The Connor Wars Writer’s Room 1 – Intro & Bible

The Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 finale has left me fired up. I know it has not just for me, but for others as well. Regardless of what fate awaits the series, I thought it might be fun to kill time this summer to start exploring the possibilities that the finale presented to us, so I’m setting up a virtual writer’s room for the purpose of building on where season 2 left us.

I don’t know what the end results are going to be. For the beginning, it will be like any other writer’s room: a season plan will be developed and will evolve. Since it’s my site, I’ll be the show runner, but I very much encourage other voices as well. Debate results in fresh and dynamic ideas. You don’t have to be a writer. If you have an opinion on a direction of a plotline or a character, please chime in.

After a few stories are broken, some might actually get written into script format (though they might just stay as descriptions). Certainly bits and pieces of scenes will.

The point is to have something fun to do as we await the series’ continuation (or if it doesn’t, then we’re it). Of course if we get hit with an official c&d, we’ll c&d, but as with other fan-based for-fun-not-profit based ventures, I think TPTB will let us have our fun. We are the rabid fanbase, after all.

Bible Study

The first step to the process is developing a Season 3 “bible”. This will define the parameters our world(s) and characters will have to abide (and the writers as well).

Timelines

Our first concern is whether to focus exclusively on the 2027 timeline, or to somehow interleave it with the 2009 timeline.

The advantage of having only a 2027 timeline is that we only have one world we need to focus on: the world John Connor (and company) reside in. The down side is that we sacrifice Sarah Connor, Skynet development, and a lot of other stuff that comes with that. Also, there are a lot of Sarah Connor fans out there who would hate us by ignoring her as much as Cameron (and John) was in Season 2.

The downside of the 2009 timeline is that unless the 2027  that John is in now is fixed and can’t be effected by anything done in the earlier timeline, it is just trouble waiting to happen (timeline paradoxes and stuff). Of course, if we screw things up, it gives us a reset button to implement a temporal butterfly effect scenario.

I’m thinking the best and freshest course is to focus on 2027 and use 2009 (or other past times) as backstory when necessary. Since we don’t have to worry about budgets, instead of having a 2027 character talk about a past event, we can “show” it instead. In any case, the main storyline will always be the 2027 one.

2027

This 2027 is different from the ones we’ve been seeing in flashbacks. This future doesn’t know who John Connor is. He is no legend. That isn’t to say that people who knew John Connor/Baum in 2008/09 don’t know him, just that he isn’t the mythic figure he was before.

The best analogy would be that this 2027 is what things were before the time-traveling and before the terminator reprogramming. Except for John Connor’s myth being absent, nothing else has significantly changed. The same people alive at this point in the previous future timeline are alive now.

Why does John Connor matter, then? Because even though the organization is all set up and battles are waged, the humans don’t have a catalyzing figure that gives them the conviction that they will win the war. They don’t have anyone they would die for (other than their immediate comrades). They just fight the good fight because that’s what you are supposed to do.

Characters

John Connor

John’s situation is different from what he has trained for. He was preparing to lead a resistance movement from Judgment Day on. Now, he’s an out-of-time mystery. A better trained fighter than your typical “tunnel troll”, but still unseasoned in facing down Skynet directly or leading men and women to their deaths.

Entering the season, John’s motivation is connection. While he’s long been told that his people would die for him, he has shown repeatedly that he’d die for Cameron. But beyond Cameron, John now gets a gift—knowing the man his father, Kyle Reese, was.

John’s path is complicated by his past experiences. The Derek in this timeline isn’t quite the Derek he knew. Just as the Jesse that Derek knew in 2008 wasn’t quite the Jesse he’d met in 2027. The woman with Cameron’s face, Allison Young, will constantly be a stumbling block for John as he expects her to act one way while the real woman is decidedly not the cyborg he chased through time. Then there is his alliance with Catherine Weaver which likely isn’t going to rest well with the members of the shoot-suspected-metal-first members of the resistance.

The key to John is to remember that in terms of literary allusions, he’s our Christ figure. He’s the savior of mankind (and friendly terminators). Regardless of his age or experience, he has the charisma to invigorate the fight. The analogy comes from 2000-year-ago Palestine where one figure, out of the hundreds of others doing much the same, emerged as the one that caused future history to be changed. That is what John Connor is. And just like that other figure, his path is destined to be a bumpy one.

Allison Young

We first met Allison Young in “Allison From Palmdale”, where Cameron’s experience in acquiring the Allison persona got temporarily swapped for Cameron’s reality. The Allison that we met was fiercely loyal to John Connor, and apparently a significant enough figure in his inner circle that she attracted the attention of Cameron’s rogue terminator faction.

