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John's big bluff (from Today is the Day 2)

I was never happy about the John retcon in "Today is the Day part 2". It just didn't add up. He never acted like he had a clue about Riley until "Ourselves Alone", but that didn't give him any time to follow her around, learn about Jesse or figure out the plot. So that's where I've been stuck for a long time. And believing he figured anything out before that doesn't work for me because it requires the acceptance of too much off-camera cleverness and a ta-da! reveal. For a show that spends so much time on character and plot steps, it felt really false.

Well, I've found a way to make that whole thing work that I really like. It not only works based on what we actually saw, it does so without taking anything away from John's cleverness. And more importantly, it allows me to enjoy his confrontation with Jesse without rolling my eyes. So here goes...

He never did follow Riley around. It was a bluff.

John didn't figure anything out until Sarah told him about Riley's "bleached skulls" breakdown and blabbing about the Mexico trip. He knew he hadn't told her about judgment day, so that's the moment he realized Riley was future girl. He then backtracks through the time he spent with her — backtracks to carrots and apples, how she was in Mexico, etc. It all fits. I also think Sarah saying "I don't believe you" is what makes it the "bad day" John refers to when he later talks to Jesse.

He knew it was unlikely that Cameron killed Riley once he saw the body, which meant her death was either a random crime or she was killed by a co-conspirator. Future girl dropping into his life pretending not to be future girl logically meant there was a plot of some sort. So that's the idea he started running with — there's another future person somewhere who's involved and who likely killed Riley. But who and why?

John talks to Derek, fishing for information and it all comes out. John probably tells him that Riley was from the future and must have been plotting something. He isn't sure what, but suspects it might be an attempt to frame Cameron for murder — maybe an attempt to get him to turn on Cameron. Bingo. Derek makes the connection to Jesse. That also explains why we had to have that scene where Jesse was callous about Riley's death and Derek was all innocent life lost is horrible! It gives Derek something from his own experience to connect into what John has already figured out. Between the two of them, they unravel the whole plot.

John has Derek take him to Jesse, where he confronts her about it all. At that point he does know everything, but he bluffs about having figured it out a while back and bluffs that he gambled with Riley's life so that he could win the game. The reason he bluffs is to intimidate Jesse and prevent her from thinking that it might have worked or that she almost won. He bluffs to win the game right then and there. And he bluffs to make it known that you don't fuck with John Connor.

It works really well for me because it allows John be intelligent, gutsy, clever and not retconned.


( 41 comments — Add a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
I like it! I was having trouble with the retconning too, although I'm glad it happened it happened because it helps establish that John Connor has a Kirkian ability to find a way to beat the bad guys in the end, even if he does have to pay a high price to do it.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
Cool. I really liked this too. I get obsessed with these kinds of things sometimes and I was never happy about that episode because the pivotal scene with Jesse didn't work for me. Now it does :)

Edited at 2009-04-13 04:13 am (UTC)
Apr. 12th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
I didn't have a problem with the retcon, but I think I like your idea better. It's more manipulative ala future!John.
Apr. 12th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
I don't think its more manipulative. I think its more like...how exactly would he have figured it out?
(no subject) - roxybisquaint - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxybisquaint - Apr. 13th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 12th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
I like your thinking here Roxy. I have been thinking that the anti-John human faction (and by extension Jesse) is actually a really big deal. Apart from the fact that it hampers John (which really, it appears, means John as figurehead and Cameron/John Henry - Cameron's "specialness" is that she's John Henry and is a super-AI like Skynet and has the smarts to defeat Skynet) the anti-John faction has time travel tech. They aren't small players in this.

What I need some help on is this: why didn't future!John tell Derek about Jesse? The best I can come up with is that Jesse wasn't killed by Derek and gets to the future to help John reconcile with the anti-human faction, and what happened with Riley is part of what makes that work.

What is really the story about Derek, Andy Goode and Billy Wisher? It's been hurting my head trying to figure out how that fits in the finale. The future!John we saw after the time jump arrived at some time before the events of "Allison From Palmdale," given that Allison was there. But he knew about Andy Goode (did he know about Billy Wisher?) he knew about Jesse and Riley, he knew about the Weaverbot and JH/Cameron. Is it that, to preserve the existence of Cameron/JH he must only reveal certain things he knows and send the pieces back to play out how he's seen it? The question then becomes, is there or isn't there a Billy Wisher? Will the real Billy Wisher please stand up. Is there is more significance to the name change than it appears on first blush? Why change his name? Would anyone know who Andy Goode was, or care, after JD even if the Turk had been an important element of Skynet?

Fact is, only Sarah's timeline has to remain consistent so I suppose on one level maybe it doesn't matter but I'd like it if I (or someone) could see a way to square all the circles. It seems to me that now John has time jumped without her their timelines are no longer causally connected (as in Derek telling Jesse, "You're not my Jesse").

