alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Sarah Connor Chronicels)
[personal profile] alixtii
Remember this post, where I diagram the various timelines of T:tSCC? After "The Last Voyage of the Jimmy Carter" and "Born to Run," it seemed like it was time to update the diagram. Below the cut is the new and improved (and very spoilery) diagram, with notes. As before, history-changing time travel is represented in red, causality loops in blue, indeterminate events in green, and Judgment Day in yellow. I've also added certain other major events in purple.

Indeterminate Timeline: All actions by SkyNet affecting history prior to the conception of John Connor.

0. "Self-Made Man." A T-888, planning to travel to 2010, ends up in 1920 instead, killing someone who was supposed to build the site his mission was to be accomplished in. He goes on to ensure that the site is built after all. This is the temporal paradox I discuss at length in The T-888 in the Wall; my conclusion is that either it's a causality loop native to what in this post is being called Timeline Zeta, or it has to go here.

Elements of these timelines' futures which persist into subsequent timelines: The Terminator in the wall. The time machine in the bank. Who knows what else.

Timeline α: Kyle Reese fathers John Connor, who goes on to lead the resistance. It seems likely, but not certain, that John knows what's up when he sends Kyle back.

1. The Terminator. A T-101 (Arnold) is sent back to kill Sarah Connor; Kyle Reese is sent back to protect her.(Causality Loop)

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. A T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is sent back to kill John Connor; a reprogrammed T-101 is sent back to protect him. (History Changer)

Elements of Timeline α's future which persist into subsequent timelines: 1/2 of John Connor's genetic information.

Timeline β: Sarah, John, and the reprogrammed T-101 take down Cyberdyne Systems to ensure SkyNet is never created, but only succeed in postponing Judgment Day. Sarah Connor dies of cancer.

3. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation. A Terminatrix is sent back to kill John Connor; a T-101 is sent to protect him; John is maneuvered by fate into surviving Judgment Day and leading the resistance. (Causality Loop)

4. There are minor discrepencies between T3 and the future in Cameron's native timeline, most notably the date of Judgment Day. T4, presumably, exacerbates the divergence. This can easily be assumed by assuming that at least one history-changing temporal move exists between the T3/T4 timeline and Cameron's timeline. (History Changer)

Element of Timeline β's future which persist into subsequent timelines: Unknown.

Timeline γ: Cameron's native timeline, as seen in "Alison from Palmdale." Judgment Day happens, and John leads the resistance. In order to exploit John's relationship (whatever it may be) with Allison Young, SkyNet creates the Cameron series. John reprograms Cameron, who apparently becomes some type of high-ranking lieutenant even though John didn't know Cameron as a teen in this timeline. Jessie and Derek concieve a child, who is miscarried aboard the Jimmy Carter. Even though the events we see in "The Last Voyage of the Jimmy Carter" is presumably the version of events as they existed in Jessie's, not Cameron's, timeline, Cameron's version of the encounter as related to Derek in "To the Lighthouse" is substantially similar--surprisingly so, in fact, considering the amount of divergence which exists between Cameron's and Jessie's timelines (more on this later). If we assume that the T-1001 on the Jimmy Carter was Catherine Weaver, then this is probably the earliest timeline that Catherine could come from.

5. "Pilot." A T-888 (Cromartie) is sent back to kill John Connor. Cameron is sent back to protect him (so far as we know). Cameron takes John and Sarah several years into the future, tells Sarah that she died of cancer in the future she came from, and generally majorly frells up the timeline. (History Changer)

Elements of Timeline γ's future which persist into subsequent timelines: Cameron, Cromartie, and possibly Catherine.

Timeline δ: Sarah, John, and Cameron do TV-show things in 2007 California. Derek and Kyle Reese serve under John Connor post-Judgment Day. Derek and Jessie meet and have a sexual relationship (and presumably the events that Cameron and Jessie remember from their respective timelines happen here), but Derek is not tortured by Charlie Fischer. Note: in this and all subsequent timelines, John Connor knew Cameron as a teenager.

6. Derek Reese is sent back to pre-Judgment Day and kills Andy Goode. (History Changer)

Elements of Timeline δ's future which persist into subsequent timelines: Derek (and possibly Catherine).