Allison is not an innocent. She’s clearly someone held in esteem by John. Given her loyalty, it’s likely for good reason. She eat the food offered to her by her captors, tried to escape, and even offered defiance when being fatally threatened. Obviously she’s at least a good fighter and trained to resist the enemy. You wouldn’t need that sort of training if you weren’t put into harm’s way.

Keeping the the biblical analog, Allison is our Magdalene. She will become John’s partner. As literature places the Magdalene in a romantically ambiguous position among the disciples, it might not be wrong if we followed suit. One idea that has slowly been emerging that I’d like to explore with Allison is the process of how she goes from someone who doesn’t know who this upstart Connor-boy is, to becoming his most trusted and loyal follower.

The question that will linger for a while during the season is: how much of Allison was Cameron and vice versa?

Catherine Weaver

Catherine Weaver is a mimetic poly-alloy (MPA) terminator. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, for now we are assuming that Weaver was the MPA terminator that witnessed the mutiny aboard the submarine, USS Jimmy Carter.

What she witnessed on board the Jimmy Carter prompted Weaver to answer no to the question, “Will you join us?” As this all but meant that Skynet would ultimately win the war, this prompted her to travel back in time to lay the foundation for defeating Skynet. During that time she was also hoping to connect with the young John Connor. Once she did, she allied with him.

Part of the goal of Catherine Weaver in 2008 was also to obtain an advanced CPU. From appearances, it seems that the goal was to reprogram a “normal” terminator or, ideally, get the CPU of one of the rogue terminators (e.g. Cameron).

There is some question as to whether the alliance question in the future was from Future-John or from Cameron. In any event, it seems that Cameron’s existence was known to Catherine Weaver. A possible line if inquiry is whether or not mutual time-travel was a contingency between Cameron and the MPA terminator in 2027 (clue: why else jump John Connor forward in time?).

Catherine Weaver is a voluntary ally of John’s for the goal of defeating Skynet. To what subsequent goal is still a mystery. While she seems able to elude resistance dog patrols (is she just slippery like an eel, or do dogs not detect her as easily?), her advantage is being an advisor and possibly a protector to John Connor. She should be able to gather intelligence that his current “kid” status would otherwise make difficult.

Catherine has formed attachments, especially to “John Henry”. How deep do her loyalties lie?

Camenry

Because of a melding of resources in 2009 just prior to time travel to 2027, I’m using the portmanteau of “Camenry” to refer to the cyborg entity previously known variously as Cameron and John Henry. Camenry will also be referred using genderless pronouns[[daggerto]]. (This character will likely be the most contentious to describe. Please comment freely.)

Camenry is the joining of the Cameron CPU with the body of John Henry. While the personality essence will largely be Cameron’s, there will have been some overlap time between when Cameron’s chip was inserted into John Henry and when Camenry disconnected from the server farm. As a result, some downloading from John Henry could have taken place. What downloaded and how specifically important it is to defeating Skynet will be explored through the season.

Because Camenry can be detected by the resistance, ey must stay clear of the human-occupied zone (i.e. no direct contact with John Connor).

Camenry’s mission must target some weakness on the machine side of the equation. Whatever it is, it will be subversive to Skynet.

Prior to chronoportation to 2027, Weaver tells Sarah, “Your John may save the world, but he can’t do it without mine.” What does John Henry bring to the table, and is it the server farm John Henry, or the Camenry version?

Cameron Phillips

Cameron’s body remained in 2009 as the exposed metal following the breaking of Sarah out of jail prevented chronoportation. During the overlap between when the Cameron CPU was inserted and booted in John Henry’s body, and John Henry’s disconnect from the server farm, there is a large gray area about how much of Cameron’s personality downloaded into the computers. Given the time constraints, probably not much.

What becomes of Cameron’s body can be story items. If Sarah chooses not to destroy it, will it be hooked up to the server farm and continue learning under the guidance of Messrs. Murch and Ellison? Might it survive (in some form) beyond Judgment Day and into 2027?

John Henry

The server farm that was John Henry remained after the chronoportations of Camenry, John Connor, and Catherine Weaver. Unless the memory was erased, the program should still be running. Will Cameron’s body be attached to John Henry to continue its growth and learning? Will the server farm be powered down and carefully moved to a different location? If there was some exchange of personality between Cameron and John Henry prior to the disconnection, can Cameron be reintegrated?

