Study Guide

The Terminator Perseverance

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[Reese disarms the officer.]

REESE: What day is it? The date.

OFFICER: 12th May. Thursday.

REESE: What year?

[Other squad cars arrive on the scene.]

OFFICER: He's got my gun. Let's go.

Although we don't know his goal at this point, Reese's perseverance is already clearly established. After being spit out by a temporal light hole, he manages to out-maneuver and outsmart the police to escape without any loss of life. He even wears a homeless man's pants without any underwear. Clearly this man is determined.

SARAH [getting her jacket]: I'm gonna go to a movie, kiddo. Have a good time.

GINGER: We will. You, too.

SARAH: Okay.

Sarah's perseverance is present but subtle in this scene. After Sarah's date cancels, Ginger has a mild meltdown, but Sarah decides to not let the no-show ruin her evening. She goes out alone for a slice and a movie.

TRAXLER: To make a statement. Maybe make these jackals work for us for a change. If I can get on the tube by 11 o'clock, maybe she'll call us. Well, how do I look?

VUKOVICH: Like sh*t, boss.

TRAXLER: Your mama.

Although his screen time is short, Traxler is also a model of human perseverance. He is unwilling to give up protecting the next Sarah Connor on the killer's list, and he even devises a plan to use the news media to help. Using the news media to inform someone about important information? What a novel concept.

[Sarah tries to escape from the car. Reese pulls her back in, and she bites his hand.]

REESE: Cyborgs don't feel pain. I do. Don't do that again.

SARAH: Just let me go.

REESE: Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop—ever!—until you are dead.

The Terminator's perseverance is perfectly described here. Unlike the human characters, who have other needs and emotions to contend with—pity, remorse, fear, etc.—the Terminator is programmed to persevere, regardless. Add to that more lives than one of the Mario Brothers, and you've got a seriously difficult antagonist to deal with.

SARAH: He'll find us, won't he?

REESE: Probably.

SARAH: It'll never be over, will it? [Reese doesn't answer.]

In this scene, Sarah realizes the difficulty of persevering against the Terminator. This won't be some fly-by-night operation: she'll need to be in it for the long haul, perhaps for the rest of her life. And even then, she may not succeed.

SARAH: Come on! Come on. No, Kyle. Come on!

REESE: Leave me here.

SARAH: Move it, Reese! On your feet, soldier! On your feet!

Reese's wounds push him to the edge, but Sarah finds her reserve of perseverance and pushes her man on. We don't know where she found that voice, but we know it is not a voice you ignore, gunshot or no.

SARAH: Tape seven. November 10. Where was I? What's most difficult is trying to decide what to tell you and what not to. But I guess I have a while yet before you're old enough to even understand these tapes. They're more for me at this point just so that I can get it straight.

At the film's conclusion, we find that Sarah has chosen to fight for the future and prepare her son for the battles to come. Her perseverance will ultimately give John the strength to persevere, which will in turn give humanity the strength to do so.

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