John Connor has entered the building.
As a vehicle to let us see John Connor (finally), this was the episode. The story itself tied up a lot of loose ends, helped confirm and deny fan speculations (this site’s blogs included), but most of all it revealed, for the first time, that John is bigger than the events he has to deal with.
I’d have to do some more thinking about this (being a Cam-fan and all), but I think that scene between John and Jesse was the best scene thus far in the series. Dekker hit every note of the score cleanly and with pinpoint emotion. Just the way that it started let you know that this was going to be something special:
John: If you pretend not to know me I might shoot you through the head.
Jesse: Where is she? The metal?
John: If she were here, you’d be dead. You know that.
What followed was a lesson, delivered calmly and with great presence, that John Connor is not an idiot, though many treat him like one. By starting with his history, that he knows what it’s like to be specifically hunted by terminators, he immediately gives his “now” self a lot of cred. This isn’t some common emo teen who has no idea of what her world in the future is like. This isn’t some farm boy who doesn’t understand how dangerous having “metal” as a companion is. He knows. He’s known all his life.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I was pleased that John actually investigated Riley’s death instead of just assuming that Cameron did it. That pales in comparison to this. He followed Riley. He figured out who she was, where she was from. He just let it play out while acting like a lovesick teenager.
Jesse showed that she’s never understood who her opponent was.
Jesse: You didn’t want to be John Baum…you wanted to be John Connor.
John: That’s just the thing, isn’t it? I am John Connor.
That’s the thing that Jesse couldn’t wrap her mind around, nor could Derek in “Brothers of Nablus” when he commented that John was acting more like John Baum and less like John Connor. They both seem to think (and I admit that I joined in their chorus) that John would always try to seek the fantasy lives of his aliases. They both never embraced the idea that John Connor is never anyone other than John Connor. Jesse did finally seem to get that when she finally got to be with John face to face:
Jesse: You’re John Connor.
John: Yes. I am.
There is no irony from Jesse with her statement. It was like an acknowledgment that the person in front of her was John-freakin’-Connor. What’s impressive is that, even though still a teenager, he is in command of his troops.
John: Would you please give me your gun? You’re not going to shoot me.
And Jesse just hands over the gun without hesitation. Whatever issues she has, the savior of mankind gets her compliance.
Well, he gets her compliance now. Eighteen years ahead, by the calendar, she was more than happy to mutiny on her submarine and kill the captain. Now, admittedly, the captain was one creepy Queeg, but as we learned, he wasn’t some evil terminator carrying out some secret Skynet agenda. He was what he said he was: someone carrying out John Connor’s orders, even when they conflicted with standing orders.
But were they John’s orders? The fact that no human, specifically Jesse, had any inkling that John had issued classified orders implies that it was Cameron who actually delivered the instructions to the captain. Why? As Jesse noted, Cameron remembers the machines first, not so much the people.
It shows when Cameron gives out too much information when trying to make that “connection”. Telling Jesse about the death of her unborn fetus (which she apparently didn’t know about and might have been Derek’s) set firmly into motion the events that would eventually result in Riley’s death. Jesse would never be able to get past the fact that Cameron is the one who told her. Getting to mess with Cameron’s agenda would be icing on the cake.
We are seeing future-Cameron at a stage that follows when Derek was sent to the past. It’s interesting to see the progression. She’s somewhat more engaging that when she was first “skinned-up” in “Allison From Palmdale”, but still more robotic than she is in the present time frame.
It does make you wonder…what was the purpose of the mimetic poly-alloy (MPA) terminator had ey[[daggerto]] reached John Connor? Cameron’s role is still ambiguous. Still, since it’s clearly unwise to cross John Connor, we should just take on face value (for now) that John was trying to forge an alliance with the MPA robots against Skynet. While I don’t think the early unboxing was helpful to the cause, I do think if Queeg had managed to get the Jimmy Carter to Connor that an alliance would have been forged.
