Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and Time Travel

I have no problem with the fact that the Terminator TV series appears to take place in a different timeline than the events of Terminator 3 (and if you don’t want to know why — in great detail — stop reading now). I mean, hey, it’s time travel, so why not?

By my count (ignoring comic books and other spin-off material), there have been at least three Terminator timelines (though I’m using the term “timeline” loosely, since the general implication in the Terminator universe is that there is, strictly speaking, only one timeline and that it undergoes changes — read my old Metaphilm article about the nerd obsession with continuity issues if you want to see me geeking out about these sorts of issues as they apply to other franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek):

The first timeline, seen in the first movie and in the second movie up until the CompuDyne Cyberdyne HQ gets blown up (don’t examine the causal logic there too closely, please), was characterized by a causal loop in which the sentient computer program Skynet caused a nuclear war in about 1997 but was itself destroyed circa 2029 by post-apocalyptic rebel leader John Connor, who then sent a man back in time to 1984 who became his own father.

At the end of the second film, a new timeline is created (branching off from the point in 1995 [though the film came out in 1991] when CompuDyne Cyberdyne HQ was blown up, two years before it could trigger the nuclear war). In this new timeline, though (as we learn in the third film), the nuclear war still happens eventually (“Judgment Day iss inevidduble”) — specifically in 2004 (though the film came out in 2003) and more dueling robot assassins are still dispatched to the past from sometime around 2032 (when vengeful robots, operating after the destruction of Skynet, kill the adult John Connor).

I think the impending new trilogy of Terminator films, featuring Christian Bale as the adult John Connor, will take place in that second timeline, after the nuclear war of 2004, and depict a kick-ass conflict between early-model Terminators and human resistance fighters. Good!

But a third timeline was created Sunday night. Many fans who were bummed out by the nuclear war of 2004 may be pleased about it. A robot played by Summer Glau comes back from 2027 to stop a Terminator dispatched to kill John Connor in 1999 — with the fourteen-or-so year-old John Connor confusingly referring to the prior robot attack (from Terminator 2: Judgment Day) as “two years ago,” but presumably he means that the originally-scheduled date of the nuclear war was 1997, which is fine.

(Note: as I recall, there was some confusion evident in the third film about whether T2 had taken place in ’91, when it was actually released, or ’95, when it took place, but Wikipedia gets it right, so let’s assume the producers will from here on out, too.)


What makes the TV series a clear-cut third timeline (and possibly a fourth, with the potential for more to come) is that the Glau-bot does not come from a timeline in which the nukes came in ’97 (as in T1) or even ’04 (as in T3) but in ’11. Furthermore, in perhaps the biggest surprise of the premiere, she yanks John Connor and his mom from ’99 to ’07 at the end of the episode (putting them four years prior to nuclear destruction if they’re in her home timeline but well past the point of destruction if they were in their own original timeline, so clearly they aren’t).

So how did the nukes get delayed from ’04 to ’11? The most logical conclusion would have to be that Glau’s removal of the Connors from the ’99-’04 period actually saved civilization (for now) by causing the Terminators to call off the attack seen in T3, which had led directly to the “rise of the machines,” thanks to the code-speaking Terminator played by the lovely, athletic, and rumored-to-be-bisexual Kristanna Loken (she is said to have slept with her BloodRayne co-star Michelle Rodriguez and is seen in the photo montage atop another of my Metaphilm articles — I just mean you can see Loken, not that you can see them sleeping together, which would make Metaphilm a far, far more popular site).

Of course, as I’ve noted before, this all quickly gets absurd if the time travelers of 2032 have potentially unlimited power to keep going back and changing things — Terminator quickly becomes Groundhog Day, or at least becomes that bit from Family Guy where Peter keeps going back in time and screwing up his first date with Lois. But let’s assume there are limits to how many time-missions they can launch and what they can try to change, just to keep things remotely plausible and dramatic.


