T:TSCC 0220 – To the Lighthouse

The end of the season 2 roller coaster ride of revelations and implications continues ttscc0220-01-343with “To the Lighthouse”. In a departure from much of season 2, this episode gave us not only coordinated attacks against John and the rest of the Connor Cadre, but also an attempt on the life of John Henry by another “sibling” A.I.

Those of you who have been reading my blogs and speculations since before season 2 began can appreciate that I’m starting to sense that some of that piecing-together is starting to piece together. I immediately jumped on the anti-Skynet faction of terminators that the newly-minted Cameron revealed to Allison in “Allison From Palmdale” when so many viewers said it was nothing more than a lie to get more information.

I’ve speculated not only that the Turk, a/k/a John Henry, doesn’t evolve into Skynet, but is more likely to be an ancestor of Cameron. I’ve accepted for a while that Catherine might be working for the same sort of target as Cameron, even suggesting that they might be working together (yet to be determined).

So…our biggest reveal was that a “brother” A.I. to John Henry exists (which, for now, I’ll refer to as Brother). Apparently Brother has been waiting for day when it could attack the allies of John Connor—or at least Brother’s foes—including John Henry. According to Mr. Murch, the worm that affected John Henry when he was with Savannah was more or less meant to “kill” this young A.I.

Brother would have been monitoring the Internet for the telltale signs of another A.I. machine using a daemon (which was pronounce “deemon” which is acceptable, though it’s usually pronounced “daymon”). Once that machine was discovered, a worm was dispatched to do three things: dispatch squads to deal with the Connor Cadre, collect information (e.g. terminator schematics), and incapacitate its rival. It did not, however, anticipate the quick reactions of Mr. Murch to power off John Henry before it was too late. Upon John Henry’s reactivation, he reveals that he shares code with the infiltrating computer…code from Cyberdyne systems. The implication is that Brother is, in fact, Skynet. It’s mechanism of spreading worms to computer systems around the world is very reminiscent to how the groundwork for its attack was outlined in T3 (which is not in the TTSCC timeline).

As to the question of whether or not Brother could be Skynet… our timelines are shifting. The original Skynet became self-aware on August 29, 1997. The events of T2 with the destruction of Cyberdyne and the death of Miles Dyson delayed Skynet’s timeline. As of 2007, there was no Skynet, according to Cameron. In Cameron’s timeline, Skynet becomes active on April 19, 2011. Now, with many of Skynet’s plans having been thwarted, who knows what the state of Skynet is.

Whatever the state of Skynet, it’s clear that Brother is an advanced A.I. derivative rooted in the same Cyberdyne code shared by John Henry. They appear to be at war with each other. Arguably, Brother is on the side of Skynet, and John Henry (and by extention, Catherine Weaver) isn’t. Neither appears to have acheived full sentience. Why do I say this? Because while Brother seems to be a little older than John Henry, it’s still seeking the same thing that Catherine desires for her child: the magic chip.

In the water warehouse, Cameron wasn’t destroyed. Brother, using the schematics of Cromartie stolen from John Henry, instructed one of its minions to remove Cameron’s chip. In this current time, Cameron’s cross-against-the-light chip must be thought of as a sort of an A.I. grail. The one who captures it gets the keys to the kingdom.

I glimpsed at some comments wailing about how Cameron woke up too early. Where was the 120-second reboot? Guys, do you really want to waste two minutes as minion-boy fumbles around? Just assume it was 120-seconds (or, if you’d rather, add the time for the “Alpine Fields” reboot to this one and average them…you’ll probably end up with an average of about 120-seconds). It was obvious that minion-boy wasn’t going to extract the chip because he was taking way too long. Going back to “Samson and Delilah”, when John electrocuted Cameron: he knew what do to, but even if he had the right sized screwdriver and a sharper knife, it was iffy if he would have extracted the chip on time. So minion boy never had a chance.

I wonder if this incident will improve Derek’s view of Cameron? They’ve only had a couple of conversations previous to this episode. In “Queen’s Gambit“, Derek is all snarky about knowing who Cameron is. In “Complications” he actually talks on the phone with Cameron with civility. But, it’s only in this episode that there seems to be an actual conversation (Cameron’s comment about her not letting anything happen to John in “Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today” looks to have been a turning point). Even so, while it was clearly a shock to have found out that Jesse had been carrying Derek’s child, I’m not sure that holding a gun at the throat of a working terminator is the best strategy for a long life. Apparently Cameron’s practice at restraint with birds has helped.

I do have a beef with Cameron, though. Like just about every terminator we’ve ever seen, her marksmanship is atrocious. A van, with two stationary targets, drives straight at her and she can’t take them both out with a couple of shots? That’s just shoddy. Also…what’s with Cameron taking only a Glock into an obviously dangerous situation? You take the machine gun.

Oh, and one quick piece of advice for our favorite cyber-protector: electrically insulated boots. Just a thought.

Of course those quibbles are nothing compared to Sarah’s continuation of bad decisions. Her habit of not letting anyone in on her plans, and even then only doling out the information piecemeal is unsustainable. John is going to have to stop letting her get away with this. But as bad as that is, Sarah’s unilateral decision of who John’s allies should be is unacceptable. John has already committed to Cameron (twice) over his mother. While Derek has been unreliable, both John and Cameron have taken steps to get Derek’s head back in the game. That Derek accepted that John is John CONNOR in “This is the Day, Part 2”, his loyalty should now be solid.

I’ve mentioned before that Sarah fancies herself as this great teacher for John. After all, Kyle said that John said that Sarah is who taught him everything he needed to know. I’d say those lessons were learned when John was very young. Even young John was a better soldier than Sarah, his teacher. Now, Sarah is the wild card. Sarah only sees John, but can’t stay focused on the big picture. It’s time for John to take over.

Still, in a fight, I’d want Sarah at my side. She improvises better than just about anyone. Using the defibrillator to not only disable the implanted transmitter but to also give an electroshock treatment to her attacker was not only gutsy in the first instance, but brilliant in the second.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get back in time to save Charley. Poor Charley. Sarah tried to manipulate him to always be there for John—as if his loyalty for John was ever a question. Instead, by taking that detour to the coast, she signed Charley’s death warrant. He, and the dog, deserved better. Still, at least Charley got to have a noble death. Among the hundreds, if not thousands, who would die for John Connor, he was the first. This valor is even greater because he’d have done it even if John was just John…no other reason was necessary.

But now, the Connor Cadre is left with some serious decisions. They were all targeted in a coordinated operation designed to find John Connor (presumably to kill him), and to incapacitate Cameron in order to retrieve her chip. Cameron is no dummy, she’ll understand the threat and will likely encourage the strategy that the world is safer if her chip is destroyed. John now knows that not just machines, but humans, are targeting him. It makes detection of threats much more difficult.

As for Derek…things point to Derek perhaps not surviving this series of battles. I have no specific spoiler info for the next two eps, but it just seems that Derek has been built up to be almost as heroic as Charley.

Finally, if there is ever a time to reveal how/if Catherine and Cameron are aligned, this would be about the time. They both seem to be working for the same side. Are they both working in the service of John Connor (or at least not against him)? Despite the flood of revelatory information, there is still much to be learned. Now that the series has regained its feet, it’s a shame that the season is winding up. But, it’s doing it in fine fashion.

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