Terminator: Dark Fate, which ostensibly is the sixth installment of the Terminator series, opened in theaters recently to mixed reviews and the lowest opening box office numbers of the entire franchise. I say “ostensibly” because James Cameron, the director of the original Terminator movie in 1984 and its 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day, had always felt that they story he wanted to tell began and ended with those two movies. However, after watching the last three Terminator movies with dismay, and having recently regained the full rights to the franchise, he finally decided to produce and help write a new Terminator story.
The film opens up three years after Terminator 2: Judgement Day as we see Sarah and John Connor hiding out in Guatemala after having averted Judgement Day. Within five minutes of the film beginning, we see a digitally-created exact copy of the T-800 from Judgement Day come on the scene to shoot and kill John Connor. If Cameron was upset with the direction the franchise had taken, how in the world is eliminating the one character whom the overriding story arc is built around going to get it back on track?
Nevertheless, in succeeding in killing John Connor, an entirely different timeline begins with Dark Fate that will exclude all of the events in the other three Terminator movies that came after Judgement Day, The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, and any of the comic books and video games.
Remaining true to the franchise's main story arc though, a different cyber-system named “Legion” from the year 2042 becomes self-aware and decides to eliminate humanity. When the humans fight back and are about to win, Legion sends a highly advanced “Rev-9” Terminator back to a time 22 years after the opening scene to kill the leader of the resistance. Sound familiar?
The Woke Timeline
The only difference this time around is that Dark Fate's alternate timeline has been made with the "woke" audience in mind. With John Connor out of the picture, it is a trio of women, “Danni Ramos” the Rev-9's intended target, “Grace” a technologically enhanced super-female soldier sent to protect Danni, and a wizened Sarah Connor (with Linda Hamilton reprising her old role), doing all the fighting.
As is the case with most “woke” flicks, it sacrifices good story telling and likeable characters in order to scold the audience. Thus, Cameron's reboot has once again proved the adage, “get woke, go broke” as it grossed about $130 million worldwide on opening weekend, which means that it still has about $300 million more to make in order to break even.
Although most Terminator fans will have probably written off the franchise by now, there are enough comedic moments, fast-paced action scenes, and spectacular CGI work to make the film worth seeing at some point or another. However, let's take a step back for a moment, and take a deeper look on at one aspect of Dark Fate, and the whole Terminator franchise as a whole. The idea of fate.
Some have noted the presence of Christian imagery in the Terminator films such as Sarah Connor being a Mary figure who “fled into the wilderness” at the end of the first movie, in order to escape the Herodian appetites of a mechanical “red dragon” (the color of the Terminator's eyes). There she gives birth to a son on whom the fate of the world rests.
As Irish vlogger Dave Cullen has spoken about on his commentary on Dark Fate, as tough as Sarah Connor was in Judgement Day, she never lost her maternal instincts and in the end, there was the understanding that being a mother had more of an effect on the future than all the weapons and technology in the world.
However, by replacing John Connor with a woman and having the older Sarah Connor scoff at being a “Mother Mary,” the message we are meant to take away is that only when women act like men and shun the one thing that makes them unique, that they can become leaders and change the world.
However, the most prominent area of the film and the Terminator series as a whole, that hints at a Christian worldview, is the way it deals with the idea of fate. After all, John Connor in the future of the original Terminator movie had Kyle Reese memorize a message for his mother which says, “The future is not set.” Later in Judgement Day, a young John Connor finally understands what his mom meant when she said, “There is no fate but what we make of it” as he and his protecting Terminator try to stop his mom from trying to create a different future by acting like a Terminator herself.
A Pagan View of Fate
In either case, the idea seems to acknowledge that we have free will and that to some degree the future is ours to make, based on the decisions we make in the here and now. A problem arises however, when that reality is mixed with the existence of time machines in the far future that can send people back to the past and act in ways that will affect their “present.”
So, the question becomes: who's choices are deciding the fate of the future? Is it the ones who act in the current “present” to try and build a better future? Or is it the ones who go back in time to change the past so they can make their own present time more to their liking?
The truth is that because of time travel, the answer is both. So long as someone can go back in time, there will always be a constant tug between the past and the present. This cycle of action and reaction creates an endless loop of causality, that the characters are fated to endure. In other words, their fates are sealed.
As the Terminator tells a 20-something John Connor in Rise of the Machines that he and his mother only postponed the rise of Skynet and that “Judgement Day is inevitable.” There is no escape from this loop, and every attempt to do so will feel like being on a wheel that spins round and round, but never goes anywhere.
Believe it or not, this fatalistic view of the universe is somewhat rooted in reality. In his massive multi-volume work The Religion of Israel, Biblical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann divides the world's religions into two groups, paganism and the monotheistic religion of Israel. According to Kaufmann the pagans envisioned a “meta-divine” realm of existence “that existed before the gods and above them. A realm determined by fixed, mechanistic laws, and all things in it- up to and including the gods and goddesses- must obey these unchanging, eternal laws...this is karma, the Tao, the law of cause and effect. And all things, including both gods and men, are subject to it.”
The world of the Terminator series fits this pagan model, as it is a world where Skynet or Legion play the role of gods who are attempting to exert power over humanity, but are also subject to the laws of cause and effect as they battle with humans who are as adept with technology as they are. This then is the futility of fate, neither side can break free of the cycle, they are trapped. Now that the series has gone woke, the meta-divine realm has also become meta-asinine, and not only will the franchise probably not go anywhere but may collapse on itself.
This differs from the Christian worldview that adheres to a belief in Providence, which is the guided movement towards a specific end: the salvation of mankind and the whole universe. It was the power of God himself becoming one of us, and entering into the “meta-divine” space where all the supposed gods and goddesses resided to put creation back on track.
We know this because of the testimony of St. Paul (2 Cor 12:2) and the John in the Book of Revelation (4:1) who are both allowed to break through the “dark glass” between our world and the highest part of heaven where the one true God resides. This is perfect example of truth being better than fiction, as is the knowledge that the goings on in Heaven are more in control of what goes on down here in our daily lives that have the appearance of fate, but as the saying goes, “Well that's just the movies.”