Monday, December 1, 2008

Cameron Meets A. E. Housman and Andre Bazin in The Sarah Connor Chronicles

An appealingly old-fashioned, almost sweet episode 2.11 of The Sarah Connor Chronicles tonight, with talk of A. E. Housman (of "An Athlete Dying Young" fame) and the capacity of photography to, as Andre Bazin put it, rescue an image from "its proper corruption" in time - make the image, in contrast to the reality, live forever.

As I discuss in my book, The Soft Edge, years ago I was at a flea market in Stanfordville, NY. I picked up a photograph from a table - I could tell by the kind of photography (cartes de visite) that it was taken back in the 1870s. The photo was of a woman, likely in her late teens, early twenties. And, there she was, looking out at me - across more than 100 years. Could she have had any idea, when that photograph was taken, that someone a hundred years later would be looking back into her eyes?

Cameron and a guy she knows in a library contemplate and discuss such things, as they hunt through a nifty series of photographs, recordings, and early film from the 1920s and after. They discover Myron Stark, whom Cameron recognizes as a Terminator. He accidentally burns down a New Year's Eve celebration - the fire was caused by the electricity that accompanies all travel through time. But he's not a good Terminator at all. He's on a mission - to kill someone at an appointed place in ... 2010. Stark has just arrived at the wrong time.

But it's the right time for this part of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, because it gives us a chance to see even more closeness to humanity in Cameron. She and the guy in the library, who's in a wheelchair, could almost become a couple ... except, well, he's very ill, and although it's not 100% clear why he's gone at the end, he's gone, and Cameron, after all, is still a Terminator.

She figures out what Stark is up to, and finally takes him on in the flesh and circuits, as the photographs of the past merge with the reality in the present. It's poetic - Stark's progress from old photography to real life - and much as A. E. Housman said. The Terminator never had to worry about seeing his record surpassed as he grew older, but neither was he better off dying young, because he was never alive in the first place.

And the same is true of Cameron. Whatever she had slightly going with the guy in the library couldn't last, because he, disabilities of not, was frail and human, and Cameron is something else. Will she miss the guy in library? Maybe the most we can say is she learned something from him, but who knows what, and she shows up next time, with donuts again, to get into the new person in the library's good graces ... this time, a woman her own age.

See also 2.1 Cameron's Back ... 2.2 Firing on All Cylinders ... 2.3 Who, Truly, Is Agent Ellison? ... 2.4: Meet Allison ... 2.5: Unpacking the Future ... 2.6: Terminator Mom, Human Daughter ... 2.7: The Saving Robbery and Cromartie ... 2.8 Perspectives and Death ... 2.9: An Idiot's Guide to Time Travel in The Sarah Connor Chronicles ... 2.10: Riley Lashes Out at Facebook ... 2.12: Sarah Connor Chronicles in Triple Time

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