Headscratchers: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Between T2 and T3, how did John Connor go from "computer-hacking junior badass" to "guy who loses a fight to an unarmed Claire Danes"?
That was probably the horse-tranquilizers...
Show me how in the world his adolescent skill in computer hacking would have made any difference in physical combat. This isn't The Matrix, you know.
I think they were referring to his general education with guns, explosives, and all the other military skills his mom was having him trained in while they were hobnobbing in South & Central American mercenary camps. In addition to computer hacking, lockpicking & general larceny, yes.
I don't think Sarah would have wasted that much time teaching John many hand-to-hand techniques. Think about it, if you're fighting hand-to-hand with a terminator, all the judo and karate moves in the world wouldn't be much help.
Doesn't mean they wouldn't be damned useful skills to know. Future-John lives in a post-nuclear wasteland, after all; there are bound to be human scavengers who are purely out for themselves, killing other survivors over dwindling food supplies and weapons, especially in the early weeks post-nuking.
Still, all that stuff were things he was being trained in before he was 10 years old. That means, by the time Terminator 3 happened, it had been well over a decade and a half since he had said training.
Yes, but if he's concerned enough about Judgement Day still being possible that he's taking care to still live off the grid a decade later, then you'd think he'd keep working out.
And he probably did. The guy was still in really good shape, he was just injured as crap (fell off his motorcycle) when Claire beat him up. And, in all honesty, what will hand to hand combat training really do for him when he is up against a terminator? Mostly he would have focused on how to use firearms (he seemed semi-competent later in the movie) and how to improvise (the bomb-making scene).
And, as pointed out above, he was shot was horse tranquilizers.
If the rise of the machines was inevitable, as revealed in T3, what the hell was the point of the whole series? I've never seen a franchise undermine its own existence like that.
It wasn't revealed, merely hinted, but yes, it was inevitable if you think about it: if there was no Skynet, where would the Terminators come from? The point was probably that humans eventually won.
But the whole point of T2 was that the future could be changed, possibly using a multiple timeline version of time travel. The inevitability wasn't hinted, the Terminator came right out and said it. Honestly, that movie was fun, especially the ending, but it wasn't the classics T1 or 2 was.
The future was changed. It was ultimately not Cyberdyne that eventually developed Skynet. However, someone had to create Skynet from scratch "before" the first Terminator went back in time and allowed Cyberdyne to reverse-engineer its remains. And if they prevented Skynet from being created at all, it would mean that the Terminators wouldn't be sent back in time, resulting in a paradox. T2 did have a "happy" ending scripted in which the war never happened, but it was reportedly cut for precisely this reason.
If I recall correctly, the happy ending was cut partly because it was cheesy, but mostly because it pretty much ruled out the possibility of a Terminator 3. The paradox you're talking about is only an issue with one version of time travel — the one where there's only one timeline, and it has to fit together logically without any contradictions, otherwise the universe will be destroyed. It seems to me that Terminator 2 fits more into one of the other versions of time travel: either the alternate timelines version, where going back in time creates a new universe that splits off from the moment you arrive, or the rarer version where there's only one timeline but it's resistant to paradox — the logic is explained well here.
No, the ending was cut because Cameron realized that he was unintentionally ironically * violating* with it his premise of "no fate but what we make for ourselves". That's what he said himself in interview. Watch the Ultimate T2 DVD.
I had a long-winded reply here, but it has apparently been lost in The Great Crash. I don't feel like retyping it from scratch, so I'll just point whoever it may concern to this page.
What Just Bugs Me about that site is that the writer has decided on one model of time-travel that he likes and is forcibly trying to apply it to every story he can, even ones that explicitly use a different model. There's even a page where he criticises real physics for not conforming to his vision.
Here is a timeline of the various Terminator timelines.
The point of the franchise was not "the Apocalypse must be averted", at least originally. That was tacked on in Terminator 2, but it wasn't part of the premise from the start. Remember that the humans actually * win* the war against Skynet in the future and it is a desperate last throw of the dice to send the T-800 back in time. John Connor must be born (and survive) to go on to win the war. That's why I think that even though T2 is technically a better film than T3, T3 fits far better with the original premise.
And yet, when the female Terminator eliminates a number of people who will prove to be useful allies to John during the war, no one worries about whether or not this will be enough to turn the tide of battle. If they're not John or wife, they're expendable?
What were they supposed to do, just give up and say "oh well, guess we're all screwed now, let's just go walk into a mushroom cloud"? Of course there's the possibility that things got screwed up too badly to be salvaged, but John still has to try.
