But not in a meme way.
(1) I’ve been giving it some thought, and I have to say, I’m not especially upset that Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled. I mean, I’m upset in the sense that it was a show with some strong women characters and I always hate losing those, but I’m not upset to lose that particular show. It was a confusing muddle of unclear character motivation and confusing action scenes, and its cavalier tendency to send characters back in time just for teh drama! was making a splintered mess of the timeline, and though that’s a canonical move as far as the franchise goes, there were very few films, and therefore very little splintering of the timelines in the films. And one thing I can say for the movies, they bit the bullet and went ahead with the apocalypse the characters were working so hard to prevent. The apocalypse is a story-line necessity, because the past (John’s birth) is dependent on the future (sending Kyle Reese back in time).
Unless of course you want to keep splintering the timeline just to “change the past” and make things rosy. But what would be the point? All those horrific timelines where mankind is fighting the machines in an apocalyptic future would still exist alongside the rosy shiny one.
I haven’t seen the new movie yet. I’m kind of working up my nerve. So far, I have to say, the bad reviews I’ve read have actually been encouraging to me. “It doesn’t appeal to a wider audience than its original fans”, “It doesn’t take any risks,” these are exactly the kinds of complaints you’d expect of a movie that had its plot written twenty-five years ago. That’s the movie I want to see, not something that spins away from its own premise just to be “fresh and exciting.”
But the jury’s still out until I sit down in the theater. I know the movie is going to have its sucky points. But it’s also supposed to have a significant John+Kyle story line, and if I had ever written Terminator fan fiction, that’s what I would have written–the first time grownup John meets his father. And not in that lame way that SCC was going to do it in season 3, with John jumping into the future thereby creating a future in which no one had ever heard of him because he missed the whole apocalypse and its immediate aftermath. But the way it was meant to be, with John experiencing the apocalypse, bravely facing it head-on, doing what he was meant to do, and then one day running into a soldier named Kyle Reese*.
So, as of today, the films remain my canon.
(2) The more I think about it and read about it, the more uncomfortable I am with the new Star Trek film. And I’m not talking about nonsensical audience-pleasers like giving an undisciplined newly-minted officer command of a starship at the end of the film. I just don’t think the basic premise works. I have watched every episode of Star Trek (minus a chunk of Enterprise) innumerable times, and there just is no canon precedent for someone going back in time, changing the timeline, and creating two universes that both exist simultaneously. Like I said in a previous post, you have (a) lots of going back in time, and (b) two universes existing simultaneously, but not the first creating the second.
Someone pointed out “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and subsequent episodes with the Sela character as an example of this, but it doesn’t work. Every episode where our trusty starship or space station crew go back in time, it is to “fix” the timeline, and Yesterday’s Enterprise is no exception. Each time travel episode of the various series starts out with someone else going back in time and changing something, and that overwrites history as we know it. There’s no evidence it creates two histories, it overwrites history, otherwise our heroes have no reason to go back in time and “fix it.” Alt!Tasha Yar is a case in point. History gets overwritten when the Enterprise C accidentally stumbles into a time anomaly and misses their chance to save a Klingon ship. The Alt!Enterprise crew don’t shrug their shoulders and say, “Hey, it’s OK, the original timeline is still safe in the other universe that still exists, we just live in a new one that’s split off from the other, let’s get on with our war.” No, they realize history as been over-written and attempt to restore it.
In other words, they attempt to erase the timeline where things aren’t going so well and replace it with the history that originally happened and that got overwritten. There are no “two histories simultaneously”; it’s either one or the other.
And the fact that Alt!Tasha doesn’t disappear the minute history is restored in the past is actually evidence that Spock Prime can be walking around the new Trek movie universe even though his own timeline has been completely overwritten. So now, with this new movie, we can conclude that the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager–none of that is going to happen now, at least not the way we saw it on those series. On those series, there is a planet Vulcan. In this series, Vulcan was destroyed, and time is proceeding forward with a new set of events in which that’s the reality.
Now, I know the metaphysics of Star Trek was never precisely laid out, and if someone has a good example from any of the shows that gives a precedent for what the new movie tried to do, I’m eager to hear it because I don’t want to be a wet blanket on this. I want to enjoy the new movies. But I can’t escape the logic of my conclusion at the moment.
*Played by Anton Yelchin, who seems to be the summer action movie It-boy of the moment. I wasn’t overly impressed with his Chekov in ST, but he won my heart in Steven Spielberg’s Taken, so I’m willing to see how he does in this.