So: whatever happens next in the series, it would appear we will now have two rival Terminator timelines at work (besides the one in the original film), one on the small screen and one (next year, if all goes as planned) on the big screen, with the big screen world presumably being the T3 timeline in which the nuclear war already happened back in 2004 (which is not much weirder than Star Trek’s Eugenics Wars supposedly taking place in the 1990s, when Khan conquered a third of the Earth without you noticing, I suppose).

Which timeline will prove more popular, I wonder: Summer Glau’s or Christian Bale’s? (And on a related note, who would win a fight between River and Batman?) Interestingly, the TV timeline (or rather, a TV timeline) would still seem to offer the hope of becoming one in which the nuclear war never happens, at least for the as-you-see-them-now version of Sarah and John visiting 2007, which would be nice (though for Glau, the war is already a fait accompli from sixteen years earlier in her native timeline).

One other bit of chronology to keep in mind: unless we’re to believe that time-traveling with Summer Glau (which sounds like a nice Travel Channel show) cures leukemia, Sarah Connor should still die in the TV series within about five years (having died sometime between ’99 and ’04 in the T3 timeline). Perhaps they’ll depict her being saved by treatments that didn’t exist in 2000 but do exist in 2008, which would be entirely plausible (leukemia death rates are plummeting) and a nice little reminder of how quickly real-world technology advances, without any help from time-traveling cyborgs, for good or ill.

Why Glau-bot gives “2005″ for the originally-scheduled time of Sarah’s death (had they not time-jumped to 2007 in the premiere), though, I cannot imagine — Glau-bot comes from a timeline, apparently, in which not only was the nuclear war delayed past the point at which it occurred in the T1 and T3 timelines (1997 and 2004, respectively) but in which for some reason leukemia took at least a year longer to kill Sarah. Hard to imagine why that would be the case — though perhaps her timeline features a time-traveling doctor as well (I recall hearing of such things).

Unless, of course…the Glau-bot’s own trip back to 1999 without the leap forward to 2007 created her timeline (no weirder a timeloop than the one in the original movie) and perhaps gave her the chance to treat Sarah for a few years, keeping her alive past ’04, had the Glau-bot not leapt forward to 2007, the leap perhaps creating a subsidiary timeline in which the TV show now occurs — but that way lies madness, obviously. Madness…

(When in doubt, safest to assume that what we see now is “the” dominant timeline, though — for now, it’s a world with no nuke war yet as of 2007, robot visitors from a possible 2027 who recall a 2011 nuke war, and a Sarah Connor presumably likely to die come 2013 from cancer even without nuclear weapons going off. Interesting to see if the series is still on then — and it might be, as it’s not half-bad, I should say.)

P.S. Brown alum Josh Friedman created the Terminator TV series, and another Brown alum, Lisa Loeb, sings at the 57th and Park Ave. Borders [CORRECTION: the Columbus Circle Borders!] one week from tonight (1/22) at 7pm, if anyone’s tempted, as I am, to represent. And she, too, is a robot, though she’s not all in your face about it, which is sweet.

UPDATE: This Time Out New York article by Andrew Johnston contains an interesting example of how even people paying close attention can get confused about this stuff: he says Sarah can’t meet herself in the TV series because she died in 2005 — and it’s true she’s in no danger of meeting herself, but not because she died earlier in this timeline: that death did not occur in this timeline. In this timeline, as we can plainly see, she simply vanished in 1999 and reappeared, still very much alive, in 2007. In between, there simply was no Sarah Connor walking around (or dying, or getting nabbed by cops for blowing up CompuDyne Cyberdyne Inc.). Must I personally take control of the entire spacetime continuum to prevent these errors being made? Must I?

UPDATE 2: One quick, final question: If you were a human being trying to prevent a robot apocalypse, who would you dispatch backward in time: anti-Dalek fighters, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, resistance fighter Kyle Reese, Federation officers who like Zefram Cochrane more than the Borg do…or Neo?

