alixtii: John and Cameron, looking cue together. (Sarah Connor Chronicles)
[personal profile] alixtii
CAMERON: You sent [Derek] back to wait for us. (in "Queen's Gambit")

This reaffirms the notion that Derek and Cameron come from the same timeline. (Or does it?) But when and why did John send Derek back?

If Derek was sent back to 2006+, then he would have been wiped away when Cameron changed history in 1999, and wouldn't appear in the new timeline The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes place in--unless both John's send back Derek: the first so that Cameron can remember it, and the second so that Derek can actually reach the destination. The thing is, they'd have to send John for different reasons: the latter John would send Derek back knowing that Cameron would cause Sarah and John to jump forward in the future, and the former John would send Derek back because--the thing is, I can't figure out a coherent reason why John would send Derek back.

He'd have to have known that Cameron was going to change history, because presumably he wouldn't have remembered meeting Cameron as a teenager. (I toyed with the possibility of ignoring T3 and assuming that John did remember meeting Cameron, and having it all be one big causality loop--but no, Sarah's death by cancer screws up that theory.) So it'd be silly to send Derek back to any point in time after he sent Cameron. So he either didn't think things through--and I'd hate for the fanwank to only work by assuming the characters are stupid--or else he sent back Derek to before 1999. But that doesn't seem to work--surely Jessie would have noticed if he was suddenly a lot older? (We can assume that Derek jumped back and then jumped forward, but now we're getting to truly massive amounts of fanwank.)

Maybe there's some way John could send Derek and Cameron back at the same time (but to different temporal destinations) so that Derek would be protected from the effects of Cameron changing history? Call it the Stargate: Continuum school of time travel theory.

Ruling out that possibility, we're now back to Derek and Cameron being from separate timelines. But why would Cameron claim to know the reason John sent Derek back if they aren't from the same timeline? Assuming that John did, for whatever reason, try to send Derek back in Cameron's timeline, she could have assumed the same logic would carry over. This seems like a big assumption--if Derek's John knew Cameron as a teenager, that John might well reason very differently, but again, for the show to make any sense at all we do need to assume some degree of temporal inertia, that certain patterns (like Cameron's conversation with Jessie) keep happening over and over again in multiple timelines. Cameron would presumably be familiar with this phenomenon. But that explanation still doesn't seem totally sufficient to explain Cameron's utter certainty that Derek's mission was not to kill Andy Goode, but rather to wait for "us." There's no way she could be 100% positive that history didn't change in a salient way, is there?

The simplest explanation might be to simply assume Cameron is lying. But what could her motivation be? (Ooh, there's a fic there somewhere.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kurosau.livejournal.com
One thing that I think gets overlooked in time travel storylines are the close-but-not-quite-the-same parallels. Namely, you can have two people from two different timelines who have had all the same experiences when conversing with each other in their own timelines, because the only major difference between the two timelines is that a button got colored red instead of green.

I think that's the meat of your conclusion that John could've sent back Derek in both timelines. Of course, that's where the problems with time travel begin to crack and sway.

If that were true, then two Dereks should exist. Or 9, or 28,304, depending on how many branched timelines sent back a Derek to the timeline or origination. If time travel exists, then everything that has happened as a result of it has happened already, because it's all already happened or has already been going to happen. You've still got free will even if someone's already taped you doing what you're going to do, it just looks like you're a puppet when you watch it on TV.

Check out the tabletop RPG Continuum for some truly mind-bending takes on time travel. Where the Continuum watches over the timeline from their city fortress of Atlantis. They pulled the city out of the past and deposited it far into the future (or the past, can't remember where) to defend against the machinations of the Narcissists, who would see reality unwoven to kill Hitler or sleep with their grandmother or win the lottery. And the Continuum knows that this is successful because no attack on Atlantis has ever been recorded as having been successful, so they need not worry about ever being defeated.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
There are places where the "Why is there only one Derek?" question becomes a problem, but I don't think that's the case here. The first Derek would have been set back in time to, say, 2007. We can either assume that a causality loop is created within Cameron's timeline, or else Derek changes history, creating a new timeline with a new John, John-prime. Either John or John-prime sends back Cameron to 1999, Cameron changes history, both John and John-prime never exist to send back Derek, and it falls on the shoulders of John-double-prime to send Derek back. Outcome: only one Derek.

It's when we ask ourselves why subsequent changes in history don't result in more Dereks being sent back that we begin to have issues. But Cameron's (John's or John-prime's) Derek isn't really a problem that way.

My problem is that the difference between Cameron's timeline and the one we'd have to assume Derek was sent back from (John-double-prime's) has a lot more differences than a red or green button: Sarah not dying of cancer, John meeting Cameron, etc. We have to assume there's some type of pretty effective temporal inertia keeping the butterfly effect in check.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kurosau.livejournal.com
I concur. But at the same time, that idea of temporal inertia, that's the thing that's always made me wonder, why don't people explore the idea of a reverse butterfly effect? That even massive changes can only nudge the timeline a short distance.

And when you consider the idea of timelines collapsing together like waveforms, what if one person can be technically from several simultaneously different timelines?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
Explore how, exactly? I mean, I'm familiar with the concept from various sources. I tend to dislike the idea of temporal inertia, though, because to me it feels more like mysticism than science.

I have been wondering about simultaneous causes--if, instead of having a history change result in certain uncaused phenomenon (which don't bother me because they still have cross-temporal causes in the perpendicular temporal dimension), they could actually be replaced with a new looped cause. Very precise conditions would have to apply however--for example, the Kyle Reese in The Terminator can't be the same as the Kyle Reese in "Dungeons and Dragons," because they have different dates for Judgment Day. Someone coming back from multiple futures at once would either a) have to have exactly identical life histories, or b) never so much of think of the portions of hir life history which diverge, so those portions can remain in the state of Schrodinger's cat. I'm not a human being could ever be capable of it--maybe a thing could, or a memory-wiped Terminator.

I've been thinking recently about the possibility of oscillating universes, too, where Timeline A is changed into Timeline B and then back again and so on. Then independent changes could be produced so there's still "forward" (cross-temporal) motion, such that A creates B creates A-prime creates B-prime creates A-double-prime creates. That could be used to explain why certain future phenomena reoccur.

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