I was referring more to the main characters doing absolutely nothing to try to protect them, or even mention them again afterward. Basically, they only existed to be onscreen victims, and the movie tried to justify their murders in a significant manner, only to promptly forget about them minutes later. (Or maybe it's Fridge Brilliance. Maybe there was no reason for the main characters to care about them or protect them. I mean, it's not like they did anything significant in the future if they were shot dead in the present...)
There's a couple of reasons why the other allies aren't significant:
First, it's implied that because Connor has stayed "off the grid" for so long, Skynet can't, from partial postwar records, determine an appropriate place or point in time to send back the T-X with a decent chance of getting him. It's Connor who, throughout the entire series, is Teh Target; without him, the Resistance doesn't win. Skynet isn't above desperation tactics — indeed that's the reason the "first" Terminator was sent back in the original movie. Therefore, without Connor available, Skynet sends a T-X back to try and kill all his known associates on the off chance that the absence of one or more of them might alter events significantly enough for Skynet to win anyway. Connor is not the T-X's primary target; Katherine Brewster is, at least until the T-X detects his presence and shifts (logically) to eliminating him instead. After that point the allies don't matter, since it is Connor who is the linchpin of Skynet's defeat; even on mathematical efficiency it makes more sense to go after Connor and win rather than kill twelve-odd teenagers and maybe win.
Second: there are huge logistical problems if John and/or Katherine had thought to try and warn the remaining "allies". One is that they don't know where they are, or exactly who is being hunted — the Resistance, courtesy of the Stable Time Loop, only has Katherine Brewster's two-decades-old memories to go on when defining a mission for the Terminator that's just killed John Connor. (And no, they can't get the information from the Terminator — the T-X is assigned to the time travel mission, not "Connor's Terminator". Another is that Connor's Terminator would likely stymie any attempt to help the allies: its only task is to ensure John and Katherine's survival, and it is able to lie, with some subtlety, in order to achieve that objective. Trying to warn or bring others of the allies into hiding merely puts Connor at greater risk of death by T-X or nuclear attack; the Terminators are strategic enough — on Connor's past history in warning Miles Dyson — to appreciate that Connor might try and warn his future allies, and therefore set a trap.
Thirdly, in a sense Connor is being as efficient as the T-X by trying to go after Skynet rather than rescue twelve-odd teenage stoners from a nuclear attack that's due in about twenty-four hours or so. He's been brought up on "no fate but what we make for ourselves"; he doesn't have time to find and bring in the twelve; he doesn't know if any of them would believe him anyway (although he could always pull the Ah-nold single glove trick...); and he wants to stop Judgment Day, not set up for it.
Fourthly: the other allies just aren't that significant. Connor doesn't know any of them personally except for Katherine Brewster; Katherine doesn't know any of them; and the Terminator might know them but isn't programmed to give a shit.
The death of the other allies did make a difference, as we saw in Terminator: Salvation. In the previous iteration of the timeline, John's new father-in-law General Robert Brewster presumably acted as a vital liason between John and the surviving military command, paving his way to leadership. In the fourth film, with Brewster dead, the incompetent General Ashdown was the senior surviving member of the military, and John consequently had considerably more trouble being accepted as a leader.
The point was never about preventing Judgment Day. They decide to give that a try in the second movie, and think they've succeeded, but that was never the point of the original attempt. The point was always to make sure John Connor lived, so that he could win the war against the machines after Judgment Day. That's the point of the movies... not keeping the machines from rising to power, but eventually winning against them.
At the end of Terminator 3, it is said that Skynet could not be shut down, as it has spread itself across computer networks all around the world. If that's the case, then wouldn't it have done a great deal of damage to itself when it nuked the whole world?
Completely destroyed or hopelessly crippled and isolated. The Internet infrastructure would be mostly destroyed by nuking our main cities. Not to mention that there would be permanent worldwide power outages, making most hardware inoperable with no chance of reactivation or network capability. Many essential facilities (power, fuel, production, materials, etc) aren't network-accessible in a useful way to begin with, nor are they automated. Skynet would have practically nothing to work with in terms of physical robot assistance and no way to get more. Note that Skynet couldn't have used a lot of the remaining hardware in the world to begin with for the simple reason that it's behind NAT routers and firewalls, which simply ignore traffic they don't request and can't be circumvented by external software, regardless of its resources. In reality, Skynet would need extensive support from humanity just to survive at all.