UPDATE 3: Or you could send a cyborg monkey — creating an end, as Chris Nugent notes, to the timeless battle of “Monkey vs. Robot.”



dave said...

Is it a fact that T3 is discounted for this series?

I assumed that they simply brought the story forward because of the fact that the real world contradicted a 2004 nuke war (meaning we can pretend the entire series took place 10 or so years later). Pulling John and Sarah forward would have erased T3 from having happened, since they weren’t there. Which I think is consistant, and removes the need to discount the movie.

(And without T3, we would never have known that “I’ll be back” could also have been manipulated into “I’m back” or the even more clever “She’ll be back”. And without that, what good is a TV series or a fourth movie.)

Maxwell Hammer said...

I think anti-cybermen fighters from the alternate earth in Dr Who (Ricky, Rose and the rest) would be good at fighting terminators.

For some reason I think that would end up with Captain Jack Harkness kissing a male terminator, though.

Todd Seavey said...

I think you and I are in agreement: T3 isn’t necessarily being _ignored_, but its events (at least as-depicted) are presumably erased/pre-empted — or at least (smartest bet, since it allows the writers freedom) should not be _assumed_ to be inevitable — by the forward leap. Time will tell — and will likely be shaped by whatever the TV writers most feel like doing. As years of comics-reading have taught, always safest to assume that nothing’s sacred except the minimal status quo currently before us, guided by ratings more than a rigid spacetime continuum.

Of course, if one _really_ wanted to preserve T3, one could hope that the TV series ends with them going _back_ to 1999 and experiencing the nuke war in 2004 after all. Wheels within wheels, man…

Todd Seavey said...

My prediction, again based on knowing how editors and writers like to keep things simple, is that we won’t even hear about the 1999-2007 time leap again — nor any direct reference to T3 in the TV series. It’ll simply be (paraphrasing the opening) “My son is destined to lead a rebellion against killer robots in the future after a nuclear war, so robots have been sent to our time to kill him — and one to protect him.” Simple, clean, and forward (in the normal sense) we go.

No need for new viewers to be burdened ever again with references to wars that didn’t happen in 1997 or 2004 — if the geekier staff writers can be kept corralled.

Not sayin’ I’m anti-geek, of course, but you see what I mean, simplicity-wise.

Joshua Shear said...

Indeed! My friends and I re-watched T3 after the pilot and episode02 merely because of the time issues we had with it. We came to the same conclusion that due to the creation of a new timeline, T3 can be “ignored” without it being a huge issue. There are still the few times they screwed up with the cancer years, like in T3 they say Sarah Connor died in 1997, two years BEFORE this show begins it’s timeline. That can be one huge reason that T3 HAS to be ingored for the show to work.

Steve said...

I think you need to go back and re-watch T3, as bad as it is. I watched all three, sort of in preparation for this new series and the fact that my teenage kids had never seen any of them. Anyway, I distinctly remember the year of the nuclear war being in 2011. Arnold mentioned it, and “John Conner” says it several times to Claire Danes.

All that aside, I think this new series has pretty good potential, and Summer Glau is excellent as the good terminator!

Max said...

Yes the new series is good so far. Which certainly means Fox will cancel it soon.

Todd Seavey said...

Well, talking about which time travel trip happened “first” obviously gets ludicrously complicated, but if your recollection of a 2011 war being discussed in T3 is accurate, I suppose we could think of it like 1997 was the “natural” war date, the main action of T2 delayed it to 2011, and the main action of T3 (with Loken speaking Skynet code into today’s machines) pulled it back again to an in-between date of 2004.

So Loken and Glau could _both_ be thought of, then, as originating from an initial “2011″ timeline created at the end of T2, but each went back into that initial timeline and created a different subsidiary timeline: the Loken-spawned one with an earlier war and the Glau-spawned one…we shall see. 2007 and counting. Keep your fingers crossed.

