Note: This article contains spoilers for Terminator: Date Fate.
When it comes to massive, gaping plot holes, time-travel films tend to be the worst perpetrators. And, being one of the most iconic timey-wimey franchises around, Terminator is naturally no exception.
But there’s one particular plot hole that traces all the way through the franchise, and it’s repeated once again in Terminator: Dark Fate, the sixth instalment of the series that mercifully ignores every sequel after Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
The beginning of Dark Fate is set three years after the events of T2. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John have stopped Judgment Day, wiped out Skynet and just about finished crying over the thought of Arnie’s synthetic flesh melting in a pit of molten steel. However, it’s revealed that the two of them are still on the run from additional T-800s that have also been sent back from the future – one that shouldn’t exist anymore.
Eventually, one of the Arnie Terminators catches up with them and, rather controversially, shoots young John dead right in front of his mother. Mission accomplished, the machine thinks to itself. Except Judgment Day had already been stopped (in this timeline anyway), so all it did was kill a defenceless child who, let’s face it, was probably going to grow up to be nothing more than a bit of an arrogant git.
Now, if we can all acknowledge that sending back multiple machines increases the chance of John being killed, we then have to ask the question: why do Skynet only ever send back one Terminator at a time? If they’d sent back two or 200 all at once, they would have got the job done much quicker and actually won the war.
Just look at how much it takes to kill one of those bastards. Sarah and little John would have stood absolutely no chance if they’d sent back a whole football stadium’s worth of Robert Patricks. And don’t tell us the time machine can only fit one Terminator at a time. It’s time travel. You could send them all years apart but set for them to arrive at 5.32pm next Thursday.
This major oversight is repeated in every single Terminator film – perhaps time-travel involves a lot of paper work and Skynet simply can’t be bothered to fill out the form for thousands of units – but Dark Fate makes it impossible to ignore.
22 years pass after John’s death and Sarah is now a grizzled hardass who somehow takes out Terminators all by herself with a handgun. An anonymous messenger – which turns out to be the T-800 who killed John but later developed a conscience and called himself Carl – sends her the coordinates of each machine’s arrival point, so she can wipe them out before they’ve even had a chance to steal someone’s clothes, boots and motorcycle.
But then comes a whole new kind of Terminator, sent back by a different AI threat known as Legion. Tasked with killing humanity’s next hero, a girl named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), this ‘Rev 9’ machine can not only turn to liquid, but also separate from his metal skeleton to do two things at once.
This thing is borderline impossible to kill, as Sarah, Dani, Carl and augmented human Grace (Mackenzie Davis) soon learn. So, again, why is only one of them sent back? Why has Legion made the exact same mistake as Skynet?
Beforehand, we probably could have accepted the possibility that Skynet (and now Legion) simply didn’t have enough Terminators left to send back, but now that it’s been acknowledged that they were sending them on a regular basis, it’s hard to understand why they didn’t arrive together as a massive John/Dani-killing posse.
If Dark Fate is indeed the start of a new trilogy – although that’s now looking doubtful due to the film flopping at the box office – you can almost guarantee that Legion will make the same mistake again and again. Or maybe it’s just the case that their flux capacitor is knackered.
Regardless, for artificial intelligence, these machines aren’t very intelligent, are they?
Terminator: Dark Fate is in cinemas now.
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