'Terminator: Dark Fate' spoilers: How it retcons the worst part of 'T2'
Terminator: Dark Fate is the first film since Terminator 2: Judgment Day to have the guidance of franchise creator James Cameron, and it (rightly) obliterates the last three Terminator movies from the timeline. The first two Terminator movies are the only ones that matter now, and while few would call Dark Fate a better movie than the original two, one thing it does well is to bravely retcon the worst part of T2:
Full spoilers follow for Terminator: Dark Fate.
Original John Connor actor Edward Furlong returns in Terminator: Dark Fate for a very brief cameo at the start of the movie, and what happens has a lasting impact on the story and shakes up the timeline as we know it. With the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 during the events of T2, Sarah and John were able to defeat the T-1000 and prevent John’s death — but only temporarily.
In T2, John Connor is an arrogant 10-year-old twerp with a whiney voice, a nuisance that taints an otherwise nearly perfect film. The way he goofs around making the Terminator stand on one foot or teaches him slang words does feel appropriately childish, but the way he adopts Spanish phrases just for kicks always felt a bit cringeworthy. (I can’t be the only person who always found John Connor annoying, right?) Especially in 2019, one of the film’s most iconic lines — “Hasta la vista, baby!” — feels dated and borderline inappropriate.
We’re reminded of John’s awkwardness in Dark Fate when, three years after the events of T2, he tries flirting with a random local girl on a beach in Guatemala, saying something akin to, “Hola chica! Como…estas?” in his typical annoying voice. My irritation flared up seeing and hearing this, triggering by my long-dormant annoyance of Edward Furlong’s young John Connor.
Then the unthinkable happens: A Terminator wearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face walks right up and guns John Connor down in the middle of a bar. Sarah barely has time to react, and there’s nothing she can do to stop him. The character at the focus of every previous Terminator movie — the same young boy I irrationally hated since I was a young boy myself — was dead. Needless to say, it rattled me.
This event erases the future we’ve known for more than 20 years, setting things in motion for a new leader of the human resistance to rise up in an alternate timeline. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) becomes the new John Connor, so to speak, with the cyborg supersoldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) as her protector from the future.
When they inevitably meet up with Sarah Connor (Linda Connor), who’s been hunting Terminators for years, Grace has no idea who she or John even are. Sarah, who spent so much time being so important, was suddenly just a regular woman, albeit an impossibly badass action hero in her own right, who could choose her own destiny.
The future that made her important died with John, and now there’s a new Terminator story with a new set of heroes that makes it seem like no matter how many times Skynet or its next iteration sends a murder robot back in time to kill someone, there will always be a new hero waiting to rise up.
Maybe the Terminator movies should have killed John Connor a long time ago.
Terminator: Dark Fate will be released in theaters November 1, 2019.