Skynet is an all-powerful artificial intelligence with a huge boner for genocide. Across five Terminator movies, it has unsuccessfully attempted to thwart human resistance to this genocide, which was probably 99 percent successful otherwise. But Skynet will not be happy until everyone is dead, and, like me frustrated with that godawful speeder level in Battletoads, it tries to cheat rather than win the old-fashioned way, because fuck this game.
The problem with Skynet's strategy in each and every movie is that Skynet is completely idiotic. Thanks to Terminator Genisysysisyys, we're treated to the full scope of just how dumb Skynet is. And just how dumb is Skynet? Here are the first seven ways I could think of that it could have succeeded insanely easily in destroying John and/or Sarah Connor. Watch out for spoilers!
In Genisys, we're treated to future badass John Connor with his pocky face that may have run afoul of one too many forks, leading his forces against Skynet's most secret weapon yet -- the time-travel device! Oh my god! It's madness!
Naturally, a young, CG Schwarzenegger is sent back in time, and then the humans have to decide who gets to go back. Michael Biehn is too old and awesome; let's send vaguely pretty Jai Courtney. Sounds good. So they do. And just as he's on his way back in time, he sees a crazy new Terminator snatch up John Connor! Oh no!
Or maybe it was an Arnold RealDoll?
Then the rest of the movie happens, but here's the thing -- why? If Skynet had a kickass new super awesome Terminator that actually houses the Skynet program itself, and it was right in the goddamn room the whole time, and it was part of their team that stormed the base, why didn't it take any of the million and one opportunities it had available to reach over and literally jam a finger into Kyle's brain? If killing Sarah Connor kills John Connor, won't killing his dad, Kyle Reese, do the same thing? It seems like Skynet waited until Reese went back, which could only have been done to ensure John Connor was born, so that it would be able to take over Connor and use him for the plan that unfolds in Genisys, which is like turning down a sure thing to play a gamble on the exact same outcome. This may be the most pointlessly convoluted plan in the history of pointlessly convoluted time-travel plans.
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Since we're still at the time machine, why not actually use it properly. Skynet obviously knows the human resistance is going to send someone back in time; why even entertain the option? Why not wire the machine to just explode after the T-101 goes back? Then no one goes back to help anyone, and Sarah Connor is dead.
We're five movies into this franchise now, and every single damn instance where something goes back in time, something else follows it. This is really predictable. Someone needs to close the window so the flies stop getting in. Even Skynet should be able to figure that one out.
All that fancy tech, and no basic pattern recognition.
Making the time machine a single-use endeavor may be a waste of tech, but if Skynet cares about technology or man-hours involved in building something, then it's a bigger idiot than I first imagined. If it succeeds in its mission, it can finally relax and, you know, do literally nothing for the rest of eternity, which seems to be its goal. Retire to a robo-body in Florida or whatever, who knows. Point is, it really needs to stop letting the humans piss on its parade so easily.
We discover in 2017, which is when the new Judgment Day happens because reasons, that John Connor is alive but not well. He's been replaced on a cellular level with shitty robo-dust and is now a robot made of nuggets and evil and whatnot. That sucks for him. And his parents, because they were really happy to see him for a second there.
So, anyway, John Connor is now a super-duper advanced Terminator. Skynet, naturally, sends him to what must be the third-least-relevant time period imaginable right after the Victorian era and the Mesozoic. He goes to 2017 to ensure Skynet comes online. For fuck's sake. And the humans didn't know about it this time, this one time in all the times that it sent a Terminator back, this was the one they didn't know about -- so why not send him back to 1984? Why not this one? What is wrong with you, asshole computer program? Are you programmed to fail? Do you hate yourself?
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This Terminator could have gone, unhindered, to any time, any place. Send it to 1983! There is no way to stop this one; it's really, really powerful. It so would have worked if it had gone literally any other time in the life of the Connors and actually had a mission to kill instead of half-build a shitty time machine that serves only to destroy it. It went back in time to build the machine that ends up destroying it. Good fuckin' job, ya brain bot. Skynet must have been designed by Electronic Arts.
Tri Star Pictures
The thing about time travel is it's a leisurely affair. In the moment it seems like it's a big deal; we have to hurry and get back and whatever. But really, the time you're going back to is always going to be there, so you could wait years if you wanted to; it wouldn't really make much of a difference. And with that in mind, why the hell does Skynet scramble to send back that T-101? Or, once it sends it back, why is it there alone? Remember, this is five movies in. It clearly can keep rebuilding these machines. So why not use all of them, at all times, to send back all the Terminators to the same time period? Wouldn't Schwarzenegger have been that much more hilarious telling Bill Paxton he needs his clothes if he did it with 17 identical twins?
We know Skynet was able to send back a T-101, a T-1000, a T-X, and what we can assume was the T-Bag model John Connor in the newest movie. It just opted to keep sending them to random time farts across the greater scheme of the universe. Because variety is the spice of life? God only knows.
It's like if someone sent every new iPhone back in time to kill you.