The only way I can come up with an S3 plotline is that John jumps back from the future (or, in fact, has already jumped back from the future in Sarah's timeline) to be with Sarah and leaves Cameron/JH in charge. John and Sarah manage to prevent JD. But that seems lame.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
The timeline stuff from the finale has been hurting my head all day. I spent hours thinking about it and I'm still working up a post about the finale that will get into all that. I just have to get my thoughts clear first so I have a solid starting point.

Basically where my head is at right now is that the period of time between when John left and where John emerges can not be changed. Usually the future is not set, but because we're seeing both ends of the line, we see the result of everything that came before. So no matter what we see Sarah do, for example, we know the end result is that judgement day happened.

What's causing me hours of contemplation is trying to figure out what happens if a time traveler from when John is or later in time goes back to some point after John left and causes a change. It think that would have to create a new timeline and effectively trap John where he is now. It would also mean Sarah and John could never reunite. But I'm still thinking it through.

Have you ever seen my big time travel post? I don't know if you're interested, but I take the multiple timelines approach to time travel in TSCC. Mostly it works, but sometimes I think the writers need to spend a little more time on this stuff because there are inconsistencies Iike why weren't there 2 future!Derek's running around in 2007-2009? If Jesse was from an alternate future and *her* Derek was sent back in time, where was he? Or maybe the changes to the future that were created by *our* Derek killing Andy (if we assume that as the event) caused *her* Derek to be sent on some other mission instead of the same one *our* Derek got sent to in 2007?

See? I can spend hours on this stuff. But I'll get into the time travel spec about the finale once I've finished my thinking and get my post up. I have a feeling the time twisty stuff is going to consume the entire off-season ;)
(no subject) - johnnypate - Apr. 13th, 2009 08:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - johnnypate - Apr. 13th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxybisquaint - Apr. 14th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(part 1) - johnnypate - Apr. 14th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(part 2) - johnnypate - Apr. 14th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(part 3) - johnnypate - Apr. 14th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: (part 3) - johnnypate - Apr. 14th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: (part 3) - johnnypate - Apr. 16th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 12th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
The question of "how long would it take to last against a terminator" is relevant. He definitely did figure that a real person killed her. Then John was left with "who?" Nobody looked to be directly connected with Riley. Talking to his mom about it lead nowhere. He couldnt trust Cam. Its possible he went to Uncle Derek. Perhaps thats how Derek was psyched up enough to do whatever to Jesse.

Before this:
Derek is not dumb, he did ask Jesse what she was doing, and she gave a lame answer. Derek was more suspicious of Jesse than than John was suspicious about Riley.

I don't think John was suspicious of Riley at the point of the Mexico trip. I think it was after she slashed her wrists!! Riley was sending a message to John that something is fucked up, and she can't do anything about it.

I am not really concerned about how or at what point any of this happened. But I'd accept any of these events, and the most logical and easy of them would win out. Maybe you should make a poll.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
I don't think John was suspicious of Riley being from the future because she tried to kill herself. It was pretty obvious that she was a troubled girl, but that alone isn't any evidence that she's future girl.

A poll?! No need! I've already made my ruling on how it all went down ;)
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
I like this theory. It fits. I never bought the retcon that John knew all along. It didn't match up with anything he'd said or done. (Writers take note: this is why plot twists should always be planned well in advance and never made up as you go!) If he'd known Riley was from the future, he would have said that when Sarah brought up the "bleached skulls" thing and accused him of telling her too much. But after that, there's enough clues to start thinking along those lines, and it only makes sense to lie to Jesse. No point in letting an adversary know how well they'd decieved you and how close their plan had come to working.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
If he'd known Riley was from the future, he would have said that when Sarah brought up the "bleached skulls" thing and accused him of telling her too much.

Exactly. John may not be one to confide in Sarah much, but when a moment like that came along where everything was pointing to him having talked about judgement day to Riley, I think he would have said something. It would be kind of ridiculous not to. Also, he seemed legitimately surprised when his mom told him about all that.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
That definitely works, and well.

However, I had no problem buying the "John knew previously" reveal. There's been a lot going on with him this season underneath the surface; I've been routinely shocked at fans getting nothing but an "I want to be normal" vibe off him, because I've been getting so much more.

But it sounds like, for you, this mostly comes down to a frustration with things happening off-screen that the audience isn't privy to. I don't have as big of a problem with this, because I think when appropriately utilized, the knowledge that there's more going on with these characters than we see gives them a depth and a realism. On a much smaller level than the John reveal, the same thing happens in To the Lighthouse, when we find out Sarah's set up this elaborate safe house for Charley, and has been there more than once. It fits with her character, that she would not only do this but do it without telling anyone. In the same way, it fits with John's character that he would be, probably obsessively, analyzing Riley's behavior around him and looking for the crack in the normalcy. Without telling anyone. He's John Connor; he knows, deep down, that for him nothing can be so simple. Suspicion has been bred into him by Sarah.
Apr. 13th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
I don't mind some things happening off screen, but this was just too big of a leap for me. So yeah, it was a major point of frustration and I'm glad I was finally able to work it out for myself. John's a character who gives me a lot of trouble because I find him so hard to root for (the series finale didn't help, but I'll save that for my finale post).