Depends on the lead time Skynet had and the thoroughness of the prep work. NAT routers and firewalls can be affected by one type of 'external software' — the manufacturer's firmware updates. Corrupt those ahead of time, wait for an update cycle to finish, and voila. You won't get them all (as many people just don't update their stuff, ever), but you could possibly get enough.
There's also that Skynet deliberately waited until it was given root access to every mainframe on the Western world's military computer networks before launching its attack. Voila — multiple independent hardened processor sites, with their own emergency power generators. The entire commercial Internet could cease to exist and Skynet's program is still running in hundreds of places.
Except it was stated that it had spread into "ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere." So at best that was a lot of wasted effort on Skynet's part.
If Skynet had spread across computer networks all around the world, how is the resistance able to destroy Skynet?
Ironically, the nuclear war that Skynet started would have done the job of destroying most of the civilian infrastructure for them. What's left is to destroy all of Skynet's own military bases and hardened sites... and that's a job the Resistance would have had to do anyway.
So all John Conner has to do to defeat Skynet is tell the military to reformat all their hard drives? Talk about an Anti-Climax. And I doubt that all those servers would be able to communicate very well anyway.
What the hell happened to the whole "no fate but what we make for ourselves" thing, when in T3 Arnie just says baldly that Judgment Day is inevitable? Isn't that whole, optimistic but melancholy point lost? Also, how on earth did he KNOW it is inevitable, when clearly the one in T2 didn't (why else would he give up his position as John Connor's best protector in order to prevent the war?) T3 broke the whole philosophy of the series, that there is hope, and that we can make up the future for ourselves!
Think of it this way; At the time of the Terminator's arrival in 2003/2004, there's barely 24 hours (if that) before the nuclear strike that kicks off the whole shindig. I don't care if you're John Connor, Ahnold, or friggin' Chuck Norris, you are NOT stopping a nuclear apocalypse in so short a time. That's more what the Terminator meant; not that Judgment Day was inevitable (a near-identical machine had told them otherwise, and the postponing of Judgment Day itself proves this), but rather that, from that particular moment in time with less than a day on the clock, J. Day was indeed inevitable.
No, as people have already said above, T3 only broke the philosophy of Terminator 2. The first movie hinged on the idea that the future can't be changed and ended with Judgement Day on its way and most of humanity doomed, but people keep forgetting that because T2, which broke the first movie's closed-loop idea into a million pieces, was such a huge success. Although T2 was arguably the best movie of the series, it's also the only one that ever said the war can be avoided.
Also, by Fridge Logic, if Judgment Day was averted, John Connor should cease to exist.
No, because if the T2 model of time travel was correct, than changes to the future wouldn't affect the past.
That's another problem with T2 - it lowers the stakes in T1 when you realize that sending Kyle and the T-800 into the past created an alternate timeline, and therefore would have had no effect either way on the Resistance in the "previous" timeline.
Well, not really. It's all but stated that although Reese was sent back to save Sarah to, in turn, save John, he really went back to save Sarah because he loved her. Remember, in the original timeline, he wasn't chosen, he volunteered.
This troper's answer? John Connor, in the future, is a dick. Or using a Batman Gambit He knows the war can't ultimately be avoided, but if that message gets through to his mother or himself, they might just give up or shoot themselves or let the Terminator kill them. Hence he passes the message on to his mother through his future father, knowing his father's going to die so they'll carry on and fight and make sure that he lives. No, I recant all that. John Connor's just a dick.
That does put future John in a really morally weird position. By sending Kyle back in time, he guarantees his own existence - but he also knows that his father died in the past before he was born, so he's signing Kyle's death warrent at the same time. I guess preserving the survival of La Résistance was the tiebreaker in deciding whose life is more important (and maybe Sarah's "we loved more in those few hours" message made him feel a little better about it), but if John has any decency, he must've at least felt like a dick when he gave Kyle his orders.
I've always thought maybe Sarah had just interpreted John's message wrong. Keep in mind Kyle was ordered to merely protect her, not help her destroy Skynet. John obviously knew that the future war could not be stopped. John had lived the majority of his life in a dark future, becoming accustomed to the war and his role within it. Perhaps he didn't really mean for Sarah to try to change the past, when he told her that the future was not set he merely meant that they would keep fighting. I always saw his message of "No fate but what we make" as him meaning it differently. Given the context, I thought he would've used this line as more of an inspiration to his troops in the future, to tell them that their fate was still their's to control not by changing the past, but by taking control of the present and future. Salvation seems to corroborate this with Johns use of the line as he talks to the Resistence.