And maybe time-fluctuations _do_ alter leukemia progression rates. Larger clinical trials would be necessary to be sure, as we often say at http://HealthFactsAndFears.com at my real job.

Webkinz said...

I have enjoyed both episodes so far. Not all that worried about it meshing perfectly with the movies.

Tara Leigh said...

What I think is cool is that Skynet screws itself EVERY time it sends something back to kill John. There would be NO JC if the goofy self-destrructive thinks its smarter than us machine hadn’t sent T1 back necessitating the sending of Kyle R. But then, since it’s the nifty new fangled T1 that gets Myles Dyson’s brains a-workin’, there wouldn’t be so much Skynet without T1 either… Anywho… If smarter than thou Skynet had left Sarah and subsequently John alone, John wouldn’t be so resilient and good and the machine killin’. Ain’t time travel fun?!? :)

TiVo Queen said...

I love starting my morning with a migraine!

Michael said...

In which timeline is Cyberdyne called CompuDyne?

Todd Seavey said...


SantaBJ said...

I made a post on the EZTV forums that dealt with Summer (“Cameron”) with regards to the temporal aspects of the Terminator TV show and…well, a hypothesis on her origins and the implications that would have. I’ll throw it in here:


Dan G said...

Perhaps I should have noticed this before, but Summer Glau is *really* quite good-looking.

--Brad said...

Todd, I review this series for TV Squad and I may put a link in my next review back to this article. It’s a fun read.

P.S. I would send forward Robocop to fight the Terminators. Or maybe the Muppets.

jenny said...

christ on a cracker. i go on a 15 hour/day, 7 day/week work binge and suddenly there’s a terminator television show??? with summer glau???

my priorities are in severe need of adjustment.

Joshua Shear said...

New episode in less than 24 hours!

Chris G. said...

anyone know if there is an alternate viewing time? I missed the show on the 21st, and the fox site is horrible about that kinda thing.

Daemon Rising said...

Here’s my theory…please read it carefully!

If we stop for a second and actually think of the reason why Skynet are sending Terminators back in time, (and why Humans are also sending “good Terminators back to counter-act this) it’s because the nuclear war has already happened, and Terminators are always sent back post-war.

In all of the incarnations of the Terminator it has been the same. The nuclear war happens, and the “Future War” then takes place between Man and Machine. The Future War is ALWAYS won by man, hence the Machines, in their very last stand, send a Terminator back in the hope this will affect the future war.

So every Terminator is sent back from a timeline in which the nuclear war happened (it couldn’t be any other way) otherwise there would have been no point to go back in the first place. This is a point which I think T3 pointed out, and dealt with very well. The point (from future-John’s mentality) was never to stop the war, because unfortunately it’s inevitable (he knows that, he’s tried to stop it before with his mother in T2), the point is to save John.

The route the film franchise has gone down is exactly this, that the war is inevitable, and the films will now focus on that very point. However the TV Series is going off into an interesting direction……

Obviously, Terminator exists in a world where the past CAN be changed (otherwise, why send back Terminators if you can’t change the past?) So the TV series is again picking up on that point, and will hopefully go in the direction whereby they can stop the Nukes.

The whole reason I’m pointing this out, is because there is no need to ignore any film, in order to enjoy the Terminator franchise as a whole.

Basically, you have T1 and T2 as your basis. T3, T4 (and possibly T5 and T6) are going to show you one possible outcome, if Mankind failed to stop Skynet. And The Chronicles show you what happened when we actually, once and for all, stopped Skynet. So they’re all part of the story, there are just 2 seperate outcomes, to mull over and enjoy.

Daemon Rising said...

Also, an interesting point is this:

In episode 3 of The Chronicles, we see a scientist helping a future breed of Terminator regain his outer living tissue. The whole research and recording process from Skynet’s process has been skipped, ie. a Terminator from the future has sent the information back in time, in order to help Skynet’s Terminators in the short term.

