Superversive Terminator vs. Subversive Terminator

I finally broke down and watched Terminator: Dark Fate. When the project had been originally announced, I was excited on several fronts. First, we had the return of Sarah Connor and the T-800 – both looking much older than the last time we’d seen them together on screen in 1991 (Yes, I know about Genysis but I’m talking the original Sarah played by Linda Hamilton).

Secondly, the franchise was rebooting the proper way – or so it seemed – erasing from canon the movies that followed T2 in 1991. It seemed we would get one more attempt by Skynet to take out John Connor. It would be interesting to see how Arnold’s T-800 would return, given how supposedly all traces of the T-800 had been destroyed at the end of T2.

rs_600x600-191031124634-600.arnold-terminatorBut instead we got Dark Fate with so many issues, and disappointments, that it would take a week of blog posts for me to sort it out. Suffice to say, Dark Fate was a stinker that fell well below expectations.

When the final credits rolled I was struck by two thoughts, thus this blog post. First, they really should have just stopped the franchise after T2. Those that have followed have not live-up to the first two films. But the second thought was that the first two Terminator movies were Superversive films while all of the following films have been subversive.

Consider, the first two films qualify as Superversive as they both ended with hope. Hope that mankind’s leader of the future would be born in the first film. Hope that humanity had completely dodged the grim future of Judgment Day with the destruction of Skynet before it could be created in the second.

As the credits rolled at the end of T2 humanity was on its way to a better future, and even a killing machine had learned the value of humanity. You don’t get much more Superversive than that. And that is where the franchise should have ended.

But science fiction and fantasy in the 21st Century has become infested with a subversive virus that seeks to tear down what was built up in the 20th Century and the disease first appeared early in the century. Starting with T3: Rise of the Machines.

T3 threw out canon, ignoring the fact that nothing remained of Skynet by the end of T2 a dozen years earlier. Sarah Connor was now dead and John Connor was a drifter with no apparent purpose in life. You’d have thought both he and Sarah would have moved on with life if they felt the threat was over. T3 decided Skynet survived and Judgment Day was inevitable.

Salvation (T4) and Genisys (T5) continued the subversive path, the latter even going so far as to turn John, humanity’s champion into a villainous, humanity-killing machine. Genisys did try at the end to recapture some of T1’s Superversive vibe with its ending, but that’s like putting chocolate frosting on a pile of dog excrement and expecting everyone to think its a great dessert.

The sixth film, Dark Fate, didn’t even bother to try. They kill off John and replace him with a female savior of humanity and a female Terminator protector and throw in Sarah Connor as a female Obi Wan Kenobi. The old T-800 was only there to kill off John and be the needed muscle to break open a door and finish off the latest bad-Terminator at the end to “atone” for killing John, I guess. To be honest, I stopped caring how this film was going to end long before it mercifully did. But, battling the latest version of Skynet seems to be back on, by the end, and I could find nothing Superversive about Dark Fate and no reason to look forward to a seventh Terminator film.

And therein lies the problem with the subversive disease. It infiltrates established Superversive franchises like Terminator, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc., and subverts them into something dark, non-Superversive and completely opposite of what the franchise started out as.

The good news? We still have the first two Terminator films to enjoy, just like we have the first three Star Wars films and all of the Star Trek films and TV shows that came before 2009. Because the one undeniable fact is this:

No matter how hard subversive tries, it will never kill Superversive, no matter how hard it tries too.

2 comments

  1. I’d heard it was bad, but I didn’t know how bad. A UK SciFi writer I follow, Neal Asher, was on the writing team, but I don’t know how bad. I tried watching the TV show “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” set when John was a high school aged teen. Started out okay, but how many time incursions can you make and how many terminators can you send back before the field is too muddled and present and future totally gets messed up?

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