Timeline ε: Derek is tortured post-Judgment Day. The events on the Jimmy Carter unfold exactly as we see them in Jessie's flashbacks, and to "our" Jessie. The Cameron that Jessie talks to afterwards is either "our" Cameron, who would be experiencing this conversation for the second time (and if so, why didn't she prevent the disaster?) or a version of Cameron native to the timeline (in which case one would wonder why and how this version of Cameron was created, since the explanation from "Alison from Palmdale" wouldn't apply; also, where the hell is "our" Cameron?).

7. Jessie and Riley travel back to pre-Judgment Day in order to decrease Cameron's influence on John. At one point, Jessie's concern is stated as a counterfactual: that if Cameron gets to know John (in the present), she'll pose an even danger than Cameron did in the future Jessie came from. Of course, this makes no sense: a) Jessie has to come from a timeline ("D") where John already knew Cameron as a teenager. Of course, Jessie doesn't necessarily need to know that, and her concern still makes sense: maybe in her timeline, John never re-activated Cameron during the second season premiere. b) Since Cameron doesn't travel back from Jessie's timeline, there is no real reason for Jessie to think that history might be changed such that Cameron's influence over John would increase. As it stands, I think the best fanwank is that rather than trying to prevent Cameron's influence over John from growing, Jessie is simply trying to diminish the amount of influence Cameron has. (Unknown Effect)

8. "Complications." Charlie Fisher travel back in time. Toby!Charlie sets up Warren!Charlie. (Causality Loop)

9. "Born to Run." John and Catherine travel to the post-Judgment Day future, where John is not the leader of resistance due to the fact that he was busy travelling to the future and thus wasn't there. Sarah presumably has died of cancer by this point.

Elements of Timeline ε's future which persist into subsequent timelines: Jessie, Riley, and possibly Catherine.

Timeline ζ: The last scene of "Born to Run."

10. I've seen speculation that there's a causality loop involved here. If so, it's quite localized--it absolutely can't, for example, involve Derek, because "Complications" rules that out as a possibility; his native timeline simply cannot be the same as the BtR timeline. (I suppose it's possible the event of John jumping forward in time could have happened in both, though, although it clearly doesn't happen in all timelines.) It could potentially involve Jessie, Riley, or Catherine (in which case ε and ζ would collapse into each other), but I find even those extremely unlikely.

The interesting thing about the second half of Season 2, actually, is there seems to be no meaningful causality loops (I'm sure there are minor ones going on in the background). The interesting thing about the Terminator franchise after T2, and especially after T3, is the way that both causality loops and history-changing time travel are both present in abundance; the presence of the one type of paradox doesn't preclude the other. (Nor should it. You can have a coherent temporal mechanics in which history-changing isn't possible, but I can't imagine a temporal mechanics in which causality loops don't represent a possible state of affairs.

I don't quite understand all the fanresponses I've read that seem to assume that show canon can be one big, happy causality loop, and I find that pervasiveness of that perspective frustrating. (Even the Terminator Wiki tries to press everything together into one timeline.) The only way I can imagine that working is if everyone who came from the future--Kyle, the T-101's, Cameron, Derek, Jessie, Catherine--has been lying not only about the date of Judgment Day, but about pretty much everything. Which would be a serious break of contract with the viewer.

If we don't get a Season 3, I don't even know what we'll do.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-22 01:22 am (UTC)
anonymous_sibyl: Two adirondack chairs in front of a lake scene. (Default)
From: [personal profile] anonymous_sibyl
Oh, good. I was hoping you would do this!

I don't quite understand all the fanresponses I've read that seem to assume that show canon can be one big, happy causality loop

I think it's because we place ourselves with one character--our gateway character into the show, the lead, the one we identify with, etc.--and when we (or at least I) speak we speak from that point of view. So when I'm saying that for John he goes into the future, knowing Cameron, seeing Allison, knowing Derek and that Kyle is his father, I'm thinking of how these things will play out for John. But what I'm not saying is that things are suddenly hugely different for Derek, Kyle, Allison, and the rest. Maybe others are too?

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