But do Skynet posess the intelligence to asses long-term goals? Surely this “skipping of information” would mean that vital research is left out of the process of Skynet rebuilding, and perhaps this is part of Skynet’s downfall?

Perhaps this is a forshadowing of what is to come in the series, and we will actually see Skynet fail to materialise?

Todd Seavey said...

Again, looking at it from the simple-for-the-writers perspective, I’d guess it’s mainly a way of dispensing with the need to have some story elements restricted to the 80s/90s and others restricted to decades hence: this way, it just reduces to a present-day battle between our heroes on one side and cyborgs and potential computer virus on the other, bringing all the action home to 2008 (or so).

In principle, new viewers may eventually not even have to be told there’s time travel involved: “We’re trying to stop a sentient computer program from using nukes and killer robots to destroy humanity.” Presto, off and running.

Bartholomew said...

I wonder how the DC “hypertime” concept you raised in your old essay might be used to solve the old problem of how many times Dr Watson got married.

Mike said...

I just want to know how the heck a terminator can successfully time travel (from 1999 to 2007 in this particular series) without his skin on! All other non-living material didn’t survive the jump, as evidenced by our three main characters arriving in 2007 naked!

Daemon Rising said...

Also, I have just realised another thing to do with the whole timeline situation. Now I’ve thought about it more, it’s also quite plausible that the TV and Film series exist in the same timeline…

Basically, the events of T1 and T2 happened because beings were sent back from a future in which there WAS a war.

When we get to T3, nothing has changed: John still survives the bombs and in T4 will go on to fulfill his destiny and lead Mankind to victory over the machines. So perhaps it’s at this point in time (the end of the future-war, and then end of T4?) which Skynet send more Terminators back to try and kill John again.

This is the same tactic they have used in T1-T3. This time however, Skynet basically send Terminators back to the events of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and that’s what we’re witnessing now.

It’s just slightly different behaviour than what we’re used to seeing from Skynet, because they have sent Terminators back in time, previous to events we have already witnessed(T3). Why they have done this is unknown, but perhaps it is the only timeline they could send them back to?

ANyway, it makes sense in my head, and it’s only a theory and obviously can’t be confirmed until we’ve seen T4 and the whole of TSCC. But it’s an interesting idea, right?

I’m also sorry for going crazy on your blog and wasting lots of space!

Daemon Rising said...

Also, to Mike. That Terminator (Cromartie) didn’t time travel. He simply survived from 1999-2007, albeit with his outer-skin detatched (presumably from being shot by Sarah) and his head detatched. He wasn’t in the bubble that took Sarah/John/Cameron to 2007 – he appeared in the rubble nearby so I think we are to presume he got “buried alive” until his head was found and switched on by some randomer.

Daemon Rising said...

I can also back up this theory that they exist in the timeline. Notice how Cameron ate some chips from John? She is the most advanced Terminator ever to be sent back, suggesting that she comes from even farther forward in time than those terminators that were sent back to T3 (the TX)

Todd Seavey said...

She said she came from 2027, though, around the same time as all the others.

Complicating things, it occurs to me that regardless of whether a 2011 war occurs on the TV show, by the time the second movie in the planned new movie trilogy comes out, the year of the war probably already will have arrived in the real world (not a logical problem, if the movies aren’t in _our_ timeline but aesthetically odd — though no stranger than renting the first two films with their talk of a 90s war, I suppose).

And I assume — since there are undeniable changes in the pivotal dates from film to film and from film to series, as noted above — that any of you speaking of all of it fitting into “one” timeline simply mean one timeline that gets overwritten like magnetic tape by new events sequences caused by further time travel — which is really all I mean by “multiple timelines” here.

