Toku Tuesday, Vol. II Iss. 6:
The hunt continues for another week. I haven’t decided how long this series will last, but one thing is certain, I’m having a lot of fun with this. I hope you are too. So, to keep things rolling along with US born tokusatsu, I thing it is now approiate to give some credit to a director that has done much for American film, and especially, American science fiction. He gave us the best of the Alien franchise, put us “on top of the world”, and recently, stole his own all-time box office record with the technically astounding Avatar, but way back in 1984 – two years before he had Ripley battle a Xenomorph Queen in a power-loader – James Cameron introduced the world to the future’s deadliest assassin and started the iconic rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action star (as well as the trend of placing just his last name on the one-sheet promos, XP).
“The Terminator” is the official name of the killer robot the Govenator has made so famous over three films and an uncredited, facial-CGI cameo in Salvation. However, many of the nerds among us (myself included) know that Arnie’s character is one of many of its kind. Kyle Reese calls it “Cyberdyne Systems Model 101” in the first film and the Terminator identifies itself as a Model “T-101.” Various toys, collectibles, and extras on the DVD/Blu-Ray releases of the films often report that the icon is of the “T-800” or “T-850” series. Considering that there are series numbers of the T-600, T-1000, and T-X class specifically stated, it is safe to assume that the title android is a T-800 series Model 101 (canon, T2:JD shows this message when the Terminator reboots in its HUB: “Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Version 2.4”), where the series refers to the common endoskeleton and the model is the outer synthetic skin. In other words, that random “Other Terminator” in the original is a different model from the one we all know and love. Also, this explains why Cameron (Sara Connor Chronicles) can exist.
This thing is a powerhouse, though not an unbeatable one. It’s advanced metal alloy skeleton is nothing like Logan’s adamantium laced bones, but it can certainly take a beating: repeated gunfire, intense flame and heat, high impact collisions, and intense, inhuman strength melee combat. The outer skin, made of rubber on the first models (T-600), is made of a synthetic, organic compound complete with synthetic blood. Basically, this thing looks, smells, talks, acts, bleeds, and heals like a human would (though slightly accelerated) so it can blend in with humans and, well, Terminate them. It’s powered by a miniature nuclear reactor that can be ejected if ruptured or otherwise damaged. The CPU that powers the cyberbrain is capable of advance thought and decision making as well as learning. The heroic reprogrammed androids seen in T2, T3, and SCC all display the development of personality and individuality. I find it interesting to note that the Terminator in T3 actually manages to reprogram itself when its original programming is reactivated.
There are other Terminators of course. The T-100, T-600, and T-700 series are seen for the first time in Terminator Salvation, and they (along with a few other machines in the film) are the predecessors of the tanks and Hunters seen in the first two films as well as the T-800 – 101 (modeled after a US general that apparently looks like Arnie). T2 introduced us to the far superior, liquid metal android known as the T-1000 capable of shape-shifting and limited melee/bladed weapons fabrication.
The T-X – the Terminatrix – combines the attributes of the T-800 and T-1000 series in a smaller, feminine frame. This model is able to shape-shift much like the T-1000, but it has an advanced endoskeleton similar to but better than that of the lower series numbers. This allows the T-X to house an array of on-board weaponry (a flamethrower for example) while also allowing it to fabricate complex weapons (like guns) when needed.
Finally, there is a cyborg in the line-up. I have mixed feelings about this model as portrayed by Sam Worthington in Salvation. It appears as though Skynet only managed to build one of these, but it spends the entire film harvesting humans – to make T-800’s basically. Why? Marcus Wright worked so damn well, why not use the prisoners to make more cyborgs. And in cased you missed the whole in the logic, Marcus was built before the T-800 series was completed and made operational. Marcus is a better infiltrator than the T-800, more human, and therefore, theoretically more deadly. Perhaps the problem is that Skynet forgot to remove the sense of self – you know, the humanity – from Marcus.
Damn you willpower…