Archive for Cameron Phillips

TSCC Episode 2.17: Ourselves Alone

Posted in TSCC Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by severus

tscc_217-1270‘Ourselves Alone’ is the commonly accepted english translation of the gaelic expression ‘Sinn Féin’, which is the name of the irish political party whose rogue military arm, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), purportedly engages in acts of domestic terrorism against the British regime. For more than a century, Sinn Féin and the IRA have sought to free Ireland from British rule by any means necessary. Though linked to acts of terrorism for much of its history, Sinn Féin is today one of the largest political parties in Ireland, and, while still agitating for home rule of Northern Ireland, proudly wears the mantle of legitimacy accorded to those who achieve political power through the ballot box. No erstwhile resistance organization save perhaps the African National Congress more fully embodies the maxim that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.

Sinn Féin has a very complex history punctuated by competing factions with deep philosophical divisions despite shared goals, which is probably why the latest episode of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (TSCC) is so entitled. As the series hurdles towards its second season denouement, the character of Jesse is revealed to be a rogue element within the larger resistance movement. It is fascinating to look at the language Jesse uses to express her reality. Another point of interest is how Cameron’s language expresses the true nature of her “glitch”.

Jesse, who represents a faction of the Resistance opposed to the deployment of reprogrammed cyborgs at Resistance camps, intensifies her plan to sever John and Cameron’s relationship in its incipiency. The language of Muslim extremism is used to evoke the depth of her radical and seditious disposition. When Riley confronts Jesse about the ultimate objective of getting John to fall in love with her, Jesse evokes the pathos of extremists who promote self-sacrifice via suicide bombing as the ultimate expression of faith that will immediately earn one’s self the kingdom of heaven:


I rescued you from hell and I took you to paradise.

I gave you a purpose, a chance to be a hero.

You know how few people get a chance for their lives to mean something?

For their deaths to mean something?

I made you matter.

You could have been beautiful.

You’re just a coward.


As a western audience, we can anticipate the eventual marginalization of Jesse and her sympathizers within the Resistance because she is attributed the language of our enemies.


Examining Cameron’s use of language  reveals the nature of her glitch. The opening scene sets up a metaphor for Riley as a bird who has lost its way when Cameron voices aloud a deductive dialectic for dealing with a pigeon lost within the Connor household:


You shouldn’t nest in the chimney.

You’re migratory; you need to find a mate

That’s a window, bird

What am I going to do with you?

A bird in a chimney is a fire hazard

I’m not supposed to kill you.

You can’t stay here.


 Despite deducing that she should set the bird free, forming the intention to do so, and performing an illocutionary act of release, Cameron kills the pigeon. She initially attributes the failed action to physical damage in her hand. As she explains the incident to John, she disassociates the bird’s demise from her intentional state: “the bird experienced an involuntary movement of my fingers. It was fragile.” After John repairs the motor functions in her left hand, he admonishes Cameron to “try not to kill anymore birds”.

What becomes clear is that whatever Cameron is experiencing does not have a physical basis that originates in her motor functions. With the appearance of Molly Malloy from the Department of Child and Family Services, Cameron sequesters Riley in an outdoor shed, and begins a dialectic to determine what to do with this bird.


What am I going to do with you?

Children and Family Services respond to complaints. Are you a complainer?

You don’t belong here. John isn’t right for you and you are not right for him

He can’t see that.

You’re unreliable. I don’t know what to do with you.

You can’t be John’s girlfriend; you are a threat.

You can’t stay here anymore, but I can’t let you leave.

What am I going to do with you?


Cameron violates her programming parameters in a manner similar yet paradoxical to the way she does with the pigeon.  She does not arrive at an orderly and systematic conclusion to kill Riley despite formulating premises that would lead her to that end. When John asks her if she was going to kill Riley, Cameron replies, “I don’t know what I was going to do”. Both John and Cameron realize that her algorithms are not functioning along pre-established guidelines. Cameron is weighing arguments instead of acting on deduced conclusions. To decide is to weigh competing arguments, yet the elimination of all threats to John Connor was considered axiomatic in Cameron’s programming. Like the situation with the bird, Cameron weighs competing arguments, but in the case of the bird, she arrived at a conclusion she could not perform, while with Riley she does not arrive at a conclusion to perform.

What is interesting about Cameron’s supposed malfunction is that she understands from a metalogical standpoint that her algorithmic process is not performing per usual; yet, if her programming were impaired, how could she understand the nature of its impairment? By definition, a person who is insane cannot contemplate the nature their insanity. I therefore posit that Cameron isn’t experiencing a glitch insomuch as her programming is evolving.

This is why I love this show. You can go as deep as you want to go with it.  There is a lot of richness happening beneath the surface.


TSCC Episode 2.15: Desert Cantos

Posted in TSCC Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by severus

desertcantos_23After the action of last week’s episode, Desert Cantos slows down the pace a bit. The Connors are all together on a mission, which has been a rarity since season one. Sarah, John, Cameron, and Derek travel back to the high desert community of Charm Acres to further their investigation of SkyNet’s role in the Desert Canyon Heat and Air warehouse explosion. Sarah sees SkyNet’s fingerprints on everything that has transpired, and is slowly converting her skeptical family to her viewpoint. By the end of the episode, the conversion is complete. There is little doubt of SkyNet’s presence in Charm Acres.

The structure of the episode follows the ritualized elements of a funeral: the vigil, the service, the processional, the burial, and the recessional. It seems more like the acts of a play however, as the mourners appear to be no more than extras in the foreground of a command performance. Everyone is complicit in the cover-up  at Desert Canyon Heat and Air. No one asks questions, but merely do as their roles require in order to receive a king’s ransom at the end of the night. The insurance payments are generous.

It is Sarah who searches for deeper meaning within events. Sarah seems to critique all of us when she accuses Zoe and her mother Stella of sleepwalking through their lives. She accuses us of being dead to what is unfolding around us. Stella’s retort is equally profound when she answers with why would she begin asking questions now, just before she’s about to receive the payoff for not asking questions? We all want to hit the jackpot that puts us out of harm’s way, and we do so at the expense of searching for deeper meaning. 

To Diane Winston, who is just beginning to ask questions, Sarah’s response contradicts her prior exhortation to Stella. She repeats Diane’s own words to her: “sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions”. This contradiction reflects the paradox of Sarah Connor: an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a puzzle. Is Sarah crazy? Aren’t we all.

desertcantos_11Other interesting aspects of Desert Cantos include how oddly Cameron was portrayed in this funereal setting. Summer Glau had very few lines of dialogue, but left a distinct visual mark upon the story. Cameron’s limbs were devoid of life, as though she were the walking dead. We have seen Cameron in multiple scenarios over the course of two seasons. She has even pondered death on several occasions. In the midst of so much death, her inorganic nature is highlighted. We see the unnatural robot inside the girl.

John Connor was much more engaged and assertive than ever before. He took charge when Henry petulantly demanded that Cameron and John exit the car during the processional. He also pulled his gun to threaten both Zoe and Stella in the underground cellar. Are we beginning to see the emergence of the heroic John Connor? I hope so.

The B storyline of Ellison, Weaver, and Savannah was also very intriguing. First off, it’s always great to see McKenzie Smith as Savannah. Second, it appears that Ellison is on to something. This was subtly conveyed in the elevator scene when Catherine Weaver inappropriately remarked that it was a beautiful day although it was the anniversary of her husband’s death. I don’t believe that Ellison is entirely obtuse. He may be in the beginning stages of formulating an opinion about what is transpiring around him.