P.S. On a related note, I just learned today that the term “multiverse” (though later popularized by Michael Moorcock) was apparently coined in 1895 by William James, whose idea was summarized by historian of philosophy William Durant thusly:

“The value of a multiverse, as compared with a universe, lies in this, that where there are cross-currents and warring forces our own strength and will may count and help decide the issue; it is a world where nothing is irrevocably settled, and all action matters. A monistic world is for us a dead world; in such a universe we carry out, willy-nilly, the parts assigned to us by an omnipotent deity or a primeval nebula; and not all our tears can wipe out one word of the eternal script. In a finished universe individuality is a delusion; ‘in reality,’ the monist assures us, we are all bits of one mosaic substance. But in an unfinished world we can write some lines of the parts we play, and our choices mould in some measure the future in which we have to live. In such a world we can be free; it is a world of chance, and not of fate; everything is ‘not quite;’ and what we are or do may alter everything. If Cleopatra’s nose, said Pascal, had been an inch longer or shorter, all history would have been changed…”

And mere hours later, I went to a party where I bumped into Michael Moorcock’s godson Elric, who is swarthy rather than albino, as it happens, and wields wit rather than a sword. Small world — or series of worlds, or what have you.

Daemon Rising said...

Yes, I agree with the “timeline being overwritten” thing. I especially enjoy that thing about Cleopatra’s nose…getting really philosophical here…I like to hold many contradictory theories in my head, but I do belive in things such as the butterfly affect, where any tiny change in history can result in a huge effect on the future. However, personally I don’t believe this is a result of free will as Durant does. I think this is a direct result of predeterminism, I think our outcomes are set in stone, and that every little thing (such as Cleopatra’s nose being the size it was) has to be the way it is just for our very universe to hold structure, and be cyclical and infinite, and “play out” in the way that it should.

Todd Seavey said...

Agreed (quantum-random effects aside).

Zu said...

As far back as T1, Kyle said that it was one possible timeline and then said that the tech guys were the ones who were trying to figure it out. Each time someone comes back, it makes a new timeline.

Tito said...

I came across this web page trying to look for answers as to how the TV show ties in with the movies. Upon reading your take, its a bit clearer now. Obviously there are certain things that can drive a person crazy, such as John’s dad being from the future, its akin to the Grandfather Paradox. How can John be born in the “Original” timeline if his father is from the future, a person whom he will send back in time to protect his mom, and in essence father him. But most of us are willing to let it slide, afterall its a good story.

In any case, you theory just lit up this light bulb over my head. It helps in cleaning up the timeline mess, at least for me. Now in T3, the TX was sent not after John but his lieutenants since John has been off grid. So it doesn’t matter whether the Connors time hopped over to 2007 to prevent the 2011 Judgment Day from happening or not. But what if their jump to 2007 to prevent the 2011 Judgment Day actually ended up pushing it earlier to 2004? Let’s say they were successful in preventing the 2011 Judgment Day, and the Connors (or at least John) was then sent back to his proper timeline (1999 + the time spent in the future, and Sarah dying of leukemia). So say if they stayed in the future for 4 years, he ends up being sent back to 2003. Enough time to go to high school and still meet his future lieutenants. Now I know in T3 he explained about how he stayed off the grid, but hey, maybe he intentionally left the part of traveling to the future, since that would even be even more difficult explaining in a 1 and half hour movie versus a TV series. And as to how to the Judgment Day being pushed forward, well they were gone from 1999-2007. A time in which they could have been fighting to prevent Judgment Day anyways. And since we have that FBI guy hunting them down, maybe had they stayed he perhaps became an ally, being convinced somehow of the existence of the cyborgs (perhaps through Cameron) to their war and actually helped in at least pushing it back to 2011. But since they took off, it means such alliance never materialized, and there was also no one left behind the fight the war. By the time John got back, the Air Force already have Skynet up and running. Yes, I realize that Cameron’s files says 2007 to be the focal point for the 2011 Judgment Day, but she comes from that particular timeline, the timeline where she didn’t “interfere.” So perhaps the reason why she says 2007 is the focal point and not any time between 1999 and 2004, is because the Connors had been fighting a guerrilla warfare in preventing Skynet’s creation and it wasn’t until that time that the Air Force (or whoever else that might have been responsible for Skynet’s creation, since she doesn’t know anyways) was able to put things finally together wherein it is recognizable as Skynet (or her predecessor). As for the Air Force no longer being involved, maybe the FBI man was able to make believers of enough people in the Air Force (or government) which led to the scrapping of the program. Which could also explain why there is no other information about Skynet until 2007 since it is reasonable to assume that the government in some way would try to prevent the creation of Skynet. Which means her creation has to be underground, perhaps some programmer (the usual conspiracy theory) or some hacker who hacks into the original Skynet program inadvertently releases it into the unknowing public. Maybe some kind of shareware or p2p programming or virus or a combination thereof, and it wasn’t until 2011 that there was enough infected computers that Skynet was finally able to become self-aware. I mean we have those SETI distributed program, so maybe it’s like that one. Combine enough computers (which continually evolves into more powerful ones every year), faster internet connection, and in essence, even though there are thousands of computers, the communication between those computers are instantaneous ..CONT..

