The Connor Wars Writer’s Room 8 – The Balancing Act

We are now a fourth of the way into Season 3. (I know! I can’t believe it, either.) Based on the ratings and messages we’ve been sharing, I think y’all are enjoying it. Then again, the ones who don’t just stay away.

The season has been constructed based on the idea that if this was a real series on the air, a network could pull the plug at episodes 6 or 13. Obviously things don’t get wrapped up in a great big fluffy bow in those episodes, but there is some sense of a chapter being completed… just in case. I think it’s important for TV shows to plan for the worst but hope for the best if for no other reason than to show at least a little respect for the fans.

Writing these episodes is a very interesting experience for me. It’s rather time-consuming, as you might imagine, but also quite entertaining. I’ll be honest, I’m at least as eager to find out what happens as you guys are…maybe even more since I was driven to write this stuff in the first place. Regarding a lot of the questions you have, and the desires for the characters you share: I’m right there with you. I have a few more spoilers than you do, but otherwise we have the same wants.

Here’s how it is for me: except for (now) 1 episode, I know what the major stories are in every episode until the end of the season. I know the last image and the last sound of the final scene of episode 22. I have a pretty good idea of the life-turns the characters take as the season progresses (especially the 2027 characters). I have a spreadsheet to help me stay on course with the characters, and a The Connor Wars wiki to help me with continuity in terms of characters, timelines, locations, yadda yadda yadda. (Both of these are definitely not public.)

Beyond that…I don’t know what happens in detail for an episode before I start to outline it. Some episodes get some outlining done ahead of time. Others get outlined the day before I start scripting it. From that outline (which typically covers about 1/2 to 2/3 of the scenes) I write the story. It all pretty much unfolds for me like it does for you…but much slower. When it’s done and I move things around so that it all hangs together, I read the script just like you all, from beginning to end. Unlike you, I sometimes throw out a good hunk of the story and try it again.

I don’t really worry about the plot too much. I have my signposts. As long as I reach them, it doesn’t much matter how I get there. I do worry about the characters. I want the characters carried over from the series to be essentially the same characters that we all know and love. But the new characters…they tend to be more like characters that I create (surprise, surprise).

I’ll be honest. There are times that I find the established characters a little flat… especially in regards to Season 2. I like them to come in as more obvious individuals. Mikkola has an elegance. Brandi is (a little) crazy. Jason is a horny 20-something. And the Allison that I’ve evolved has found a way to cope with the twisted life she’s had to endure (a life I’ve only alluded to). I figured there were only so many calm, laconic, PTSD’d characters you can put in a series before you can guess what their dialog is going to be before they say it.

So, it’s a balance. I have my own style, but I’m also trying to incorporate the style of the series. I’m trying to do right by the writers and the actors and the fans. Each of those parties brings something to the story, and I don’t want to disrespect the contribution of any.

One of the comments I read the most, both sent to me and on the occasional links I follow, is how this project is like a continuation of the series. How I take that is that there is an appreciation that I haven’t gone all fanboy (or girl) like many fanfic writers are wont to do. I’ve made no secret about my thoughts of certain key characters, but for this project it’s the story that decided what happens, not me. If the story says I have to create Brandi, despite my reluctance, then I’ll create Brandi. If the story says some characters need to be together and some characters need to be kept apart…I’ll do that, too.

That said, I also pay attention to what y’all are saying to me. There are some passionate points of view. Some of those points of view are in conflict with what the map of the season is. Even so, I’ve found a way to try to accommodate fan desires.

I was asked if any TSCC people had read any of the scripts. I honestly don’t know. If any have, they certainly haven’t mentioned it to me. I suspect that none has. I wouldn’t imagine they’d want to endure having to read someone deviating from their vision. Personally, I’d love to know from them what the ideas were for the future, for Weaver, and exactly what Cameron’s deal was. It would help to not have to rely completely on my own guesses about this. Josh would be a wonderful resource, of course. Summer’s understanding of Cameron, I believe, was second to Josh’s only in detail, but in terms of who Cameron is/was, I don’t think anyone knew her better. I’d also really love to know what the up was with Weaver. We only had morsels of info. I’d like to know what her “true” background was. (Shoot…I’d be happy just to know for sure if Weaver was the Jimmy Carter MPA terminator.)

But hey, that’s just me. Since I’m sitting in front of my computers most days writing this stuff, it could possibly be a great help to know how things were supposed to be. As it is, y’all just have to hope that my guesses make sense.

[We now enter the spoiler zone…in stages]

[OK. At this point more spoilerly stuff from current and past scripts will be mentioned]

You might recall in my previous Writer’s Room blog that I tried to explain the reasoning for showing you the end of Sarah in episode F0304. I hope you can see why I did that now that you’ve read F0305. When Sarah is in the cab of the SUV and starts coughing, you now know what that’s all about. It’s impact is enhanced because it’s tied into Sarah’s fate. You then notice that Sarah isn’t driving, Alex is. Maybe there’s a reason for that. You probably wouldn’t have been pay attention to that stuff if there hadn’t been the focus on Sarah in F0304.

I’d wondered why there wasn’t even an attempt to recruit the gangs in Season 2. We’d already established in Season 1 that Sarah isn’t totally lost in that world. Given the size of Skynet’s obvious infiltration of L.A., it seemed a little foolhardy to limit the team to three humans and one cyborg.

So…what about Skynet, eh? That floating head? Yeah, I know that it’s very Wizard of Oz, but indulge me. I figured if the Connors were going to be steeped in that story, why not include Skynet in the same way?

[Spoilers … beware. If you don’t want to know, then bail now.]

[Seriously]

I will tell you that as of that last Skynet scene in F0305, Skynet isn’t THE Skynet yet. Right now it’s just as you see: a T-888 chip and a project team that’s trying to rebuild the Dyson CPU that was recovered from the Dyson house after Sarah shot it up in T2. In some ways this “brother” of John Henry is more capable than John Henry, but in other ways not so much. While they share common ancestry due to the Dyson/Goode design, they are definitely not the same.

[REALLY REALLY B-I-G HUGE SPOILER]

[Again, bail if you don’t want to know. You can’t un-know it.]

[And you might want to un-know it.]

[But if you read it, you can’t.]

[So it’s your own fault.]

[Fair warning.]

And that story idea that the fans have wanted so much? Yeah, it’s the storyline about a certain cybernetic organism with the glowing blue eyes. I’ll tell you true, you weren’t going to see this robot AS this character until the last episode of the season. But…since you want her so much (as do I), I’ve juggled things around a bit so that she’ll pop up a bit earlier. I’ll tell you now, it’s probably not going to be as soon as you want, but it’s as early as I can do it and not break the story. So be patient and enjoy the ride.

Again, story trumps desire. How the story deals with this character isn’t totally up to me. Or you. It likely won’t be what we expect. Nor should it be, lest there be no reason to continue reading.

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