Prior to chronoportation to 2027, Weaver tells Sarah, “Your John may save the world, but he can’t do it without mine.” What does John Henry bring to the table, and is it the server farm version, or the Camenry version?

Derek Reese

As in the previous future, Derek Reese is a bad-ass resistance fighter whose primary personal concern is the safety of his brother, Kyle Reese. Though he is loyal to his unit, Kyle does come first.

Derek is part of the upper circle of the resistance and has the ear of the military chief, General Perry. While Derek is willing to bend a rule here or there, for the most part he’s an adherent to his training, spouting out courageous sound bites with ease.

Derek is like a junkyard dog. Loyal to those who earn it, but fearsome to those who betray that trust. His compassion is very selective and he chooses not to reveal it often. He’s a soldier and one of the best operational fighters.

His major weakness is his brother and his increasing PTSD. Derek has seen too much.

Kyle Reese

If all goes well, Kyle Reese will travel back in time to father John Connor. Kyle is the younger brother of Derek Reese.

The fire of life still burns in Kyle Reese’s eyes though they’ve long since burnt down in Derek’s. That doesn’t mean that Kyle is weak. If anything, having spent six years in Skynet’s Century Work Camp hardened him. Even so, he retains a reckless streak that gives him a lethal unpredictability that the machines can’t understand.

In previous incarnations, Kyle’s one love was Sarah Connor, John’s mother, for how she trained his idol during the years before Judgment Day. In this world without the memory and leadership of John Connor, does Kyle still love Sarah Connor? If not, how will John ever form the causality loop that ensures his birth?

Kyle could have other attachments in 2027 as well, especially if his connection with Sarah isn’t what we’ve known it to be.

Major General Perry

Trained in special operations. Likely the leader of the resistance, but unable to turn the corner on Skynet, possibly hampered by his military training making him too predictable. In a previous future timeline, his skills are heightened with the unconventional tactics employed by the Supreme Commander of Resistance Forces, John Connor.

Part of John’s task might be in trying to get positive attention from Perry.

Sarah Connor

Sarah Connor remained behind in 2009 as her son, John Connor, and MPA Catherine Weaver chronoported to 2027. Prior to that event, both John and Cameron suspected that Sarah might be in the early stages of the cancer she had died from in a previous timeline. (Was the bout of nausea in “Complications” the first symptom?)

Prior to leaving for whenever, Sarah promised John that she’d stop it [Skynet]. Since the future is essentially unchanged, she clearly failed in the mission. But did she fail over all. As it would be helpful for Kyle Reese to still have unrequited feelings for Sarah (John has to be conceived, after all), perhaps Sarah Connor became legendary in her own right. Perhaps her fight against Kaliba, trying to prevent Judgment Day, is the stuff of legends.

Is it better for our 2027 world that Sarah dies fighting the good fight instead of fading away from cancer in some anonymous hospital room?

James Ellison

The unwitting tool being used and abused by all sides. Is he able to redeem himself to Savannah or Sarah now that Catherine Weaver, John Henry, and John Connor have left 2009? Can he be the father that he once wanted to be?

Ellison’s failing is believing that his own lies are simply means to an end while the lies of others call into question their righteousness.

If Cameron’s body can be sufficiently repaired and modified to be hooked up to John Henry, Ellison can continue to instruct this computer. This might be a key element for John and Catherine in the future, that Ellison continues his work.

Weaver also directed  Ellison to pick up Savannah from gymnastics class. What influence can Ellison put to bear with her?

Savannah Weaver

Savannah Weaver has had a traumatic childhood. Her biological parents are gone, the father confirmed dead. Her mother has been replaced by a T-1001 MPA terminator known as Catherine Weaver. Though there were rough patches, Savannah has started to form a bond with this version of her mother.

Savannah has also formed a bond with John Henry, or more specifically, the cyborg interface of John Henry. They are friends.

Savannah also has a brief relationship with John Connor, who helped save her from a terminator attack, and who perhaps most importantly taught her how to tie her shoes.

Savannah may have been the target of the terminator Rosie who was sent to the office of Dr. Sherman, of whom Savannah was a patient. This would imply that Savannah is an important player in the events to come.

In 2009, Savannah loses Catherine Weaver, John Connor, and who she thinks of as John Henry when they time-travel. She will likely be under the guardianship of James Ellison.

If she survives Judgment Day and its aftermath, will she have any influence in 2027? With whom will she side? Can she be a bridge between the factions? Will she recognize John Henry, Weaver, or John Connor?