Tito said...

And another thing, didn’t TX infected the new Skynet computer with something and turned it hostile in the first place? So perhaps had he not been around to help prevent Kate’s death (and eventual trip to see her father), TX would have never had the chance to infect Skynet since she would have easily killed her at her office. And since John knows that 2011 Judgment Day was prevented (and possibly pushed backed again, after all its inevitable), it wasn’t a big deal interfering in the present.

Tito said...

..CONT..that we now have a supercomputer in our hand that is capable of hosting Skynet’s massive programming. And which means, the new trilogy can still be based of the movies we have come to know and love.

Just my 2 cent, I’m sure someone out there can explain it in a better way, or improve upon it.

Richard said...

Sarahs cancer may have been due to something she was exposed with, that never happened since she vanished for those years. So cancer may be off the cards now.

Dan said...

My problem with Sarah’s cancer is that (presumably) she never travels in time until 1999 (to 2007.) Then why didn’t she still develop the cancer and die in 1997 like T3 explains? Her timeline never changes until 1999, two years after she is supposed to have died.or did it? The TV series is going to have to explain this at some point. Her doctor’s visit tells that she doesn’t have cancer at all, but two years after her “death”?? That rules out the time travel from ‘99 to ‘07 as the “cure.”

Todd Seavey said...

For details like that, annoying though the errors may be, I think we may just have to invoke the “random temporal displacement of cancer-causing particles in the life-histories of eventual time travelers” theory — and then not look too closely at the results.

Again, I expect they’ll rarely mention the 90s again: our heroes are in the present now, where it’s most convenient for the writers to have them, and it’ll probably just be “present-vs.-future,” broadly speaking, from here on out.

Aesthetically, Terminator requires robot assassins in the present and a wasteland in the future, and the precise year that = the present is probably secondary in the writers’ minds (though they haven’t been as cavalier as they could be, happily — strictly speaking, they could just have the present-day characters cause drastic random changes in history by accidentally blowing up a time machine or something, acquire a surefire cancer treatment, completely destroy SkyNet in the present [erasing the familiar future], and move on to stories about a cybernetic teenage John Connor fighting Venusians and international drug gangs, if they really wanted to).

Dan said...

I do realize that the TV series says she “dies” in 2005. But how does that change what I said above?

Todd, you explain the “time traveling doctors” but wouldn’t you think Sarah would know something about that at some point between 1995 and 1997?

I do have one other explanation…she never REALLY dies as explained in T3 (fakes her own death) as a cover up as she goes into hiding maybe?? But then she and John would kind of know about that one too…

Dan said...

(My own reply was written before your reply Todd.) So basically we just have to “go with it” and trust that it sorts itself all out.

Todd Seavey said...

Years of DC Comics reading have led me to the conclusion that this attitude leads to the least heartbreak, anyway.

