[I will be talking about F0304, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled, you should probably read it now and then come back.]
I’m going to be honest with you. After I posted F0304, “Without a Scorecard” y’all made me a bit nervous. Usually I get a lot of comments sent my way not long after I post an episode. With this one…crickets. No feedback at all. When the comments finally started coming in and they were favorable, you let me know that I hadn’t just alienated all of my readers.
I knew doing the Sarah scenes was a risk. In my forum post I wrote:
So…why did I do it?
I think the biggest reason is that Sarah is a tragic character. I wanted all y’all to understand that no matter what you see her do in future episodes, there is no doubt what destiny has in store for her. My personal opinion is that this should add to her gravitas and nobility. We will see her fight the good fight knowing that for her the best she can hope for is to die before the bombs land.
I think back to the Civil War. In some battles, especially at Gettysburg, entire regiments when charging into Hell knowing full well they they were going to die. And yet they did it. They didn’t flinch. They didn’t retreat. They charged in the desperate hope that even if they didn’t prevail, their action would still contribute to the ultimate victory. That’s just awe-inspiring how brave and noble that is.
That’s Sarah. I want you to know that that’s Sarah. She’s pretty certain what her fate will be, but she just squares her shoulders and charges into Hell’s fury. Is it no wonder that in 2027, even without a John Connor, people remember Sarah Connor?
I’ve also tried to be clear that the stories taking place before JD were going to be non-linear. Well, I just jumped to the end of that section of stories and in the current episode I jump back earlier. Non-linearity, here we come. This very strongly implies that I’m still going to be telling Sarah’s story in the past, doesn’t it? At least, that’s the inference I’d make.
Will there come a time when I don’t tell a past story in an episode (or a future one)? Sure. I wouldn’t take anything for granted if I’m in the middle of it. I’m not the sort of writer who intentionally will screw around with an audience—though I’m sure I do it unintentionally at times—but I will always tell the story that wants to be told if it pushes me out of the way. It cases of creative flow, Muses trump writers. Always. At least they do here.
Last things about Sarah. Yes, she dies of cancer after having fought with cancer for years. More importantly, she dies before the bombs land. I thought this was symbolically important. Despite everything Sarah had gone through, the machines couldn’t defeat her. The only thing that could stop her was the fact that she was a human…so it was only right that she got a natural death.
I’m sure you also noticed that the future story was the beginning of a mini-arc. Sometimes a story is bigger than can fit in an episode.
So…the title: “Without a Scorecard”. Obviously this comes from the phrase “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard” which used to be a familiar call at baseball games. Who’s good? Who’s bad? Who lives? Who dies? Who can be trusted? Who must be destroyed? John’s world (and Sarah’s) isn’t one where it’s always easy to keep track of good, bad, or somewhere in between.
Obviously I made things a little more complicated with Brandi. I thought long and hard about Brandi. I very much didn’t want a hybrid “monster” thrown into the mix. How cliche. For story purposes, though, it made sense. We’ll get to know her a little better as episodes unfurl, but she isn’t our primary villain. I never forget that Skynet is the villain. She also isn’t a one-and-done, either. She’ll be around… probably… unless I kill her off.
Speaking of things endoskeletony: Cameron appeared. Sure, admittedly only in voice and hallucination, but she’s still around. Allison is Allison. Cameron is Cameron. They just sound alike. But poor Allison…it can’t be nice knowing that a terminator killed you and took your identity. (This is the subject of what John whispered to Allison in F0303.)
Well…I’m still writing F0305, and I suppose I need to get back to it. Lots of high stakes in this one…for the characters this time, not the writer. Like just about everything I’ve written in this series, it’s a budget buster. I decided that if a network was going to put a SF series on the air, they need to give it the budget SF needs, and not the budget of a teen-angst show. As a result, though I’ll try to be mindful of budget concerns, I’m not going to try to fit a $3.5 million-per-episode series into a $1-1.5 million straitjacket. It’s really ridiculous to even try. It’s a false economy.
That’s it for now, my cyborg zombies. I’m shooting for getting F0305 out by early next week, but life has been jam-packed this week (with more to come) and I’m a little below my usual page-per-day average. But I’d rather be a day or two late than to give you something that wasn’t finished. I like to think that the wait will be rewarded.