of the greater good. Lauren did it almost as by flipping a switch. Ellison has totally failed. Mike, Anne, Charlie, and Michelle have also been victims of not being able to accept the reality of scary killer robots from the future. Who’s next? Based on this: Riley. Her confessions to Jesse show that she’s not up for the fight…and those are the very sort that tend to end up dead.
All-in-all, not a bad episode. Of the various Derek episodes, he seems to have come off more rounded and more human than before. I think we were able to get a lot of useful and more-or-less valid information from it. I liked how all of these lines intersected to make something more than just the sum of its parts. I know some might complain about having to follow the three timelines, but something like that doesn’t seem to cause me much, if any, confusion. There were weak bits…especially when Derek left Lauren & Sydney in order to talk to Sarah. Lauren already knows the big stuff, he didn’t need to give her a plot device. But these things happen. I think many questions were answered, and I hope we see Lauren again in the not-too-distant present.