The Connor Wars Writer’s Room 43 – Thinking About Cam and Ali

I’ve been thinking more about TCW lately. As I mentioned in the previous post, a good part of that is that some new snippets and whatnot are dancing around in my head. With my mind in that place, I was curious when I looked at my blog logs and saw a uri from summer-glau.net as a referrer.

Cameron’s Bad Day II (pencil sketch) ©2010 CJ Carter

I’d only dropped by the forum there to lurk a few times during the writing of TCW, as I did a few other blogs. I was knee-deep in the second half of season 3 at the time, so my visits around the web were infrequent and brief. So, this was the first time I’d read more than the introductory post that contained a link to TCW. It brought back a lot of memories.

(Warning: spoilers may ensue from this point on. You’ve been warned.) The thing that I remembered most was the frequent asking for a more emotional relationship between John and Cameron. That was a constant request and sometimes a very contentious point. A lot of fans strongly desired seeing John and Cameron together. While the story I wrote left a few unsatisfied, I couldn’t help feeling–personally–that there had been one heck of a romance.

Huh? A lot of you are saying. Others will remark that it was so subtle that it was useless. Perhaps. I’m just the writer and not always aware of these things. But here’s the thing for me: I was writing Cameron as someone very full of love but not able to show it. One of the crutches I had to not let that gush forth is the fact that screenplays are visual. You weren’t in Cameron’s head like I was. From my perspective, it was an Austin-esque romance novel.

That is, I’m sure, what many of y’all wanted. Still…the signs were there. As I’ve mentioned before, Cameron was very cautious when testing to see if John was ready to entertain something more than professional or fraternal. Theirs was a very mature relationship. It wasn’t lustful but it was still deep. It’s the sort of relationship that allows for those ever-rarer marriages that last 50 or 60 years.

John confided in Cameron as he did to no one else. For him, that was a significant commitment of trust. It echoed what Cameron alluded to previously when she’d say that she and future-John “talked a lot”. Cameron showed her love by not pushing it. After all, she’d more-or-less gotten back her John. Still…she wanted more. With just a touch of his shoulder, Cameron communicated to John that she’d never leave. Ever. They didn’t need anything more visible. Not yet. Not with the troops watching.

When I was writing this stuff, I never would just write that Cameron touched John’s shoulder, or that John stared at Cameron. I had to feel what they were feeling. Connecting but having to keep the relationship somewhat unrequited. You wonder why writers are a little nuts? This is why. Regardless of whether we put it on the page or not, we still have to feel it.

Thank goodness for Allison. Allison wasn’t nearly as reserved as John and Cameron. Allison let me give Summer a character that was more “normal” than usual. It would let her have a character that, while damaged, was also still just a girl.

Ali would play men–sometimes because of her job, sometimes for power, and sometimes for fun. I think that Allison loved John “in that way” for a while…at least until Cameron showed up. If it wasn’t for his focus on the mission, John could have easily fallen for Ali. After all, Cameron was patterned on my interpretation of AFP Allison–although, AFP Allison was every bit the deceiver as this Allison could be, and that helped make Cameron different from Allison.

Where John and Cameron were about a mature love, Allison was about a younger love: more in-the-moment. Still, she does evolve. At the start, she seems a bit of a slut. At the end she’s a wife and mother. As this relates to John and Cameron: Cameron takes cues from Allison’s behavior to help her communicate with John. The increase of touching is a prime example.

I should mention that the season 3 finale was originally going to lead to an emotional release. While it was planned from the start to be cliffhanger with a Skynet Cameron trying to assassinate John–though in a church-like setting–I’d left open the possibility of a huge relationship moment. It’s also important to note that at this stage of story development Cameron didn’t show up whole and complete until the season finale. Until then, Camenry was meant to be John’s companion through the season. But as you work out plot problems and character arcs…and decide to add a short fourth season…things change.

Getting back to what I mentioned at the start of this post: something that stuck with me was that the referrer was from summer-glau.net. That mattered because I’d be less than honest if I said I didn’t miss having two Summer Glau characters in my head all of the time. Now, I don’t know Ms Glau. I don’t pretend to know what she’s really like as a person, but what she’s presented to us through her works and appearances served as clay from which I molded TCW’s version of Cameron and Allison. For both characters I tried to preserve their essential Summer Glau-ness.

I’ve had hundreds of characters in my head over the decades, but rarely have I enjoyed their company as much as with Cam and Ali. So when I saw the link, it sparked some very happy memories. Even though she had no involvement whatsoever, I do have to thank Summer for bringing whatever it is she brings to the roles.

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