(At least rampant time travel means the possibility that many things of which we and the characters are not even aware have been subtly changed, including perhaps the presence of cancer-causing particles, that would if known make sense of things, lazy as that sounds — just as Star Trek could make all sorts of excuses using their “temporal cold war” if they really wanted to [and weren't simply rebooting the franchise].)

The biggest non-time-travel-related screw-up in the whole Terminator franchise, though, remains the opening narration of T3 in which John thinks the attack in T2 happened when he was thirteen, though he was actually only ten then, since the movie took place around 1994, not in the year of its release, 1991 (and 1991 would have made him three years younger, not older, so I really don’t know where they got thirteen).

If we can let that slide as a mistake on John’s part, I suppose we can also accept randomly-varying cancer rates in different timelines. Not that I want to sound indifferent.

Patrick Thompson said...

I think we just have to assume that the TV series is making a wholesale edit to the timeline, outside the time-travel mechanics of the story. From the perspective of the TV series, T1 was 1984, but T2 was 1997 (rather than the original 1994), and so presumably all the other dates were similarly pushed forward a few years, so that the Judgment Day we saw in T3 is now scheduled for somewhere in the 2007-2011 range. Yeah, this negates any mention of dates in the movies, but there are already problems with anything that ties the movie dates down too much; notice for instance that T2 takes place in a 1994 where Russia/USSR is still seen as a major geopolitical threat, rather than what was actually the case in 1994.

The latest episode (“The Devil’s Hand”) drove it home repeatedly, since there were repeated explicit references to the events of T2 taking place in 1997. Within the series, T2 happened in 1997, when John was 13, and from his POV 2 years have passed since. This isn’t a time-travel change, this is an editorial change

Omar said...

1984 A.D. May 12, 1984 – Sarah Connor & Kyle Reese. (T1)

1985 A.D. February 28th 1985 – John Connor is born

1992 A.D. – Sarah Connor; Pescadero Mental Institute.

1995 A.D. May 12, 1995 – John Connor 10 years old (Sarah Escapes) (T2)

1997 A.D. – (Attempt 1st & 2nd) 2:14A.M. E-Time August 29, 1997 Judgment Day)

1997 A.D. – Sara Connor Dies

1999 A.D. – John Connor 14 years old (Sarah Connor Chronicles) Sarah is alive

2004 A.D. July 24 2004 – (T3) (Attempt 3) It Happens Judgment Day!

2007 A.D. – John Connor still 14 years old Jumps into time. (22 years)

2011 A.D. – Judgment Day!

2027 A.D. – T-Cameron

(T1)2029 A.D. – Kyle Reese to save Sarah Connor

The Terminator -800 kill Sarah Connor (PT1)

(T2)2029 A.D. – Terminator -1000 to kill John

Terminator -800 (CSM-101) save John (PT 2)

(T2)2032 A.D. – Terminator T-X to kill John

Terminator -850 (CSM-101) save John (PT 3)

2032 A.D. Current Time Kills John Connor

Todd Seavey said...

I’ve posted a new entry about a related Terminator timeline thought:


Gary said...

I would like to let everyone know that you will be hearing about Judgment Day in 2011, but the Judgment Day of the Bible occuring 5/21/2011.

2Pe 3:3 first, knowing this, that during the last days scoffers will come walking according to their own lusts,

2Pe 3:4 and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For from which time the fathers fell asleep, all things remain so from the beginning of creation.

2Pe 3:5 For this is hidden from them by their willing it so, that heavens were of old, and earth by water, and through water, having subsisted by the Word of God,

2Pe 3:6 through which the world which then was, being flooded by water, perished.

2Pe 3:7 But the heavens and the earth now, having been stored up by the same Word, are being kept for fire to a day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

2Pe 3:8 But let not this one thing be hidden from you, beloved, that one day with the Lord is “as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Psa. 90:4

For more information, please check familyradio.com under Literature “Were almost there”