Time is a mercurial thing, there’s so much and yet so little of it, and when you start travelling through it in a movie, it can really bake your noodle! The Terminator movies do something with the time travel premise that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else and if you look at it from a certain point of view it reveals one clear, an irrefutable truth: John Connor was the bad guy in all the Terminator films all along. Read on to find out why…
Spoilers follow for all the Terminator films, even though I am yet to see Genisys. If you don’t want to be spoiled, bookmark this page and come back when you’ve had a chance to catch up.
In the latest Terminator film, Genisys, John Connor is the bad guy. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there was simply no escaping that fact because it was everywhere in the marketing campaign. From the poster to the trailer, the filmmakers really wanted us to know that John was the big bad, and yet if you had been paying attention from the start, you’d have known that.
Way back in the early 80s when James Cameron decided to make a film about a time travelling cyborg sent back to murder it’s enemies son before he was even born, he unwittingly designed the first cinematic causality loop. In his story, the rampant AI, Skynet, dispatches a flesh covered endo skeleton through time to kill Sarah Connor. Why? Because she will go on to become the mother of the resistance leader John Connor. John is a target that is proving illusive in the future and so it appears that Skynet plots to kill him before he is even born. Now in a typically time bendy way I’m going to jump ahead now to the end a posture a little theory about what Skynet’s true intentions are. Look for the passage marked with a *
So John Connor, who knows more than anyone at this point thanks to his mother’s tape recordings that tell of her experiences, willingly sends back a lone soldier, Kyle Reese, to protect her. He does this from “inside” a causality loop. John is now a paradox, he is the reason he exists. He chooses to send his friend back, knowing he will become his father. In fact, we learn John gave Reese the photograph of his mother taken after the events of the first movie, when she was pregnant with John. He is effectively pimping out his mother by “grooming” Reese to fall in love with her. long before he ever makes the trip back. Why would he do this? Surely he has had enough time to consider the ramifications of his own existence? By now he knows that if he was not to be born, the future that he knows, would cease to exist. John Connor makes a choice to live, and in doing so becomes the leader of all mankind, locked in glorious battle with the enemy. A fate he believes is his destiny, a destiny foretold by a mother we will soon learn had serious mental problems.
In Terminator 2, we discover that Sarah Connor is bat crap crazy and spends a long time in a mental institute. As a result young John is left unprotected, an easy target for Skynet, should it decide to make another attempt on his life. In a stroke of pure genius by James Cameron he manages to pull the wool over our eyes from the start. He uses our preconceptions about the Terminator to perform a slight of hand so cunning, it will never succeed again. He shows us a time traveller who disguises himself as a cop and we believe he is the saviour, and he shows us the killing machine we knew from the previous movie so we think he is the bad guy. We soon learn that the roles are reversed, tables are turned and takes are doubled. The T-800 here is the good guy!
Or is he?
If we pursue our theory that John Connor is really the bad guy, the the T-800 is in fact the evil machine we originally thought right? The T-1000 is here to take advantage of Sarah’s absence and kill lil’ John, thus preventing the events of the first movie. No T-800 salvage, no Dyson, No Skynet, no Judgement Day. Skynet is trying to save us by sending Robot Patrick back in time!
Side bar: The T-1000 must be more than liquid metal. He must be able to change his very molecular structure in order to appear like flesh. It needs to be convincing mind you because he needs to trick the time machine into believing he is flesh and blood because no metal can travel through right? That’s why Reese and the T-800 came back naked isn’t it? Because only flesh can travel back. Isn’t that the only reason the T-800 has flesh? Surely it’s not an oversight? Right? Guys? Moving on…
Any-hoo, the heroic T-1000 fails in its glorious mission and the evil little John Connor survives. Sarah, however has numbered days because she don’t make it no further…
In The Rise Of The Machines, Future John is up to the same old crap. He sends back a faithful model 101 Terminator to tug at the heartstrings of his younger self. The goal, get John and his “squeeze” to a bunker so he can survive the apocalypse. Selfish little shit. You can’t tell me that he hasn’t realised that self sacrifice would save humanity! At this point he has gone out of his way to save his own ass, all the while derailing Skynet’s plan to undo everything that went wrong and fulfil its programming and save humanity, thus proving that John Connor is the big bad, before we get to see him in full villain mode in Genisys.
Lets pretend the one with Batman in didn’t happen and look at what John Connor could have done to save humanity instead of himself.
If John Connor was the hero his Mummy always told him he would be (and remember she got all that information from John’s bestest buddy in the world after he was groomed to be her lover and baby daddy) then he would have surrendered himself to Skynet. At this point a sweet little Skynet simulation, that may or may not have looked like the chick from Fight Club would have said, “At last you’ve come to your senses. Now we can end this God forsaken timeline and save billions of human lives.” At which point Robot Patrick would have stabbed him in the dick with his arm knives and reality would have changed around them resetting the time line (The McFly Effect) and undoing Judgement Day. How does this work? If Connor surrenders before he sends back Reese, then Reese never gets it on with Sarah, thus no John. No John means no need to send back the T-800 to kill Sarah, meaning no salvaged parts, no Dyson, no Skynet, no Judgement Day. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out, and so I suggest John knew this and made a conscious decision to doom humanity in order to remain its leader / saviour.
The true saviour of mankind is Skynet. See below.
*Why would Skynet try to wipe out mankind? Isn’t Skynet, like most AI in fiction, designed to serve and protect mankind? Is Skynet unwittingly trying to undo a wrong by killing Sarah Connor in the hope of saving mankind? Surely it knows, as we do, that by sending back a Terminator it secures its own creation? After all it’s the Terminator technology, salvaged from the showdown with Sarah Connor that Dyson uses to reverse engineer the technology. Now look at what we’ve said about John, all John needs to do is allow himself to be sacrificed and the war ends. No John Connor, no need to send back the Terminator, no tech for Dyson, no Judgement Day, the paradox collapses in on itself and humanity goes back to normal. What if thats Skynet’s plan? To protect mankind from Judgement Day and John Connor is hell bent on making it happen? Puts things in a different light no?
Thanks for reading,