What scuttled hope for an alliance were the humans who, as MPA Catherine Weaver pointed out, can disappoint you. Dietz’ anti-robot mutinous unsubordination was bad enough, but the assasination of a T-888 would have sealed the deal. The MPA would easily conclude that humans could not be trusted enough to ally with. Wise robot.
So, not only did Jesse disappoint John Connor and his plans in 2027, but also in the present day. But she’s likely not the only one. All indications are that Derek disobeyed John’s order to let Jesse go. He couldn’t even look John in the face and say outright that he let Jesse go.
While Derek disappointed on that score, he was more forthcoming to John about what it’s like for future-John. Obviously future-John has had to disengage his humanity. Sending his father-to-be on a suicide mission to the past. Sending his uncle, and (possibly) his primary cyborg in Cameron as well, shows that he’s more concerned with the win than the side-effects. This is understandable. When you are trying to save a species, some of the social graces might be ignored for a bit. We suggested as much to Jesse when explaining why he didn’t try to rescue Riley before it was too late.
One of the keys to changing the future might be having John not be quite so detached. Derek said that the people look at future-John not to see if he makes mistakes, but to try to see some humanity. It’s long been speculated (by me as well) that sending Cameron back instead of a T-8xx model was for precisely that purpose.
This is something Sarah can’t wrap her mind around. She’s trying to saboutage whatever Cameron’s mission is by making Cameron start to think that John sent her back to get rid of her somehow. It never seems to occur to Sarah that John sent back a robot that John could bond to precisely because that was the one thing that could preserve a spark within himself, however small, that he wasn’t alone and that someone would always have his back.
Of course, even though teen John is still John Connor when necessary, he still doesn’t have tons of scar tissue built up. This John still cares. This John is still connected to the world. And so, when he had a moment to let his guard down (presumably after tell Sarah and Cameron all the details of the Jesse plan), he gave himself the luxury of mourning. Sitting between Cameron and Sarah, you could see a moment when John wanted to lean on Cameron’s shoulder, but Cameron wouldn’t have understood. So, instead, John found comfort in his mother’s lap.
That action might just bite John in the butt. Sarah is already getting very over-protective. She’s unwilling to let her little boy become the man he needs to be despite that admonitions over the series from Derek and Cameron that John only has a few years to learn what he needs to know. No, instead Sarah is very much like Dietz from the Jimmy Carter: she’s letting her own self importance scuttle the mission. After her brain melt, Sarah is trying to reassert herself as leader. The trouble is, as John showed in this episode, John is leader. More importantly, John trusts Cameron.
That was a moment that surprised me. When John was being all vague in the kitchen early in the episode with Sarah:
John: I’m sorry I doubted you.
John: No. Not you. Her.
[Sarah turns to see Cameron behind her.]
Sarah is no big fan of the Tin-Miss, but something like that has just got to eat at her gut. John once again sides with the robot instead of mommy. Well, why not? The only two characters on this side of the time bubble who are right a lot more often than they are wrong are John and Cameron.
At least Derek finally figured out what side his bread was buttered on. John all but threatened to sic Cameron on Derek if he didn’t stop acting like an ass with Jesse. (Yeah, I know we didn’t see anything but the beginning of this, but Derek was very contrite when he confronted Jesse later.)
And a quick Cameron vs Bird update. It seems that Cameron isn’t happy about the bird squish and held the latest hapless victim eager volunteer in both of her hands in the hope that her right hand could save the bird if the left hand opted to go all squish-happy on her.
So there we have it. One heck of a good TTSCC episode…certainly the best John episode of the series by far. These are the shows we’ve been waiting for. These are the shows that make us Connor-heads barely able to last until our next weekly fix. Since we got out of Sarah’s head, the episodes have gone from meh to wow. I just hope the FOX PTB look at the total viewership and not only the live numbers. Let’s face it, even for an episode as out-of-the-park as this, when it’s against the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, the live numbers are going to take a hit.