Study Guide

The Terminator Deception

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REESE: All right, listen. The Terminator's an infiltration unit. Part man, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis. Microprocessor controlled. Fully armored, very tough. But outside it's living human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair, blood…grown for the cyborgs.

The Terminator was designed for deception. After all, you can't just walk up to someone and say, "Hello, I'm a cyborg from the future sent to kill you to prevent your future son from being born." Nah, you have to be subtle about these things—well, as subtle as a six-foot Austrian bodybuilder can be, anyway.

SILBERMAN: So you're a solider. Fighting for whom?

REESE: With the 132nd under Perry. From '21 to '27.

SILBERMAN: That's the year 2027?

REESE: That's right. Then I was assigned…under John Connor.

Reese sounds a bit on the crazy side here, yet he's being anything but deceptive. He's telling the truth straight on, and for that, Silberman thinks he's a madman. It really is a mad, mad, mad, world—or at least it will be in the future.

REESE: It was a chance to meet the legend. Sarah Connor, who taught her son to fight, organize, prepare from when he was a kid. When you were in hiding before the war.

SARAH: You're talking about things I haven't done yet in the past tense. It's driving me crazy. Are you sure you have the right person?

REESE: I'm sure.

SARAH: Come on. Do I look like the mother of the future? I mean, am I tough? Organized? I can't even balance my checkbook! Look, Reese, I didn't ask for this honor and I don't want it. Any of it.

Sarah suffers from some self-deception: she doesn't believe she has it in her to be the strong, resourceful woman Reese says she'll be. But while she argues about this, she performs her first field-dressing and doesn't totally freak out about it. That's totally a sign of things to come.

MOM: But I need to know where to reach you. You tell me to hide out at the cabin and you won't tell me what's going on? I am worried sick here.

SARAH: Okay. Okay, here's the number. You ready?

MOM: Yes. Go ahead.

SARAH: It's 408-555-1439. Room nine. Got it?

MOM: I've got it.

SARAH: I gotta go. I'm sorry. I can't tell you more right now. I love you, mom.

MOM [revealed to be the Terminator]: I love you, too, sweetheart.

The Terminator's deception becomes even more, um…deceptive. In addition to looking like a human, the cyborg has the ability to take on the voices of others and pretend to be them. Of course, we've seen this technology before in Ginger and Sarah's answering machine earlier in the film. That means the machines are already among us… (Also, why does Sarah have a phone number with a Silicon Valley area code?)

REESE: Pain can be controlled. You just disconnect it.

SARAH: So you feel nothing?

REESE: John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. It was very old…torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line…every curve. I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.

Reese isn't above a little deception himself. He hides that his real reason for going back in time is that he loves Sarah. Of course, it would be difficult for him to convince John to send him back in time because he has the hots for John's mom…

SARAH: We did it, Kyle. We got 'em.

The Terminator rises from the fires of the destroyed tanker truck. Its flesh has been burned away, revealing a chassis shaped like a human skeleton.

The Terminator's deception has been completely revealed as its endoskeleton rises from the fire. It no longer shows any semblance of its fake humanity; instead, it is a terrifying, horrifying inhuman monster of a machine. Um…could we have the deception back please? It was much pleasanter to look at…

SARAH [speaking into a tape recorder]: Should I tell you about your father? Boy, that's a tough one. Will it affect your decision to send him here, knowing that he is your father? If you don't send Kyle, you can never be. God, a person could go crazy thinking about this. I suppose I will tell you. I owe him that.

At the film's conclusion, Sarah must make a decision: should she tell John the truth about his father, or should she continue the cycle of deception that has led her to this juncture? Ultimately, she chooses honesty—a true victory against the machines, if you think about it.

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