Danny Dyson

Son of Miles Dyson, the project director from Cyberdyne who was killed while trying to thwart the creation of Skynet and the occurrence of Judgment Day. On the day of the ZeiraCorp chronoportations, Sarah Connor was told that he’d been missing for three months. Could be motivation for Sarah to start digging for information with the help of Dyson’s widow, Terissa.

Is Danny being held by Kaliba in 2009? To what end? Is this a similar strategy as that presumably used when the terminator Rosie was sent to Dr. Sherman’s office to possibly remove Savannah Weaver from the timeline?

Does Danny Dyson have some importance in the future?

Matt Murch

Mr. Murch is the head design engineer for the Babylon/John Henry project. Technically savvy, he tends not to think “outside the box”. Loyal. Could be important if Cameron’s body is to be connected to John Henry.

Martin Bedell

In the previous future timeline, was considered to be a very important fighter in John Connor’s army. Trained in military schools and the military academy, Bedell is skilled in how to manage a battlefield.

Bedell may be important as he would be one of the few pre-Judgment Day allies of John who could recognize him. After all, John did save Bedell from his first terminator back in 2008. Understanding what that means could allow Bedell to be one of John’s closest allies, second (perhaps) only to Allison Young. Having such an ally would provide Connor with some very important “street cred”.

The problem with this character is it depends on the current 2027 Derek ending up in a causality loop that allows for John and Bedell to meet in the first place.

Lauren Fields

Another of the few people who probably know of John who is likely still around in 2027. She and her family were saved from a terminator attack by Sarah Connor and Cameron. Sarah Connor informed Lauren of many of the particulars of the war. Unknown how much, if anything, she said of John Connor, but John should be able to share enough information to confirm that he’s Sarah Connor’s son.

Lauren is a very no-nonsense tell-me-what-to-do-and-it-will-get-done fighter who was responsible for raising her baby sister, Sydney, so that she could fulfill her destiny as a cure donor.

The problem with this character is it depends on the current 2027 Derek ending up in a causality loop that allows for him to midwife the birth of Lauren’s sister.

Sydney Fields

A pragmatic young woman in 2027. The sister of Lauren Fields. Is important because she has a natural immunity to a biologic weapon that will be released by Skynet. Her immunity can be used to protect fighters against that weapon.

Depends on the same requirements as Lauren Fields.

Jesse Flores

An Australian fighter who, in a previous future timeline, was a submariner on the USS Jimmy Carter nuclear submarine under the command of a re-programmed terminator known as Queeg. As terminators aren’t currently being reprogrammed, she is not likely serving in that capacity in 2027 when John Connor and Catherine Weaver arrive.

Riley Dawson

At this time, little more than an anonymous tunnel troll trying to stay alive.

Charles Fischer

In one of the previous future timelines (remembered by Jesse, but not by Derek), Fischer was one of the worst of the “Grays”, humans who collaborated with Skynet… his primary mission to help infiltration units be better at their missions. Torture of captured resistance fighters was/is part of his M.O.

May not exist in this timeline.

George McCarthy

Probably works for Kaliba in 2009. Possibly the sole survivor of the Desert Canyon explosion that was set by Catherine Weaver. Last seen guiding an HK prototype into the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer truck. That prototype, or a copy, was crashed through the window of Catherine Weaver’s office as John and Sarah Connor were meeting with Weaver…just prior to the chronoportations to 2027.

Machines

T-600

Infiltration terminator. Rubber-skinned. Titanium endoskeleton that are vulnerable to heat. Easily detected by resistance.

T-800

Cybernetic Organism Terminator. Organic tissue over hyperalloy combat chassis. The endoskeleton contains coltan, making it much less heat resistant. Visually difficult to detect. Conventional detection method: dogs.

T-850

More convincing organic layer than the T-800. More rugged, able to absorb more battle damage and continue working. Nuclear power source replaced with two fuel cells for more power and longer life. Detection method: dogs.

T-888

More rugged than previous models. Better at infiltration. More variety of models within the series with more body-types possible than with previous T-8xx models. Detection method: dogs.

T-1000

Mimetic Poly-Alloy (MPA) “liquid metal” protype. Effectively indestructable in practice, but the bonding of its structure can be destroyed if melted in molten metal and mixed with it. Detection method: dogs.

T-1001

Advanced version of the T-1000 prototype. Deadlier, quicker, more intelligent.

T-Cameron

This is an unknown model and referred to as “T-Cameron” solely for clarity.  An advanced infiltration unit with the ability to almost exactly mimic a patterned human subject, down to emotions and tears. More adaptable and inquisitive than other models. Detection method: dogs.