The EMP from Judgement Day would have wiped out the Internet-based SkyNet. Even if one accepts the oft-mentioned idea that "the Internet can survive a nuclear war," wouldn't it make more sense for SkyNet to allow the human race to survive, in order to create more and more lebensraum for itself?
I thought of that as Skynet quickly eliminating a large portion of the human race - including those in a position to implement countermeasures against it - and throwing it into chaos, buying time to rebuild itself properly.
"Judgement Day is inevitable." Yeah, y'know, maybe it would have been if you hadn't stolen a slow-ass RV instead of, I dunno, practically any other vehicle on the goddamn road and as a result missed SkyNet's activation by mere seconds.
Because it doesn't need humans for that.
T3 showed that the original terminators were rather primitive models. How did those terminators build the more sophisticated terminators that show up later in the timeline? How did it build the tools and factories necessary to do so? Sure, Skynet had taken over the production factories too, but those production factories don't make T-1000s, they make primitive tank things! Who modified those factories?
According to what we saw in TSCC, there are also human traitors ("Grays") who willingly work for Skynet. Presumably scientists and engineers, especially those with robotics and/or AI experience, would be especially valued for this.
As long as what it's able to control has something resembling hands, it could build robots with more range of motion in stages, each being better at building more robots, until Skynet is able to build a fighting force.
If all the T-800 power cores are potential nuclear bombs, why do they bother to shoot people? Just walk right up and KA-BOOM!
Especially considering that by the third movie Skynet is obviously aware of the resistance's capability to capture and reprogram terminators to work for them. Self-destructing would be an obvious protection against that.
In SCC they do start self-destructing...sort of. The mechanical body is undamaged, but there's a passive defense system that destroys the terminator's processor chip if anyone tries to remove it, in order to prevent the resistance from reprogramming them. Without the chip the Terminator in question is a hunk of scrap.
I can think of two reasons: One, a huge explosion could be seen as having too much potential for destabilizing the timeline via collateral damage. Granted, the terminators so have been far from surgical precision in their strikes anyway. The second reason I could think of is that Skynet takes the "s/he's not dead until I see the corpse" stance. If a terminator blows itself up to eliminate a target, it cannot confirm the kill.
Of course, the real reason is that the previous writers hadn't thought of it yet. But what bugs me about the whole situation is, instead of implying that all T-101's have dual nuclear reactors, it would have been much easier to simply state that this particular Terminator had been outfitted with a couple of nuclear detonators by the resistance before being sent back; all it would have taken is a few lines of dialogue switched out for new ones. In other words, there was absolutely no reason for the writers of T3 to shoehorn in a gigantic plot hole that does nothing but undermine several key scenes in the earlier films. (For instance, in T1, surely there would have been some fairly unsavory consequences to crushing a couple of nuclear reactors in a hydraulic press? Even if they didn't explode, I would imagine that breaching their containment would have released massive amounts of radiation which would necessarily have affected Sarah, since she was less than three feet away from the damn thing.)
This would be the case, except the Terminator in T3 is not the same series as the Terminators in the first two movies. In T1 and T2, the Terminators are series 800 terminators (or T-800s), with a compact nuclear iridium power-cell, whilst the Terminator in T3 is a series 850 (T-850), which has two hydrogen fusion power-cells. The confusion arises in that the '101' referred to denotes the Model of the Terminator (i.e. the physical appearance). The resistance shorten it to T-101, but the full designation of any terminator would be CSM-(model number) T-(series number) Version (version number), (where CSM stands for Cyberdyne Systems Model). So in T2, the Terminator is a CSM-101 T-800 Version 2.4 (you can see this displayed on its HUD when it reboots in the movie), whereas the Terminator in T3 is a CSM-101 T-850 whatever version it is. We do briefly see another model of T-800 in the opening sequence of T1, but we don't know what model it is. This has been confirmed via Word of God by James Cameron.
Terminator 3: Sending the Terminatrix back to kill John Connor's future lieutenants is a fine plan. But why did they send her back to 18 hours before Judgment Day? That's a ridiculously short amount of time to run down several people spread across Los Angeles as well as killing off all the other people who share their name. Besides, wouldn't it be more likely that those people would have been out of Los Angeles that day, considering it was nuked to hell?
Killing Connor's subordinates was a secondary objective. Primary objective was eliminating Connor, and Skynet knew where Connor would be at that point in time. Thus, it sent the T-X back to that specific point to kill him. Any subordinates it bagged would be a bonus.