Your Lighthouse example is a perfect example of the kind of thing I can accept off screen. because it's already well established that Sarah always has contingency plans. And while I don't think John spent the entire season wanting to be normal it's definitely been part of his journey since the beginning of the series. That pivotal scene with Jesse seemed to be the culmination of that, which is why I needed it to play stronger.
(no subject) - equustel - Apr. 13th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxybisquaint - Apr. 14th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
Actually I'm rewatching Season 2 now, and I am seeing little teeny things that says John is suspicious of her. Now I haven't gotten far enough to say WHAT he's suspicious about, but every time he gives her a chance, I think he KNOWS what the answer is (or he thinks he does), and he's just hoping she'll open up enough to him to be straight. Or maybe I'm imagining it.
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
Well I think John was storing away the little odd bits about her as he noticed them, but none of it added up to future girl until he had the bleached skulls thing. Once that came into play, every little quirk he'd noticed suddenly had context and helped him figure it out. That's my take on it.
Apr. 13th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Anyone think of theory that John won't be back in season 3?

Apr. 14th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)

(no subject) - zanpakto - Apr. 14th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 14th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, I totally dig that explaination a lot more.

yeah. So like it better. I think it makes John.. cooler.
Apr. 14th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
I'm glad so many people are liking it because I was really happy with it. I'm okay with some things happening off screen, but that was just too much for me. And this finally made it all work without taking anything away from what the importance of John in that scene.
(no subject) - schmacky0 - Apr. 14th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 15th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
Roxy, did you see the interview with BAG today? Good one.


Apr. 16th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for that, I hadn't seen the article until you linked me to it earlier. That was a great interview.

Maybe I'll finally sit down and write something about the finale tonight. It feels like it's time.
Apr. 15th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
By the way, I love all the Sarah icons you've done. They're just great.
Apr. 16th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
If there's one thing I've got no shortage of, it's Sarah icons :)
Apr. 17th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
I think it's possible he knew some of it
I went back and looked at some of the older episodes. I think he found out for sure at the same time we did. Ever since the second episode of the season I'd been wondering when he would notice there was something a little off about her. I kept trying to convince myself I was wrong about her, just like he must have. I think he knew she was from the future when he went over to her house (Strange Things Happen...) he may have ruminated over it on his way to Mexico and back (Complications) Then she all but jumped up and down and shouted that she felt like the fish in the poster. He abruptly left her house and she called Jesse and went to meet her. I think he did follow her that day. He was in a bad mood later. He was a little pissy with her in Self Made Man. I don't think he knew exactly what she was up to but he liked her and he wanted to know what was going on so he played along. I don't know if he followed Jesse from the boutique that day but I think he already knew about Derek and Jesse when he confronted Derek (Today is the Day, pt 2) There may have been hints in other episodes, I'm not finished looking for them.
Apr. 17th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: I think it's possible he knew some of it
I think a lot of those oddities, like her being okay about Mexico, the fish/bear poster thing, all just made her seem like an emotionally troubled girl. In Self Made Man, John told her too much true personal stuff about his mom being in a mental hospital and being engaged, for me to believe he knew Riley was future girl. But once he until he had the proper context (learning about her bleached skulls outburst in Ourselves Alone), he could look back and make sense of all those odd things about her.

So yeah, there were subtle hints and I don't think John was oblivious. But they simply didn't add up to him thinking she was future girl plotting anything. He didn't act like he knew until later.
( 41 comments — Add a comment )


roxy burglar
Roxy Bisquaint

Roxy Bisquaint...

Is self-indulgent. Over thinks everything. Tweets too much. Looks really good in these jeans. Wants to eat butterscotch. Makes herself laugh. Obsesses about aging. Does some crunches. Lives with two ghosts. Procrastinates daily. Measures once, cuts twice. Hates Foo Fighters. Drinks lots of coffee (keep it coming). Puts spiders outside. Brings balance to the force. Draws a perfect curve. Enjoys dark chocolate. Bangs on the drums. Always gets in the slow line. Orders from a menu. Hopes to be reincarnated. Speaks fluent Sarah Connor. Cooks tasty crack theory. Loves a good storm. Dances like a dork. Picks some locks. Tips well. Refuses to share the popcorn. Dreams about the future. Ignores the clock. Sings off key. Has a superpower. Shoots the paper bad guys. Needs some eyeliner. Goes to bed at dawn. Can't resist good smut. Quotes movie lines. Eats whipped yogurt. Lets the story tell itself. Maintains a rich fantasy life. Knows all the mysteries of the gods and of the universe.

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