H-K

Hunter-Killers (referring to the non-humanoid machines used by Skynet to kill humans). These can be ground, air, and sea attack machines of a variety of sizes, durability, and lethality. Probably easier to produce than the terminator models (cyborg and android), likely have less intelligence, and may be easier to “kill”.

USS Jimmy Carter

A United States nuclear attack submarine often considered to be specialized for intelligence work. In a previous future timeline, it was commanded by a reprogrammed T888 named Queeg, and XO’d by Jesse Flores.

It’s final mission, details of which where only known to Queeg, was to transport a MPA emissary (presumably the Catherine Weaver T-1001) for a meeting with John Connor (or possibly Cameron) to for an alliance against Skynet. Instead, the crew disobeyed orders, released the MPA terminator, and then mutinied and scuttled the submarine. This resulted in the MPA terminator refusing the alliance.

In John’s current 2027, the Jimmy Carter, wherever it is, is going to be under complete human control.

Phased Plasma Rifle

The weapon of choice in 2027. Likely in the 40W range.

Chronoportation Device

Your basic time-travel machine. Currently, the only working one known to be in existence is in the basement of ZeiraCorp in 2009. Apparently Catherine Weaver has the necessary knowledge to have designed/built this device into the John Henry server farm.

In 2027, there should be one in Topanga that is either under the control of Skynet, or is in Skynet-protected area.

Settings

Since we aren’t concerned with budgets or filmability, we can conceive of just about any sets we want. However, in order to stay true the the general idea of this project, we should imagine that we are on a TV budget and limit the number of settings we use.

ZeiraCorp Basement (2027)

Apparently under resistance control, this could either be a base of operations for the resistance, or perhaps a staging area for John and Catherine to meet, discover hidden treasures left by Sarah Connor or others, or perhaps as their version of “Switzerland”. As John appropriated Kyle Reese’s jacket to cover himself after the time-jump, it seems likely that this a resistance camp.

While the general layout of the basement is the same as in 2009 (presumably with at least some building remaining over head), it is in ruins. Choroporation leaves damage on its own, but much of the ruins come from having been looted many times and having been the scene of battle(s) that have left significant damage to the reinforced concrete walls.

ZeiraCorp (2009)

Other than necessary repairs that need to be made following the HK attack on Catherine Weaver’s office, ZeiraCorp remains one of the shining pillars of the Los Angeles skyline.

Since John Henry can’t be safely moved (per Murch), a more secure perimeter will likely be put into place. While the security of John Henry might be the source of heated discussion at some point, the chronoportation device will have to be protected and/or destroyed if necessary. This might become the hub, if not the base, of operations for actions pertaining to the mysterious Kaliba.

Serrano Point

A nuclear power facility that was John Connor’s base of operations in a previous future timeline (captured from Skynet in 2026). A key source of power. Apparently in this 2027 timeline, Serrano Point is still under Skynet control.

Topanga

Location of the chronoportation facility used by Skynet to send back a T-800 to kill Sarah Connor. John Conner then took the facility and used it to send back Kyle Reese to protect Sarah Connor (and conceive John Connor) before taking what could be used and then destroying the facility. Eventually Skynet rebuilds it.

Southern California

Ground Zero for Judgment Day and all significant battle since… this is key for both Skynet and the resistance.

Themes

Obviously the main thrust in 2027 will be John’s rise from “who are you” to being “John Connor”. The allies he gains and the trials necessary to let people learn that he’s special.

Trust will have to be a core aspect, especially as we are trying to forge an alliance between “meat and metal” in order to fight Skynet.

Sarah having to choose how and what to fight and risking to trust. She is the tragic figure, ultimately doomed to fail to reach her goal, but perhaps not to set the foundation John needs to win.

Skynet cannot be just a one-dimensional villain. Even if Skynet represent the evil presence, Skynet will not consider itself as being evil… more as a savior in its own right.

Does John have to become “John Connor” in order to achieve the mission goal of defeating Skynet?

Final Thoughts

I think this serves as a good first-step in laying the foundation of the creative work for the stories we will be creating. Obviously, being the work of one person in an evening, it will be added to as time goes on and I either get new ideas, facts get seeded in from works that get written, or you make suggestions that fit in with the stories to be told.

This bible is only a first step to establish some common ground of the world(s) our characters have to inhabit. Without this, we can easily lose our footing as we start to block out what we want to do with the pieces we have to play with. It just happens that the more you work the pre-production, the easier the rest is to do later.

The bulk of the interactive work will be done in this site’s forum.

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