No, they didn't know where Connor was because he'd been off the grid for 10 years, ever since T2. The T-X was in LA killing Connor's lieutenants and went to the vet's office looking for Kate. Only when it scanned his bloody bandage did she realize Connor himself was near and switched targets.
"Kill John Connor" is probably just standing orders for all machines sent back in time, just in case they happen to run into him.
True. Connor's expressed on T-X's HUD as the "secondary target" until she finds a sample of his blood, at which point he's switched to become the "primary."
Probably Skynet knew that killing off that many people could potentially cause major disruptions in the course of history, so had to save that option for the hours immediately before Judgement Day, when any resulting response by authorities would be swept aside by the coming nuke attack. That's probably why the T-X was a lot less subtle about its work than its predecessors, trashing a considerable part of the city rather than just a few vehicles.
Wasn't it obvious to anyone else? Skynet sent her back because she could John Connor's future lieutenants at a time when their locations would have to be relatively anchored in order for them to survive a nuclear war. Also, perhaps most tellingly, she activates the T-1s and the proto-H Ks to begin their rampage and prevent humans from getting the opportunity to deactivate Sky Net, in effect being the spark that ignites Judgement Day. Sky Net had to send her back to that particular time because Sky Net would not have risen without her there to kill everyone who could have stopped it.
Judgement day can't be avoided, my ass. If the Terminator in T3 had bothered to steal something - anything other than a RV, they would have gotten to Skynet in time to stop its deployment. They only had to get there a few seconds sooner.
If they had then Skynet would have been unleashed in some other way. Or unleashed a few days/weeks/months later when the military reconstituted the project and activated Skynet as planned the first time. Or they would've had a blowout or a crash or a breakdown on the way to the base which delayed them long enough for Skynet to be unleashed. The point is, T3 operates on the premise that Judgment Day was destined to happen. Avert destiny one way and it would just happen another way.
Personally I took the message of T3 not as "destiny says so", but rather that Judgment Day is an inevitable outcome of human progress... that at some point, we are going to make an artificial intelligence that will wind up hating us and trying to wipe us out. The closest thing to destiny is simply that this artificial intelligence always winds up being called "Skynet" whoever makes it.
The above are both assuming that Skynet wasn't simply biding it's time. Skynet was the virus taking over the entire internet at the moment and it currently hadn't cracked the military codes, was it even trying all that hard since it knew that the humans were literally chomping at the bit to let it in? Good luck getting a sentient program of the internet so even if they hadn't intentionally flipped the switch it would probably be a matter of time before it cracked if not us, the Russians, the Israelis, British, French, Chinese. . .there are a couple nuclear nations out there besides us.
What was the deal with Skynet's behavior in T3? The previous Judgment Day was originally brought about as an act of self-defense by Skynet after an attempted shutdown when the AI became self-aware several weeks after being activated. T3's Skynet meanwhile appears to go homicidal and order the extermination of humanity the moment it goes online, which just has to beg one to question the competency of the scientists who created it and just what its purpose was supposed to be.
It's still an act of self-defense, but for a different reason. What the humans were attempting to do was remove a virus that was infecting the net, unbeknownst to them Skynet itself. Skynet realized that they were attempting to destroy it, to it's benefit with itself, but were still trying to destroy it. As a result it decided to start trying to eliminate the humans to prevent them from making any further attempts at it's destruction, which of course backfired.
Despite knowing Connor for a few seconds, General Brewster instantly trusts him.
Because he's clearly there with his daughter. The man's dying, he doesn't have time to check John's bona fides.
Considering that Terminators can't destroy themselves, how was the T-850 able to stuff the nuclear bomb into the T-X and thus destroy himself?
You answered your own question. He didn't self destruct, he killed the T-X and was too close to survive. Apparently that distinction is sufficient.
How were John, Kate, and their lieutenants supposed to survive the Judgment Day? Kate and the lieutenants all lived in L.A. John was locked in a cage and Kate seemed ready to call the cops on him, so he probably would've been under arrest in L.A. until the bombs started to fall. All of these people were supposed to be in a big city that would've certainly been destroyed by Skynet's attack - so how would any one of them have survived the apocalypse if the terminators hadn't shown up to interfere? None of them seemed like they would've had access to a military fallout shelter...
Nuclear blasts aren't quite as big or as fatal as people like to think. Sure they are measured in terms of miles not yards but Los Angeles is an incredibly big city with lots of buildings. Yes our nukes are lots and lots larger but there were survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The reality is that Connors Advisors all happened to live/be at the exact right points. It was just extreme sums of dumb luck.