Genisys proves that Skynet has at least one free and clear time machine to use without human interference. So maybe all it needed to do was build up a nice, gigantic army of Terminators, a nice cornucopia of them. What's a T-900? I don't know; let's find out. Is there anything between a T-1000 and a T-X? I want to see that too. Remember when the T-X made her boobs bigger? I want to see like a dozen redheads do that. And I really mean that, even beyond the scope of this hypothetical movie situation. In my real life I want that.
Tri Star Pictures
Another big problem Skynet seems to have is shitty software. Again, I want to presume EA is at fault. Despite how the future is a vast shithole of underground living and eating grilled rat in caves while you hide from killer robots, humans find the time and skillset to learn the programming language of Terminators.
Also Skynet, apparently.
Now, I'm no super computer whiz or anything, but I feel like you should design your killer robots in such a way that they can't be programmed to be the exact opposite thing. Like, maybe if someone tampers with it, the fusion battery inside it explodes. That seems like a good idea. Or, at the very least, it shits its brain into its hand and crushes it so you can't use it anymore. I'm just spitballing here.
For all the Machiavellian time-douchery that goes on in the Terminator universe, at the end of the day you need to remember that machines are machines. There are some defining characteristics of machines, especially when compared to humans. A big one, and maybe the only real significant one, is that humans can die and robots can't. If you're a thinking robot, you're going to want to use this to your advantage. So pretend you're a homicidal killbot and there's a lot of people here and there around the countryside, what do you do? Stroll like grandpa on a Sunday afternoon through the skull gardens, shooting your laser gun like they have in the last five movies? Or maybe head back to the factory and start breeding smallpox and Ebola and the flu and super gonorrhea like we already suggested, and then put them all in water balloons, head up in one of your Terminator jets, and just crop-dust the world.
Just one Terminator doing this would have been nice.
If it's too hard to grow viruses, why not just make toxic shit gas? Lots and lots of terrible, toxic shit gas? Flood the world with that garbage and just wait for everyone to up and croak. There's a number of pretty simple solutions to make the world utterly unlivable for all the things that actually are living. And none of those things should be even remotely difficult for Skynet to pull off. So come on, Skynet, get your shit together. Put on your big-boy pants and commit genocide like a man, already.
Here's the thing that makes this so infuriating -- Sarah Connor is the one who does this in Genisyserusaurus. She rigs an entire room with some manner of acidic compound that turns a T-1000 into pudding. The goddamn humans in the past were smart enough to think this up, but not the super computer? And, what's worse, the goddamn screenwriters were able to think this up as a weapon for the humans, but not the supercomputer? Why don't you want to win, supercomputer? Why?!?
Let's go back to 1992, which in the movie is 1994, which is when Terminator 2 takes place. There is one exchange of dialogue in that movie that shits all over the franchise from that moment up until this one -- little scamp John Connor asks Papa Terminegger how come Skynet doesn't send back a bomb to kill him. The Terminator explains that Skynet can't; only living tissue can go back in time. This is utter and complete bullshittery, as we already told you. It's clearly bullshittery in Part 3, and it's even bullshittery in Part 2.
The whole franchise is just a chrome skull barfing paradoxes at this point.
In Terminator 3, the T-800 tosses out a damaged fusion fuel cell that explodes in the desert. It has two of these things in it. Every Terminator has these fuel cells. Ergo, every Terminator not only carries a nuke, it could carry many more. Does a Terminator need that right arm? Implant an arm-sized nuke under that living tissue, and all it needs to do once it goes back in time is rip its own arm off and then blow up L.A. Make its entire chest cavity a nuke. Or give it detailed files on how to mass-produce fusion reactors and have it explode everything everywhere. Get festive with it, man!
Your second issue here is nicely wrapped up in Terminator 2 itself; you don't even need to hit a new installment to tear that flesh argument down. The T-1000 is a mimetic poly alloy. Which is to say it imitates flesh, but it is not made from living tissue, like a Kardashian. So why the hell isn't that goo on everything? They put it on the T-X in Part 3 so it can smuggle guns.
Why not put that stuff on those giant HK robots that run around in the future? Who cares if it can't blend in with humans? It's like a robot crab the size of the Hulk armed with machine guns. What the hell in 1984 is going to stop it before it tracks down Sarah Connor and vaporizes her?
Why not literally put poly alloy on a nuke the size of a bus and just send that back in time with a 10-minute detonator on it and blow the whole county off the map? Why must all Terminators look like people? Who is Skynet trying to fool at this point anyway? It never works, so why bother?
Oh, fuck you, Salvation. You weren't even trying.
Of course, we've covered all this before, but there's still one other option Skynet hasn't considered: Skynet itself is a program. In Genysoceros it actually has an avatar, a body that the living program resides in. Why the hell didn't Skynet send itself back in time as a Terminator? Ever? It would literally make the entire franchise obsolete in one single time-jump, and all the efforts to stop it would be for nothing. No one could prevent Judgment Day, because it is literally the embodiment of Judgment Day. All it would need to do is access a network, which it could do wirelessly the minute it arrives, upload itself, infect every computer everywhere, presumably in no time flat since it's fully sentient and futuristically advanced, and launch all the missiles right then, before anyone could hope to prepare. Done. End of series.
For more from Felix, check out 5 Life-Improving Gadgets From Overseas That America Needs and 6 Stupid Infomercial Gimmicks That Have Taken Over Your Life.
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